Jessie Harrell is the author of Destined, a book based on the legend of Cupid and Psyche, one of my favorite Greek myths. I invited Jessie by for a chat and to get the scoop on her upcoming release.
[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Jessie Harrell] Wife, mother, attorney, native Floridian, frustrated world traveler, unrepentant dreamer, lover of acoustic music and not-so-closet geek.
[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about your book, Destined?
[Jessie Harrell] Destined is a retelling of the Cupid & Psyche myth from Greek mythology. Here’s the back cover synopsis:
When Psyche receives a prophecy gone horribly wrong, she learns that even the most beautiful girl in Greece can have a hideous future. Her fate? Fall in love with the one creature even the gods fear.
As she feels herself slipping closer into the arms of the prophecy, Psyche must choose between the terrifyingly tender touch she feels almost powerless to resist and the one constant she’s come to expect out of life: you cannot escape what is destined.
I’ve always loved the underlying romance of the myth, but wanted Psyche to be stronger in my version than in the original. I also wanted to make the culture and traditions of ancient Greece accessible to today’s readers by keeping the language and dialog very modern. Hopefully, the end result is that readers will feel like they’re right there with Psyche without having to wade through heavy, convoluted writing.
[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Jessie Harrell] The very basics of the story were framed by the original myth, of course. But the vision I developed for Destined has evolved over time. The more I made the story my own, the farther I was willing to stray from the original. I wanted the characters to have very three-dimensional personalities and motivations for the way they act (which you just can’t get in the short original), and imagining those things is what really made the story come to life for me. I also wanted there to be strong supporting characters who never existed in the original, and weaving them in also helped the story take shape.
One of the other fun things I did early on was find pictures on the internet that I could post on my idea board and use as the "face" of the characters. For example, Aphrodite is represented by Heidi Klum and Eros is a young Leonardo DiCaprio, only with curly hair. If I got stalled, having a face to look at and ask, "what would you do?" or "how would you physically react to that?" made the writing go that much easier.
[Manga Maniac Café] What have you learned about yourself through your characters?
[Jessie Harrell] Like Psyche, I’ve had some false starts and made some poor, but well-intentioned choices in my writing career. (What newbie writer hasn’t queried WAY too early, for example.) But also like Psyche, I’ve found it’s okay to shed a few tears, as long as you pick yourself up and go after what you want.
[Manga Maniac Café] Which of your characters are you most like?
[Jessie Harrell] Psyche’s stronger than I am, so as much as I’d like to say I’m like her, she’s got me bested. There is a goddess though who plays a minor role toward the end of the novel. While she’s a little more free-spirited than I am, I wrote her description so that if — on the OFF chance – Destined ever gets made into a movie, I would look enough like her for that role to be my author’s cameo. :) Hey, I told you I was an unrepentant dreamer.
[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Jessie Harrell] Morgan Mine by Stephen Cosgrove and Robin James. As a youngin’ I loved this princess-meets-unicorn fairy tale and read it again and again. It and the rest of the Serendipity books are the first set of stories I can remember loving to read on my own. And now that I’m grown with kids of my own, I still love reading them to my little girls. I think that’s pretty awesome.
[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Jessie Harrell] Do you mean to suggest there can be life outside of writing? Oh yeah, that’s right, I read a lot too. Something else? *smiles*
The best is always spending time with my amazing hubby and girls. You’ll find us most often in the pool or at the beach, and I’ll always have a camera at the ready. I then convert my pictures into scrapbooks — my other, though much-neglected, hobby.
[Manga Maniac Café] Thanks!!
[Jessie Harrell] Thanks so much for having me! This was so much fun. And if any of your readers want to find out more about Destined, they can visit my website — www.jessieharrell.com (where I have a trailer, countdown widget and more from the novel) or my blog — http://jessie-harrell.blogspot.com
You can also find me on twitter @JessieHarrell (’cause I’m stealth like that) and you can add Destined to your TBR list on goodreads or even pre-order the paperback on Amazon (there will be Kindle and Nook versions available on release day).
You can order a copy of Destined from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the handy widget below.