(Giveaway details at the end of the post)
Jeyn Roberts (pronounced Jen – the Y is silent)grew up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and started writing at an early age, having her first story published when she was 16 in a middle-grade anthology called LET ME TELL YOU.
When she was 21, she moved to Vancouver with dreams of being a rock star, graduating from the University of British Columbia with a degree in Writing and Psychology. For the next few years she played in an alternative/punk band called Missing Mile before moving to England where she received her MA from the prestigious Creative Writing graduate course at Bath Spa University. Jeyn is a former singer, songwriter, actress, bicycle courier and tree planter.
An avid traveler, she’s been around the world, most recently, teaching high school in South Korea.
A lover of animals, Jeyn volunteers regularly with helping abandoned and abused animals, especially cats.
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published September 23rd 2014 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
The Writing Process
Hey, Jeyn here, the girl with the Dark Insides, here today to talk about the writing process and the research that went into The Bodies We Wear.
Every author has a different writing process. There isn’t a right or wrong way to go about it. I’ve had the privilege to speak to different authors during the years, and hear what works and doesn’t work for them. I know one author who writes the first and last chapter first, and then tries to make them meet. I know of another who writes scene after scene after scene, and then puts them together like a jigsaw puzzle. Some authors use intricate outlines, while others wing it.
Me? I start at the beginning and work my way through the entire book, chapter by chapter. When I start writing a story, I have an idea, but no ending. Usually it’s just a very small idea, but once I start writing, it tends to grow. I like to work this way, because I like being surprised. Usually by the time I’m halfway through, I know the ending, but even that can change as I go along.
When I started writing Bodies, I was working through questions of my own. I’d recently lost my father to cancer, and I was spending a lot of time thinking about the afterlife. It got so bad at times, I was having panic attacks over dying. No one likes having a question running around their head that has no solid answer.
During this time (and many sleepless nights), I kept thinking ‘but what if there was a way to know? How would it change the world and everyone living in it? Then the idea came to me. What if there was a drug you could take that would allow you to see heaven? How would people react to it? What sort of consequences would it have on the world? Would this drug be praised? Or would people fear it? And if everyone took this drug, would they all see the same thing?
And the big question? If you were absolutely positive you were going to hell, what sort of things would you do with your remaining time on earth? Soon Faye was floating around in my mind. A girl who saw hell instead. Believing she’s cursed to an eternity of death, she decides she might as well go out with a bang.
When it came to researching Bodies, I did a lot of reading on the afterlife. I watched some interesting videos on near-death and out-of-bodies experiences. I read about reincarnation. Buddhism. Christianity. Atheism. I wanted to incorporate all types of religious beliefs, because I didn’t want to focus on any one particular religion. I wanted characters that had different ideas and I didn’t want to become preachy. I went into this journey agnostic, and came out agnostic.
I still don’t have the answer to the mystery that is the afterlife. But I don’t have the panic attacks I used to have. I’m very thankful that my father’s death got me thinking about these things, and I’m sure he’d be thrilled to know he was responsible for helping me write this novel. I like to picture him in his own heaven, drinking a cup of coffee at my grandparent’s cottage, with my cat, Lucy, sitting on his lap. Now to me, that would be heaven.