Coffe With Jessica Dotta
FF Managing Editor, Deidra Romero, sat down for a long chat with new author Jessica Dotta. They spoke about classic British literature, the years leading up to Dotta’s first publication, and her family’s roots in a zealous religious cult and how that shaped the story that became Born of Persuasion (Tyndale House).
After 5 minutes of talking with Tyndale’s debut author, Jessica Dotta, one thing is clear, she knows about writing--the craft, the lifestyle and what it takes to be successful in this incredibly competitive business. Before becoming a published author, Jessica found herself working in marketing and public relations, launching projects and helping other authors like Wanda Brunstetter gain exposure. The story that comes to life in her Victorian era trilogy titled The Price of Privilege is one she incubated since her teenage years. "The story haunted me." She confided over coffee. “I carried it inside of me since I was 19.” She wrote and rewrote it for years. Several times her dream was so close to becoming reality in print, but each time the publishers walked and the story remained with Jessica--hers to love and to continue to nurture. She admitted each time this happened, she knew it wasn’t God’s timing.
Jessica says she identified easily to the chaos surrounding her main character. Prior to her birth, Jessica’s parents were members of a religious cult. At the hands of cult leaders her parents endured abuse and manipulation. “As I grew up, I instinctively sensed some things were off. It was almost like landing in a puzzle from the beginning. I had to sort of solve the puzzle as I went along.” It was only as an adult that she was able to read her parents story in manuscript form and saw a clearer picture. She finally grasped some of the family dynamics she had previously struggled to understand.
Perhaps this intricate and complicated past is why Jessica is a natural storyteller--examining conflict, inspecting characters from different perspectives and always asking what-if questions. It is no wonder, she writes the series in first person, seeing each page from Julia’s eyes, feeling her pain and sensing her despair. “As I started to go into the story and meet the characters, I realized there was a lot more happening behind the scenes. And I was very uncomfortable with as much as I understood. It was like my subconscious was finding a way to express what how it feels when something is off and you're not certain yet what the truth is,” Jessica shared.
With no formal training in writing she credits her success in part to a critique group. An online story contest was taking place and as Jessica was perusing the comments she became intrigued by some of the critiques. She reached out to about fifteen of those reviewers to form an electronic community of writers. It was strictly business for this group. They had specific rules and after years of comradery and guidance, Jessica emerged a purposeful artist. She doesn't believe there are specific literary rules. She writes the best story she knows the best way she knows how.
Fans of classic British literature such as Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice will immediately find Born of Persuasion to be a new favorite. Chapter one begins a tale of secret betrothals, a mysterious suicide, and a clashing of society and religion. Jessica’s facts about the Victorian era are precisely on point. Readers will easily forget that the book they are reading was published in this century. The second novel in the trilogy titled Mark of Distinction is set to release in 2014 with the final installment, Price of Privilege, releasing towards the end of the year.
This article originally ran in the October 2013 issue of FamilyFiction. Subscribe for FREE today!