Betty’s Lit Lounge Featured Book Giveaway
Win an Autographed Copy of Driving Sideways!
Jess Riley’s debut takes readers on an unforgettable ride
I first met Jess Riley in person at a writer’s conference. We had been cyber pals for awhile, and another friend and I invited her to share our hotel room for the weekend. Who shares a hotel room with literal virtual strangers? She braved the odds and accepted the invitation, and when we met up at this writer’s conference, my friend and I hailed Jess Riley as a star. She was going to be a real live author! She had sold the book she had written! It was going to be published!
And two and a half years later, after all the edits, an unexpected publishing house change (and all the paperwork that goes along with it), a title change and a roller coaster ride of an experience, Driving Sideways: A Novel made its debut into the world! Not only did it hit all the requisite bookstore shelves, it was named a Target Breakout Book and then became a Target Bestseller, and it’s still going strong!
Stephanie: Give us a synopsis of the story, Jess-Riley style; feel free to use all the snark and foul-language you’d like!
Jess: The elevator pitch for Driving Sideways is: “A young woman receives a kidney transplant that serves as the catalyst for the road trip of a lifetime.” The warning label is: “Not for readers under 15, elderly patients on heart medication who fail to appreciate a good masturbation joke, or the illiterate.” There’s also stuff in the book about cellular memory, reconnecting with family, self-discovery, the ways illness and distance can change friendships and a heartwarming scene involving the animatronic cowboy orchestra from Wall Drug. I’m totally kidding about the last part. It’s not heartwarming at all. It’s actually creepy as hell, which is why I only really devoted about a sentence to it.
Stephanie: Yeah, I don’t really remember that part! But now I’m going to have to go back and find that one creepy-as-hell sentence! Tell me, Jess, what was the absolute most difficult thing in the whole process, writing the story aside?
Jess: Well, aside from writing the book, finding an agent, and actually getting a publishing contract (I know! Totally all really easy, right?), the hardest part has been ‘letting go’ … or as my character Jillian would say, “becoming Zen and trusting the universe” about the book’s fate. Not obsessing about the things I should be doing to make the book sell well enough to impress the crap out of my publisher. Getting a grip and trusting that my little novel is good enough to stand on its own, that it will find readers, and understanding that it won’t appeal to everyone. Just the smart, hip, fun ones with excellent taste who I’d totally want to be friends with and sit next to on the bus if we were in second grade.
Stephanie: Like me, right? Cuz I’m smart and hip with excellent taste, and I loved your book! And we’re friends, although I didn’t take the bus in second grade. So, it’s now four months post-publication date; how are you feeling?
Jess: I feel remarkably calm! I also feel damn lucky and grateful. Driving Sideways is in its fourth printing; I’m getting amazing emails from readers (thank you!); I’m meeting interesting people and having fun. I still have my day job, but I have my health; I have my family; I have good friends; I have a few pairs of cute shoes and one cute little dog, and way back when, some genius invented good red wine. I have lots of that, too. What more can a girl ask for?
Stephanie: What more can a girl ask for? As for me, I am asking for another Jess Riley book! When will we see that? What are you currently working on?
Jess: I’m currently working on a twisted, funny, heartbreaking, but ultimately hopeful love story about two people who work in a medium-security men’s prison: a young wheelchair-bound social worker and the teacher he’s got a thing for. The novel deals with infidelity, healing after a horrendous heartbreak, finding love after a spinal cord injury, the prison industry in America, binge drinking in small towns and forgiveness of self and others. I mine pathos from every twist in these veins for the chuckles. Basically, it’s a barrel of laughs.
Stephanie: Oh, I cannot wait to read that one! In the meantime, care to give away a couple copies of Driving Sideways to the Betty readers?
Jess: Yes! I would love to, and I’ll draw something purty in them, too.
Stephanie: Awesome! So readers, head on over to the Betty Talk section to enter to win one of two signed copies of Driving Sideways! Check out Jess on the Web at www.jessriley.com for the latest news and updates on her novels – and read her blog too! It’s hilarious!