#Q&A with Jessaca Willis, author of Blood Awakens @jessacawillis @FrasersFunHouse #BloodAwakens #JessacaWillis #AwakenedSeries

Posted August 1, 2019 by Zoé in Book Blitz, Q&A, Reviews and Stuff / 1 Comment

Today, please give Jessaca a huge welcome to my blog. I had the pleasure of doing a Q&A with her, which I have not done in such a long time and forgot how much fun they can be! I have Blood Awakens on my TBR list to read, which I hope to tackle this year!

Be sure to check out the posts by the other wonderful bloggers today! A Mixed Up Mummy, Anne @ Forever the Wanderer and a very good friend of mine the lovely Kerry @ Like Herding Cats

So what is Blood Awakens about?

Blood Awakens by Jessaca Willis
Series: The Awakened #1
Published by Amazon Kindle on June 26, 2019
Pages: 601
Buy on Amazon UKAmazon US
Add to Goodreads

Fans of The Young Elites and Year One will devour this diverse, post-apocalyptic, paranormal series.

People called Sean a blood guide, though he never fully understood why. As far as he knew, he could hear heartbeats and heal people. It wasn’t until he walked in on his brother’s brutal murder that he learned of the darker nature of his power: blood speaks to him, and he to it. With a simple song, he can command it to do whatever he wants, and in that moment, he showed his brother’s murderers no mercy. Now Sean must fight to keep his inner demons in check and his path to redemption begins with the establishment of a sanctuary for people like him, people with powers, the Awakened.

Two years after the Awakening, after the wars that destroyed entire societies and brought about "the end of the world," Graciela and her brother Santiago are struggling to survive. Graciela is one of many who never Awakened, but she’s watched as her brother’s power as an empath—the ability to sense other’s emotions—has brought him to the brink of death. Together, they set across Central America in search of a cure, or at the very least, safety in a crumbling, dangerous world. What they find is a sanctuary called Hope, the same one Sean governs.

But they soon discover that even from within the compounds of the sanctuary, no one is safe. Not when there are people in the world with unimaginable power and an insatiable bloodlust.

Important note for readers: This book is "new adult" fantasy, with moderate violence, and one or two mild curse words, but otherwise appropriate for mature teenagers and older. There is no sex or drugs in this book.

Wow! What a concept ah!!! Blood guides and a new series – exciting!!

Hmmm…so what do I do first, Q&A or recap the tour so far! How about I mix it up? Ooooh, naughty! So here are a couple of questions I grilled, asked Jessaca!


When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?

For me, it’s a little bit of both. When I started writing Blood Awakens, I thought I knew them. I spent hours developing their character sheets, but it wasn’t until I started writing that I truly started to know them. Their histories come out more as you write, and the way they interact with the other characters in the book, and how they impact each other, really matters. I know it’s cliche, but characters really do seem to take on a life of their own—and I let them!


What did you edit out of Blood Awakens? And will it appear in later in the series?

Oh man, so much! The book ended at 175,000 words, but I think the published version is somewhere around 130,000. Most of what I cut was Adelaide’s story. In some of the earlier renditions, she had a more prominent part, but in the end, I realized she was still a side character and therefore was taking up way too much word-count space. I don’t think any of it will be coming back later because it wasn’t important to the story.


Are your characters based on real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

They’re a combination. I talk a lot about how my volunteer trip to Guatemala, and my previous travels in Italy, impacted the characters Graciela, Santiago, and Mara a lot, but like I said earlier, once the characters hit the page, they change. Sometimes just in small ways, and other times in bigger ways. I definitely pull from my experiences with people, but none of the characters I write are a carbon copy of people I know or have met. That would be too much pressure.


What was the hardest chapter to finish and why?

For those of you reading this who haven’t read the book yet, STOP READING BECAUSE OF SMALL SPOILERS AHEAD! Hands-down, the most difficult scene for me was the culminating battle/fight. I’ve never been in a fight in my life, nor am I an action movie buff, so it was difficult to envision and map-out the attacks that I wanted to take place. It was also challenging because no one had access to their powers! Not sure how I backed myself into that corner…


Some absolutely epic answers so far!!! Be sure you check the rest of the Q&A after we have read some of the reviews so far from the tour!


Books, Love, Reader says


It was a thoroughly enjoyable debut book by Jessica Willis taking you along a suspense filled journey that kept you not only on your toes for action and drama but, for those emotionally charged parts. The new concept of a person controlling the blood of others were new and fresh and made the book more enjoyable.

A well written book that had me on my toes with the tension but wanting to keep turning the page (or swiping on my kindle). IT had strong elements of family, loyalty, camaraderie and survival. A strong debut book and looking forward to seeing where book two leads us.


Gina Rae Mitchell says

The author has incredible world-building skills. Her characters are well-developed and have great depth. The premise of part of the world turning against people that are different could come from today’s headlines.

