After a little reprieve from my blog break, I’m back with a wonderful author for my Writers on Writing series. Everyone, please welcome Jessica Anya Blau, author of “The Summer of Naked Swim Parties,” a lush YA novel with fabulous writing that you can sink your teeth into and savor. Let’s see what Jessica has to say about her writing process.
What is your brainstorming process for a new book?
Well, I don’t really brainstorm, I have loads of stuff that I want to write and not enough time to write it. I have notes in notebooks and files saved on my computer all with starts, or ideas, or characters, or just images. The files keep getting bigger, I can’t imagine it will ever be depleted.
Can you explain your typical work week day?
During the semester I teach at Johns Hopkins. Usually three days a week, and I’m usually done by one. I go home after class and write for about two hours until my kids get home from school. On days I don’t teach, I try to write two hours at some point, morning or afternoon. Sometimes, between projects, I’ll give myself a few weeks where I only write blogs, or emails, or other things. I’m sort of in that place now as I just handed in my new novel to my agent who’s making notes. I don’t really want to start anything because I might need to make changes on the novel before she sends it out. I should admit, though, that I did start another novel anyway and am going to work on it today, Thursday, but I didn’t work on it on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.
Tell us about when you made the decision to write.
I didn’t quite make the decision as I just started doing it. I was living in Canada and my visa prohibited me from working or going to school. I felt a little like I was losing my mind, rotting away, and so I started writing and it made me feel better.
What suggestions do you have for aspiring writers?
Quit making excuses and do it. Don’t criticize yourself. Accept that it might be really shitty work, but do it anyway. (I remind myself of this just about every time I sit down to write.) If you do it enough, eventually, something will come out that isn’t shitty.
Tell us about what you’re working on right now and what we can expect from you in the near future.
So, as I said, I’m waiting for notes from my agent on the novel I just finished. It’s about a family through the decades, birth to a death. There’s drug addiction, alcoholism, sex addiction, affairs, marriages, a coming-out, divorce, and even a gun. The novel that I’m starting is about Berkeley, California in the mid nineteen eighties and one girls’ crazy life there. It takes place during spring break when all her friends are out of town and she’s essentially alone in this town with all sorts of strange people she barely knows.
Wow, sounds amazing! Can’t wait to read more, Jessica! Thank you for joining us and sharing your wisdom!
For those of you who would like to read ‘The Summer of Naked Swim Parties, you can pick it up at your local bookstore or here.
Jessica Anya Blau was born in Boston and raised in Southern California. She attended The University of California, Berkeley and lived in the Bay Area for eight years until she moved to Toronto, Canada. It was while she was in Canada that Jessica started writing fiction. THE SUMMER OF NAKED SWIM PARTIES was published in the summer of 2008 by HarperPerennial. It is already in the fourth printing. The book was named a Top Summer Read by The TODAY show, The New York Post and New York Magazine. Cosmopolitan Magazine listed it as a “Sexy Summer Read.”