Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Jessica Joyce Interview - You, with a View

Photo Content from Jessica Joyce

Jessica grew up a voracious reader who loved to lose herself in books (ask her about her impressive ability to walk and read at the same time, mastered after many years of practice). Thanks to a family full of romance-novel-loving women, she discovered love stories and never looked back, especially when she realized she could lose herself in the words she created.

She now lives happily-ever-ongoing with her husband and son in the Bay Area. When she’s not writing character-driven, realistic and relatable tales of millennials who are just Doing Their Best while falling in love, you can find her listening to one of her dozens of chaotically curated Spotify playlists, trying out a new skincare face mask, crying over cute animal TikToks, or watching the 2005 version of Pride & Prejudice.


When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
I’ve always written stories, ever since I was little, so in that way I’d say the realization has always kind of lived inside me. I have a photocopy of a book I wrote when I was 8 called The Horse (a riveting title), so even back then as a wee one I had a passion for writing. But I truly loved any creative endeavor—writing, drawing, sewing, painting. I grew up extremely right-brained. Put me in front of a math problem and I’d cry (and would today, too), but put me in front of a blank piece of paper and pencil? That was the zone.

I got serious about going after the writing dream in 2020, mid-pandemic, alongside many other people, I imagine! It was sort of that realization of, okay, life can pivot into wildness at any moment. Why am I not chasing this dream? So I went for it.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Without a doubt it’s connecting with people who have read You, with a View. It was pretty nerve-wracking when it started making its way into the hands of strangers, but it’s been amazing to see it resonate with people and to get to meet new people through the story. I love getting DMs from readers who want to talk about a specific part they loved, or ask questions, or talk about wonderful memories with their grandparents (which is a theme in the book). When I wrote You, with a View, I hoped that I’d get a chance to experience that connection, and it’s even better than I imagined.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
SOCIAL MEDIA. I have to shout it because it’s that huge of a distraction. Some days I’d be in the zone, and some days I’d write two sentences and then be like, “wow, I’m in a roll, let me just see what’s happening on TikTok/Twitter/Instagram” and suddenly I’d be thirty minutes down a cute animal video hole. I learned to write in 25-30 minute chunks and then give myself a 5 minute break where I could catch up on social media stuff, and that helped my productivity tremendously.

What chapter was the most memorable to write and why?
Gosh, this answer could go about five different ways but I’m going to pick chapter 13. I don’t want to get too spoilery, but it involves wound-tending and is really the first chapter where I got to lean allllll the way in to the tension growing between Noelle, the main character, and Theo, her love interest. I always find writing unresolved sexual tension VERY fun, and I reveled in torturing them a little bit with this chapter, and also showing vulnerability with both characters.

Can you tell us when you started YOU, WITH A VIEW, how that came about?
The glimmer of the idea first came to me in 2016 when I found old photos of my grandma and a very handsome man. I asked about him and found out that they were interested in one another (which was VERY obvious in the pictures) but that my great-grandmother didn’t approve, so they never ended up dating.

The rest of the idea came to me during the pandemic when I downloaded TikTok. I started seeing videos of people who had lost touch with relatives or friends or old loves, and some of them were hoping that TikTok could somehow reunite them. I thought about those old pictures of my grandma’s and wondered, “what would happen if someone found pictures of their grandma, similar to the ones I found, and wanted to know the story behind them but couldn’t ask their family? What if they made a TikTok hoping to find this mystery man, and ended up actually finding him through a relative?” And, being the romance reader/writer that I am, I knew the relative had to be a very attractive man whom the main character would eventually fall in love with. The rest is history!

What were your feelings when your first novel was accepted/when you first saw the cover of the finished product?
As soon as I saw the final cover, I was absolutely in love. First of all, the Berkley team did an incredible job with it; it’s one of the most stunning covers I’ve ever seen, and I can’t believe it’s mine sometimes! And seeing my book with a cover, in a very book-shaped shape, really made it feel real. So it was an amazing moment, seeing it all come to life.

Your Journey to Publication
As I mentioned, in 2020 I decided I wanted to write a book and try to get it published. I worked on it through the latter half of 2020 and in December, signed up for Twitter after doing some research and seeing that the writing community was super robust there. I had legitimately no idea what the steps were to getting published, so my first order of business was to connect with other writers who were on the same path as I was and learning the process.

I was lucky enough to meet a handful of absolutely amazing writers (who I’m still friends with today) guided me through revisions on that manuscript, preparing to query agents, and then actually querying with that manuscript. I sent out my first queries in April 2021.

I knew pretty quickly that this probably wasn’t going to be the manuscript that got me an agent, which was a really low point. When I sent it out, I had such high hopes (of course now I look back at it and am like, ohhh, yes, I see why it didn’t go anywhere. Perspective!) and it felt like everyone around me was nabbing an agent. It was a really difficult time for me. Querying can be a soul-crushing process—full of hope and rejection and obsessively checking your inbox for news of any kind. The tumbleweeds that passed through my inbox were epic, and for a minute I thought about scrapping all my plans. I was very lucky to be surrounded by those writer friends who encouraged me not to give up.

