San Francisco Bay Area novelist, editor and writing teacher Wendy Tokunaga's Official Blog. Mostly writing and editing tips and tricks, plus commentary on publishing, but also posts on Japan, music, TV, film, social media, cats, the writer's life and anything else I feel like talking about.
Monday, November 24, 2008
THE FIDELITY FILES - by Jessica Brody
My guest today on the Girlfriend's Cyber Circuit Lit Blog tour is Jessica Brody, author of The Fidelity Files.
On June 29, 2008 the book hit the Denver Post bestseller list as the number two bestselling paperback in Colorado. Now Jessica is aiming her sights at the global book market with a recent release in the UK and upcoming releases in France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Russia and Taiwan.
The provocative novel (first released by St. Martin’s Press in June of 2008) strikes a sensitive chord in readers, telling the story of a charismatic, young woman who goes undercover as a “fidelity inspector” to test men’s loyalty.
Jessica recently flew to London to promote the November release of the book’s UK edition (published by Random House UK), which debuted in WHSmith’s (one of the country’s leading booksellers) top 100 bestselling paperback list. The title continues to sell across the pond, gearing up to outperform even the American release.
The Fidelity Files confronts the thorny issue of infidelity head-on with its controversial main character Jennifer Hunter. Operating under the code name “Ashlyn,” Jennifer leads a double life. Her friends and family all think she’s an investment banker who’s too busy to date. In reality, Jennifer is hired by suspicious wives and girlfriends to test the faithfulness of their partners. Her job has made her pretty cynical about her own love life. But just as she’s ready to swear off men for ever, Jennifer meets sexy, sophisticated Jamie Richards, a man who might just past her fidelity test. However, before she retires her secret agent self forever, she takes on one last assignment – a job which will permanently alter her perceptions of trust, honesty, and love.
A gripping story of one woman’s quest to come to terms with her past, find her future, and—most of all—rediscover her faith in love, the novel was chosen as one of USA Today’s hottest summer reads and has recently been optioned for television. St. Martin’s Press and Random House UK have already purchased the sequel (yet untitled) to be published in the fall of 2009 and Jessica has recently sold two young adult novels to Farrar, Straus, Giroux.
Just back from her UK tour, Jessica took the time to answer some questions about her novel, writing, and the publishing biz.
What was the inspiration behind the writing of The Fidelity Files?
Before I became a full-time writer, I worked in a very corporate environment. And like all corporate jobs, there were a certain number of “alcohol-related” events that I was expected to attend. I would often find myself at work happy hour functions in nearby bars, observing the interactions between single and non-single co-workers as their behaviors gradually declined from professional to something else entirely. Something hardly capable of being described as “appropriate.”
Witnessing these “indiscretions” upset me on a profound level. I secretly wished that someone would tell the “conveniently” absent significant others about what their husbands/wives/boyfriends/ girlfriends/fiancés really did while attending these “obligatory” and supposedly “uneventful” work functions. But I certainly wasn’t going to be the one to do it. I was brave enough to think it…but not exactly brave enough to go knocking on people’s doors with bad news. You know what people tend to do to “the messenger.”
So instead I created a character whose job and purpose in life was to do just that. To reveal the truth to anyone who wanted to know. To knock on all the doors that I never had the courage to knock on. An invincible superhero-esque woman whose quest is to fight against the evils of infidelity. But of course, she soon finds out…she’s not as invincible as she once thought.
How do you approach writing your novel? Do you outline the plot? Start with a character or...?
The writing process is very random for me. It all depends on the day. Because I tend to be equally right and left brained, sometimes I feel as though the writing process is just a constant struggle (or sometimes clash) between the two sides of my brain to come up with a consistent way to write a novel. I write outlines, because my analytical side tells me it’s the right thing to do, but then halfway through the story, I come to the conclusion that I only write outlines so that I’ll have something to deviate from. I create complicated spreadsheets (a nod back to my days as a strategic analyst) for my storylines and page counts and pacing only to abandon them halfway through. And yet, despite this seemingly random chaos, it all feels perfectly natural to me. As if it was designed specifically for a purpose. So I suppose, my lack of a defined process is a process in itself.
What is the elevator pitch for The Fidelity Files?
Okay, after many, many months, I’ve finally perfected my elevator pitch. Probably because I tend to ride in a lot of elevators. So here it is. Floor 1 to Floor 30. Go:
The Fidelity Files is the story of a beautiful, L.A. woman who works as an undercover “fidelity inspector,” hired by suspicious wives and girlfriends to test the faithfulness of the men in their lives. Except no one in her life knows what she does. Her friends and family all think she works for an investment bank.
What is your writing schedule like?
It’s actually fairly simple. I write when I have enough will power to stop procrastinating. Some days that will power comes at 9:00 am (a particularly good day) some days it doesn’t come until 7 or 8 at night. And then of course, some days it doesn’t come at all! Of course, all my procrastination can definitely be counted as “research,” I swear.
What is your advice for those who looking to get their novel published?
Take criticism. Believe in your work and stand behind it, but don’t be afraid to make changes. Try to be as objective as possible when it comes to your writing (I know how impossible that sounds) but it will only help you in the long run. Use rejections to evolve yourself as a writer, not just to line your waste basket. When someone rejects your work and offers a reason, don’t just blow it off and claim that they “didn’t get it” or that they clearly didn’t read it closely enough, dissect it and try to figure out if what they’re saying makes sense and if it will inevitably help your work. There a lot of people in this industry—agents, editors, other writers, etc.—who know what they’re talking about and know what it takes to make a book work. After all, that’s what they get paid for! Listen to them with open ears and grateful hearts. There’s a fine balance between staying true to your art and being open for suggestions, try to stay somewhere in the middle. If they “didn’t get it,” chances are, readers won’t get it either. And you won’t be there to explain it to them in the middle of Barnes and Noble.
Check out the book trailer for the Fidelity Files here. It recently won the Best Author Made Video from the New Covey Book Trailer Awards. And check out Jessica's Web site here.
Continued success to you, Jessica!
Posted by Wendy Tokunaga at 10:26 AM
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