Dear Bully: Jessica Brody *Interview*

With the release of Dear Bully on September 5th, we are celebrating it's release and message here at BNR. From Sept. 4th to Sept. 14th, we will be having authors that contributed to DB on the blog.

Today on the blog is Jessica Brody, author of "My Life Undecided" and "The Karma Club":
Jessica Brody knew from a young age that she wanted to be a writer. She started self "publishing" her own books when she was seven years old, binding the pages together with cardboard, wallpaper samples and electrical tape. After graduating from Smith College in 2001 where she double majored in Economics and French and minored in Japanese, Jessica later went on to work for MGM Studios as a Manager of Acquisitions and Business Development. In May of 2005, Jessica quit her job to follow her dream of becoming a published author. In four short years, Jessica has sold five novels. Jessica recently sold five more young adult titles to her publisher, Macmillan Children's Publishing Group. Jessica's books are published in over ten foreign countries. Jessica now works full time as a writer and producer. She currently splits her time between Los Angeles and Colorado.
Interview with Jessica

About You:

How did you come up with the idea for "My Life Undecided"?

This book was definitely one of those “aha!” moments that I hear writers talk about. My husband and I were watching TV, an ad for a reality show came on and I said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a reality show where you could vote on what the characters did. As in, “who they went out with?” or “Whether or not they forgave their backstabbing best friend.” Like American Idol meets The Hills. We both agreed although it would be cool, it wouldn’t be practical from a production standpoint since they shoot those reality shows months before they air. I was not deterred though. I said, “Fine, I’ll write it as a book,” and then marched up the stairs and in ten short minutes, wrote a page-long synopsis for what would become MY LIFE UNDECIDED and sent it to my editor. She wrote back right away saying that she loved it and the book was born!

What is the difference between writing a screenplay and writing a novel?

There are many things I love about writing both. In novels you really get to live inside the character's mind and learn about everything she's thinking. I love internal monologue and so writing novels is fun in that you get to explore so much of what you would never see on the screen of a movie. Screenplays are great, though, because you can tell a story so much more succinctly and visually. I love writing montages in screenplays. A series of quick scenes that speed you through a part of the story. You can't really do that very well in novels.

Is there any genre that you wish to touch on in the future?

I would love to one day write a mystery novel. I try to put a little bit of mystery in all my books, regardless of the genre. I lay clues for the main character to find that eventually lead her to solve the puzzle at the end. So I think it would be fun to try my hand at a real mystery novel!

What do you think adult novels have that you can not do with YA?

I don't think there's much you can do with adult novels that you can't do with YA these days. YA has become so edgy and mature in the last few years. I think the big difference between YA and adult fiction is the point of view. Adult characters have a bit more perspective about the world and are sometimes more jaded than teen characters. What makes YA fiction so fun is that the characters are experiencing a lot of emotions and situations for the first time. Everything is raw and new. It's really fun to put yourself back into that mindset.

What is the most rewarding part of being an author?

Getting feedback from readers. Whether it's in a good review left on Amazon, a fan letter or email, or meeting readers at signing events, when someone tells you they enjoyed your book (or better yet, it changed them somehow), there's no better feeling in the world!

About DB:

Why did you decide to get involved with Dear Bully?

There was no decision to be made. As soon as Megan and Carrie sent around the email about what they were doing, I instantly knew it was something I wanted (needed!) to do. I was affected by bullying in middle school and it truly shaped who I am today. I was so excited to be able to share my story in such an important anthology.

Other than bullying victims, who should read this book?

I think there's something in here for everyone. Parents of teenagers, parents of kids who will eventually be teenagers, teachers, aunts, uncles, grand parents, adults who were bullied when they were younger, bullies themselves. Everyone can get something out of this book. I guarantee it!

How has your experiences made you stronger?

I always say, "I don't believe in regret." Everything that happens to you makes you who you are. There's an opportunity to learn and grow from every experience you encounter. When I moved to a new school in the sixth grade and I was bullied by some of the kids, it only made me more independent and determined to do something with my life. It fueled my drive to be successful. Because I didn't have many friends in the beginning, I threw all of my energy into studying and creative endeavors. And it set me up to be motivated and a self-starter in the future.

How should someone reach out for help or support?

Talk to someone you trust. A friend, a parent, a relative, a teacher, a volunteer at a hotline. There are so many people out there who can help you. I know it may not seem that way, but it's true. Tell someone what's happening. Don't hold it inside. It will only make it worse. When my sister was in junior high, she was bullied by an older girl at her school who threatened to hurt her. My sister told my mom, my mom told the police and the girl and her parents got a very serious visit from the police department. She never bothered my sister again. Please reach out!

Give advice about bullying in three words.
You're not alone.
Where you can find Jessica:
Thank you to Jessica for participating with our Dear Bully Spotlight event! You can order Dear Bully on Amazon and see the official website here.
Peace and Fangs,
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