Jessica Leigh, the author of Dear Keelen, released her book in January 2020. We wanted to catch up with the new author and see how life had been treating her since she was published.
Did you always dream of becoming an author?
I did. My earliest memory of writing is from when I was eight. I was sitting at my grandparents’ dining table, writing a story about a girl who had found an abandoned warehouse and decided to live there instead of going to school and eating vegetables. It wasn’t until I was around the age of sixteen that I realised that my work could be published. That was when I wrote my first book. But since I wrote it all by hand, I’ve never been bothered to rewrite it.
What was your first job?
I was lucky that my first job was pretty cool. I worked at a music store, selling CDs and DVDs before everything went digital. I worked there for over five years and absolutely loved it. Looking back, it was probably the only job that would allow us to rock up to work in all black, shin-high Converse, and band shirts. I definitely couldn’t get away with that in the career I’m in now.
How did you come about writing your book? Was that your intention or did you start writing for fun?
I always start writing for fun. I’m a teacher, so I’m always reminding my students that if they don’t enjoy writing their stories, their audience won’t enjoy reading it. So I always start writing blind, that is, letting the story flow out of me and surprise me with the twists and turns.
As for how Dear Keelen came about, I was listening to a song by Marianas Trench called Forget Me Not, which is about the singer’s mother struggling with Lewy Body Syndrome. It got me thinking about who and what in my life I would want to remember the most if my mind started to slip. From there, I toyed with the idea that later became Dear Keelen. And the rest is history.
What was your life like before you became an author?
I’m not ever going to be the type of person who will change because I’m a writer. My parents raised me to get an education and a career behind me that I loved, and to pursue writing in my spare time. I’ve managed to find a job that inspires me every day and that I am still passionate about after eleven years. I write the stories I want to read and I publish them in the hope of having them on my bookshelf. When other people buy them and read them, it blows my mind and I am beyond humbled by it.
Did you face any struggles before becoming an author? If so, how did you overcome them?
My main struggle has, and always will be, self-doubt. It troubles me in my personal life, in my career, and my ability as a writer. It is the reason it has taken me so long to publish one book when I’ve got several on my computer. I am grateful that I initially published Dear Keelen as an online serial so that once I published a chapter, it was finished and I could not re-edit it. That stopped me from being able to edit it to death. Once it finished being released that way, I had two work friends asking about how they could get a copy. They inspired me to seek out a publisher and I’m glad I did because now I have a physical book. None of this would have happened if I had been left to my own belief in my writing ability.
Now that you are a published author, how has your life changed, if at all?
The only way it has changed is that I’ve achieved my life goal at the age of thirty-two. I’m proud of that.
Can you please describe a typical day in your life now?
My life revolves around my family and my career. I wake up early enough to get ready before I wake up my daughter, Sienna. We have breakfast together, feed the cats, and then I take her to day care. This year, I’ve been lucky enough to work close to home so I start work at 7.30. Depending on the day, I may have morning or afternoon meetings, or both. Plus, as an Assistant Principal, my role is to supervise students beyond those in my class. So while I spend my class time with them, I usually spend the rest of my time at work solving other issues.
Once I’ve finished for the day, I pick Sienna up and we get home roughly the same time as my husband, Jerome. He’s a wonderful cook and he gets dinner ready while we go about playing or getting cleaned up. By the time Sienna goes to bed, my husband and I try to watch a show or a movie. But we’re usually pretty exhausted by then.
What is your most memorable moment of your life as an author?
My most memorable moment was the response I received when I announced a giveaway. People love freebies but I never thought anyone would want my book. Within an hour, I had received more messages than I would in a year. People were sharing my book link, sharing the competition post. It was crazy.
In a few words, how would you review your experience with Pegasus Publishers?
I have loved working with Pegasus Publishers. I had heard a lot about them online, and I knew that they were the publishing house for me based on what I wanted for my book and my career as a writer. I am always thrilled to receive emails or packages from them and I know they have my book’s best interest at heart.
Why did you choose Pegasus Publishers?
The publishing market in Australia is smaller than most, so I always dreamt of publishing through an international house. When I did my research, I noticed that Pegasus published similar styles to mine and I knew they would, at least, consider my book. Now, I wouldn’t go anywhere else.
MORE FROM THE BLOG
E.M. Rowe, the author of Hello Gorgeous released her book in February 2020. We wanted to catch up with the new author and see how life had been treating her since she was published. Did you always dream of becoming an author? Not really, no. I was always...read more
We caught up with Michael Dowle, the author of Four Becomes the One and Laura, Come Back to Me. We wanted to catch up with the new author and see how life had been treating him since his recent book Four Becomes the One was released in January 2020. Did you...read more