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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Author Interview – Jessica Bell


How did you come up with the title? The Book revolves around a journal which everyone in the family calls “the book.”

Can you tell us about your main character of The Book? Bonnie is a five-year-old girl, with a “supposed” learning disability, who is trying to make heads and tails of the adult relationships between her mother (Penny), her father (John) who has moved out to care for his teenage daughter (Mary), and Penny’s new husband whom Bonnie refers to as “my Ted”.

How did you develop your plot and characters for The Book? When I was a child, my mother, Erika Bach, and my father, Anthony Bell, wrote in an illustrated journal by Michael Green called A Hobbit’s Travels: being the hitherto unpublished Travel Sketches of Sam Gamgee. This journal is the inspiration for this book. Since reading this journal, and realizing how different my parents sounded in the entries compared to how I know them in real life, I often thought about writing a book which explored how differently parents and children perceive and respond to identical situations. Now, I know this concept isn’t ‘new’. But I certainly felt I had a unique bent to add to it. I hoped by using journal entries and therapy transcripts, in conjunction with a 1st person point of view of a five-year-old girl, it would make the story a little more intimate, make readers feel like they are peeking into the lives of real people.

Who designed the cover? Moi.

What was the hardest part about writing this book? The fact that the first draft was written so fast and therefore wasn’t sure it was up to par because of it.

How do you promote this book? Mainly through social media. Unfortunately I have the disadvantage of being an expat in Greece, so it’s very difficult for me to promote any other way.

Will you write others in this same genre? Of course, this is the genre I always write in.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? Bonnie, the five-year-old protagonist, was born prematurely. I hint, through the journal entries of her mother, Penny, and the transcripts of Bonnie and Dr. Wright, her therapist, that due to her premature birth, she has trouble learning and significant behavioral problems. However, I try to juxtapose this through Bonnie’s point of view. The reader is able to see how differently she perceives things in contrast to the adults in her life.

Bonnie is very smart. And she understands so much more than she chooses to let the adults see. So, at what point does one draw the line when it comes to defining poor mental health? Can anyone really see what is going on in a child’s mind? What right does one have to assume a prematurely born child is going to have difficulty learning or mental instabilities? What signs does one have to show to prove they are having difficulties at all? The Book raises these sorts of questions, hopefully offering readers a lot of food for thought.

How much of the book is realistic? I’m hoping all of it! But I guess that’s for readers to decide.

Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot? No, nothing at all.

What are your goals as a writer? To have my books linger in the minds of readers long after they’ve turned the last page.

What books have most influenced your life? Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson

Cold Blood, by Truman Capote

The Robber Bride, by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

The Boy in The Striped Pajamas, by John Boyne

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, by Rebecca Miller

The Stone Gods, by Jeanette Winterson

Just Kids, by Patti Smith

Short Cuts, by Raymond Carver

Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott

The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, by Milan Kundera

All poetry by the following poets: Gwen Harwood, Sharon Olds, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath


Book Description:

This book is not The Book. The Book is in this book. And The Book in this book is both the goodie and the baddie.

Bonnie is five. She wants to bury The Book because it is a demon that should go to hell. Penny, Bonnie’s mother, does bury The Book, but every day she digs it up and writes in it. John, Bonnie’s father, doesn’t live with them anymore. But he still likes to write in it from time to time. Ted, Bonnie’s stepfather, would like to write in The Book, but Penny won’t allow it.

To Bonnie, The Book is sadness.
To Penny, The Book is liberation.
To John, The Book is forgiveness.
To Ted, The Book is envy.
But The Book in this book isn’t what it seems at all.

If there was one thing in this world you wished you could hold in your hand, what would it be? The world bets it would be The Book.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Contemporary Fiction

Rating – PG13

More details about the author

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