Jess C. Scott, author of EyeLeash; A Blog Novel (reviewed here) has agreed to an interview about her writing, her influences, and 'blog fiction'.
First of all, thank you for taking the time to chat with me about your writing.
A: You're most welcome.
EyeLeash is, as you describe, "blog fiction"---what exactly is blog fiction?
A: Wikipedia has a whole page on blog fiction -- to me, it simply means crafting a story, via the format of a blog. I kept in mind a spontaneous, confessional prose style, along with an "attention to the details". I didn't want the individual blog posts to add up to a non-existent, senseless plot!
What made you decide to write a book completely in blog entries?
A: I thought it'd be a way to capture the voice of this generation of teenagers. Digital and interactive media are new modes of communication; a book is also a way to communicate ideas and expressions. I thought it'd be fun and worthwhile to combine contemporary and classic elements, to form a stand-alone entity.
How do you think blog fiction is different than, say, "diary format", or even regular first person narration?
A: Very different -- blog fiction is a lot more restrictive than it looks. There are certain things about digital media that you cannot ignore -- things like the timestamps, the dates, the "pacing" of an IM chat. Example -- if a character exchanges 100 lines of instant messaging text with a friend in 15 minutes, and exchanges 5 lines with another friend in 60 minutes -- you can infer from those numbers which friend the character is closer to. The sense of "nowness" is something that is quintessential of online media.
What are some of your major influences for writing Eyeleash?
A: Mostly real life experience(s), for the content. As for the writing style, I think I was influenced by Vladimir Nabokov (master prose stylist), Roald Dahl, Bret Easton Ellis, the lovely Emily Dickinson...I guess I was also influenced by the entire digital era generation. There were/are just so many sources of inspiration.
Are any of the characters in EyeLeash based on people you know? Is the plot inspired by your own experiences?
A: A lot of the plot is inspired by my own experiences (the best basis for a work of fiction) -- Novan's physique is based on someone that I know. He's not an exact replica though. The actual person is a lot more...self-absorbed.
Jade, the protagonist, is very open about her sexual fantasies and activity (or lack of). Many people would agree that that sort of description is 'inappropriate' for YA fiction. How do you feel about that? Do you believe there should be boundaries as far as YA literature is concerned?
A: I think anything real and honest is going to be labeled as controversial -- I think there should be boundaries. MTV continues to showcase soft-porn on a daily ongoing basis; modern gangsta rap continues to feature explicit, sexist, and misogynistic lyrics; advertisements (which are the lifeblood of the mass media) continue to sexually objectify both men and women -- I think there should be boundaries on crass commercialism, and derogatory views on sex/sexuality/love/all that important stuff. It's a social thing, not just a YA literature and/or teenage demographic thing. Between pop culture, and creative works that show things "as they are" -- which has the more favorable influence on society, in the end?
EyeLeash is self-published--was there a particular reason for this? Did you feel that, due to the content, not many publishers would accept it?
A: I first sent this manuscript out in 2007; I had a dire lack of publishing credentials then. But I thought, hey, someone in the industry would recognize something, in the book. Wrong. I decided to oversee the entire publication process myself, rather than potentially waste the next 5-15 (or more) years of my life trying to rely on other people, to deem this to be "acceptable for publication".
On your website, you say that you find current blog/IM books lacking in "authenticity". How so?
A: I found most of them to be very fluffy -- there's a lot more to being a teenager/human being, than shopping, gossiping, bitching, living up to stereotypes, etc. Maybe I was a particularly opinionated/complex teenager, but I found it insulting that this was largely what life was being "packaged" as. There should be more to the human soul than money, good looks, and material commodities.
Music seems to play an important role in your writing. Jade's love interest, Noven, is in a band, and there are many musical references throughout the book. What type of music did you listen to while writing EyeLeash?
A: The top four would be Linkin Park, Queen, New Order, and Kylie Minogue. I listen to way too many bands/different genres...but I do recall those four being on repeat quite, quite often. I needed something energetic to see me through the entire book. But it kind of alternated between total silence in the background too -- I need that when I want to focus, heh.
EyeLeash is definitely a novel all its own, completely unique and seperating itself from most YA literature these days. How do you feel about what teenagers are reading today? (Twilight, Harry Potter, etc) Do you have any particular favorites?
A: I think a lot of it is very commercial -- I think there should be more stimulating, and challenging works for young adults to peruse. I like Vivian Vande Velde's work(s) a lot. They are original, and always an absolute joy to read. Roald Dahl too (the stories in The Great Automatic Grammatizator were specially selected for teenagers, from Mr. Dahl's adult works).
Are there any new projects you're working on? Do you plan on writing another book like Eyeleash?
A: Oh yes, I am about 1/4 of the way through with my next YA novel. I hope to finish it sometime next year. I have had a couple of plans for another blog novel -- I'd have to sit down and decide what to do with it though. I don't really want to have a carbon copy of EyeLeash.
In a completely unrelated but important note---if you were trapped on a desert island with only one book, one TV show, and one movie, what would they be?
Book: Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe or Complete Works of Oscar Wilde TV Show: Boston Legal or The SimpsonsMovie: The Rurouni Kenshin OVA anime or The Seven SamuraiI have spent many hours with the above -- time well-spent!
There you have it, folks---make sure to pick up EyeLeash and thanks to Jess C. Scott for chatting about it!