EXTRA CREDIT INTERVIEW WITH JESSICA D'AGOSTINI:
Joining LitPick for an Extra Credit Interview today is Jessica D’Agostini, author of Magical Eyes: Dawn of the Sand. This book has received a Five Star Review from one of our LitPick reviewers.
***Do you have a solid outline before writing, or do you usually get ideas as you go along?
I have to say a bit of both. I start with an outline of the main ideas that I want to include in each chapter. But as I write the story, characters change and new ideas pop up that affect what I had originally planned. I rewrite, twist, and adjust to where the story wants to take me. I allow the world that I am creating to form itself and come to life. I become the guide, letting the work flow, but taking the lead when I need to. It is a marvelous experience when you realize that the overall trajectory of the plot and character development comes out better than what you have on the original outline.
In Magical Eyes, one of the main characters was initially supposed to die, but in the end, this character turned out to be one of the superheroes. Big change, huh! Can you guess who that is?
***Has someone you’ve known ever appeared as a character in a book (consciously or subconsciously)?
Not really. I can pick certain characteristics of people I know to create traits in my characters. But in general, they are all the product of my imagination. I can tell you that I have used some relative names for my characters. For example, my son’s middle name is Alessio. I named the king in his honor. Having said this, King Alessio does not have any physical resemblance or qualities similar to my son. I like each character to be like a new person who is born, perhaps looking like someone else, but at the same time, different and unique.
There are other family secrets hidden in the story. Maybe one day, I will share them!
***What do you do when you get writer's block?
I take a break from writing and go on to another activity. It can be exercising, reading or simply talking the scenario over with my husband. He is extremely good at throwing all kinds of crazy suggestions that if none of them works, at least they crack me up with a laugh. A quick break is usually all it takes to spark my brain with fresh ideas so that then I can happily go back to my keyboard. Sometimes, I feel that I am wasting time, but the truth is, it always turns out to be my best medicine.
***If you could live in a book's world, which would you choose?
Reading is fascinating. It gives us a place to go when we do not even have to move from where we are. I wish all books were magical and I could step inside each and every one of all the fabulous worlds I have read about. With that, I must add that I have spent a lot of time living in my own unique world. I cannot deny that I would love to visit Brightalia—stay in Diamond Palace, take a stroll along Main Street, visit Enzo’s house, ride the farmland, and end up at Amo Island. It would be surreal! I am sure I will feel right at home.
***What is your favorite book-to-movie adaptation?
This is another hard question to give a single answer. Two of my favorite book-to-movie adaptations are The Chronicles of Narnia and the Hunger Games. Not only have I enjoyed the brilliance of the story themselves on the big screen, but also the amazing sceneries. They were done very well, and the important scenes were all well captured. Harry Potter has to be on my list too. I will never get tired of watching the series all over again.
Thanks to technology, brilliant adaptations of great books are possible, and I continue to enjoy them. I look forward to watching some of the most anticipated ones of 2017. Among them being The Circle and Wonder.
***If you could have lunch with one other author (dead or alive!), who would it be?
The best question of all! It would be a great honor to have dinner with Dr. Seuss—a brilliant mind with a terrific passion for children’s books. He had entertained generations of children and adults.
It would also be a dream come true to meet J.K. Rowling and dine with her at Hogwarts School. I could have thousands of questions for her, so maybe it would be better if I just listen to how she created the amazing world of Harry Potter while taking a tour of the place. Wouldn’t that be awesome?
In all honesty, I admire both authors for the greatness of their contribution to literature. Their works will live for many generations.
Well, it is time to come back to reality and go back to my fantasy worlds. But before I do that, I want to add one more line:
Never stop dreaming, for one day, your dream can become a reality!
Thanks for joining us for another interview, Jessica. We’d love to know all about your family secrets hidden in the book.
Bio: Debut novelist Jessica D’Agostini has lived in Miami, Florida since 1990. Her love of magic and adventure drew her to children’s books and pursuing a more creative life. Now, she spends hours glued to her computer meeting courageous characters, casting spells, and exploring fantasy worlds. She also enjoys traveling, reading, and walking the sandy beaches of South Florida with her husband and her adventurous crew of three children.
