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An Interview with Jessica Fortin


I’m a nearly-forty-year-old woman who’s been making up stories since she was three. My grandfather taught me to use my imagination and to use stories to help make sense of my world. I’ve also loved reading since before kindergarten. Scifi, mysteries and fantasy have long been staples on my shelves. Writing out my daydreams has helped me deal with depression and anxiety, and telling other people the tales made them beg me to write them out. I hope my books bring my readers some joy in their difficult lives.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

I woke up from a dream one night with the scene of a princess waking up with a mustache on her face. When she went to tell her guards, they had mustaches too. I knew I HAD to figure out who had drawn on four people’s faces at night, and The Wesolek was born!

Tell us the story of your book’s current title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

I think I changed this title about 3 times before settling on The Wesolek. I wanted to reflect the mysterious nature of my MMC, but still have some playfulness to it.

Describe your dream book cover.

My dream book cover would involve the Wesolek’s mask. I know that much. Other than that, I could use some help.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

I listened to SO much Cirque Du Solei and ballroom music while writing this! The Corteo soundtrack in particular, as well as Khachaturian’s “Masquerade Suite,” “Waltz and Tenderness” by Eugen Doga, and “La Belle Epoque” by Audiomachine

What books are you reading (for research or comfort) as you continue the writing process?

I did lots of internet research on Romani and Irish travellers. I also did research on Art Deco and romantic ballrooms, so I could craft a hopefully believable castle. Currently I’m reading on how to self-edit a good book, including Saves the Cat so I can make sure my beats in the story are true.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I have worked in the legal field and the billing end of the medical field for a number of years. I hated dealing with excess paperwork and bureaucracy, so I like characters that can cut through red tape, or use legal trickery to accomplish their aims. I grew up in a multi-cultural city in Bay Area California, so my first draft had many terms in many different languages. (My beta readers didn’t care for it all that much though.) I love dairy, but dairy doesn’t love me anymore, to my disappointment…

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I love Douglas Adams’ sarcastic wordplay, and the technology of Star Trek. I’m embarrassed about how many Sherlock Holmes books I own. But my first introduction to writing would be my grandfather. He and my grandmother lived in our house for a very long time, and his love of imagination, short stories, and classical music have made me the woman I am today. I think he’d be proud of me writing my own novel. My husband has also encouraged me since our wedding day to write a book, and we have written so many stories together that I hope to get to paper some day.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I love writing on a beach or in a quiet room watching the beach. The ocean has always soothed my brain. If I can’t be there, let me be on my laptop next to my husband. He’s my sounding board, research partner, and partner in crime.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I NEED a cup of tea with non-dairy milk and sugar if I’m going to get anything typed up. I also have to have a good playlist of instrumental music playing, as lyrics tend to distract me from my own words. I try to sneak in a candle with floral or clean scents, but my landlord isn’t happy with that so, I do what I can with wax melts.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I want my readers to walk away giggling with this book. I’m not trying to write something deep and profound—I want my readers to feel like they were on another world for a little while, and maybe return to it when they want a break from the seriousness of life. I also hope that the mystery I have in the book leaves my readers satisfied at the resolution, and wondering if the FMC will be able to achieve her new goals with her life so changed. I want my readers to feel like they could step into the FMC’s shoes and feel like they were her, no matter what their age or race or situation in life is. As far as my vision of a “perfect” reader goes, they will be someone who enjoys a fast read, light sci-fi, and court intrigue. I hope you enjoy it!

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