Interview with Jessica Dall

I recently was asked to read Jessica Dall’s new book Raining Embers (Order and Chaos Book 1) and I absolutely loved it. So of course I totally wanted to interview her and I was so grateful that she was willing to take time out of her clearly busy days to answer my questions.

headshot of Jessica Dall
Courtesy of Jessica Dall

Thank you so much to Jessica Dall and enjoy this fantastic interview. And don’t forget to get the book because it was fantastic!

  1. Why did you start writing? What inspired you to do so?
    My mother can tell you that I’ve always been a bit of a writer. Even before I was actually able to write, i would fill pages with scribbles I would call my stories. There’s just something I’ve always found therapeutic about writing. It continued as a hobby as a child/through high school, and then in college I got an internship at a small press. While there, I realized that writing was really something I wanted to do professionally.

  2. How did you come up with the idea for the Order and Chaos series?
    I was actually at an art lecture years and years ago when the presenter brought up a picture of the Vatican Library. While he was talking about all the lovely art in the room, I got the idea for what is now the first scene of the novel. The characters and plot and everything else has changed quite a bit from that night, but that was certainly the impetus.

  3. Going off the last question, where did you get the idea for personifying Order as well as Chaos?
    I’ve always been very interested in mythology. Rather than sticking to one specific mythology, I thought it would be fun to develop my own creation myth. That led to creating two “old” gods–and who could be better for starting off the universe than Order and Chaos?

  4. What was involved in writing a series like this? Research? Visiting locations? Etc.
    I was very lucky to get the chance to travel to Italy while writing Raining Embers. I have to give my family numerous thanks for allowing me to turn what was mostly a vacation also into a research trip. I have an entire photo file I’m still using while writing the rest of the series when I need references for buildings and everything else like that. Otherwise, fantasy has given me a lot of leeway when it comes to world building, but I have done quite a bit of research on the Renaissance–since it’s what the setting is based around–world mythology, and etymology of all things (I’ve done my very best to keep my terms relatively period appropriate through the manuscript so there aren’t characters suddenly sounding out of place for their world).

  5. Do you know how many books will be in the series? 
    Book 2 is currently in edits with my publisher and should be out late in 2016. Book 3 is currently being written. If there is going to be a Book 4 depends on how far the story gets in Book 3!

  6. How did you create the cover? Such as the ideas behind it?
    The designers my publisher uses, Streetlight Graphics, actually made the cover and did a stunning job as far as I’m concerned! I worked with the marketing department to come up with a few ideas that fit the genre and came up with the idea for a single focus with the fire–since that plays a major role in the story–sort of a less-gritty Game of Thrones meets less sci-fi Hunger Games/Divergent. From there we sent that general idea over to SG, and they came back with something even more stunning than I’d imagined. They certainly knocked it out of the park.

  7. What are some thing you have to do when you write (ex: have a candle, have mints, a special pen, etc.)?
    I’m very lucky in that I’ve always been able to write wherever I am as long as I have a pen and paper/keyboard. I used to write on the train to and from work when I was working a 9-to-5 job, and I’ve been known to pull out a notepad whenever I’m left waiting somewhere for more than a couple of minutes. I do, however, have a favorite pen that I use when I’m home. It’s a fountain pen I actually got as a graduation gift after college. I’m just terrified of losing it, so I don’t tend to carry it with me.

  8. During your average day, what can you be found doing?
    When I’m not writing, I work as an editor and a creative writing teacher, so I can generally be found either with my laptop at home–writing or editing–or in a classroom depending on how many classes I’m teaching any given semester. I can’t say I’m too exciting, but I consider myself very lucky that I get to spend my time around words as the bulk of every day.

  9. What can you currently be found watching on TV?
    Murdoch Mysteries has actually been what my husband and I have been binge watching lately on Netflix (a CBC show we found when we were on our honeymoon in Montreal, actually). We’re getting close to where Netflix leaves off so we’re hoping Season 8 pops up before we get there! Other than that, I’m a big Doctor Who fan and love The Simpsons. I can never seem to remember when things air, however, so my DVR gets a serious work out when I have to catch up on shows.

  10. What’s your favorite movie (or movies if you can’t pick just one)?
    I tend to like character-driven movies, which means a lot of my favorite movies are about people going through personal changes–like Up in the Air and Rachel Getting Married. That said, I can also really get behind big blockbusters and other sillier films, like I loved The Avengers and Pitch Perfect. So, really, my tastes can be all over the place.

  11. What is the weirdest or most exotic food you have ever eaten?
    I’m not a very adventurous eater (and I’m a pescetarian, so that limits things as well) but my last job before I switched to editing and teaching was at a public health marketing firm that did campaigns in developing countries. That meant we did get a lot of interesting things brought back from co-workers trips to Africa/Latin America/Southeast Asia. The one that most sticks out is a candy one woman brought back from Zambia that was chocolate around a type of nut that elephants supposedly will eat to get drunk because they’re minorly alcoholic. That as an interesting one.

  12. If you were stuck on a deserted island and you could have 5 things dropped off to you (not including transportation, and food and shelter was not an issue) what would they be and why?
    First, I’d want my Kindle. I’ve become absolutely addicted to it at this point (and it’s nice to read on something that isn’t a back-lit screen after reading/writing things on my laptop all day. Then my laptop, so I could do all that writing and listen to music. For those, I suppose I’d need some sort of solar charger to run them. For number four, I’d say something crafty I could do while hanging around the island (knitting or crochet, maybe?). For my last thing, I’d either try to cheat and get my husband to come hang out with me (he could use an island vacation too!) or at least get some family pictures so I could feel like I had everyone around.