SIX MINUTES WITH JESSICA D'AGOSTINI:
Joining LitPick for Six Minutes with an Author today is Jessica D’Agostini. Her first book, Magical Eyes: Dawn of the Sand, has received a five star review from one of our student reviewers (https://litpick.com/review/magical-eyes-dawn-sand-review-leah0304).
***How did you get started writing?
First, I started reading middle-grade books. It all happened when my boys were in elementary school. I began reading some of the books that were assigned to them, and I discovered how much I liked children’s stories. My passion in storytelling bloomed all of a sudden on the hidden longing I had for contemporary books when I was younger. But it was not until my family was joined by a little girl that I decided to become a writer. It was that sweet, energetic, and charming girl; the one who took me back to the wonderful world of fairytales. To the fantasies, to the princesses, and to the sparkling magic that she has brought to my life, I owe the inspiration to create my first novel, Magical Eyes: Dawn of the Sand.
***Who influenced you?
Other authors! I have been influenced by everything I have read. Each book is unique. A book can entertain you and make you laugh. A book might make you cry. Perhaps, it can make you think or change the way you think. So when I immerse myself in someone else’s world, I try to fully enjoy the experience. I pay attention to the smallest details. I look at how the author makes me turn the page, how the characters are described, how the plot is moved, or simply how a line brings a smile to my face. Thanks to great stories, I have found my voice and my own writing style.
***Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?
It is hard to pick just one book, but I will try to keep my list short. I must start with Holes by Louis Sachar. It was the first book I read together with my boys. It is a very compelling story about a bad boy who had to dig a hole every day under the sun to build character.
Also among my favorite middle-grade adventures are The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy) by Jennifer A. Nielsen and The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians) by Rick Riordan. The narration in both books is extraordinary, and I love the main characters – troubled, but clever kids. And how not to mention Harry Potter? J. K. Rowling has a brilliant imagination. The magical world that she created is amazing. It has captivated readers of all ages, and I am one of them.
I also read motivational books. Two of my favorites are The Four Agreements and Tuesdays with Morrie.
As far as characters, I have to say Elsa from the movie Frozen. I was enchanted by the character and how she was able to create ice and snow. I wanted my main character to have magical power. My love for the beach quickly became the second inspirational element. When I combined the two together, Princess Martina was born – a girl with the magical ability to manipulate sand.
***What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?
My best advice is to write, write, and continue writing. It does not have to be perfect. It can be a short story or it can be a long one as long as you keep practicing. Write about the girl who was crossing the street, the student who was waiting for the bus, or the friend who forgot the homework. The more you practice, the better you will become at the craft of writing. I am a firm believer that practice makes perfection.
When writing a novel, the story must hook the readers and refuse to let them go. It must have engaging plots but also memorable characters that will stay in the hearts of the readers after they turned the last page of the book.
If you can remember Princess Martina, Prince Drago, or Enzo after reading the last line of Magical Eyes, then I can say that I have done a good job.
***Where is your favorite place to write?
At home! I do most of my writing at my desk. After my kids leave for school, I sprint to my computer, I glue myself to the chair, and I start typing madly in search of my next adventure, magic spell, scary curse, or a new unforgettable character. However, I come up with new ideas at any time and in any place. My mind is spinning all the time. It can happen while I am driving, taking a shower or even trying to sleep. Thanks to technology, I write them down on my cellular phone, and then they eventually become part of my stories.
***What else would you like to tell us?
There is more than Magical Eyes. I plan to start working on my second novel, 13 O’Clock. The setting and storyline of this middle-grade story will be completely different from Magical Eyes. The novel will be about a girl who is kidnapped and taken to a highly polluted planet, and her only hope of returning home is a peculiar clock. My goal is to publish my second book in a year or two.
Aside from writing, I enjoy exercising and visiting new countries. But if I can describe a perfect day, it is as simple as sitting at the beach with my husband and my three amazing kids. It relaxes my mind, it gives natural music to my ears, and it recharges my batteries. Of course, always add a quirky book to the picture.
To learn more about Magical Eyes: Dawn of the Sand and myself, please visit my website at www.jessicadagostini.com.
I have a page dedicated to my readers. Find out how you can be part of it.
See you there and thank you for taking the time to read my interview! J
Jessica, thank you for spending some time with us. We love to hear when an author’s own children become the inspiration for a book. We are eager for your next title.
Check out the pictures of the characters in Magical Eyes: