Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Jess Riley knows how to light up a room, plus a book giveaway
**Giveaway is now closed**
"All the lonely people...where do they all come from?" Those are the song lyrics I hear in my head when I see the title of Jess Riley's latest novel, which is timed perfectly with the winter holidays, when too much family time might not always be a good thing. (Of course, if you adore your family and want to spend all your time with them, you'll just read this novel and say "I'm glad it's not about me!") That's because All the Lonely People is about a woman who puts an ad on Craigslist for a new family for Christmas. Sound enticing yet? It sure does to all of us at Chick Lit Central! And after getting to know Jess a little better, we're even more intrigued about what kind of story can come from her creative and humorous mind!
Jess appeals to my mid-western roots, seeing as she's from Wisconsin. (Growing up in Illinois, it was just a hop, skip and jump away!) Aside from her budding writing career that started in junior high and carried her through high school, Jess has been a waitress, a blue cheese packager, and currently, a grant writer for local school districts. She once worked at a mall-based toy store during the Tickle Me Elmo craze of 1996 and lived to tell about it. She has also worked as a teaching assistant at a medium-security men's prison, which was much less stressful. A 1998 UW-Oshkosh graduate, Jess has dual degrees in English and history. She currently lives in a drafty old house in Oshkosh,Wisconsin with her husband and a neurotic dog that despises public radio.
Thanks to Jess, we have one paperback copy of her book, All The Lonely People for a US reader and one e-book open to readers worldwide.
You can find Jess at her website, as well as Facebook and Twitter.
At what age did you first discover writing?
I grew up in a house surrounded by books; my Dad is also a writer, and I remember the biggest treat was to be granted time on his electric typewriter. I read voraciously as a kid, and wrote lots of bad poems and ridiculous stories. Winkitty Goes to the Eye Doctor (4th grade?) even included a felt puppet I made: a winking pink kitten. Get it? Winkitty. Ho-ho. I am cringing just typing this.
Do you base any of your characters on yourself?
As I did in my first novel, Driving Sideways, I wrote All the Lonely People from a first person perspective. Storytelling comes more naturally to me that way, but a side effect is that some of my views (and definitely my bad jokes) sift into my protagonists. So, no characters are really based on me, but sometimes a bit of me comes along for the ride.
In one sentence, what was the road to publishing like?
It felt like living in a bamboo cage in a Viet Cong prison for ten years, and one day someone suddenly hauls you up to be a contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
If they made a movie of All the Lonely People, who would play the main characters?
I’d love to see Kristin Wiig play Jaime, and Paul Rudd play her husband Erik. Vince Vaughn would make a great Clint; I know someone who knows him in real life, and he’s as obnoxious off-screen as his on-screen characters. As for my motley “new family,” I actually wrote Paul Stanley with Zack Galifianikis in mind. Blythe Danner would make a lovely Evelyn, Amanda Seyfried could play a wonderfully fragile Alyssa, and I’m torn between Jason Schwartzman and Joseph Gordon-Leavitt to play Chris.
Favorite holiday or winter themed song?
“Christmastime is Here,” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. Times a thousand. Infinity padlock.
Something that gets you in the mood for the holidays:
Well, sometime in October I place an order for new candles from Pure Integrity. My God, just the smell of some of their scents--Whispering Pines, Mistletoe, Victorian Christmas—and I’m seven-years-old again, peeling off the perforated dates on my scratch-n-sniff advent calendar.
They didn’t pay me to say that, but it’s true.
Craziest thing that has ever happened to you during the holiday season:
So, first a bit of back story: I love the movie A Christmas Story (“I like the Tin Man”), and a few years ago my husband actually ordered me a full-sized replica of the leg lamp. It’s prominently lit in my kitchen window every year. Anyway, last year I was scrubbing the kitchen floor to prep for some guests, and there was a knocking on my front door. Some drunk, but very cheerful old nut was driving by, saw my leg lamp in the window, and simply had to tell me how much it made his day. “It’s just like in that movie! Where’d you get it? What a thing to have! I just can’t get over it!” He was giggling like a lunatic, going on and on about it, but thankfully, he was harmless.
Oh, and when I was a kid in 4-H, we routinely caroled at local nursing homes—not really the craziest holiday story, but people with dementia shouting profanities at you when you’re a nine-year-old dancing and singing a solo from “A Marshmallow World” can be a bit memorable.
How do you stay warm on a cold winter's day?
I have tiny space heaters near my feet at my computer at work and home, and blast those suckers anytime my toes feel numb. Which is a lot, because I don’t exercise nearly as much as I should.
Special thanks to Jess for a fun chat and sharing her book with our readers.
Please comment below with your e-mail address. (Please note: Entries without an e-mail address will NOT be counted. You can use AT and DOT to avoid spam. Or provide a link to your facebook page or blog if you can receive messages there.) Also, please indicate which country you are located in. If you are in the USA and do not indicate, you will only be eligible for the e-book.
Bonus entries (can be listed all in one post):
1. Please tell us: What is the craziest thing that has ever happened to you during the holiday season?
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Paperback-US only; e-book-Worldwide. Giveaway ends December 16th at midnight EST.
For another chance to win this book, visit Booking with Manic. (US/Canada. Ends 12/16.)