Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

On Writing, with Denise Jaden

Share |
On Writing, with Denise Jaden

Denise Jaden talks to Open Book about influences, inspiration and writing for teens in her debut novel, Losing Faith, released this fall with Simon & Schuster.

Open Book:

Tell us about your latest book, Losing Faith.

Denise Jaden:

Losing Faithis the story of Brie Jenkins, a sixteen-year-old girl who loses her sister, Faith, in a tragic fall from a cliff. Through the bizarre and devastating process of mourning her sister, Brie discovers that her so-called predictable sister had some pretty big secrets, including a strange religious home group she had joined and kept from Brie and the rest of her family.

OB:

Did you have a specific readership in mind when you started writing the book?

DJ:

I’ve been writing for about seven years and have several works in progress at various stages of revision on my hard drive. With one of my older novels, I knew it would be aimed at the young adult market because of the subject matter. When I wrote the book, I couldn’t believe how “right” that age and voice felt. I’ve been writing YA ever since. I usually don’t consciously think of my readership while writing, as much as the story that needs to be told and how to tell it best.

OB:

When you begin a story, are the characters and plot already fully formed in your mind? Do they ever take a surprising turn?

DJ:

Losing Faith is the first book I used an outline for. I’m glad I did, as it has a strong mystery element to it, and I can’t imagine writing a mystery without a plan. My first draft did take surprising turns away from the outline, though, including the introduction of one of my favorite characters, Tessa Lockbaum. She just appeared out of nowhere during the writing and stole the show!

OB:

Tell us about your inspiration for the relationship between sisters Brie and Faith.

DJ:

I’ve never had a sister, though I have been secretly jealous of friends who have close relationships with their sisters. Also, when I was sixteen, I lost a close friend of mine to a car accident, and I went back to that moment many times, so I would say that was a strong part of the inspiration for this story.

OB:

Who are your influences?

DJ:

I think the American YA author Laurie Halse Anderson is brilliant. Her writing is so concise, yet captures so much. Also, Jane Hamilton. Her writing was what made me first stop and take notice of words and sentences and how they could be put together so beautifully and perfectly.

OB:

What are you reading right now?

DJ:

I’m reading All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab. It’s a young adult mystery and I’m really enjoying the twists and turns in it. Anna is also a fellow member of The Tenners, a group of 2010 debut authors who banded together for support during our debut year.

OB:

What advice do you have for writers who are trying to get published?

DJ:

Read a lot. Write a lot. Don’t compare your journey with others’ as there’s often no rhyme or reason to the paths of publication. Keep improving your craft, and don’t forget to love the writing just for its own sake.

OB:

What's your next project?

DJ:

I’m working on another YA novel called Appetite for Beauty. It’s about a cheeky and forthright girl who discovers a dangerous, self-destructive side in her sister, and has to decide between helping her sister and a powerful and unfamiliar desire to become appealing to a mysterious boy.


Losing Faith is Denise Jayden’s first novel for teens. Her writing has appeared in Mississippi Crow Magazine, The Greensilk Journal — where her story, "Locked Away," won an Editor's Choice Award — and The Tidepool Fiction Ezine. Her novels have received various awards through Romance Writers of America. She lives just outside Vancouver, BC with her husband and son. Visit her website at www.denisejaden.com.

For more information about Losing Faith please visit the Simon & Schuster website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Related item from our archives

JF Robitaille: Minor Dedications

Dundurn

Open Book App Ad