Writing From Life: Jessica Scott On Being a Writer and a Soldier
Jessica Scott is a bestselling author, career army officer, mother of two daughters, and wife to a career NCO. She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of OIF/New Dawn and has had the honor of serving as a company commander at Fort Hood, Texas twice. We sat down with Jessica to learn more about her writing process and what it’s like to be a writer and a soldier (and a soldier’s wife).
When did you decide to begin writing army romance novels? What made you want to write in this genre?
I started writing my Coming Home series waaay back in 2007 when my husband was on his second deployment and I was at Fort Benning for Officer Candidate School. I spent a lot of time at the Borders and Barnes and Noble because I’ve always been a book girl. Everything I’d read that had a military hero (and there were very few women) were all either romantic suspense or about former soldiers. I wanted to write stories about soldiers who were still in the army, still dealing with the war and trying to balance everything out. I wanted to write in this format because I hoped that people would pick up my books who wouldn’t necessarily pick up The Long Way Home or any nonfiction about the war. I wanted to tell soldiers’ stories in a way that I felt like I was uniquely positioned to do, if that makes sense.
Do you write more from the point of view of an army wife, or a soldier?
I’d say I write more from the soldier’s point of view. I mean, I am an army wife, too (my husband retired last year) but my soldier identity is much more salient. The couple of stories I wrote with civilian spouses, though, I definitely channeled in my fears and anxieties and everything that goes along with waiting for your spouse to come home from war.
Having written so many romance novels involving soldiers, what made you decide to write a memoir about your time in Iraq?
I wanted to put my story out there not only for readers who might want to see what I had gone through but also for other soldiers – especially other women and moms – who were deploying. I wanted them to know that hey, this is going to be rough but you can get through it. Here’s all the good and the bad and everything in between, no filters.
Was it difficult to write about your time as a soldier? Were there certain memories you didn’t want to revisit?
It’s still hard to go back and read some of those passages. There was a lot of rawness to both the deployment and the homecoming that I didn’t really edit out when I was putting the books together. There’s some things that will never go on the page. And yeah, there’s stuff that’s still tender, if that makes sense. It surprises me when sometimes the barriers drop and something hits me hard. It’s like I never really expect it.
In your books is it always the male character who is the soldier, or have you written some female soldiers as well?
I have several books where the female character is a soldier. Until There Was You, All for You & It’s Always Been You all have female soldiers. My upcoming novella All I Want For Christmas Is You, published in a bundle with a story by the fabulous JoAnn Ross, also features a female soldier. So yeah, the active duty ladies get plenty of page time in my books.
What do you love about writing?
I think the best part is getting lost in the story. I absolutely love it when the words are just coming and you lose track of time and the next thing you know a whole day is gone. The second best part is revisions. I know, I know, that may be a sickness but I really love taking those raw words and making them into something so much richer, you know?
Is there a particular book or author who inspires you?
You know there are so many. Laura Kinsale has been an inspiration for as long as I can remember reading. I got to meet her at RWA this year and it was so amazing. Anne McCaffrey has also been a long time favorite. When I get stuck, though, I go back and reread Nalini Singh’s Archangel’s Blade or Archangel’s Storm. She’s got such an amazing, rich worlds and characters.