It’s that time of the year where the air is crisp, the pumpkin spice lattes are filling our cups and the spooky reads are filling the shelves. To celebrate this spooktacular time of the year, I like to highlight some exciting ghoulish reads in my seasonal book series called Booktober.
To kick things off, I got to interview Jessica Taylor who released her new book called A Map for Wrecked Girls. There’s an element of the book for everyone as the author takes you on a journey that has the bond of sisterhood, the need for survival and spooky thrills.
TYF: What inspired you to write your new book, A Map for Wrecked Girls?
Jessica Taylor: A Map for Wrecked Girls started as simply a free-writing exercise. I would begin every day by spending twenty minutes free writing about whatever topic came to mind. A couple weeks later, I had a collection of scenes between the two sisters, Emma and Henri, but no plot. What was particularly interesting to me was Emma’s story—a girl who came into her teenage years more slowly than most and much more slowly than her older sister, Henri. It wasn’t a story I’d read before, but it was something I see in real life often. What I had was a mess, but I loved writing about these girls and knew I had to dig down deep inside myself and find their story.
TYF: What made you want to write a story that revolved around sisterhood?
Taylor: Different kinds of familial love have always interested me. We all have people in our lives who are either difficult to love or who we love in ways that are unhealthy to ourselves or to them. In this story, that’s primarily explored through the sisters’ relationship with their father and the sisters’ relationship with each other.
TYF: Did you know early on that A Map for Wrecked Girls would be a suspenseful thriller?
Taylor: Not at all! A Map for Wrecked Girls is a non-linear story, meaning that the narrative bounces between the island and San Francisco. I wrote the in-the-past San Francisco chapters first never knowing that an island would come into play. Later, thinking of survival as a metaphor, I added the island chapters and that’s where the suspenseful elements joined the story.
TYF: What are your top three thrillers that everyone has to check out?
Taylor: When I’m Through With You by Stephanie Kuehn, Little Monsters by Kara Thomas, and First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy. All of these have come out in the last three months and are unputdownable stories.
TYF: Part of this book is set on an island. If you could only bring one book to the island which would it be and why?
Taylor: Tuck Everlasting probably. It’s such a classic story, and every time I read it, I get something new. Re-reading would help me to pass all that time on the island.
TYF: You mentioned during your book launch event at Kepler’s Books that The Myers Briggs personality test played a huge role in characterization. For our readers who didn’t attend the event, can you tell us each character’s Myers Briggs’ personality results and how you came to that conclusion?
Taylor: Sure! I’m a little bit obsessed with Myers Briggs (proud INTJ here!). I wouldn’t say that I ever came to the conclusion that my characters had their personality types, more than I wrote the characters with those personality types in mind. Emma, the main character, is an INFP. She’s an idealist and she’s always searching for the best in her sister and the boy they’re stranded with. Sometimes having these qualities can be to Emma’s detriment. Henri is an ENTJ. Her charisma and confidence lead to her sister’s adoration. But ENTJs like Henri often see displays of emotion as a weakness, so when Henri is confronted with some events she has a strong emotional reaction to, she doesn’t know how to deal. The collision of these two personality types drives the story.
TYF: Do you see a part of your own personality in the characters of A Map for Wrecked Girls?
Taylor: To a small extent, there’s a little of me in each of the characters. As far as
the person I am now, I definitely have Henri’s stubbornness, and I relate to Alex’s use of humor to deflect from discussing hard topics. Emma’s search for identity is very much a part of who I was as a teen.
TYF: In the spirit of Booktober, do you have any favorite fall-themed traditions that you like to do during this time of the year?
Taylor: Fall is my favorite time of year! I wouldn’t say I have any true traditions but I love when the air is crisp enough that I can sit outside on my patio with a glass of wine and a great book.
TYF: Do you have any advice for our young readers who aspire to one day be authors?
Taylor: Read everything you can get your hands on. Read inside and outside your favorite genres. Oh, and don’t listen to anyone who gets in the way of your dream.
TYF: Lastly, are you currently working on a new book and if so, can you tell us a little bit about it?
Taylor: I am! My next book is about two girls who make a selfish decision one night that costs another girl her life. It’s partly about how they turn on each other to hide their crime and about how they live with the people they’ve become. I love a light-hearted tale. Ha!
About the Author:
Jessica Taylor adores atmospheric settings, dangerous girls, and characters who sneak out late at night. She lives in Northern California, not far from San Francisco, with a law degree she isn’t using, one dog, and many teetering towers of books. A Map for Wrecked Girls, her first young adult contemporary thriller, will be published August 15, 2017 by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin.