An I Love YA Fiction Exclusive!
Hi all! It’s me, Judith. Now it’ll come off as hard
to swallow, but even though Ellen and I are two different people, we pretty much share the same opinions about books. Honest. I’m going to call it bookapathy (not to be confused by a combination of book + apathy because that would give it a whole other meaning that doesn’t work at all here). Our eerily similar opinions are part of what make running this blog together that much easier–my counterpart isn’t bitching and moaning all the time that I gave some random book a 3 when it actually deserved a 10. I’m so glad that we have bookapathy because when I read Jillian Dodd’s That Boy, all I could think was, Ellen is gonna flip! This is so good and she will adore it! And let me tell you, folks, she did. A lot. And to top it off she wrote a kick ass review of That Boy that put us on great terms with the lovely author herself.
When That Wedding came out, we were beside ourselves. The squeeing could be heard clear into Manhattan and all I could think was, we gotta pump Jillian Dodd for information because if we want to know it, you better believe the rest of her fans do too.
Without further ado, for your reading pleasure, a Q&A with Jillian Dodd:
Hi Jillian. Thanks for answering some questions for us. We’ve been dying to pick your brain ever since we finished That Boy. I swear I remember the day it ended so clearly–the book stopped and the first thing I did was hop on my computer to send Ellen an email about getting herself a copy stat. She told me that Amazon had been pushing it on her for months but she had resisted mainly because the life of a grad student is lacking in money and she valued eating over reading (marginally of course). Well finally she got it and after a two day reading binge was just as hooked.
So first things first. The question that is on everyone’s mind: Where can we find your real life inspiration for Phillip? Address? Phone number? Whatever you want to give, you can tell us. We won’t publish it anywhere. Honest.
I think everyone has their own image of the perfect guy. I know when you reviewed That Boy, you scoured the book looking for physical descriptions of him. Did you notice that there aren’t many? Did you notice that Danny is mostly described as a sixth grader? I give very minimal physical descriptions to my characters. I want you to picture your perfect guy. What I do try to give them is very distinct personalities.
The series is completely written from Jadyn’s point of view, so what makes Phillip so dreamy is her reactions to him. How she lays her head on his shoulder and everything seems right in the world. How his neck always smells good. How he’s always warm. How he’s a gentleman. How she feels stronger when he holds her hand.
Lots of readers think Phillip was a saint for putting up with some of what Jadyn goes through in That Wedding, but hopefully when you read the part where they are at the swings, you will understand that some of the things he did caused her to behave that way. He’s not perfect either. He was pushing her. He was distracting her with sex. He didn’t want to face her issues because he was afraid he might lose her. She was also having a hard time making the switch from bff to love. One thing that really affected them is that they used to talk about everything. All of a sudden, the boy she needs to talk to Phillip about is him. She feels lost. She is afraid to tell him what’s going on in her mind because she doesn’t want to lose him.
Much of the way Jadyn’s reacts to Phillip are reactions I have to my husband. His neck always smells good. He’s always warm. I won’t gush on about him. If you want to read the pros list I made about him, you can click here.
I also did a post on what makes a guy swoonworthy. You will see lots of both Phillip and Danny in that as well. The link to that is here.
Seriously though, are your books based on actual events or is
everything fiction? Where did you get your inspiration for the three main characters: Danny, Phillip, and JJ?
Everything is fiction. I first started writing the book based off some very vivid dreams I had. And I kept having dreams with these three characters in them.
The book started with four major scenes. The college visit. The party in the cornfield. The engagement party. When Danny moved in.
I didn’t plan the characters. They just were who they were. I always knew Phillip and Jadyn would end up together, but Danny was hot. They were friends, of course there were going to be feeling there too. It was easy to come up with Lori because I knew she had to be similar to Phillip.
I would say the inspiration for how Danny and Jadyn are so alike, and how Phillip and Lori are so alike comes from a longtime friendship my husband and I have with another couple.
Actual events or similarities to my life:
-I did grow up in a small town in Nebraska very much like Westown, but I lived on a farm next door to a bunch of girl cousins, not two cute boys.
-I did sorta date a Trifecta (hot guy, hot bod, hot car) in high school. And he did actually tell me, “When you least expect it, expect it.” I’d just give up hope of ever hearing from him again, he’d call, I’d swoon, break up with my boyfriend. I knew he was a jerk, but he was so cute, I didn’t care.
-I did have a guy shake my hand at a party and not let go. It made an impression.
-I was in a sorority, but unlike Jadyn, I did get to pass my candle.
That’s pretty much it. The rest of it was driven by the characters and my vivid imagination.
It’s clear from your blog that you lead a busy life, where do you find the time to write?
I’m very lucky that I am able to basically write full-time. My family is very supportive.
I can imagine that having a mom who writes about teenage life might be embarrassing for teens. Do your kids support your writing? Have they both read your book? How about your husband?
My kids are pretty amazing. When they were little, I would tell them how special they were and how they could do anything they put their mind to. Apparently they listened because they both have big dreams. My 15-year old son, who is already 6’2”, has wanted to be a race car driver since he was two. My husband spends a lot of money and time to help him fulfill his dream. He’s currently the 9th ranked semi-professional kart driver in the nation. My daughter is 17 and loves to travel. We took her on her first plane ride at three, and she has been hooked ever since. She wants to see the world, and then probably rule it. She’s very much a girl who likes to be in charge. She is extremely social and also excellent with social media, works about 20 hours a week for me, and has taken over my blog one day a week.
Neither one of them seem to find anything I do embarrassing. My daughter reads everything I write. She’s been especially helpful with the new series I’m working on. The main character is seventeen and sexually active. There are sex scenes in the book, and unlike Jadyn, Keatyn is not embarrassed to talk about them. Her and a friend read the books and gave me lots of feedback.
My whole family is super supportive. My husband has heard so much about the books, but I don’t think he’s read a complete version. But if it weren’t for him, the book would have never been published. Then there’s my mom. My gosh, my poor mother has read so many versions of both books. She was a big help to me in That Wedding. Poor Jadyn almost got a vase from Phillip for a wedding gift. And my original break up was lame and “unbelievable” per my mother. It turned out much better than what I first wrote.
Who’s your favorite author? Favorite book?
I have too many to name. I love to read. Have devoured books my whole life. I like funny romance like Sophie Kinsella. Can you Keep a Secret is one of my favorites. I love spy thrillers and older YA book series.
What are you currently reading?
Vince Flynn’s Kill Shot. I didn’t want to be an author when I grew up. I wanted to be a spy.
Have any publishing houses contacted you about That Boy and That Wedding?
I’ve been contacted by a couple publishers interested in foreign rights for the series, but nothing has come of that as of yet. Publishing is going through a huge shift. Authors are becoming entrepreneurs and running their own business. I’m very happy to be doing it this way.
What words of wisdom would you give to an aspiring author? How did you go about having your books self-published?
I wrote That Boy over a period of six years. I’d work on it, put it aside, think it was finished. Send out a couple queries, get a thanks but no, and put it away for awhile longer. My family pushed me to get it published, and I really decided that if I wanted to prove to my kids that you can do anything you put your mind to, that I should probably try doing it myself. I sent out more queries, tried to get an agent, gave up again. Wasn’t sure what to do next. I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money and have a vanity press print my book. I wanted something bigger. My husband saw an article in the Wall Street Journal about ebooks and how the market was changing. He told me I should just do it myself. So basically, I did. Technically there is a lot more involved than that, but I won’t bore you with the details.
My words of advice would be to write. To keep writing.
And last but not least, if you were caught in a 12 hour layover in
Boise, Idaho, what three things would you definitely have to have with you?
My Iphone and charger so I could read, write, or tweet. And my credit card, so I could buy whatever else I wanted. Probably a cocktail and a sweater.
And never fear! There is a bonus question that I didn’t even have to ask but that Jillian threw out there since she’d never been asked it:
One question that no one has asked me yet that I find interesting is how the party in the cornfield/parent’s death combination was pivotal in her life. If just the party in the cornfield would have happened. She would be a different person. She would have dated Danny, probably lost her virginity to him. They would have had a fun but volatile relationship. They would have fought, broken up, made up, fought. You know couple’s like that. Just following their relationship is exhausting. They also both think they are always right, so they would have drug their friends into their fights. It would have ruined Danny and Phillip’s relationship because you know he would have taken JJ’s side. Remember that Phillip hated every guy she dated. I also think she would have ended up with Phillip faster. I think they would have dated very early in college and been happy. She wouldn’t have dated jerks. She wouldn’t have been so determined to “smell the roses”. She wouldn’t have partied as much. She would have been more mature.
It’s also a very good thing that Mr. Diamond got her to buy the townhouse and made her live with Danny and Phillip. She jokes that it was like living with two dads, but that’s what she needed. In her state of mind, she desperately needed the stability and accountability that they provided her.
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