Denise Jaden is the author of the touching debut novel Losing Faith. I’m a big fan of Denise’s book, so I was really excited when she agreed to answer some student questions and some questions of my own. I hope you enjoy this interview 🙂 If you haven’t read Losing Faith, I strongly recommend that you do!
Summary of Losing Faith:
When Brie’s sister, Faith, dies suddenly, Brie’s world falls apart. As she goes through the bizarre and devastating process of mourning the sister she never understood and barely even liked, everything in her life seems to spiral farther and farther off course. Her parents are a mess, her friends don’t know how to treat her, and her perfect boyfriend suddenly seems anything but.
As Brie settles into her new normal, she encounters more questions than closure: Certain facts about the way Faith died just don’t line up. Brie soon uncovers a dark and twisted secret about Faith’s final night…a secret that puts her own life in danger.”
Do you consider yourself “cheesy” when it comes to jokes like Brie is?
Yes! I can be very full of dry humor and my friends and family are constantly rolling their eyes at me.
How were you able to come up with the character Alis? (Especially his name)
I knew I wanted a different name for the guy who would become the love interest for Brie, a name I hadn’t seen before in YA fiction. Because he was a little bit socially awkward, I thought it would be fun to give him what sounded like a girl’s name too—just one more thing to deal with in his unusual life.
Did you have any friends like Tessa?
When I was in high school, I had a friend very similar to Tessa, and in fact she was my inspiration for Tessa. Sadly, I have lost touch with this friend over the years, but she did just recently find me on Facebook!
Was religion forced on you, like it was on Brie?
No. This is one area that I have a complete opposite history from Brie. My upbringing was not in the church, and actually, in my early twenties, my brother and I started going to church of our own accord. We later dragged our parents to church. Seriously.
Did you ever question your faith?
Yes, I’ve definitely questioned my faith over the years, and still do in some ways. As I get older, I find I don’t question the vastness of God as much anymore, but just my own ability to remain unwavering.
I love the cover for Losing Faith! Did you have much say in its design?
I love the cover too! Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, since I’m not very artsy in that way) I did not have any input into the cover design. I had understood that I would, but then one day it just showed up in finished form in my inbox. Surprise!
Since your book was published, have you received any letters from readers who feel like Brie in regards to religion or that are dealing with similar family problems?
I’ve heard from several readers who have dealt with the loss of someone close and could therefore relate to Brie. I’ve also heard from readers that Losing Faith inspired them to make more of an effort getting to know their siblings while they were still able to. Those responses always make me tear up.
Since authors spend so much time developing and writing their characters, do you ever feel close or connected to any of them?
I feel extremely close to some of my characters, and honestly, I don’t think that many non-writers can understand just how close. They become very much like real people to me. Even though their situations or personalities don’t match up with mine, they really have grown from somewhere inside of me.
Many of my students are writers and would love to become published authors. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
I love hearing of young people who want to do something creative with their lives! I won’t lie. Being an author is not an easy road. I feel the greatest reward is to be found in how writing makes me grow and change as a person. Each book I write truly changes me. It can be easy to get caught up in thoughts of what others will think of our writing, but I often have to remind myself to come back to the place of looking at what I think of my writing.
More practically speaking, I would add these pieces of advice: Read a lot. Write a lot – and don’t expect it to be perfect the first time. Or even the tenth. Find a good critique partner who you enjoy swapping writing with. Don’t compare your ability with others, because there will always be people who can do things better, but chances are that they struggle in areas that may be your strengths. Focus on the positive – there’s lots in this business that can make that difficult, but staying centered in a group of writing friends will help. Write for the sake of writing first, and for the sake of publishing second.