Thursday, 24 April 2014

Interview with Jessica Arnold, author of The Looking Glass

Today we interview our fabulous pub sister, Jessica Arnold, whose debut novel, The Looking Glass, is out now! I'm so excited to read this book! It sounds spooky, creepy, and full of awesome!

Welcome to We Do Write, Jessica. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Thank you! And thanks for letting me digitally drop by! I’m Jessica and I love writing, puppies, and fuzzy striped socks. I write YA and also work in the publishing industry, where I code and develop digital books. I am good at Boggle. I stink at Chess. My dearest ambition at the moment is to learn to do a handstand. That about sums me up.

Good luck with the handstand! How long have you been writing?

I decided to become an author the way I make most of my important life decisions—on the spur of the moment. When I was little, I swore I'd grow up to be ANYTHING BUT an author. Then one day (about six years ago) I woke up and thought, "Hey, I should write a book." Rational? Hardly. But no one has ever claimed that people who put themselves through the madness of trying to publish are particularly same.


Tell us about THE LOOKING GLASS. What’s the story about?

The Looking Glass is about Alice, a fourteen-year-old girl who is visiting a “haunted” hotel with her family. After hitting her head on the bottom of the pool, Alice wakes up in the hotel lobby with no clue how she got there. And, when she happens to glance into a mirror, she sees her body being rushed to the hospital. Trapped, alone, and only able to see the real hotel through the mirrors, Alice realizes that the place she’s in is nothing more than a copy, and she herself is no better. The real Alice is in a coma.

As Alice explores her prison, she realizes that the hotel she’s stuck in isn’t an exact copy of the modern one. Everything here is older, and everywhere there are portraits of the same woman—an actress named Elizabeth Blackwell. When Alice discovers Elizabeth’s bloodstained diary, she finds herself delving into the hotel’s horrifying history, a never explained murder, and a curse from the 1800s that might still be intact. And if Alice can’t find a way to break the curse before it’s too late, her real body, still comatose in the hospital, will die.

Ooh! That sounds SO good! I can't wait to read it! How did the idea of the story come to you?

Sadly it was inspired by the tragic death of my roommate’s niece, who drowned in a swimming pool. She was kept alive on life support for a few days, much as Alice’s body is kept alive in The Looking Glass while she searches for a way to break a deadly curse. I also happened to be reading “The Yellow Wallpaper” in one of my classes at the time, which heavily influenced the character Elizabeth’s mental decline.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I plan like a plotter, but write like a pantser, which I’m pretty sure is not a good approach. I plot out whole story arcs and then, in the middle of writing them, change my mind, start making different decisions, and have to map the story out all over again.

I think a lot of writer's do that. What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

Starting! Once I can sit myself down, close my Internet browser, remember where I left off, and actually start writing, I do pretty well. The first five minutes are the most crucial.

What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

Unfortunately … Google. And Google always is nearby. Which doesn’t do wonders for productivity, let me tell you … even when you’re searching in the name of story research.

If only Google could search for the things we need and not let us get distracted. Right?

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

I want to write something wise and philosophical here, but honestly all I want is the ability to fly. Because that would be AWESOME.

Speaking of Google, what's the weirdest thing you've googled?

I don’t remember the exact search terms, but at one point I had to figure out how one of my characters was going to murder another one. Several searches for deadly poisons later … I think it’s safe to say I’m on the NSA’s watch list.

Oh, me too. Don't worry! Finish this sentence: If I'm not writing, I'm probably ... 

Dead. Not to be melodramatic, but … you know, actually I’m just going to be melodramatic. I do have periods where I take a break from writing, but if I’ve stopped writing permanently, I’m probably dead or dying.

And finally, where can people find you and your books online?

My website is and I tweet @jess_s_arnold. I love digital friends, so don’t be shy!

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