Sunday, May 16, 2010

Interview with Sisters Red author Jackson Pearce

by Brittany Geragotelis

Courtesy of Jackson Pearce
In case you missed my earlier post regarding the awesome new book, Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce let me catch you up: it’s incredible. Really. A reimagining of the fairytale, Little Red Riding Hood, Jackson has created a world where two sisters fight against the howling creatures of the night.

The young and talented Jackson Pearce was gracious enough to answer a few of my questions recently, just in time for her book’s release. Read on for more about Jackson, her writing process and her thoughts on where book publishing is going in the future.

Name: Jackson PearceNickname: Jack
Best Known For: Ability to drink a 24-pack of diet coke in one day, pink nail polish, and a book called Sisters Red
Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Hodder Children's
Me: The book's told from the perspective of the two main characters, Scarlett and Rosie March. Was it difficult for you to switch back and forth between the two voices?Jackson: Scarlett and Rosie have such different voices, goals, and character arcs that it honestly wasn’t very difficult; in fact, switching “sides” often made it easier to keep moving—right when I finished Scarlett’s chapters, I’d be eager to get back into Rosie’s head and vice versa.

Me: You did such an amazing job of creating two very strong, kick-ass female characters. Was this something you set out to do?Jackson: I set out to create fully developed, distinct characters. It’s true that they can kick some serious werewolf ass when they need to, but they both also have their own insecurities and fears. That’s my favorite type of heroine—one that has to sacrifice, has to make choices, and has to act instead of reacting.

Me: Which literary heroines have you admired most?Jackson: My favorites are Jo from Little Women and Hermione from Harry Potter.

Me: I thought it was such a nice twist to see that Scarlett's weapon of choice was a hatchet. It was such an original touch. How did you come up with that idea?Jackson: Whenever I needed details in the book, I returned to the original fairytale. I used the hatchet because of the woodsman’s ax in Red Riding Hood—the smaller size made it easier to move fast and strike quick, which I think is Scarlett’s specialty.

Me: What books have you read lately that you've really enjoyed?Jackson: I loved The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan, The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff, and just finished Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. I’ve also been reading a lot more contemporary fiction lately, and loved Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan.

Me: I’m an author myself, but still on the journey to being published. What's been your experience with the publishing industry?Jackson: The publishing industry is made to weed out people who don’t want it badly enough—it’s hard to figure out how and who and when to query, hard to figure out the market, hard to figure out the seven million “do not’s” when you’re first starting out. The good news is, all that becomes easier. The bad news is, you’ve got to navigate through it before it gets easier. If you want it, don’t give up!

Harper Teen
Me: Did you have to deal with a lot of rejection before publishing your first book? How did you get through it?Jackson: I have a book that got rejected EVERYWHERE—76 times, to be exact. I dealt by writing another book—I wanted something to distract me from being so depressed about the first one! The second book (As You Wish, Harper Collins) ended up being the one that sold. I think I had to write the rejected book, though—it was my “learning how to write” book, and I wouldn’t change the experience for the world.

Me: What advice do you have to other aspiring authors?Jackson: Be savvy about the market, but don’t mimic it. Learn all you can by getting involved in online writing communities. Don’t give up—getting published isn’t easy, but it’s possible!

Me: What's your writing process like?Jackson: I’m not very scheduled about writing. When I’m in the middle of a book, I write all day, every day. When I’ve just finished one or am in the outlining stage, I try to spend more time making videos, blogging, and talking with other writers.

Courtesy of Jackson Pearce
Me: There’s a lot of controversy over where the publishing industry is headed. What do you think the future has in store for the book industry?Jackson: I’m absolutely not one of those who thinks print publication is doomed, but I do think e-books will become more popular as time goes on. I think the industry needs to be very savvy and learn from the mistakes of the music and film industry when approaching digital formats, in order to keep both authors’ and publishers’ rights safe.

Me: What other authors do you admire?Jackson: Naturally, I admire and respect the greats—Harper Lee, J.D. Salinger—but I also admire people who have been published more recently. Carrie Ryan, Saundra Mitchell, Maggie Stiefvater, and R.J. Anderson just to name a few.