An Interview with Jessie Rosen, author of “Dead Ringer”
By Lydia Liebman
Jessie Rosen brings Englewood High and the strange suicide of Sarah Castro-Tanner to life in “Dead Ringer”; a gripping young adult novel where nothing is what it seems. In her enthralling debut, Rosen tells a story of lies, love, obsession and betrayal through the unique perspectives of new student Laura Rivers, football playing golden boy Charlie Sanders, and inquisitive hacker Sasha.
Lydia Liebman (LL): Have you always wanted to be a writer? If so, what/who inspired you to pursue writing as a career?
Jessie Rosen (JR): I have always been writing and from a very young age my mom used to say that she thought I was going to be a writer. We made books together when I was a little girl using cereal boxes as the cardboard for the back and front cover! I had an incredible teacher in middle school - Mrs. Carol Lokitz - who really inspired me to push my love of writing even further. To this day Mrs. Lokitz and I are in touch, and yes she has received a copy of DEAD RINGER. But I believe my writing career really began to take shape after college when I started my blog - 20-Nothings.com. I was desperate for the chance to be writing more, but my lack of experience (or clips in freelance writer speak) made that tricky. I thought that if I started a blog it might prove to people hiring freelance writers that I could write, and it worked! Now 8 years later I continue to keep the blog and have transitioned my writing into film, television and this first novel. It really is a dream come true.
LL: Where did you go to college and what did you major in?
JR: I graduated from Boston College in Massachusetts with a degree in Communications.
LL: What inspired ‘Dead Ringer’?
JR: DEAD RINGER was inspired by so many things. My love of Stephen King’s CARRIE inspired the revenge story that unfolds. My appreciation for Gillian Flynn’s storytelling device in GONE GILR inspired the multiple narrative plot and my delight in juicy, twisty stories like PRETTY LITTLE LIARS inspired all the fun high school drama. My goal was to tell a story with a massive twist that no one would see coming, and I wanted to use a strong but conflicted character to do so. And that’s all I can say without giving too much away!
LL: Can you talk a little bit about your writing/creative process?
JR: My process is all about ritual. I try to write every single morning for the same amount of time at the same place. For me that is about 8:30am until 12:30pm from a cafe in my neighborhood in Los Angeles. I’m a morning person, so that routine is best for my brain. I am also a huge proponent of the outline. My process starts with notes scribbled in the re-fillable gold notebook I use for absolutely everything, transitions to notecards with more detail about my scribbles and then eventually becomes a full outline, which I will confess usually ends up covering the front of my fridge at home! From that outline phase I commit to a “crappy first draft.” I push to get something done all the way through because that feeling of accomplishment is what I need to keep pushing through the second draft. Next step: ask for help. I get lots of feedback along the way that makes it into my final draft. The other very important part of my creative process is coffee. Strong coffee.
LL: Do you have any advice for young people who hope to become writers?
JR: My favorite quote about writing: “writer’s write”. You become a working writing or a paid writer when your work gets published or purchased but you are a writer from the moment you get those ideas out of your brain and onto the page. It takes a lot of time and effort, but confidence is key. If you believe that you are a writer then you are a writer. If you want to be a writer then you won’t be able to stop yourself from writing.
LL: Lastly, what is your favorite book and writer?
JR: I always got back to my childhood favorite: A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeline L’Engle.
Full Fathom Five Digital, 291 pp