Our guest today has been here before and has an excellent wine glass review average. Welcome back, Jessica Scott!
Lexi: The last time I interviewed you, you mentioned your new adult series that would be set at a ‘prestigious private university in the Southeast’ and that series is The Falling series. Is AFTER I FALL the end of this series?
It’s not going to be the end of the series. In reality, After I Fall spins off from the Fallings series b/c It’s not set at the college but rather in the bar the PINT, which is featured in both the previous books. There’s going to be at least two books that center around the Pint, as it stands right now.
Lexi: You take two very different worlds, war and college, and show what it’s like for those who have to traverse both. Eli isn’t a student, as the previous heroes have been, so he doesn’t have class to help distract him. Though, reading the excerpt on your website for AFTER I FALL it doesn’t take long for Eli to have a distraction…in the form of Parker. Wow! Were you a bit giddy writing that scene knowing that his attempt to be mindless would backfire so badly?
Eli was a lot of fun to write. He was the platoon dad, so to speak, of the band of misfit legos and toys he’s managed to draw together at the Pint. He discovers that, despite being completely disillusioned with military service, he also very much missed the sense of belonging and tribe that came with it. So he started building his own community through the Pint and took on the role of worrying about the people around him, much like any good leader in the Army does.
Lexi: The chemistry for Parker and Eli is potent. As all of your H/Hs are in your books. It’s what keeps us coming back for more. What is it about Eli that keeps Parker coming back? The beard? His ability to pour a perfect drink?
We first meet Parker in Break My Fall, as a spoiled rich girl who argues from a very rational choice perspective in Josh’s class on violence. What happens to her through those interactions, though, is that she starts to understand the sense of belonging that military vets in her class are talking about. When she first encounter Eli in his bar, she’s drawn to the sense of belonging that she find there and her not so perfect world starts to reveal itself in its superficiality. So she’d drawn to how he makes her feel, how he focuses only on her and not what she can do for him. It’s really incredibly powerful.
Lexi: We just wanted to hear you talk about Eli *sigh*. As you were writing The Falling series and making a stamp on this college town, did it change how you feel about the place when you are there physically? Do you see your characters when you are at a place you have written about?
The first time I wrote Eli at the Pint, I knew he was going to get his own book. He’s the quintessential leader that we all want to work for. He cares about his people, he wants to see them be successful but he won’t hesitate to kick you in the ass to get you going, either. What’s really compelling about this man is the depth of real love he has for the men and women he’s drawn into his orbit. He gains nothing from taking care of them – in fact, if he were a stricter boss, he’d probably do better financially. But he’s all about creating the sense of tribe that he misses about the Army.
So he creates this space in a college town where a lot of veterans feel very out of place and he gives them back a sense of belonging. The people at the Pint speak the same language, they’ve chewed some of the same dirt. And so what Eli has created is very important.
I think Eli is a reflection of my classmates at grad school who were very active in making me feel like I belonged. There were two veterans in the year ahead of me and just having them in discussions, knowing someone else in the room understood what I was talking about was so critical for me. They made me feel less along that first year as I was adjusting to grad school life and they helped me learn to speak the language of academia.
I try very hard never to put real people on the page, so to speak. I never want someone to be able to read one of my books and go oh, I know that person. That’s how you get sued, lol! But there’s a lot of mixing in the people I write. I try to make them real to me so that hopefully, readers will feel they are real to them.
Lexi: We are so glad you stopped back again, Jessica. And we are even more ecstatic to have a new release from you! Cheers to AFTER I FALL! Congrats!
Thanks so much for having me back! I hope your readers enjoy AFTER I FALL