Author: Jessica Dotta
Book: Born of Persuasion (Price of Privilege #1)
We are excited for our first interview to be with the lovely Jessica Dotta. Her novel, Born of Persuasion debuts September 1, 2013 (and earlier on August 16 on Amazon).
Congratulations on the release of your debut novel Born of Persuasion, the first of The Price of Privilege Trilogy. Tell us a little about Born of Persuasion and the following two books.
The Price of Privilege trilogy is set in Victorian, England and is narrated by the protagonist, Julia Elliston, who after a lifetime of silence is finally setting the record straight about the scandal that shocked England during her teens.
It begins with Born of Persuasion when Julia is in her seventeenth year. She’s recently orphaned and living on the charity of an anonymous guardian who intends to establish her as a servant in far-off Scotland.
With two months to devise a better plan, Julia’s first choice to marry her childhood sweetheart is denied. But when a titled dowager offers to introduce Julia into society, a realm of possibilities opens. However, treachery and deception are as much a part of Victorian society as titles and decorum, and Julia quickly discovers her present is deeply entangled with her mother’s mysterious past. With no laws to protect her, she must unravel the secrets on her own.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background (writing or otherwise?)
The socially expected answer would be something like: I love writing (and I do!) that I’ve worked as a book blogger and book publicist (and I have.)
Yet when I answer that way, I feel like I just carved out the soul of who I am and presented a hollow wooden form in its place. Yet, to say more is a bit like someone asking a casual acquaintance how they’re doing, and getting the full truth.
However, since you asked . . . as I write this interview, I am about to enter the last year of the “The Jessica Years.” (I blogged about the opening of these years on Inspire-a-Fire. When I was 37 and knighted and ordained these three years for healing.) Right now, I spend my days hoping to launch a book career in publishing, while balancing the demands of being a single working mom. To maintain the amount of time I need to write, I work as a caregiver to the elderly and occasionally pick up an editing or PR job, when time allows.
How long have you been working on Born of Persuasion? Did it come quickly? Or has it been a labor of love?
Both! I started this story in my teens, and though I was intrigued by it, I set it aside. It refused to go away. Every time I sat down to write over the next decade, it was still there, demanding to be written.
Telling a story and learning the craft of writing, however, are two different tasks. The story tumbled out of me, once I finally decided to write it but learning to shear down my writing and how to navigate the publishing world was a decade-long process.
Born of Persuasion is a Period/Historical and even gothic novel but it also has Christian themes. Can you talk a little bit about the genre and how it crosses over into both Christian Fiction and the general Historical Market?
Much of history is defined by what the church did or didn’t do in a particular age. The Victorian era is no different.
The Church of England was woven into the fabric of society at the onset of Victoria, England. There was even a branch of Parliament comprised of Lords Spiritual, those who sat in the Lords because of their ecclesiastical role. What happens over the course of this trilogy dives right into the heart of English law, particularly the religious view of the law.
Also from the very first novel conflict is established when Julia, antagonistic of the church and daughter of a famed atheist, is barred from the future she and her childhood sweetheart planned because it now conflicts with his faith.
How we handle an extreme clash between our personal beliefs and our desires is a universal theme and therefore for both markets. Often times gray happens where we want matters to be black and white. For example, what does one do when they believe war is evil but becomes necessary? Because the characters in this novel are wrestling with a theme we all wrestle with, and because it comes to the heart of historically how English society was once run, this series becomes appropriate for both markets.
The novel takes place in 1838. Why Victorian? Why England?
How fun is this! By the time you reach this year, the middle-aged characters would have grown up during the same time period Jane Austen’s novels took place while the young adults are the same age as the Bronte characters. What could be more entertaining than forcing these two generations to occupy the same page?
I chose England because its strict laws are necessary elements to the trilogy. Plus nearly all the books I read during my youth took place in England, so it felt natural to write stories there.
All three of the books in the trilogy have very catchy titles that capture your attention. For instance, with Born of Persuasion it’s easy to think of Jane Austen…which is never a bad thing. How did you ultimately decide what your titles would be?
I was so pleased that my original titles were accepted along with the books. A lot of thought went into them. The titles evolved over several years. For a long time, I’d keep a notepad where I’d capture words or phrases that I liked.
