Welcome Fantasy Author Jessica Fortunato
Posted by H.A Caine
Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?
I am 27. I am a butcher, a baker….and I use a lot of candles. I write constantly otherwise I’m almost positive my head would explode like a balloon of chunky soup. I think if you haven’t finished a book and copied down at least 5 quotes that touched you in some way, the book wasn’t worth your time.
Also, I love elephants, Iced Vanilla Coffee, and every Horror movie ever made.
What was your dream growing up?
To be happy. I’m still working on it.
What made you start writing?
Books. I loved them. Before I was a strong reader, my Grandma read to me often. I was writing by the time I was ten. I would write short stories, fairytales, and my Grandma who adored books would read and critique everything I wrote. She would make small notes, or tell me what character she liked best.
Is writing something you’ve always wanted to do or is it new to you?
I have always wanted to write. It never felt like much of a choice for me. I had strong feelings, so I wrote them down. I have a million files on my computer full of everything from a witty quote I said, to long epic poems. Writing is the ultimate healer.
You’ve recently released your first book. What is it about?
“The Sin Collector” follows the life of Liliana, a born Sin Collector. She has spent over 100 years absorbing people’s sins so they may rest in peace come death. However when she meets another Collector, a boy from her childhood, he insists everything she has been taught is a lie. Liliana must make her way from sunny L.A. all the way to the streets of Madrid. Searching for answers to a question we all share. Why are we here? The friends and enemies she makes along the way only seem to blur the line between right and wrong. Before she knows it, Liliana finds herself in the middle of an ancient war. Can Liliana fight the Castus, an organization whose sole mission is to kill every Collector? Should she trust her head or her heart when the two most important men in her life are fighting alongside her?
What made you decide to write it?
I love reading about theology, I read about the myth of Sin-Eaters, and I thought the idea of them was amazing, yet I’d only heard of them before in one low budget crap movie. The myths were extraordinary. Here is this person, this being, who can do anything they like, but they choose to help others find redemption. I thought it would be an amazing character to write. So many characters are thrown into their situations, for example turned because of a vampire bite, attacked by a werewolf. However, here is a character that does these great things because she has faith it’s the right thing to do.
Are you working on anything new? What is it?
I am working hard on the sequel to the first book titled The Sin Collector: Sacrifice I have written some scenes for the second book that I cannot wait to share.
Any special routines you have to do before you can sit down and write?
Usually I write when I’m inspired, so there is no routine. A good writer uses discipline, and sets aside time to write. However, that has never worked for me. I have written some of my favorite chapters at 4am because an idea was rattling around in my brain and I couldn’t ever dare sleep before I got it out.
When are you your most constructive?
If I ever produce anything decent before midnight, I shock myself.
Are there any hidden meanings in your book? A lesson to be learned?
I like the undertones of religion and spirituality in my book. I love that Liliana and many other Collectors do what they do because they believe in it. They have faith in their abilities and they have faith in one another. I suppose the thread of meaning and lesson throughout my book is the bond of family. It’s about creating a family, and standing by them because they are your people. It’s about being willing to lose everything just to save them. It’s the most important thing any of us have.
What’s in store for you next?
In my fantasy, I would love The Sin Collector to be printed and released, shortly followed by its sequel.
Do you think authors should read reviews of their own books?
Yes and no. I say no because it can be really soul crushing when you have spent all this time working on something and someone just up and says nope…hated it. However, on the other hand I think it is ultimately in the writer’s best interest to read reviews. Criticism is tough, but it can also be very constructive as well as motivating.
Do you read your reviews?
Yes. I’m a Masochist.
Would you argue with a reviewer over a bad review?
No never! I remember one of my favorite authors (a pretty famous one) got into a huge dispute over a negative review. Personally, I didn’t agree with the review, I had loved the book and that was good enough for me. She took it hard, posted horrendous things about the reviewer, and really went round the bend so to speak. I think part of becoming an adult is realizing that not everyone is going to like you or what you’re doing, and that is OK. It speaks nothing less of you. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion.
Now that you’ve published your book, is there anything you would change? Any regrets?
I would have dedicated more time to it and done it all sooner. I messed around unorganized for two years. Only after losing someone precious to me did I use my writing as a channel to focus and escape, and accomplish the goal that I had set for myself. To get my writing out there whether everyone loved it or hated it, at least I could say I tried.
