Meet Jessica McQuinn

Last year, Jessica McQuinn graciously granted me an interview on the release day of her latest novel, Indivisible, an emotional tale of love and survival in a military family. Jessica McQuinn is also the co-author of Passion Fish. Both Indivisible and Passion Fish are part of Omnific Publishin's Freedom Sale through July 31, 2012 at only $2.99 each.

Even though Indivisible deals with some pretty weighty issues, McQuinn's vibrant personality shows through in her writing to make the book a fun as well as an insightful read.     

For more on the military aspects of Indivisible, read the Coffee Time Romance interview.

1. The military plays a strong role in Indivisible, so the story obviously had to be set near a military base, but how did you decide on San Diego as the setting for Indivisible?

Well, since Gideon is a SEAL, the options were limited. While at any given time, a SEAL team can be anywhere, there are only a few actual bases that they call "home." One of those is the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, California. I know, but why San Diego? Well, Coronado is near San Diego (just over the bridge) and is a beautiful place.

My husband and I lived in the San Diego area the first year we were married, and I loved it. One of my biggest regrets in life is moving from San Diego. So, when I had the idea for this story, I knew that it would be San Diego and not the east coast that I would write about. Besides having more than a few military bases, there are also several major universities there, which was important for Charlie, Tyson, and Paige, too!

On a side note...I just booked our family vacation to San Diego in June! I am totally going to make husband and the kids do an Indivisible tour! I've already started with suggesting one of the water tours they have that takes you right by the SEAL training base, and we have to see Horton Plaza! Of course husband is none the wiser and thinks that I just want the kids to experience all of San Diego!

2. One of my favorite things about this story was the way no character got a free pass—each of them messed up in some way and you called them out on it. Did you determine the flaws of each character and the mistakes each would make before the story began, or did some of them develop while you wrote?

The only thing that I knew for sure was the one key scene in the book. I wrote the turning point first, and actually built around that. I don't write with an outline. I know that sounds crazy, especially when, like in Indivisible, there are two stories happening at the same time and both depend on what is ocurring in the other.

Now, this is going to sound a little on the insane side, but when I write, the characters are actually alive for me. They tell me how things are going to play out, and I know that if I'm having a hard time getting something on paper exactly the way that I want it, it's because the characters don't agree with it. Often, in those cases, I can find another path to go down, and when I find the right one it is a smooth journey. Although, I think  "hearing" my characters tell me the story made it hard on my editors when they wanted me to change something...Gideon just didn't want his voice to be lost!

Honestly, Tyson's roll in this story was never planned to be what it was. That happened simply as I got to that part of the story and it laid itself out that way for me. Turns out that it's a main theme of the entire story! Who knew?

3. You’ve put together a cast of strong personalities and set them up with some great dialogue that made me laugh out loud many times. Which character was the most fun for you to write? And if you had to pick one character to go to lunch with, who would it be?

Ohhh, I think the most fun to write was Gideon. I love his wit and how strong he is, but then also getting to see that vulnerable side of him (one I think all men have and rarely show to anyone but their spouse) was a lot of fun. Gideon is made to be a protector, and when for the first time he has to protect his country instead of his wife, that changes him, and writing that change was a new experience for me. (Not to mention that I have a certain picture of what Gideon looks like in my head - or who he looks like - so having that in my head the whole time was kind of nice).

Who would I have lunch with? I would say Evelyn, because she is such a great mom, and while she wants to hold onto her sons, she still wants to let them go. My daughter just turned eight, and while I know I don't have to let her go yet, I know someday I will have to and would love to be able to talk to Evelyn about how to prepare for that. Oh, wait, I can have lunch with Evelyn, because she's my own mom! I modeled her character after my mom and the things that she told me once I became a parent. I'm my mom's only child who is out in the world raising a family (my brother is severely mentally handicapped and lives in a group home where he gets the medical attention he needs), and so letting me go at 21 was probably one of the hardest things my mom has ever had to do. To this day she still tells me to "be good" when I leave her house, but she also doesn't tell me what I'm doing wrong in raising my own kids. So Evelyn's journey and demeanor in Indivisible is really based on my mom.

4. After readers have turned the final page, which of the story’s themes is the one you hope sticks with them the most?

Jeez...ask me the hard questions!

I think for me I hope what people remember most is that communication is the most important thing in ANY relationship. If you can't communicate then you can't move forward. In Indivisible, as you read, you just kind of shake your head at everyone and want to scream at them to talk to each other. So by the end, when everyone finally starts to open up, they get stronger and can move on with life, changed though it is.

Charlie's growth and discovery of herself is important for me too. I think that if you've never had to be on your own, which Charlie hasn't had to do because she had her brother, or roommates or Gideon to rely on, then doing it for the first time is hard. And Charlie's time is even more difficult, and for her to finally find her strength after everything is amazing.

5. If you had to choose one song that captures the essence of Indivisible, what would it be?

This is going to sound crazy, because I know that with all the technology we have now I'm supposed to have a playlist that either goes with the book or that I listened to while writing, but I'm not a "music person." I know...WHAT?? Don't get me wrong, I have an iPod and I listen to music when I clean house or when I'm in the car, but other than that, I don't listen to a lot of music. And the music on my iPod is all 80s music! (I know that you will appreciate that Nicki!)

If I had to pick one song, and no surprise here - it's an 80s megahit, it would be Berlin's "Take My Breath Away." Not only do the lyrics perfectly describe everything that happens in the story from Gideon and Charlie's first meeting to the end of the story, but when you hear it, you automatically think of Maverick and Goose and the women they love in Top Gun.

Thanks Jessica!


Sondrae Bennett said...

Sounds like a very moving read. Great interview. And congratulations!

Kittie Howard said...

Thanks for a great interview with Jessica. I totally get it how she hears her characters. My hub was in the USMC, met/know lots of SEALS. Even tho they train at Coronado, lots of folks in the overall military refer to it all as San Diego.

M Pax said...

Congrats, Jessica! All success to you! :D

Nicki Elson said...

Thank you all for stopping by. Very cool that you husband knows lots of Navy SEALs, Kittie. Gideon---in Jessica's book---is the first I've ever met, and he represents very well. ;)

erica and christy said...

Fun interview, girls, thanks! (Nicki, finally got around to thanking you for the award on our blog today! Thanks!)

Jessica McQuinn said...

Thanks Nicki for having me on your blog!! I am very excited for you all to read this and hopefully fall in love with Gideon and Charlie...I know that I have!

Thanks everyone!

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hey, Nicki,

Great interview... I am still thinking of my idea for the box and I know I only have five days left.... Oooooh I better get cracking..


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