Students Want to Know: Jessica Martinez

Have you had an opportunity to read an advanced copy of Virtuosity?  If not, then read this interview with the debut author, Jessica Martinez, and then hurry off to your local bookstore or library and get a copy to read 🙂 (I swear I’m not trying to be pushy.)  I was fortunate enough to get an ARC of Jessica’s book and I LOVED it.  I was hooked from the opening pages to the very end.  (Read my review here)

A couple of the girls in my YA Lit class volunteered to read Virtuosity and then come up with interview questions for Jessica.  Both girls really enjoyed this wonderful debut.

Summary of Virtuosity (From Goodreads): 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 anti-anxiety 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….

** Jessica’s Website (There’s even a section where you can listen to her play the violin!) **
** Follow Jessica on Twitter: @jlmarti1 **
** Other rave reviews: Pure Imagination, Chick Loves Lit **

Sara C:

  • How did you come up with the title?
    The word really just popped into my head, and I knew it was the right one immediately.  A virtuoso is a musician whose talent and skill puts them above the rest.  That’s definitely Carmen.  But also, virtue refers to high moral character.  That’s something Carmen has to grapple with and choose.
  • Why did you have Carmen kick her Inderal so early in the story?
    Carmen decides to kick the Inderal habit early in the story, but she continues to struggle with that need throughout the novel.  It was important to me not to minimize how hard it would be for her to overcome that kind of addiction.  I introduced that battle early so the reader will travel the road with her, and not just see her easily decide to stop medicating at the end.
  • In your mind, does Carmen choose to go to Julliard?
    I can’t tell you!  I want to, I really do, but I’m not letting myself.  And no, there isn’t a sequel to explain it.  I left it open for the reader to decide, not because it’s some riddle or trick, but because everybody comes to the novel with different life experiences and will learn different things from it.  Those two things together will determine Carmen’s future, so that’s going to be different for every single one of my readers.  But yeah, in my mind, I do know exactly what Carmen chooses.
  • Was it hard making Diana so harsh?
    What’s funny is that I don’t think she’s nearly as harsh as my readers do!  I actually really empathize with Diana.  I feel like she’s lost so much and she really does love Carmen.  Maybe the fact that I actually love her is one of the reasons that Diana comes across as real.  If I had set out to create an evil villain, she may have become more of a caricature than a real person.   


  • Is the Guarneri competition a real thing?
    It isn’t, but there are similar career-making competitions in the violin world.  The Tchaikovsky Competition is a good example of an international one. 
  • How do you know so much about the classical music industry? Did you research it? Or just making assumptions?
    No research, no assumptions.  I kind of lived it.  I started playing the violin when I was three years old and gave most of my childhood to it.  I did high school partially by correspondence because I had a competition season.  Virtuosity isn’t autobiographical (sadly, there is no Jeremy in my violin past) but my knowledge of that world is from experience.  I know what it’s like to perform with a symphony, and botch a performance, and nearly die of stage fright.  I knew teenagers and adults who took beta blockers to perform, and knew plenty of mothers like Diana (but my own mother is lovely!).  Oh, and I had teachers much meaner and crazier than Yuri.  I’m not kidding. 
  • Do you enjoy classical music, yourself?
    I love it to death, but I listen to popular music all the time too.  Actually, there are very few music genres I don’t love.
  • What inspired you to write Virtuosity?
    I wrote Virtuosity partly because of my own experience as a child musician, and partly just because I have this need to express myself artistically that won’t go away.  Whether it’s making music, or writing books, or baking cupcakes, I feel an impulse to create almost daily.  I’ve just finished editing my second novel and am well in to my third for this very reason.  I don’t want to sit still, to stop trying to create beauty.  At times it’s gratifying, and other times it’s frustrating, but having a finished product that I’m proud of makes pushing through the difficult parts worth it.


  1. Thanks for linking me 🙂 Loved this book so much (and love the interview idea of two people reading and coming up with questions)!

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