What was your inspiration for The Fidelity Files?
Before I became a full-time writer, I worked in a very corporate environment. And like all corporate jobs, there were a certain number of ‘alcohol-related’ events that I was expected to attend. I would often find myself at work ‘happy hour’ functions in nearby bars, observing the interactions between single and non-single co-workers as their behaviours gradually declined from professional to something else entirely. Something hardly capable of being described as ‘appropriate’.
Some of the disturbing things that I witnessed as I watched alcohol cloud people’s judgment and the bar environment offset any trained workplace behaviour upset me on a profound level. I felt incredible discomfort in some of the things that I observed and above all else, it instilled a level of doubt and distrust in me that I never knew I had. I secretly wished that someone would tell the ‘conveniently’ absent significant others about what their husbands/wives/boyfriends/girlfriends/fiancés really did while attending these ‘obligatory’ and supposedly ‘uneventful’ work functions. But I certainly wasn’t going to be the one to do it. I was brave enough to think it…but not exactly brave enough to go knocking on people’s doors with bad news. You know what people tend to do to ‘the messenger.’
So instead I created a character whose job and purpose in life was to do just that. To reveal the truth to anyone who wanted to know. To knock on all the doors that I never had the courage to knock on. An invincible superhero-esque woman whose quest is to fight against the evils of infidelity. But of course, she soon finds out she’s not as invincible as she once thought.
In a sense, the Ashlyn character of the book is the mask that I always wanted to wear. She’s the woman that I never had the confidence or audacity to be. A façade behind which I could hide as I watched my fantasies of exposing the truth come to life on the page. I believe we are all afraid of feeling vulnerable on some level. We all fear the painful emotions that come with betrayal. My greater purpose in writing The Fidelity Files was to explore these fears so that I could offer a message of faith and hope despite them. Because if someone who makes their living as a fidelity inspector can believe in love despite everything she’s seen, it shouldn’t be that hard for the rest of us.
Have you ever met a professional ‘honey-trap’?
This is the second most popular question people ask after I’ve told them what The Fidelity Files is about. The first most popular question is whether or not I was ever a professional ‘honey trap’ myself. And the answer to both is, sadly, no. I wish my life was that exciting! Although, I do admit, it sounds like a fascinating job and I would really like to meet one some day. In fact, when I first came up with the idea for the book, I didn’t even know ‘honey-trappers’ existed in real life. I thought that I just made up the profession. And so I wrote the book from the perspective of what I believed the life of a honey trap (or ‘fidelity inspector’ as I called it) would be. I only recently found out that there are quite a few agencies out there that do this kind of thing for real, especially in the UK. I’m just dying for a real-life honey trap to read my book and tell me if I was anywhere near the mark, or just completely off base.
Jennifer thinks of herself as a modern day superhero: if you were a superhero what would you be called? And what would be your special power?
Calorie Immunity. That would definitely be my super power. The ability to eat anything I want and be completely unaffected by the calories contained within. I would never gain a pound! I have a HUGE weakness for cupcakes. I’m talking epic. I cannot pass up a cupcake to save my life. So with my calorie immunity, cupcakes would no longer pose a threat to me…or my thighs.
I’m not really sure what my superhero name would be, but with a super power like that, man, would I look good in a leotard and boots.
Dream-casting time: who in your head would play Jennifer in the movie of The Fidelity Files? What about Jamie?
I’ve always struggled with this question because I’ve never really had one person in mind for the role of Jennifer/Ashlyn. She would have to be beautiful and sexy so that the men in the movie would fall for her but she would also has to come off as sympathetic and a little vulnerable so that audience would relate to her. I would love to see Eva Longoria in the role because I think she could pull it off. Also Natalie Portman, Jessica Biel, Scarlett Johansson or Keira Knightley would be great casting.
As for Jamie, Patrick Dempsey is an obvious choice for me. I think he has that distinguished mature look that’s described in the book and he also comes off as very sweet and genuine. That’s the kind of guy Jamie is in my head.
Do you have a favourite time of day to write? A favourite place? What’s your writing process? Are you a planner?
I write best in the morning. Something I never thought I’d say in a million years as I’ve never been a morning person. I used to think that waking up before 11 was early. But in the past year or so, I’ve been waking up at 7:30 and on the computer by 8:00 and I’ve never been more productive.
I can’t write in noisy places like coffee shops (I guess there goes my dream of becoming the next J.K. Rowling) so I usually write in my office at home. It’s quiet and comfortable and my fish is there, right next to my desk. He likes to watch me work. I think he’s my muse. Although I should probably figure out how long fish tend to live before I get too attached to that opinion.
The writing process is very random for me. It all depends on the day. Because I tend to be equally right and left brained, sometimes I feel as though the writing process is just a constant struggle (or sometimes clash) between the two brains to come up with a consistent way to write a novel. I write outlines, because my analytical side tells me it’s the right thing to do, but then halfway through the story, I come to the conclusion that I only write outlines so that I’ll have something to deviate from. I create complicated spreadsheets (a nod back to my days as a strategic analyst) for my storylines and page counts and pacing only to abandon them halfway through. And yet, despite this seemingly random chaos, it all feels perfectly natural to me. As if it was designed specifically for a purpose. So I suppose, my lack of a defined process is a process in itself.
Other than writing, what other jobs or professions have you undertaken or considered?
Before I wrote my first novel, I worked as a strategic analyst for a film studio. Which basically means I worked on spreadsheets all day. Lots and lots of spreadsheets. Pie charts were popular too. But seriously, I do actually have a very analytical side so I enjoyed analysing the movie industry and predicting how well certain titles would do.
I also waited tables all through high school and college. My parents used to own a pizza restaurant in Colorado and I worked there every summer. I even made pizzas for a little while. And yes, I was able to toss the pizzas over my head like they do in the movies. But what they don’t show you in those movies is how much flour you have to wash out of your hair every night.
If I wasn’t a writer, I think I’d want to be a blackjack dealer in Vegas. I love to gamble. And as the dealer, I’d get to take other people’s money instead of losing my own. Either that, or I’d like to own my own cupcake shop. But without my calorie immunity super power, I don’t think that would be a very good idea.
Watch the trailer for The Fidelity Files:
Find out more about the book, learn about Jessica Brody, send in your stories of infidelity and go behind-the-scenes on the trailer on the Fidelity Files website.
Jessica Brody - Author of The Fidelity Files