Mostly, the act of writing demands physical solitude. Writing and rewriting alone in front of a computer, the only sound the tap-tap-tapping of fingers on the keyboard (or, perhaps, the tap-tap-tapping of the table when the writer’s block strikes).
But for local author Jessica Strawser, it is in the aloneness that she’s able to craft whole worlds of fictional characters—bringing to life seemingly ordinary women and men, and weaving them intricately, masterfully, into stories that question what you know (and what you think you know) about those closest to you.
Jessica graciously offered us a little sneak peek into her progression and process.
Q: When did you know you wanted to write fiction?
A: For me, there’s a huge difference between vaguely wanting to write fiction and seriously pursuing it. The serious part didn’t come until I’d worked my way up to editorial director at Writer’s Digest, where I’d spend all day editing articles about the craft of writing and interviewing authors. I’ve always been a voracious reader—and anyone who loves fiction as much as I do wouldn’t last long in that job without deciding to give it an honest go.
Q: Inspiration for your characters—comes from where?
A: I visit with a lot of book clubs and this is always the number one question once the wine gets flowing … which is exactly why it would make me nervous to ever base my characters on real people. I think all writers leave traces of their own heart behind, whether they mean to or not. But by and large, the fun is in dreaming them up.
Q: Your secret for staying motivated?
A: When I have a manuscript in progress, I live by daily and weekly word count goals. I’m a big believer in forward momentum. Having started as a journalist, I’m very driven by deadlines.
Q: And Loveland? How you ended up here, what you like most about it …
A: I’ve lived in the area ever since graduating from Ohio University in 2001, but didn’t move to Loveland until 2014. Back then, we’d drive out to Loveland as a special treat for bike rides and a meal on The Works’ patio, long before many of our favorite businesses today existed. I love the natural beauty, the friendly faces and the combination of the historic and the new-and-improved.
Jessica Strawser is editor-at-large for Writer’s Digest and the author of five novels, including her most recent, The Next Thing You Know, released in March. She has written for The New York Times’ Modern Love, Publishers Weekly and others, and is a popular speaker at writing conferences. She lives locally with her husband and two children. All her works are available wherever you buy books.