review of Jesi Lea Ryan's new novel "Four Thousand Miles". Today I have the pleasure of bringing you my interview with Jesi. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
KP: Have you always wanted to be a writer? Was there ever a time when that writing dream was deferred?
Jesi: I remember wanting to be a writer as a child. In fact, I published a children's book when I was eight years old called Grump: The Skump Who Ate Liver. (Don't worry; no one else has heard of it either.) But as I grew older, I didn't think a career in writing was practical. I grew up in a poor family, and I thought that limited my options. I sort of thought the only people who could be writers were those with families who could help support them until they made their way. I majored in Creative Writing and Literature in college, because I was interested in it, not because I thought it would lead to a career. After college, I entered the insurance industry and gave up writing for about a decade. In 2009, my insurance position was downsized, and I suddenly found myself at a crossroads. After plenty of discussion with my husband, I decided to give writing a shot.
KP: On your website you share that you lost your job in 2009, how did you find the courage to use that seemingly bad situation as a catalyst for your writing career.
Jesi: I think in general, I am a positive person. Of course I felt bad about losing my job, because I loved it, but rather than dwelling on what I couldn't have, I decided to look ahead to new opportunities. I treated myself to a one day pity-party. I took one day off work to cry and throw things and curse the unfairness of it all. Then, I picked myself up, dusted myself off and made the decision to move on. I always wanted to try to write a novel, so that is what I set myself on course to do.
KP: How did the idea for "Four Thousand Miles" come to you? What do you hope readers take away from the book?
Jesi: Shortly before losing my job, my husband and I went on vacation to England. I completely fell in love with the place! Anyway, we were staying at Elvey Farm, a bed & breakfast in Kent (http://elveyfarm.co.uk/), and I began to day dream about how wonderful it would be to abandon my life in the States and stay there permanently. Again, I'm too practical to actually do that, but I could create a fictional character to runaway to England for me.
Most readers would see Four Thousand Miles as an escapist read, and it is, but if I were to attach a higher moral lesson to it that I want readers to take away from the book, I'd say that life is not a straight line. Sometimes it gets off track and sends you into new directions. Rather than getting depressed and scared about it, look at it as a new opportunity.
KP: What lessons have you learned about life through the writing and publishing of this book? What lessons have you learned about yourself?
Jesi: If someone wants to be a writer, they need to view writing as a reward in itself. You can't count on getting rich or famous or on the bestseller list, and you have to be okay with that. What have I learned about myself? I really like being able to wear pajamas all day. :)
KP: Why do you think so many people wait so long to change the direction of their lives, even when their current circumstances aren't working?
Jesi: I think most people are scared of change. They don't have enough self-confidence to take chances. I guess I understand that, but I can't relate at all. I've just never been that way. I see life as a journey. It's too short to waste in an unhappy marriage, a dead-end job or stuck in your hometown.
KP: Do you have any advice for someone who wants to start over, or go after their second chance?
Jesi: Change can be scary and uncomfortable, but really, what is the worst that can happen? I know that no matter what, I will not starve. I will not lose the love of the people who matter most to me. If all else fails, my mother has a room in her basement for me, my husband and my two kitties, so I will never be homeless. If people just focus on the positive advantages to change rather then all of the "what if's," some really great things might happen.
You can follow Jesi on twitter @Jesilea.