Thursday, August 31, 2017

Interview with Jessica Alyse, author of "The Road to Austin"

Let's welcome Jessica Alyse to the blog! 

She's a very talented novelist who lives in Louisiana but has a big heart for Texas. So it's not a surprise that her new novel, The Road to Austin, is about that great state. 

Get to know Jessica Alyse via this author interview today. Enjoy!

~*~
Interview with Jessica Alyse, author of The Road to Austin:

Alexis: What inspired you to write this book and why do you call it, The Road to Austin?

Jessica: About seven years ago, I had a strong urge to travel. Like, serious cross-country road trip kind of travel, and since I was a young, broke teenager I decided I would write a book instead. That’s where the idea began, but I never had a clue how beautiful this story would turn out to be. When I started brainstorming it, I knew that I wanted my characters to live in Texas and I loved the name Austin so that was where the story blossomed.

As it took shape, the title The Road to Austin became a parallel. It’s not only about this comical road trip with flamboyant characters and original experiences but it’s also about getting to know the heart of the hero, Austin Brooks – who can also be described as comical, flamboyant, and original. It’s about traveling the road to Austin, Texas, as much as it is about getting to know the hero on the road to Austin Brooks’ heart. 

Alexis: Your story’s heroine Natalie Hallie faints before she boards an airplane and that cancels her flight. What was the significance of that scene and what does it tell your readers about Natalie? 

Jessica: That scene is a brilliant way to kick off the story! So, Natalie – besides being a perfectionist and control-freak – has a fear of getting hurt. She doesn’t trust planes because she’s afraid of heights and has no control over who flies them and where they’re going. Because of past experiences, she has huge walls around her heart that keep her safe mentally, emotionally, and physically. When she passes out, it goes to show you how her need for control and her greatest fear collide – literally knocking her out – and how she highly she values her safety and security. In walks Austin Brooks and this is where her story begins. 

Alexis: Describe Natalie’s relationship with her sister. Do they get along? Why or why not? 

Jessica: If it were up to Natalie, they’d get along like PB&J. But Natalie’s sister, Kelsey, isn’t always on the same page. She’s ten years younger than Natalie and has her own agenda that most people might see as selfish. Because of her childhood experiences, Kelsey has learned to look out for herself because nobody else will. That’s her perception of life and the world. If she’s not putting herself first, then nobody else is going to. Natalie strives to get along with Kelsey but sometimes Kelsey makes demands that Natalie can’t meet. That’s where the friction in their relationship comes in. Besides that, they’re best friends and Natalie would go to the ends of the earth to make her baby sister happy. 

Alexis: Your story’s hero Austin Brooks is painted as hunky but also annoying, at least in Natalie’s eyes. What is it about Austin that makes Natalie roll her eyes? 

Jessica: His carefree attitude. In short, she cares too much about life and he doesn’t care enough. He’s reckless, random, and original – everything that threatens Natalie’s outlook on reality, which is very strict, orderly, and routine. Where she’s planning their trip, he’s making jokes and sipping on coffee. Just when she expects an adult to help her overcome the obstacles in their trip, she finds a teenager-at-heart “playing” with paint. In the beginning, it’s annoying to her. But things change… 

Alexis: Natalie and Austin spend several days together on the road to Austin. Describe their journey in five words. 

Jessica: Colorful. Hectic. Encouraging. Romantic. Hopeful. 

Alexis: You tackle the tough issue of abuse in this story. What message concerning this do you want to convey to your readers? 

Jessica: The message in this story is one of hope. Abuse is a representation of a greater evil in the world we live in. It’s one of humanity’s darkest sins and is a battle to be won in the heart. When I decided to thread the conflict of abuse through the story, I knew I couldn’t do it lightly and the worthiest opponent to abuse is hope. Hope inspires strength, it inspires power. Hope can turn a broken dream into a mountain-shaking prayer. With hope darkness, lies, and deceit will be extinguished and the plans of Satan will be put to death. Hope is the sister of peace and the first step toward a greater faith in Jesus Christ.

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” ~Romans 15:13 (KJV)

Alexis: What do Natalie an Austin do for a living? How do their talent and individual career choices impact their outlook? 

Jessica: Natalie is a law student and intern. She studies – begrudgingly – and that’s about all she does. This is what causes her lackluster outlook on life. In Natalie’s eyes, life is to be taken seriously with no time for fun or mistakes. Her idea of enjoying herself is getting behind her camera to take pictures of landscapes and sunrises where she can escape the monotony of life from time to time.

Austin, on the other hand, is a nighttime security guard and ex-cop. While it’s not his dream job, it helps keep his imagination brimming with ideas. His passion lies in art, creating pictures with colors and using different mediums to evoke emotion. This is part of what keeps him happy and carefree. Because life just looks better in watercolor. 

Alexis: Where are your characters in their faith journey with God? How do they view God and how does their view impact how they see the world and relate to people? Explain. 

