Ice - Jessica Wren
I'm always interested when someone combines genres to create a unique plot. While I expected a straight up thriller/suspense novel, Ice by Jessica Wren immediately shows you that it's much more than that.
As we're introduced to Minterville, we're also introduced to The Minter, which brings in a fantasy and science fiction component that I'm not used to seeing in this type of suspense drama.
The plot moves quite quickly and I realized on several occasions that I had blinked and missed a vital piece of the puzzle. I enjoyed that various chapters are told through various characters' perspectives. It added some depth to the plot and allowed you to draw a little closer to each of the characters instead of only being attached to one or two.
Although questions are answered at the end of the book, I found myself with many more questions about the town itself. I still felt that Minterville was hiding quite a few secrets behind locked doors.
Some Bio Information
Jessica Wren is a writer who has published exactly one ebook. She wishes to share her infinite wisdom and experience with professionals such as herself. A high school teacher in a small Georgia city, she knows everything about being a cop, a lawyer, a drug dealer, a serial killer, a teenage boy, and every other known identity. She gives top-notch professional advice about writing by which she consistently fails to abide.
Her other talents include boring teenagers to death, aggravating her husband, driving extra-slow when others are behind her, and dropping food on her blouse. She is the nagging wife of Patrick since 2006 and the mother of Rachel, whom she one day hopes to embarrass in front of her high-school friends. She is the dictator, I mean co-founder of Author Promo-Co-op, a group for indie authors that is dedicated to cross-promotion and networking (https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/153603-author-promo-co-op)
Jessica's ultimate dream is to retire to a one-room shack with 20 cats, where she will sit on the porch and shout "Get out of my yard!" while swinging a broom at anyone who happens to pass by.
1. Do you have a favorite author?
I have many favorite authors. Stephen King, Arthur Hailey, and Suzanne Collins top my lists, and while studying Spanish in college, I got into the works of Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Lately, though, I have been enjoying reading the works from talented indie authors. Jessica Wren tops my list of favorite indie authors. She’s not only a fantastic writer, she’s also very modest.
2. What inspired you to write this book?
It’s quite an interesting story, actually. I was house sitting for a professor’s family in Statesboro one summer. His house was located at the end of a nearly mile-long road (at least it felt like a mile, since one of my duties was to walk the dogs twice a day), and had an extra-long dirt driveway surrounded by woods. One day, while resting, I stopped and thought, “If I didn’t already know what was at the other end of this driveway, I’d think there was a magical world in there.” Georgia heat does strange things to your imagination.
That same summer I also read One Hundred Years of Solitude and many of the characters in Ice were American versions of the characters in Solitude. Minterville is essentially an American Macondo. Then later that fall, I watched a Saw marathon and a documentary about Griselda Blanco. One night, I had a dream about that Erika Christensen’s character in Swimfan; she was calling for me to rescue her from the pool. All these melded together in my mind, and Ice was born.
The Cliff Notes version of this story: too much TV and brain-melt.
3. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?
I take a ball-point pen and a legal pad and get to it. Oh, that’s not what you meant! A plot outline for me is a must. It’s not carved in stone, but I have to have some idea of where the story ends before I can begin it. I then hand-write several rough drafts before typing. I do research as I go; I double-check my facts to avoid plot holes.
It’s not 100% perfect, but it helps me to avoid factual errors which lessen your credibility with readers (note that there are differences between fictional liberties and factual errors. For instance, Minterville is a fictional town, but I’m not saying that it’s the capital of Georgia. One piece of advice I would give about the writing process is to know the difference between taking fictional liberties and putting in factually incorrect information.) If there’s something I’m not sure of, I either write around it or cut it out entirely. I try to write about 1-2 chapters a day.
4. How would you describe your writing style?
I am just too excessively wordy for no good reason. (I use a lot of parentheses, which-along with the m dash-I tend to overuse). I also mix in background information as I go along. Sometimes I wear purple shirts when I’m writing. This creates a lot of backstory, which I’m working on refining. My stories also have enormous amounts of characters, such as Tom the mayor, Andy the cop, Kendra the rich lady, Stephanie the cat-lover, Dewayne the paramedic, Elliot the football player, Susan the teacher, etc. (Pop quiz and no cheating: who’s the cat-lover?).
I try to keep my tone informal to keep the flow smoother, but sometimes my tendency to use big words with a diminutive one will do takes over. I try not to use too much F##ing profanity, and I only use it when it makes the characters appear more realistic or shows their emotions. Because I write crime stories, my scenes of violence do tend to be graphic, but generally no more than the scenes in Catching Fire when Gale was whipped with a horsewhip until his back was slashed up and bloody or Johanna Mason axed Cashmere through the chest.
Jessica really wishes she had used third person for Ice and for future novels, she will. Fortunately, she has a whole team of beta-readers who are helping her to overcome some of these novice writing techniques to create better novels. I have been told that I am an expert at creating suspense and incorporating social themes. Obesity is a leading cause of health problems in America, but for one character, being 150 pounds overweight saved her life. To find out how, check out Ice.
5. Describe your favorite place in the world.
My bed. I also really like Gatlinburg, Tennessee, where I went on my honeymoon. It’s beautiful out there, and there are so many things to do. If I ever become a bestseller, I’m going to buy a cabin in Gatlinburg and write all my novels there. Who wants to help me achieve this dream? Anyone? Well, until then, I’ll be in my bed writing.
6. What would you like readers to take away from your book?
That Jessica Wren is the best writer in the world and that they just HAVE to recommend her to all their friends. Also, the importance of community and family, the benefits of forgiveness and understanding, and the most important message of all: always listen to your instinct. If something “feels” wrong, it probably is.
7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?
To get these fictional people in my head to shut up! All day long, I hear, “Hey, Jess! When are you gonna put us on paper? You can’t keep us locked in here forever, you know.” Ice got written pretty quickly once I got tired of listening to Barbara Jenkins yapping in my head all day (That, and Sebastian was threatening to kill me…). I am hoping that others will enjoy the products of my overactive imagination. And many do, so I guess I’m almost there. Another goal is to sell enough books to buy a cabin in Gatlinburg.