Jessica Branton’s debut YA paranormal novel, How To Experience Death For Beginners, published in February 2019. I had the pleasure of talking to Jessica about writing, how her book came to be, and what advice she’d give to aspiring writers:
Hi Jessica! Has being a writer something which has always appealed to you?
Yes, I have always enjoyed writing. Even when I was in elementary school I was writing, but I think my 9th grade English class encouraged me the most. We had a lot of creative writing projects and I loved every one of them.
What genre or kind of books do you like to read?
I think my favourite is paranormal fiction, but honestly, I’ve dabbled in every YA genre.
What is your favourite book if you have one?
There are so many good ones! I love The Perks of Being a Wallflower above all else, I think. However, anything by John Green and Maggie Stiefvater is amazing.
What gave you the idea to write ‘How to Experience Death for Beginners’?
It all started with Casey Darling. I wanted to know what it would be like to experience death, as morbid as that is, and what that kind of thing would do to a person. Casey introduced herself to me and the plot came afterwards.
If ‘How to Experience Death for Beginners’ was a movie, who would be your ideal casting choices for the main characters?
Oh, I haven’t thought of this before but I love it! So, I tried to find teenage actors, but I could not so instead this is the cast list if they were adults, I guess. Casey and Christina: (this was so hard but I have two options) Lucy Hale or Daisy Ridley, Danny: Logan Lerman, and Cameron: Dylan Sprouse. To be honest, I don’t know if I did well picking them out. I think I’d go with people who are unknown, honestly.
What was your favourite part to write in ‘How to Experience Death for Beginners’?
Probably the prologue or the scene with the terrible car crash.
Which character did you most enjoy writing about in ‘How to Experience Death for Beginners’?
I really loved writing Christina especially during part II.
Are you working on anything at the moment?
Yes and no. I am working on the sequel right now but it is in its hatchling stage. School has not been kind to my writing.
Do you have any plans to write in the future?
Definitely! I have always wanted, and still want, to be a writer. This was the first step, but I have many other ideas stored away.
How is it that you prefer to write: notebooks or laptop/tablet/phone?
Honestly, I love the feel of writing in notebooks, but the laptop is my go to.
How it is that you write? Say, do you go from the start of story to finish, the ending first and work your way toward it, or in pieces and piece them together eventually?
Pieces all the way. I have started at the end, the middle, 1/3 of the way in, and everything else. I try to focus my writing, and do it in order, but it never works.
Do you have any advice to give to someone who is considering writing a novel of their own?
My biggest advice is, as cheesy as it sounds, to never give up. It took me almost ten years to get this book published, so sometimes you just have to keep trying. That and trying to work every day, or at least consistently.