IWU Interview 003 – Young Adult Author Talia Jager
This week, another member of the Facebook Group Indie Writers Unite! is featured in an interview here! Talia Jager is a the author of several Young Adult novels, including Damaged: Natalie’s Story, Teagan’s Story, If I Die Young & The Ultimate Sacrifice. Read all about her and her work at her official blog here: http://taliajager.blogspot.com
CR: Would you please describe for us a typical writing session for you? Do you have a routine or write whenever your creativity dictates?
TJ: Depends on the day. I have five children and some days I can sit down and write and some days I have to wait until they’re all in bed. Most nights, however, once the kids are in bed, I plop down on my bed, turn on the TV or Pandora, whip out my MacBook and escape into another world for a few hours.
CR: Your YA novel, “Damaged,” concerns a teenage girl suffering physical abuse from a violent boyfriend. Could you tell us about your inspiration for this story and what messages & lessons you hope young people — and people in general — will retain?
TJ: When I started writing novels in high school, I wanted to write about subjects that teens were facing. Real drama. I think that there are many young adults out there in abusive relationships and I think Damaged will help some of those teens realize they’re not alone and hopefully inspire them to get out and get help.
CR: In “Teagan’s Story,” you tell us about a young girl who suffers a life-changing trauma (the loss of her parents). She moves in with her older brother and must attend a brand new school while dealing with epilepsy. Could you tell us about how you conceptualized this story and what research was involved in creating Teagan’s fully realized world? What personal experiences do you have with epileptics?
TJ: As a teen, I read a lot of teen medical dramas. Many of them were cancer or accident related and I enjoyed them, but they didn’t get as deep as I wanted them to. So, I decided one of the things I wanted to write was teen medical dramas. I searched for conditions that affected teens, but that not many people knew much about. Epilepsy was one of them. It wasn’t until later that I reconnected with an old friend and found out her daughter had epilepsy. I, then, dedicated the book to her. I knew nothing about epilepsy when I started – other than some seizures made people look like they were daydreaming and other ones made them fall on the floor and shake. I did a lot of research for this book. I read many medical websites, forums, and even watched YouTube videos of people having seizures and their surgery diaries.
CR: “If I Die Young” seems your heaviest work. Was it difficult to write about a character with everything going for her suddenly faced with her own mortality? Where did you have to travel within yourself to write Caelyn’s introspections?
TJ: If I Die Young was probably one of the easier books for me to write because heart defects run in my family. I’m familiar with the language and the feelings. I, myself, went through heart surgery as a child and then my first born had to have heart surgery before she was two. Only a couple years ago, I lost one of my cousins to complications of his heart defect, and currently my uncle is on the transplant list. So, getting into Caelyn’s head wasn’t too hard. It is always difficult to write about your characters being so close to death, but I am hoping that readers will be able to identify with Caelyn and her feelings.
CR: “The Ultimate Sacrifice” is the greatest stretch you’ve put in prose. Even though its premise is rooted in fantasy, at the core is another story about a young girl facing her own mortality. Why did you revisit this theme and may we expect more of it in your future works?
TJ: The bigger theme in The Ultimate Sacrifice focuses on friendship and love. Kassia would do anything for her friends, including sacrificing herself. I distinctly remember feeling that way as a teen. I also believe that many people – especially young adults – think they’re invincible. We have the whole “it can’t happen to me” thought. Many of my books touch on this… “Yes. It can happen to you.” I’m sure you will see this in my other books.
In all my books, I try to dig deep and grab someone’s heart. The biggest compliment I get is “Your book made me cry.” That’s exactly what I’m going for. I want teens and adults to FEEL. I want my readers to connect with the characters, root for them, yell at them, cry with them, and rejoice with them. I want to touch someone’s life. That’s why I write what I write.
CR: What’s next for Talia Jager?
TJ: I’m working on three different projects right now. Three – because I have certain characters that won’t leave me alone when I’m writing something else. They’re like children and get very jealous when all the attention isn’t on them. I’m almost finished writing a new paranormal. I’m writing down some ideas for a sequel to The Ultimate Sacrifice. I’m also a few chapters into a dark, edgy YA. We’ll see where my mind takes me after those. I have lots of ideas, it’s just a matter of which to tackle first.
Thanks for this Talia! Keep up the good work. Your aim towards impacting young lives for the better is authentic and sound. I wish you all the best!