Jessa started writing the story that has turned into her first fiction novel when she was 14 years old. Twelve years and much work later, this Hoover resident is officially a published author. Her debut novel, Timeless: The Becoming of a Teenage Witch, is her contribution to young readers looking for vicarious adventure from characters they’ll feel like they know personally by the end.
What inspired you to write a young adult fiction book?
I’ve always read young adult fiction—even as an adult. Sometimes my family life could be tough, but books were a way to visit new worlds and experience fantastical adventures. Magical and supernatural worlds were always my favorite, and I knew I wanted to create a similar world for people seeking more magic in their lives.
How long did you work on the book’s plot? What gave you the idea for this storyline?
I actually started the book in high school, if you can believe it. I grew up on shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed, and I read every “witch” book I could find. I knew I wanted to create a storyline featuring a young witch. I even wrote about 100 pages. When I picked the book back up after finishing college and starting my career, I re-wrote those pages, but the initial idea remained. The plot continued to develop as the word-count increased. Once I got serious, the book took about a year and a half to finish.
What was your process for developing your characters? Did you draw on the personalities of anyone you know in real life?
I definitely borrowed personality traits from people in my life, but exemplified them in ways to shape supporting characters. Each person serves a role, such as Emily, a best friend character who provides comic relief. Emily’s real-world counterpart isn’t bold and humorous all the time. The characters even start to develop personalities of their own. When I’m finalizing a chapter, I like to imagine it as the scene of a movie. Sometimes a character’s action just happens in those moments, even ones I didn’t expect it.
What are the overall themes or messages in the book?
It started as your basic good vs. evil plot—light magic vs. dark magic. Ultimately, it became a story of finding inner strength and power after experiencing a great loss. We enter the story after the main character’s mother has passed away, and we explore how Emlyn deals with her death throughout the story. Emlyn accepting her magical abilities was a choice influenced by this loss, and she develops so much in just 235 pages. When you throw in the other characters, you get additional notes of friendship, betrayal, and the average struggles of a teenage girl. It’s never easy being in high school.
What do you hope young readers will take away from reading Timeless: The Becoming of a Teenage Witch?
I’d love the book to transport young readers to Savannah, Georgia, where they can experience a bit more magic in their lives. Maybe they’ll connect with Emlyn’s journey or Emily’s humor and become attached to the characters like I am. Mainly, I hope the book can be a reminder to someone with a dream. I started this story when I was 14. Now, at age 26, it’s real. If I can do it, so can they.
Stay up-to-date with events and information at Facebook.com/jessalynnpeasegarrett and JessaGarrett.com, or visit her Amazon page, Amazon.com/Timeless-Jessa-Lynn-Pease-Garrett/dp/0578435500.