How often do you write? Do you have a word-count schedule to keep you on track or do you just “go with the flow”?
I go with the flow. There are some days I write nothing at all. On those days, I feel like a complete failure and hope that McDonalds is hiring. Yet other days I will sit typing for six hours straight completely engulfed in what is happening to my character. You can’t force inspiration, I’ve tried and it only ends in 2 bland pages of writing and the desire to rip your own hair out.
Are you published with a publishing house or self-publish?
I chose to self publish through Kindle.
Do you have a favorite genre to write? To read?
Mostly I read Non-Fiction, especially books on theology and psychology. I have tried writing Non-Fiction and wasn’t very good at it. I adore being able to write Fiction. I love having the ability to create characters, abilities, and entire histories from scratch. It is as close to magic as you can get.
Who is/are your favorite author(s)?
I am addicted to anything by Alice Hoffman, her books never cease to leave me feeling overcome with hope and magic. I thought the Hunger Games trilogy was ok, as well as the Twilight Saga. Of course, I grew up with JK Rowling and Harry Potter. I can’t wait for Lauren Oliver’s sequel to the novel Delirium, called Pandemonium, to be released later this month.
What/who is your inspiration for writing?
It sounds corny but it will always be my Grandma. Whenever I write a chapter I particularly love, I wish she were still here to read it and give me notes. Even though she has passed, I like to think she knows what I’m doing, and I hope likes what she is reading!
What are you reading right now? Who is it by?
I am actually rereading my favorite book of all time, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Whenever I’m having a rough time, and need a pick me up, it is always my go to book. EVERYONE should have at least one go-to book in their lives, like an old friend that sits patiently waiting for them.
If you’ve ever re-read a book, what book was it? How many times? Why?
I reread tons of books. The Little Prince is the top of the list. I love The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman, the main character in that book is so relatable for me it’s scary. When I need to warm my heart I go to my beaten up copy of Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet In Heaven. That is one of the most beautiful works of literary art I have ever read.
What is your favorite reader/writer interaction site?
I REALLY want to say Pottermore, but alas you still can’t sign up!! I check it daily and it drives me nuts!
If you could co-write a story with any published or self-published author, who would it be? Why them? What would you write?
I know I may take heat for this one but I’m going to say Stephenie Meyer. She has this immense gift for character development that I would give anything to have. You cannot read her books and not want Alice as a best friend, or Rosalie as an ally. I would love to continue her Twilight Saga story, but I would beg her to make some changes to her three main characters. I feel like I could help with dialogue immensely. Make Edward less creepy, Bella less pathetic, and Jacob less needy.
Vampire or werewolf?
I’ll always choose vampire. Living recklessly, compelling people to do your will, living for centuries to witness art and music evolve. To travel and dance. It would be a freedom like no other.
Favorite television show?
I have a CRAZY fangirl addiction to this show Lost Girl. It has been on in Canada for two seasons now, and the first season just started in the US on the SyFy network. It is based in our world where anything supernatural of origin is called the Fae. The main character Bo (she kicks butt) is a succubus, and only recently realized that is what she is. In the first episode, she saved a girl named Kenzi, and they are now best friends, helping the Fae who need it. There is a hot male Siren cop, an even hotter werewolf cop. I love the show so much I went out after the first week and got the Kenzi haircut….yeah I’m THAT obsessed.
Chicken Parmesan all the way
One thing you want to do before you die?
Have children, and of course read to them every night so that they carry on the magic and love that are books.
What’s the next step for you, now that you have published your first book?
Feverishly working on the sequel. Hoping people will buy and love the first book. Checking my Amazon account 70 times a day. I would be honored if someone one day told me that one of my books was their go-to feel good read.
Anything else you would like to tell us about yourself?
I love to answer questions, and I love to make new friends, you can catch me on twitter where I’m usually posting some obscure quote, or replying to other people’s obscure quotes. I also have a soundtrack section to my website which I think a lot of people would enjoy. Music is such an inspiration and there are some songs that helped me write certain chapters, so I let my readers check out my playlist one day at a time.
My Website for The Sin Collector: http://thesincollector.weebly.com/index.html
My Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/JessFortunato