At one point, I remember thinking how much I liked Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility’s titles. I liked that they were three-worded and the main words started with the same letter. It’s what started me looking for 3 worded titles. It was hard finding two complimentary words with the same letter. I did manage to come up with Price of Privilege, though.
Eventually one day I found “mark of distinction” in a thesaurus and it perfectly captured the story in the second novel. Born of Persuasion is another phrase I came across that was perfect for the first book.
Reading, Born of Persuasion we couldn’t help but notice the stylistic similarities you have to both Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte. Would you consider them to be major influences in your writing?
Well, there’s no doubt they had major influence. During my youth, I read their novels over and over again. What you read, is basically what you write. At that time, I had no idea what I was influencing my future writing. I was just re-reading what I already owned.
Keeping these characters in line with Austen and Bronte’s generations took a careful study of their dialogue…
For example, unless I’m purposefully showing that a character flaunts the system, it is rare for a character over forty to use contractions. Yet the younger generation will. (They’re a bit freer)
I also avoided “do and does” as much as possible. So instead of, “I don’t know what you’re talking about” I’d work to ensure it is as true to that era as I can capture I’d work to make sure something like “I have not an idea what you mean” was in its place.
Julia, the protagonist of Born of Persuasion is a strong female heroine with flaws and layers, which we think make the best characters. If you could describe Julia with one word what would it be?
Julia definitely gets caught up in a romance with both the wholesome, yet tortured Edward and the dark and mysterious Mr. Macy. Was that fun to write? It’s definitely very entertaining to read.
Most of those scenes flowed rather naturally, but they were difficult to layer afterwards. When I reread books and series, I like to see things that I couldn’t have caught on the first read through. Or I like to discover something funny, but it’s only funny if you’ve read the second or third book.
So in one sense they were easy to write, but they took a lot of thought afterwards to get just right.
How do you feel about the idea of your books being adapted into a film or TV Series? Is it something you have considered? If so, are there any actors you imagine in the leading roles?
I think all authors dream of seeing our work adapted into film. It’d be fun to see these particular characters on screen.
Who do I envision? Wow. I’d love to hear your thoughts. The hardest character to pick is Macy. Who do you think? Joaquin Phoenix?
The first time I saw Anna Popplewell in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, I thought there’s a good Julia candidate.
I can’t think of an Edward yet.
(For Mr. Macy, we would go more British: Perhaps Aidan Turner from Being Human UK, The Hobbit, and The Mortal Instruments because he can be both charismatic and dark; Aidan was born to play Heathcliff so a role like this would fit him like a glove. On the other hand, Emun Elliot would also be fantastic.
Anna would be great as Julia! Another possibility would be someone like Samantha Barks of Les Miserables fame.
And then Edward. We suggest Douglas Booth from Great Expectations and the upcoming Romeo and Juliet).
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors trying to get published?
Endure with patience, and use this time well!
I didn’t know it at the time, but the time it took me to becoming published (10 years of pursuit) were more important than I realized. I enhanced my writing technique, gained skills such as HTML and PR as I plodded towards this goals. Make the most of this time, it’s valuable. Never give up.
Born of Persuasion has an open ending, so any hint of when the second book in the trilogy Mark of Distinction will be released?
Well, we’re nearing the end of the editing process of Mark of Distinction and release dates do depend upon the manuscript’s acceptance. There’s a strong possibility it will be out before a year passes.
We know this month you’re having a lot of fun giveaways for each day to celebrate the launch of your book on September 1st. Can you tell us more about it? How can someone participate?
Each day during the month of August there’s a different giveaway. There’s some awesome stuff being offered. The giveaways are unique artists and I think you’d really enjoy the party!
“Like” my Facebook Page to help ensure you’ll see the prize every day: https://www.facebook.com/BornofPersuasion
There’s also (separately) a chance to win 1 of 5 autographed first editions by donning a hat and taking a picture of yourself with a teacup. Post your picture and let your Facebook friends know you’re doing it to celebrate the launch of Born of Persuasion. Tag me, and I’ll feature you, giving you a chance to win a copy.
For our full thoughts on the book, read Autumn’s Review.
If you’d like to join in on the book launch read Amber’s blog post.
To order Born of Persuasion you can go to the Amazon page here:Pinterest.