Hey everyone! I’m so happy to be participating in this month’s Sunday Street Team hosted by Nori at Read Write Love 28. This is super late in the day, which I’m sorry about. It completely slipped my mind. Anyway, today I have a great interview with Jennifer Walkup, the author of This Ordinary Life, which is a book I’ve been heavily anticipating. Don’t forget to check out the giveaway below for This Ordinary Life swag packs!
So without further ado:
High-school radio host Jasmine Torres’s life is full of family dysfunction, but if she can score the internship of her dreams with a New York City radio station, she knows she can turn things around.
That is, until her brother Danny’s latest seizure forces her to miss the interview, and she’s back to the endless loop of missing school for his doctor appointments, picking up the pieces of her mother’s booze-soaked life, and stressing about Danny’s future.
Then she meets Wes. He’s the perfect combination of smart, cute, and funny. He also happens to have epilepsy like her brother. Wes is living a normal life despite his medical issues, which gives Jasmine hope for Danny. But memories of her cheating ex-boyfriend keep her from going on a real date with Wes, no matter how many times he asks her.
Jasmine can’t control everything. Not who wins the internship, not her mother’s addiction, not her brother’s health–not even where her heart will lead her. She wishes she could just have an ordinary life, but maybe what she already has is pretty extraordinary after all.
About the Author:
Award-winning author Jennifer Walkup is most often found writing, reading, and spending time with her husband and young sons. A member of SCBWI and RWA, Jennifer also works as an editor and creative writing instructor, and is an advocate for Epilepsy awareness. This Ordinary Life is her second novel.
I love stories about dysfunctional families, did you have any specific inspiration about Jasmine’s family life?
Like most of my stories, I started with just a kernel of an idea about my main character. Jasmine came to me first – a strong main character who loves working at her school radio station and works hard for her ultimate dream – to be a real radio DJ someday. But I knew she’d have struggles – a cheating ex boyfriend, an alcoholic mother, an absent father. The family and life dysfunction was always very much a part of her character for me. Her brother’s epilepsy was also central to her character. I wanted at least one character who was struggling with epilepsy. It’s a subject that’s important to me, and something I wanted to represent. When I wrote in Wes, the love interest, also with epilepsy, I wanted to show how characters are people first, disability second, and way more than the sum of their disabilities.
Where did the title THIS ORDINARY LIFE come from?
It’s funny how difficult titles can be. With my first book, I went through what felt like millions of titles. But with THIS ORDINARY LIFE, the title came to me almost as soon as the book did. Jasmine, the main character has lots of challenges in her life. She often wishes things were easier and simpler, but through the course of her struggles and chasing her dreams, she realizes that sometimes “ordinary” is found where we least expect it. And sometimes ordinary is more than good enough.
I read that you’re an advocate for Epilepsy awareness. What made you want to be an advocate and what does it involve doing?
Epilepsy is a topic near and dear to me and my family. For many years, I’ve been very involved in raising epilepsy awareness. Raising awareness about this very common but often misunderstood disorder and battling the stigmas, bias, and misinformation out there is the heart of what our work with raising awareness is all about. I’m also active in many epilepsy communities and support groups, and in various fundraising efforts for epilepsy research.
What is your favorite personality trait of Jasmine’s?
Her tenacity. No matter what life throws at her, she jumps back up and keeps fighting. She’s smart and determined, and works really hard and cares so much about those around her.
What is something that you want readers to take away from reading THIS ORDINARY LIFE?
Mostly I hope it’s a story that people enjoy reading – that’s really my takeaway for anything I write! But I hope it gives an overall feeling of hope in the end. As corny as it sounds, we really can get through anything life throws at us, as Jasmine proves time and time again in THIS ORDINARY LIFE.
Seeing as Jasmine’s dream is to be a DJ, could you tell me one of your favorite songs?
Oh wow, that’s impossible to answer! I can’t pick just one. Most likely it would be something by Red Hot Chili Peppers .:)
While on that topic, did you have any specific songs that fit THIS ORDINARY LIFE when you were writing it?
I didn’t have a specific playlist for This Ordinary Life, but I do listen to music when I revise, and often before I start writing, to clear my head and get me in the writing mode. I listen to lots of instrumental/background music when I’m revising, as well as a good amount of classic rock (and lots of Red Hot Chili Peppers).
How has publishing your second book been, compared to publishing your first? Have things become easier or harder?
So far, so good! On the one hand, it’s been a little easier this time as I know what to expect from putting a book out there, overall. But each book has its own unique path. I’m hoping THIS ORDINARY LIFE makes readers happy.
Thank you so much Jennifer for answering my questions! If you’d like to read or find out more about Jessica, you can check out her website or follow her on Twitter.