About the book:When twenty-eight year old Haley Simpson, a sales associate for her best friend’s clothing boutique in Columbus, Ohio, begins a secret affair with the boutique’s potential New York City business partner, she digs a cavernous hole of deception that not only threatens to end her blossoming career, but to destroy a life-long friendship. Jennifer Vessells's debut novel, Life in Plan B, encompasses everything classic chick lit should: the dynamics of friendship, the nuances of high-reaching career aspirations, and the struggles – both usual and unique – presented by romantic and familial relationships. An entertaining story at every turn, Life in Plan B is identifiable for readers of any age. In short, Ms. Vessells hits her debut novel out of the park!
Interview with Jennifer VessellsJennifer, this is your first novel. How long have you been writing, and how did you start?
Although it’s hard to believe, I have been writing now for almost two years! The start of it came rather suddenly. I quit my job as a litigation attorney in April 2012 after almost three years of practice. I was very unhappy with what I was doing and knew I needed a change. The idea of authorship started to work its way into the forefront of my mind and eventually lodged itself into my brain, nagging at me until I decided it was the right path to pursue. Quitting a stable job and stopping a promising career as an attorney was scary at first, but with the support of my husband, it’s been a very enjoyable ride! I have never regretted my leap into authorship.
Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write?
With my first novel (and only published novel thus far), Life in Plan B, I wrote by the seat of my pants. I knew generally where the story was going, but always found myself in strange and exciting places at the end of the day. It was fun to wake up and not know where I was going until I got there. Conversely, the novel I’m currently working on (title yet to be released), requires extensive outlining. I’ve known about the novel’s twists and turns from the very beginning, and want to make sure to fit all of the details of the story in the right places. It’s a slower beginning process, but once outlined, I have a feeling the actual writing will be much quicker.
Are you like any of your characters?
I find pieces of myself in most of the characters, honestly. I write my characters based on people I know or character traits with which I’m familiar - it makes them more real and easier to describe. I’m like Haley in that I have constant feelings of self-doubt. I would say her soul-searching is more extreme than what I’ve experienced, but I can certainly relate to the overall struggles she has with her general self-worth. I’d say that I’m also like Alex in that I’m fiercely loyal to my friends and also maybe a little too honest at times. My husband occasionally suggests that I purchase a filter for my mouth - something for which I think Alex could also find great use.
If you could be one of your characters, which one would you choose?
I think I’d choose Lindsay. Although she faces struggles I never hope to face myself, she seems to be the most grounded of all of the characters. She has a great job, is in a loving, loyal relationship, and is a loyal, even-keeled friend.
What are your favorite books or favorite authors a) as a child; b) as a teenager; c) as an adult?
A) I loved Brian Jacques’ Redwall series as a child. I read them as soon as I was able, and reread them still to this day.
B) As a teenager, I’m ashamed to admit that I spent most of my time avoiding books (assigned by my English teachers, of course) and perusing Cliff Notes. We shall call this stage in my life the “dark period.”
C) As an adult, it’s too hard to pinpoint a favorite book or author. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that I love the Harry Potter series - so much so that I’ve not only read the books a million times, but display them on the mantle above our entryway fireplace. My husband can only roll his eyes at me and pretend he doesn’t love it when we undertake Harry Potter movie marathons.
How do you handle criticism of your work?
From peers who offer to edit and comment on my writing, I take criticism rather well. I remind myself that their suggestions for improvement often do exactly that - improve my writing!
I think it’s harder to take criticism from anonymous reviewers, especially when the criticism is more name-calling than critical. For example, it’s harder for me to stomach “this book was the worst thing I’ve ever read” than it is “I wish she hadn’t written about how green Haley’s eyes were as often as she did - it was annoying.” The first is hard to hear because you don’t have any explanation as to why the reviewer felt that way, whereas the second at least pinpoints what annoyed them!
Where’s home for you?
Columbus, Ohio - more specifically, Victorian Village. This is where Haley lives in Life in Plan B. I moved here to attend law school and have lived here ever since - a little over seven years now.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Pre-baby (my daughter was born 12/20/2013), I enjoyed soccer, happy hour, football games, and pretty much any other social event out there. Now, I’m just trying to keep my head above water while caring for a newborn!
Congratulations! That's fantastic. Besides taking care of a new baby girl, what are you working on now?
I’m working on a women’s fiction novel based in Durango, Colorado. I don’t want to share too much, but I will say that it involves death, horse racing, romance, and mystery. I’m hoping to announce the title this spring.
About the author:
Passionate about women's fiction and children's chapter books, Ms. Vessells plans to enjoy a long writing career. Keep your eye out for more exciting publications from this author in the future!
Connect with Jennifer:
Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble