Author Jessica Riggles stopped by to answer questions about her latest book "Four Thousand Miles."
Welcome to Page Readers Jessica! Start us off by telling us a little about you!
I was born and raised in the Mississippi River town of Dubuque, Iowa. I had a lower middle-class upbringing. Money was tight, but I was generally happy. I was active in the school choir and had lots of friends. I graduated high school a year early. I would have liked to have gone away for college, but I was young and not ready to leave home. So I went to college in Dubuque, graduating from Loras College with degrees in Literature and Creative Writing.
While in college, I obtained an insurance license and worked for a local Allstate agent. When I graduated from college, I didn’t have many options as far as employment with my major. I didn’t want to teach and by that point, I was married and unable to run off to the New York publishing world. So, I landed in insurance. I still dabble in it today, although only part-time to accommodate my writing schedule. I’m also in grad school working on an MBA. Not sure what I’m going to do with it yet, but I find business interesting. I guess you could say I am happiest when I am learning something new.
What is your story about?
My novel, Four Thousand Miles, combines my love of travel, my weakness for a good love story and my impulsive nature all into one story. The main character is Natalie Spencer, a married, career-minded woman in Milwaukee. When she loses both her career and her marriage in the space of one terrible morning, all she can think about is getting away, putting distance between herself and her problems. On impulse, she gets on a plane to London, England—a place she has never been to, knows no one and completely unprepared for. There, she meets a reclusive songwriter who invites her into his family. As Natalie recovers from her emotional trauma, she has to learn how to trust and love again.
How did this story come to you?
I was in England, staying at this 500 year old farm turned bed & breakfast in rural Kent. It was the most romantic and inspiring place I think I’ve ever been to. The impulsive side of me wanted to skip going home and stay there with the sheep forever, but I had a full life back in the States waiting for me. That got me thinking about how messed up my life would have to be to get me to spontaneously move to a foreign country. I had most of Natalie’s story sketched out in my head by the time I got home.
What compelled you to write it?
It was June 2009. I had just gotten laid off in the giant wave of corporate downsizing , which had swept the country and there just weren’t many job options out there for me. I was fortunate enough that I didn’t have to go back to work right away, so I thought I would take the opportunity of time to write. It wasn’t long before I decided to focus my energy in that direction full-time.
Who is your favorite character?
My favorite one was Elliot Ashby. He is the younger brother of my male lead, Gavin. He looks like Prince Harry, but plays in a punk band. Elliot only plays a small role in the book, but he’s funny and just adorable. I describe him as “Sid Vicious with a puppy-dog grin.” I have kicked around the idea of writing a novel with him in the lead.
What was your favorite scene to write?
I enjoyed writing the scenes in Ireland. It is there that Natalie begins to see Gavin as a man and not just as a friend.
How long did it take you to write the story?
About four months.
When was it released?
The release date was on October 7, 2010, but it might be a couple months yet before the larger ebook retailers such as Amazon and B&N will have it listed.
How is it available?
It is only available in ebook format at present. I’m hoping the sales will be strong enough that my publisher will take it to print.
Where can we find it?
The best place to buy it online is through my publisher, DCL Publications. The link is http://www.thedarkcastlelords.com/romance-ebooks-15.htm. You can also find it on AllRomance.com.
What has your publishing experience been like?
I had no idea what I was doing when I started trying to sell this book. I barely knew what a query letter was! I found there are a lot of resources online to assist new writers. A big one for me was Twitter. I use my twitter account as my professional social network. I connect with other writers, agents, editors, book bloggers and readers. The writing community is amazing in their desire to help each other. I could post a question and have five answers or links to websites in minutes.
After writing and polishing my query letter, I submitted it to about forty agents over the course of about two months. Not one bite! I wasn’t surprised though. The publishing industry was hit hard in this recession and as a result have been scaling back on the purchase of new authors.
In May 2010, I attended the Romantic Times Convention. It was there that I met Jean Watkins, head editor for DCL Publications. She liked my pitch and requested a partial manuscript. I sent her the first three chapters and she offered me a contract. It all happened very quickly.
For my next book, I hope to be able to secure an agent. DCL treated me great and helped me a lot through the process, but my next novel is Young Adult and they are not in the teen market.
Where we can we find you online?
I love to hear from readers! I am @Jesilea on twitter. There is also a Jesi Lea Ryan fan page in Facebook. Both are checked regularly. I also maintain a blog at http://diaryofabibliophile-jesilea.blogspot.com/. I review books, interview authors and occasionally post bits of my writing.
Do you have any upcoming publicity events that you'd like us to know about?
I am doing a blog tour. Here are a few of my scheduled stops:
November 4th – Interview at http://jamiedebree.com/index_Q328.php
November 8th – Review and Interview at http://chicklitplus.com/
November 9th – Interview at http://lisapietsch.com/be-my-guest/
November 10th – Interview at http://www.thebookvixen.com/
Be on the lookout, because some of these will also be hosting a giveaway!
Any words of wisdom you'd like to share with the readers?
It sounds trite, but don’t take it personal and don’t give up. Rejection is part of the business. It is not a reflection on you or your writing. Sometimes what you have just isn’t the right fit for the market. While submitting one novel, be working on your next work. It helps not to get too discouraged.