Teen author publishes first novel

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By Mallory Bilger

When Jessica Jeffries gets an idea for a story, she has to stop what she is doing and write it down.

The fantasy-filled ideas usually come to the 19-year-old Spencer County High School graduate in the middle of the night, during her college classes at Jefferson Community and Technical College or while she is listening to music.

In 2008, the amateur author decided to take one of her ideas and turn it into a 38-chapter novel titled “A Wilting Rose.” Recently she went as far as paying to have her book published through the PublishAmerica company so she could see it in print herself and, if it piqued any interest, sell copies online.     “A Wilting Rose” is set in Salem, Mass., in 1712 and focuses on the 16-year-old main character Rose who lost her parents as an infant and was raised by her aunt and uncle. Rose has recently discovered that she has special abilities. Jeffries said she purposely set her book 20 years after the famous Salem Witch Trials because it helped bring depth to the plot.

In the book, Rose claims that she is not a witch like so many are accusing her of, but acknowledges that she has inherited some sort of supernatural powers which other family members also possessed.

“She finds out that she has abilities, such as, she brings a friend back to life by accident. During that time period, if something is weird, it’s probably witchcraft. But Rose just wants to be normal,” Jeffries said of her book.

Throughout the book, Rose receives repeated death threats, is chased by witch hunters and is falling in love for the first time. Jeffries said Rose also learns that her family is in danger because of her abilities and there are others with the same special powers quietly hiding in Salem.     

Jeffries started writing “A Wilting Rose” in early 2008 and it took her about four months to complete. Her biggest critic and fan was her mother, Angie, who read the book for her daughter as she composed it.

“I loved it,” Angie said. “When Jessie writes a book it just seems to me that it would walk right off the page into a movie.”

Jeffries got the idea for her book while listening to pop and adult contemporary artist Sarah McLachlan. She was also inspired by writers Anne Rice, J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer, all known for their fantasy works.

“I always saw scenes in my head involving snow and people with special abilities,” she said.

Angie said her daughter is constantly generating new book ideas.

“Jessie can go into the shower and come out and tell you about a book she thought of,” Angie said, laughing.

Jeffries admitted that when she began writing she did not intend to see her book in print, but because it was the first novel that she had completed, she wanted to see it through to publication. She said “A Wilting Rose” is not perfect but it embodies a fun fantasy that she thought readers would enjoy.

“There’s more story than there are problems,” she said.

Jeffries has yet to settle on a definite career path. Her love for writing and art currently drive her college studies. She is taking writing and European history classes and is considering majoring in English.

Angie said she remembered her daughter writing from a young age and envisions that she could one day write and illustrate her own books. But Jeffries wasn’t sure about that, because her art work is a hobby.

Jeffries is attempting to market her book to some local bookstores and libraries. Currently it is only available online through the www.publishamerica.com website.

As far as writing more books, Jeffries said she is certain that she will but isn’t sure when.

“I definitely want to write more books. I keep getting all these ideas. I am looking into writing more books about witches, warlocks and the supernatural,” she said.