Today we have a wonderful Aussie YA author with us. I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Jessica Shirvington. Jessica made her debut back in 2010 with Embrace, the first instalment in The Embrace Series. It was followed by Entice, Emblaze, Endless, and Empower which is due for release later this year. She is also the author of Between the Lives. Welcome, Jessica.
Some authors don’t start writing until later in life. Is writing something you’ve always done? When did you start writing, and what first inspired you to ‘pick up a pen’ to tell Violet’s story?
Absolutely not. I never considered that writing would be a potential career choice for me. It simply didn’t occur to me as an option. EMBRACE, my first novel, was literally my first attempt at writing a book and even then I don’t think it was until I had finished the first draft that I even realised what I was doing. As for what inspired me, I wish it were a simple answer but in all honesty I’m not 100% sure. All I know is that I had been reading a lot and one day instead of opening a new book, I opened my laptop and wrote the names Violet and Lincoln at the top of the page. That was the beginning. From there I tapped into the angel hierarchy and I was hooked on the idea of incorporating that into the story, and so the research began.
Teenage romance is often used as a plot point in YA fiction, and can sometimes be perceived as a negative thing in terms of its genuineness. You met and fell in love with Matt when you were seventeen. Does your experience influence the way you write your characters and their romance, and does it help to make it more genuine?
My relationship, and particularly the fact that it began when I was only 17, has had a massive influence on the way I have approached the relationships in my series. I fell in love and I knew without a doubt that it was the forever type of love. I wasn’t thrilled at the time – I thought I was a bit young to have met ‘the one’ but I had, and so that was that! I think young relationships are often demeaned in books. Parents intervene and often the moral to the story is we all move on from young love. But I entirely disagree. Young love is some of the most potent love out there. It is real and it is deep and just because a number dictates our age does not mean it dictates the capability of our hearts. So it was very important to me to portray the relationships as raw and genuine.
The covers for the Embrace Series are beautiful. I particularly like the atmosphere of the US versions, and the elegant simplicity of the Australian versions. How much do you contribute to the design of your covers, and who has the final say?
Not a whole lot really. I have been really lucky to have amazing publishers in all my markets and have never been left feeling disappointed with the end result. There have been times when I have made a suggestion or requested a small change and my publishers have always gone out of their way to make sure these changes happen. But in the end, they know what they are doing and I trust in their expertise to capture the attention of the marketplace in the right way.
All writers love to read, and with the age of digital publishing there is no shortage of books. What factors do you take into account when choosing your next read? Do you stick with well-loved favourites, or do you like to take chances? Are you an eBook or hardcopy kind of girl?
I read anything and everything. I admit I like to escape so I read a lot of fantasy, magic, dystopian, but I also love a good thriller and search high and low for the perfect combination of humour, romance, sarcasm and wit. I read half half between YA and adult fiction. I don’t read a lot of non-fiction or autobiographies. I am loyal to authors I know and trust and will buy their books without even looking at the blurb but I also buy random books that catch my eye. And I love to find unknown stand-alones or undiscovered authors. I was always a hardcopy girl, but storage became such an issue that lately I have been downloading a lot more often. I’d say I now buy majority ebooks.
If you had the opportunity to meet and spend a day with someone, who would it be and why? What would you ask them?
I get asked this question quite a bit. The truth is I really don’t know. If it could be anyone alive, dead, mythological etc I guess I would pick God, because I’ve got a few questions if you know what I mean. But otherwise, I would probably just pick people that I respect and feel have managed to find that magical balance of success and happiness in their lives.
What is your favourite thing about being an Aussie?
The beaches. We really have the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Tea or coffee? coffee
Black or white? black
Flats or heels? flats
Pepsi or Coke? Coke
Summer or winter? Winter
Edward or Jacob? (I had to ask :-)) Neither. Seriously. I wouldn’t want to die and become a vampire and I don’t like wet dog smell. 😉
Thank you for stopping by today, Jessica. It’s been wonderful getting to know a little bit about you and your books.
Jessica Shirvington is the author of THE VIOLET EDEN CHAPTERS also known as THE EMBRACE SERIES, and stand alone novel, BETWEEN THE LIVES. An entrepreneur, author, and mother living in Sydney, Australia, Jessica is also a 2011 finalist for Cosmopolitan’s annual Fun, Fearless Female Award. She’s also one of the lucky few who met the love of her life at age seventeen: Matt Shirvington, a former Olympian and current sports broadcaster for FOXTEL and Sky News. Married for twleve years with two beautiful daughters, Sienna and Winter, Jessica knows her early age romance and its longevity has definitely contributed to how she tackles relationships in her YA novels.
REVIEW: Between The Lives
Sabine lives two separate lives. At midnight every night, she ‘shifts’ from one life to another and lives every day twice. One life is seemingly perfect. In Wellesley she’s rich, popular and has the boyfriend everyone wants. In Roxbury it’s not so good, and that life has a wealth of its own problems.
All Sabine wants is to live one life. She’s tired of the ‘shift’ and keeping up appearances. Keeping her two lives separate is exhausting. She discovers a glitch and has a theory on a way to keep herself in one life, and not go back to the other, but the question is which should she choose? The perfect life, or the perfect love?
The whole concept of Between The Lives is amazing. At first I was a little confused as to how Sabine’s lives worked in conjunction with one another, but the more I read, the clearer it became. It was very intriguing reading about something that is in essence a parallel world, two worlds running alongside each other where everything is the same, but different.
Ethan was an awesome character. He was dark and mysterious, and seemingly detached. But there were so many layers to him that as Sabine peeled them away, I was distraught by the end of the book. He taught her what was important about life and love. I think he taught me a few things, too.
Towards the end there were a few twists and turns I didn’t see coming, which added to my already out of control emotions. Some scenes were horrifically brutal, but they were balanced out with others that were tender and beautiful. Teen issues such as peer pressure, how to fit in, keeping up appearances, destructive behaviour, and suicide, are prevalent throughout the story. And Sabine does a remarkable job coping with them all.
Between The Lives is a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Not everything and everyone are as they seem, and I was fully immersed in riding Sabine’s story and discovering everything as she did. I felt very connected to her character, and I think this is a book that will stay with me for a while.