Ezzie’s Bookshelf says

I really love Willis’ detailed writing style as she writes the details that matter in the moment. For example, she doesn’t tell about the colour of someones clothes when their facial expression holds more value or tries to squeeze in both. Her writing is also very colourful and visual. She really makes you see what’s happening, even when it’s gross or gore-y. 


Okay, let us check out more of the Q&A!!


What’s your schedule like as a writer? Do you work 9 to 5, or fit it in where you can around other things like a job or running a household?

I have a day job (7-3), and two kids, so I have to squeeze my writing in when I can. Mostly I write on the weekends or after the kids are in bed. But some nights, you just gotta take a break and relax.


What is your writing Kryptonite?

My writing Kryptonite is noise, but not just noise because I can write with music on, or the fan going or something. Mostly, talking. If someone starts talking to me, or is talking around me, my brain just short-circuits and I lose all concentration.

Where is your favourite place to write?

I love writing at cafe’s, but specifically, there is a coffee shop in my city that has like a “study den” and it is the perfect, quiet vibe for me! And there’s cake. Can’t go wrong with cake.


Another breather now…tee hee…Can’t help myself! Another recap of the tour!

Head over to Emma’s Chapter for a Book Promo

B for Book Review has an excerpt from the book for you to get a bit of a teaser!

And if you want to see Jessaca, being grilled, asked some different questions, then head over to The Magic of Wor(l)ds and check it out.


Okay, so what were the last questions I asked Jessaca?

If you had to write yourself as a character in your book, would you be a heroine or villainous? What would you be like and what would you name yourself?

Oooo this is a touch one! I don’t know! I tried writing a fictitious retelling of my adolescence once, and I honestly think I was the villain in it. But if I were to write something new… it would just depend!


What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer it?

Wouldn’t you know it, the one time someone asks, I can’t actually think of the question that I’m always like, “I wish someone would ask me that.” So let’s do something random. How about, what was the best birthday party you ever had? I forget how old I was, probably thirteen or around there, and for my birthday, my mom organized a Survivor-themed birthday party (mind you, this is back in the early 2000’s when Survivor was the thing!). We split into teams to participate in obstacles courses, find hidden immunity idols, win min-games, form alliances, and even vote each other off the island. I was the first person voted off, which I’m still a smidge bitter about, but it was still one of the coolest birthdays ever.

OMG I love this answer!!


Time for some more recaps before the last question of the day!

Little Tinkable says

Blood Awakens takes you on along on a suspense filled journey, with strong elements of family, loyalty, survival, drama and action, love and loss, magic and wonder that left me wanting more and kept me turning page after page! (or more accurately for me it kept me swiping on my kindle to read more!) This wasn’t like anything I have read before and I loved it for that reason!

Fraser’s Fun House says

Willis has an absolutely incredible talent for world building, creating mind blowing post-apocalyptic scenes using highly descriptive language that played out vividly in my mind as I eagerly devoured each page. She has created a host of imaginative characters with unique powers, however many have also retained their human characteristics which really gave them that all important believable feel. Despite the desperate situations many of the characters encounter throughout the book there is an overriding theme of community, family, loyalty and hope that perfectly balances the horrors that this newly created world throws up.

What’s in my Wonderland says

I really love the relationships these characters are building which each other and I hope they can continue to grow and help each other deal with their pasts so they can work together to possibly find a cure for the awakening. Although it’s been two years since the Awakening epidemic I still feel as though each character is carrying a burden from the events which is holding them back in some way.

The Reading Chemist says

The world building that Jessaca builds is absolutely incredible as well as the visual imagery that she creates in each scene. You can literally feel yourself immersed in every single scene. You can hear the heartbeat that agonizes Sean. You can feel the crushing weight of emotions that makes Santiago buckle at his knees.
Overall, if you love a page turning urban fantasy that is full of twists and turns on the path to safety then definitely pick up Blood Awakens. You won’t be disappointed.


And Finally!

What are you working on now?

I just finished writing book one of a new YA dark fantasy series, so now I am going back to edit book 2 of The Awakened, Puppets Dream. My goal is to get it published in December of this year!


Thank you so much Jessaca, you have made this so much fun!!

If this Q&A, recap of the tour has got you hyped up for this book – the links are above to where you can buy the book from!

Until next time xxx

Check out the tour here

Thank you so much to Melanie at Fraser’s Fun House for the tour invite and the author for taking the time to answer my questions!

About Jessaca Willis

Jessaca is a fantasy writer, with an inclination toward the paranormal, dystopian, dark, and horror sub genres.

Jessaca studied social work for both her undergrad and graduate degrees and incorporates themes from her education (i.e. systems of oppression, family dynamics, mental health) into her writing. She is a self-proclaimed nerd who loves cosplay, video games, and comics. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her partner and their human- and fur-babies. She is an amateur trapeze artist (though currently, she’s on hiatus after having a baby).


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