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
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!