And then I remembered my idea, and something inside of me sparked. In May, I started my first draft of You, with a View and let my first manuscript languish in the querying trenches. As I wrote into the summer, I just had a strange gut instinct that was telling me YWAV was it. This was going to be The One. I finished the draft in August, thrust it into the hands of several beta readers, and when I got the thumbs up, pitched it in the #pitmad pitching contest on Twitter in September. Now, sometimes in these pitching contests pitches would get eight, ten, fifteen agent requests. I got one. One single solitary request! Suddenly my gut instinct didn’t feel so strong.

Nevertheless, I submitted my full manuscript to the requesting agent—and two days later, she emailed me saying she read it all in one go, was in love with it, and wanted to talk to me. This was, as every querying author knows, The Call. I set up time to speak with her the following week and sent out a handful of additional queries. She did end up offering me representation on that phone call, and over the course of the next two weeks, I spoke with other agents, one of whom ended up being the amazing agent I have today. I signed with her on October 14, 2021.

Because my manuscript was in pretty good shape, we turned around and went on submission very quickly, at the end of October 2021. The submission process was very quick, which I didn’t expect, and by mid-November, I was signing my deal with Berkley. There was much celebrating and yelling and excited capslock texts.

But to be honest, it also felt kind of surreal, like it was happening to someone else. I’d dreamed of being a published author for so long, but the process for this manuscript had been dizzingly quick, and it took me months to wrap my head around the fact that it was real and happening, that I was going to have not one but two books on bookshelves by the time 2024 was over. Even now, as my publication day approaches, I still have moments where it hits me. I’m a published author!

I also want to say that the road to publication is so different for everyone. There’s no blueprint. I have a ton of friends in the writing community and none of our experiences look remotely alike. There was a time where I thought about giving up because my path wasn’t looking like anyone else’s, so I hope anyone who’s reading this who’s about to go into that process knows that my experience isn’t a data point. It’s going to look different for everyone, but hopefully the end result is always going to be your work on a bookshelf, ready to be discovered by a new reader.

What is the first job you have had? 
A sales associate at Sam Goody, a music store. Every time it was my turn to have control of the sound system, I’d play *NSYNC’s No Strings Attached album. My co-workers h-a-t-e-d me.

What was your favorite subject when you were in school and why? 
English, probably for obvious reasons, haha. I just loved to write. When everyone else was groaning about having to write an essay, I was already dreaming up what I was going to say.

Name one thing you miss about being a kid. 
Just the innocence of it all. The lack of awareness of responsibility. Oh, and I know this is a second thing, but having boundless energy. I REALLY miss that.

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning? 
“Am I late?”

What's your most missed memory? 
Spending summers with my grandma. My cousin and I would visit her every year growing up and they were such beautiful stretches of time (despite the 110+ degree heat of Southern Utah).

Have you ever stood up for someone you hardly knew? 
Absolutely. I actually am incapable of minding my own business, so when I see something going down, I often find myself drifting over to step in if needed.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before? 
True love with heartbreak. Life is so much richer with the ups and downs.

What do you usually think about right before falling asleep? 
I fall asleep listening to music, so I’m usually daydreaming up story ideas or thinking about whatever characters I’m writing in the moment.

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go? 
My early twenties so I could do it over again, MUCH less anxiously!

Any Camp stories you would like to share? 
I think this is an interesting factoid—I never, ever went to camp. I think I would’ve been way too homesick for it anyway.

At a movie theater which arm rest is yours? 
Both J (only if I’m sharing with my husband and not a stranger, of course. In that case, I’m angling for the right one)

What is one unique thing are you afraid of? 
Space. I can’t even visit planetariums because I’ll have a panic attack. The thought of infinite….gah. I can’t even finish the sentence. It’s terrifying.

When was the last time you told someone you loved them? 
Today! I tell people I love them all the time.

What were you doing the last time you really had a good laugh? 
This morning my husband made some silly joke (I don’t even remember what it was) but we both cackling about it for minutes and minutes. My favorite.

Most horrifying dream you have ever had? 
When I was little, I used to have this recurring dream that I was at a circus at night and I’d go into these boxcar looking things and there’d be bodies in there, but instead of blood coming from their wounds, it was refried beans. It sounds ridiculous, but I had it ALL THE TIME and it was traumatizing!

Two weeks on the road... stuck in a car with your high-school enemy.

Noelle Shepard is grieving the loss of her beloved grandmother when she discovers decades-old photos and letters that hint to a forbidden love in her gram's past. Needing to know the full story, she creates a TikTok video appealing for information - and it goes viral.

Through her video, she manages to track down her grandmother's secret love, Paul, who offers to take her on the honeymoon road-trip he and Gram planned but never got to go on.

Noelle jumps at the chance to make this one last connection with her grandmother. There's just one problem - Paul's grandson is Noelle's frustratingly handsome high-school rival Theo.

And Theo has to come, too.

It's only two weeks. Surely Noelle can survive that long? But with one car between them - and often only one bed - it doesn't take long for things to heat up...

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  1. my first "heartbreak" was when I was like 16. I didn't know what love was >.<

  2. Never lucky in love, so perhaps it never ended?

  3. First heartbreak was when I was a junior in high school.

  4. I asked a girl out once. She said Why? I didn't have a response to that