Monday, October 17, 2011

Eleven Up: VIRTUOSITY by Jessica Martinez

I’m so excited to bring you this interview with Jessica Martinez, author of VIRTUOSITY – available Tuesday, October 18th. This gripping story follows seventeen year-old Carmen Bianchi, a violin prodigy, as she struggles to transition into a career as a virtuoso soloist. Here's a little bit more about the story:

Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. And Jeremy is hands-down the wrong guy for her to fall for. He is infuriating, arrogant, and the only person who can stand in the way of Carmen getting the one thing she wants most: to win the prestigious Guarneri competition. Carmen’s whole life is violin, and until she met Jeremy, her whole focus was winning. But what if Jeremy isn’t just hot...what if Jeremy is better?

Carmen knows that kissing Jeremy can’t end well, but she just can’t stay away. Nobody else understands her—and riles her up—like he does. Still, she can’t trust him with her biggest secret: She is so desperate to win she takes antianxiety drugs to perform, and what started as an easy fix has become a hungry addiction. Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of always doing what she’s told, doing what’s expected.
Sometimes, being on top just means you have a long way to fall...

Kirkus gave VIRTUOSITY a starred review, and had this to say:

“Former child violin prodigy Martinez brings this overwrought world to tense, quivering life and guides readers through it confidently. A brilliant debut.”

Mind-blowingly awesome, right?

I had the honor of interview Jessica on behalf of the Apocalypsies. So without further ado, here she is!

1) You've been playing the violin since a very early age. Can you tell us a little bit about your musical accomplishments? Do you still play? 

Oh, man.  Feel free to skip down the #2 if you don’t want to hear me brag.  I’ll be brief.

I started playing at age three and sacrificed my childhood to the music gods for the next fifteen years or so.  I won/placed in a handful of major competitions as a teenager, but the highlights of my musical experience were getting to perform as a soloist with symphonies.  So in VIRTUOSITY when Carmen wants to fling her violin off a balcony, I've been there.  The crazy mom and the performance drugs--I didn't experience those personally, but let's just say I had front row seats.

Yes, I do still play.  I’m not as good as I used to be, which makes my picky ear very sad, but violin will always be a huge part of my life.  I’ve got recordings from the glory days on my website here.  Just in case, you know, you want proof. 

(Sidenote from Veronica: I became addicted to the recordings of Jessica’s performances on her website. So, beware. And prepare yourself to be completely moved by her incredible gift.)

2) Have you always been a writer as well, or did that talent come later?

I have always been a writer, but it took me a long time to take myself seriously.  I got a degree in English and took a handful of creative writing classes, but publishing fiction always seemed too impossible to even dream about.  It wasn’t until about six years after graduating (four years ago) that I decided I would try to do more than just write and delete depressing short stories.

3) Can you share a bit about your writing process? Your inspirations for VIRTUOSITY? Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you have a regular writing routine?

Plotter, but I don’t stick to my plots.  I learn so much about my characters during the writing process that my plots have to change to accommodate.  My process is disturbing.  I just finished editing my second novel and with both books I put my first drafts aside and rewrote the entire thing.  THE ENTIRE THING.  And with both of those rewrites, I used nothing from the first drafts.  NOTHING.  I'm banging my head on the keyboard just thinking about it.  I don’t think I even opened up the documents.  I try not to think about the inefficiency too much or it makes my brain want to explode.

My writing routine for the last four years has been to write like a maniac every time my children are asleep.  Frankly, this has resulted in four years of crankiness.  All of the sudden, though, I’ve got this little miracle called preschool.  Now I get to write AND sleep.  It rules.  Who knew?  No telling how much better life will be next year when I have an entire school day to write.

4) What piece of advice would you share with a pre-published writer? How about a debut author?

Pre-published authors: Lay off the delete key.  There’s a time for harsh self-criticism and it isn’t before you’ve written that first draft.

Debut authors: Lay off goodreads.  There are some crazy-mean psychos out there and most of them don’t know what they’re talking about.  Don’t let them get you down.  Channel all that energy into your next novel and you’ll be so much better off.

5) Finally, the apocalypse is coming! You have to pack your bomb shelter with music, books, food--your necessities. What are the first five things you reach for?

1. My violin
2. My computer
3. Gilmore Girls and Mad Men.  Weird together, I know, but I love them.  Both are clever and treat me like I’m smart.
4. Dark chocolate, black licorice, and Diet Mountain Dew.  And if that combo makes you want to hurl, you’re not alone.  My family is also repulsed.
5. My NYT Sunday Crossword Puzzle book.  Will Shortz, I love you.

CRAP! I FORGOT TO BRING A NOVEL!  If I get to run back and get one more thing, I’d grab something I haven’t read yet.  I don’t like re-reading, even if I loved the book to death the first time. 

Stop over at Jessica’s website for more information, or if you’d like to send your congratulations, you can find her on twitter!

Thank you, Jessica!

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