Monday, December 7, 2015

Author Interview : Becky Jerams, Author of Reasons To Love A Nerd Like Me

About the author

Becky Jerams (born June 26th, 1987) is a writer and musician from Portsmouth, UK. Reasons To Love A Nerd Like Me is her debut novel and has been featured on the website Wattpad where it has gained many loyal readers and over two million hits. After receiving such an overwhelming response for her writing, she recently released the new and improved edition of her story as an official eBook through Kindle Direct Publishing.

She lives with her boyfriend in a little flat near the sea and splits her time between fiction writing, songwriting sessions, performing acoustic gigs and working in a student art shop. Her songs have been featured internationally on various shows and adverts, and her stories have been read by thousands of young people across the world gaining her fans from UK, US, Spain, Philippines, Nigeria, France, Egypt, Jamaica, Australia, India and beyond. Her pacey, emotional style of writing aimed for a young adult audience has been compared to the likes of John Green, David Levithan and Jenny Downham.

Becky is currently working on the spin-off sequel to Reasons To Love A Nerd Like Me titled Could You Love An Apple? which will be available on Kindle in the near future. She hopes to continue writing about the characters she has created for as long as people want to keep reading about them.
Twitter: @beckyjerams
Youtube (Featuring Book Trailer):


1. When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
I’ve always known that I loved writing stories right from when I was a small child in my creative writing classes at school. I had a big imagination growing up and would often spend hours making up stories and little home-made books with my own illustrations. However, as I got older, this skill transferred to music and lyric writing. I spent many years honing my musical craft and the thought of fiction writing at a professional level didn’t really cross my mind until a few years ago when I stumbled across the website Wattpad and felt inspired to try my hand at it. I never realised how passionate I felt about writing books until I was finally doing it. Now I seriously couldn’t imagine my life without it!

2. What motivates you to write and where does your inspiration come from?
M any things inspire me to write, whether it’s people and situations from my own life or just beautiful imagery and characters from other media that spark my imagination.  I always try and put a bit of myself into every scene and write elements of my own experience into my stories.

3. How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
When it came to Reasons To Love A Nerd Like Me, my aim was to throw all my favourite things together in one book and see what happened. I love reading boy x boy love stories and I know the genre is very popular, plus I feel very strongly about gay rights so I decided to go down that route with the romance side of things. Then I added all my passions to the mix – music, headstrong females, a brooding rocker boy, geeky pop culture references and lots of melodrama. I just wrote the kind of story I’d want to read and luckily for me, others responded to it!

4. What are your current/future projects?
Right now I am working on editing the sequel to “Reasons To Love A Nerd Like Me” which is called “Could You Love An Apple?” and is a spin-off story all about the character Taylor Raven. I am also in the planning stages of a third story which focuses on one of the female characters in the sequel!

5. Are you traditional or self-published, and what process did you go through to get your book published?
I am a self-published author – I started out writing my first draft on Wattpad where I gained many loyal readers who really helped me to shape and polish my story. Using the feedback I received, I self-edited the novel, going through every chapter numerous times until I was completely happy with it. I then got a friend who is studying a doctorate to go through my work and help fix any grammar problems I had missed (and it turned out there were quite a lot). After that, I got my friend Kendal James who is a local artist to design the front cover and my boyfriend Mat to format the book so it was compatible with Kindle. Once it was published as an e-book, I set about promoting it as much as possible with friends, readers, reviewers, blogs and local news sites. I feel very proud that I have accomplished so much all by myself and I hope to keep taking the project as far as possible!

6. What field or genre would you classify your book(s) and what attracted you to write in that field or genre?
M y books are Young Adult which is a genre I absolutely love. I think that emotions and situations are so new and intense when you are in your teens/early twenties and I love that feeling of life stretching out in front of my characters. I also love being able to connect with real life young people and write stories that engage with them and might even help them in some way.

7. What do you do if inspiration strikes in an inconvenient place like (car, restaurant, bathroom/shower, etc..) and how do you capture that moment before it gets away from you?
Inspiration is always striking me at the worst times, usually when I’m at work or out walking around in public. I tend to keep my phone or a pen and paper nearby me at all times and quickly scribble down any great ideas or bits of dialogue that come to me. Although luckily I have a very keen memory when it comes to my own ideas and there isn’t a lot that I tend to forget.

8. What is your biggest fear about having a book published?
There are so many fears that come with publishing a book, especially self-publishing. Will people like it? Will they give me bad reviews? Am I living up to my true potential by going it alone or should I have gone down a traditional publishing route? I worry constantly about doing the right thing, but sometimes you just have to make a decision and go for it! It’s hard to put yourself out there, but I’m so glad that I did and the results have been incredible rewarding for me!

9. What makes a good story, why?
To me, all good stories are about people and what makes them tick. I think behind every genre, whether it’s fantasy or historical or sci-fi, ultimately we want to know what happens to people in exceptional circumstances and how they are feeling. It’s a bit of an unpopular opinion, but I personally don’t like lots of action in stories, such as chase or battle scenes. I find those parts very boring. I’d rather read a whole chapter of what’s going on in someone’s head.

10. Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I read every single review I can get my paws on! Hearing good feedback is so motivating and makes me feel a real sense of achievement. Bad reviews are harder to take. I am very lucky that most readers have been very kind about my story and the majority of their criticism has been constructive. I think it’s important to take criticism because it’s the only way you will improve and get better. Of course, sometimes you just flat out don’t agree with people’s opinions and I think it’s also important to stay firm when you know you are in the right! One reviewer of my book recently mildly criticised my dialogue which I feel is one of the strongest elements of my story. However, I accept that some of the phrasing might be unfamiliar to people outside of UK, so cultural differences have to be taken into account too!

11. What is the easiest/hardest scene for you to write, why? (Love, action, fight, death, racy, controversial, etc…)
 For me, the easiest scenes to write are usually ones with a lot of dialogue in them because I can let the conversation play out naturally and follow the characters emotions. Heated arguments or confessions of love are my favourite! I think the subtle, in-between scenes are much harder to write than the scenes where a lot is happening.

12. What are some events you have attended or participated in that has been a positive experience/influence on/for your writing?
This summer I attended a convention in London called YALC UK (Young Adult Literature Convention) – there were talks from agents and one-to-one sessions with them which were so interesting and helpful to me. There were also author meets and so many stalls and information and recent young adult releases. I found the whole event super inspiring and it definitely pushed me to keep going with my writing and finally release my work professionally.

13. What would you like to write about that you have never written about before?
I would love to tackle more big issues in my future work. I’ve had a few different ideas for love stories with a theme of mental health in them. I would also love to write something more in the fantasy realm, but I think I need to practice my craft a little more before tackling such an intimidating genre!

14. What book(s), author(s), or significant life event(s) have had a positive or negative influence in your life that inspired you to begin writing?
There are so many reasons why I write. It is definitely an outlet and a way of self-expression for me. I was very shy growing up and hated school, plus I was an only child, so I tended to daydream a lot and get lost in my own imagination. I loved authors such as Jacqueline Wilson, Roald Dahl and AA Milne, and I would get lost in their magical stories. I also really loved stories about talking animals such as Charlotte’s Web, they were a particular favourite for me as a child and must have had a bigger influence on me than I realised at the time. In later life, the one book that inspired me to write was 50 Shades Of Grey. Now don’t get me wrong, I kind of love that book in a guilty pleasure way, but most people would agree that it’s very poorly written. Once I finished it I remember thinking… Dear God, if this is a bestseller then what the hell am I worried about?!

15. Do you view writing as a career, labor of love, hobby, creative outlet, therapy, or something else?
Writing is definitely a labour of love and something I will always do because it’s instinctive to me. However, I also really want to make a career through it and push myself to the limits. I think it’s definitely possible to turn your hobby into a job, it all depends on how hard you work and how big you dream!

16. What are the advantages/disadvantages of self or traditional publishing?
There are so many pros and cons to self-publishing and I am always changing my mind about whether it’s something I want to keep pursuing or whether I want to attempt to go down a more traditional route with a professional agent and publishing house. Doing everything solo is incredibly hard work, and it feels like the odds are constantly against you because some people won’t even give you a chance if you are self-published or have no physical copy of your book. It would be amazing to have the backing and promotion of somebody bigger than myself and be able to reach a wider audience. On the other hand, I absolutely love the freedom of doing everything myself and the total control it gives me. I can write about whatever I want without someone else trying to interfere in any way. I also get to keep a hundred percent of the profit I make and the sense of achievement of doing everything single-handed simply cannot be beaten!

17. What is your most/least favorite part of the writing process, why?
My favourite part of the writing process is the moment when you are swamped with so many ideas that they just start pouring out of you. When you start writing key scenes and you can feel your characters jumping out of your head and onto a page, it’s such a joyous experience and completely freeing! The worst part is the editing, it’s so boring and tedious. But necessary.

18. What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
My favourite scene in Reasons To Love A Nerd Like Me is the moment when Scotty finally confesses his feelings to the person he likes (I won’t give away too much for those who haven’t read the story yet). It’s really the magic movie moment where everyone is waiting with baited breath to find out what’s going to happen. I loved hearing people’s reactions to that scene and I could picture it perfectly in my head as I was writing it.

19. Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
There are lots of authors who have influenced my tastes and writing style over the years. Growing up I was completely obsessed with Jacqueline Wilson and the way she makes such simple, heartfelt stories from big complex issues is something I have very much tried to emulate. I am a huge lover of teen fiction and chick lit from authors such as Meg Cabot, Maureen Johnson, Louise Rennison, Sophie Kinsella and Lisa Jewell. The way they tell their stories with such vibrant characters and weave comedy and tragedy seamlessly has been a huge influence to me. On the edgier side of the spectrum I have been influenced by writers such as Ben Elton and Louise O’Neill, both writers with something to say. Oh and of course, massive shout-out to JK Rowling, the Queen of all of us.

20. What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?

 The best advice I ever got about writing was from my Mum who taught me everything I know about building a good story. She told me that the main thing to remember whilst constructing characters is what drives them at every point of the story. If you know what drives your character and what makes them do the things they do then you can’t go too far wrong. She also always tells me to “write what you know” which I think is stellar advice.

I'd like to thank Becky Jerams for this interview and I wish her luck for her literary journey ahead!

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