Jessica: Austin is a lifelong Christian who briefly walked away from his faith for seven years. Natalie is a new Christian who gave her life to Christ the same time Austin was rededicating his, unbeknownst to the both of them. They’re both on the same page when it comes to knowing that the Lord is the Father that they both craved all their lives.

For Austin, his faith keeps him alive. Without his relationship with Christ, he would become bitter and cold, losing all contact with others and withering away in the meanwhile – which is similar to Natalie’s view. While she prizes her faith, she isn’t quite sure how to use it and how far it stretches. Her past experiences have caused her to become pessimistic, closed-off, and distant. Part of getting to know Austin all over again is just the first step in a journey toward a more authentic relationship with Christ. 

Alexis: What was your greatest challenge in writing this story? Explain. 

Jessica: Oh, boy. That’s a great question. My greatest challenge was finding the right way to tell Natalie and Austin’s story, if that makes sense. This was a story that God cultivated in my heart over the years, stirring up ideas and details until I could see the vision clearly. My biggest problem was that I was an amateur writer when I first started writing The Road to Austin. I had only one novella out and I was still learning the ropes of fiction. I knew I wanted this story to live up to its fullest potential and I wasn’t giving up on it until the readers could see the story that the Lord had put on my heart.

It took me nearly two years to write this one and I learned A LOT with it. Austin and Natalie were definitely Guiney pigs there for a while. There are probably close to a hundred scenes that I had to take out and rewrite because I wasn’t quite sure of what words to use in order to capture the vision that had been swirling around in my mind. Now that it’s all said and done, I couldn’t be happier with the final story. It’s awe-inspiring, even to its author. 

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember about The Road to Austin? Why? 

Jessica: When readers put down the book after the final chapter, I want them to return to reality remembering that their lives are beautiful. That they have what it takes to overcome the challenges they face in their life. I want them to remember that there is always hope – it never runs out and never expires.

For the ladies, the next time you feel not good enough or unworthy, I hope you hear Austin’s voice telling you that you’re beautiful just the way you are. For the guys (if I have any guy readers) I hope you hear Natalie’s voice telling you to never give up. 

Alexis: If you could spend one day with Natalie, what would you do? Why? 

Jessica: Why does that question make me nervous? I think I would go shopping with her and talk over coffee. She would be so much fun to hang out with because of her snarky yet accepting attitude. I would love to spend time looking through her pictures of Texas landscapes and getting to know her favorite spots. And then I would HAVE to have dinner at her house so I could meet Austin because how could I not want to meet Austin? 

Alexis: Complete this sentence: When I was writing about Natalie and Austin’s journey on the road to Austin (Texas), I thought _­___________________ because _________________________.

Jessica: When I was writing about Natalie and Austin’s journey on the road to Austin (Texas), I thought, this story is changing my perspective on life because getting to see things through Natalie and Austin’s eyes teaches me how to be the light in a world of darkness. 

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Jessica! Would you like to share closing thoughts? 

Jessica: For readers who found themselves falling in love with Austin and Natalie, I have great news! They have one more book! Set to release next summer. Visit my website at www.jessalyse.com and sign up for my newsletter and don’t forget to stop by my Facebook page and connect with me at www.facebook.com/writer.jessalyse.

Thanks so much for having me, Alexis. This was tons of fun! I hope I don’t talk too much. 

~*~

Author's Bio: 
Jessica Alyse is a Louisiana girl with a heart for Texas. 

A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, she has a passion for storytelling, romance, and Jesus Christ. 

When she’s not writing, you can find her bookbinding, daydreaming about the day her stories are adapted into movies, or in the event of a football game, cheering for the Green Bay Packers. 

~*~
Blurb for The Road to Austin

Natalie Hallie is a woman on a mission.

She needs to get home in time for her sister’s wedding.

Austin Brooks is a man of spontaneity. And he needs coffee.

To get to Austin, Texas, Natalie refuses to step foot on a plane. She'd rather accept a ride from the reckless and wild boy from her childhood who, in her opinion, hasn't changed all that much. If she can just get through three days of his witty commentary and cheesy jokes, then life will return to normal. That is, if bad eggs, thieving monkeys, a tornado, a dilapidated motel, and a stolen truck don't do her in first.

The world looks better in watercolor. Or so Austin believes. He finds it easier not to take life so seriously, unlike Natalie. Things change when they spend three days together and her long-buried feelings start to surface. That’s when Austin finds himself getting serious…about praying for Natalie’s heart.

On a journey where the skies aren’t always blue, graffiti isn't always illegal, and bathroom breaks aren't always a good idea, the past starts to catch up with them. When secrets of her brother's death, Austin's past, and Natalie's family begin to come to light, they'll learn there's more to life and love on the road to Austin.

~*~
Connect with Jessica:
Website -  http://www.jessalyse.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/writer.jessalyse/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/WriterJessAlyse
Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/writerjessalyse/
Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/Jessica-Alyse/e/B015S1RSH8
Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/jessicaalyse

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed the interview. I have my copy of The Road to Austin and excited to read it.

    ReplyDelete