Interview & Giveaway: The Process of Fraying by Jess Neal Woods

Happy Monday, dear readers! I am so excited to be hosting Author Jess Neal Woods today as part of her blog tour for The Process of Fraying! My review will be up later, so stop by to check it out. It's a book that now has a special place in my heart.

Hello Jess and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about The Process of Fraying!

Thanks for having me!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

Certainly! I’m not incredibly interesting, so I will stick to the basics. I’m an avid reader, and I’m lucky enough to have a job that encourages me to continue to read widely (though I’d do it even if I didn’t have the excuse). I’m an English teacher for an online middle and high school consortium. Though I’ve always loved writing, I’ve only recently (within the past three years) decided to take it more seriously and pursue publication; I even cut back on classes in order to dedicate more time to writing. Though I’m just getting started, I am excited to see where it takes me. I released my debut novel (Fraying) early this year, I have poetry appearing in a literary magazine this summer, and a few essays will be published in a magazine this fall. My prose writing tends to center around 20th century historical fiction, and all of my writing gives special attention to nature imagery as nature is one of my favorite things in the entire world. Beyond that, I truly enjoy spending time with my family and friends, watching cooking competition shows, and running.

What inspired you to write The Process of Fraying?

The treatment of mental health and mental illness (today and throughout history) has always fascinated me, but when I found familial connections, that really spurred on my interest. Fraying is based loosely off of my great-grandmother, Violet, and her experiences with depression. Growing up, I knew most of my great-grandparents, but she died before I was born. I heard many stories about her, and I was always intrigued. As I got older and realized what she endured, I kept coming back to the idea of telling her story someday. I put it off for a long time in the early years of motherhood, but I finally decided that if I was going to tell it, I had to make space for writing consistently, so I did.

What research did you undertake when writing The Process of Fraying?

When I began researching, six of Violet’s children were still alive. They sat down together and made a recording for me. This recording recounted memories of her (both good and bad), and those stories allowed me to get to know a woman I would not have known at all otherwise. I also had access to some of her letters and medical records. These firsthand accounts were invaluable, but they weren’t enough to construct a story. I had to fill in gaps, and much of what occurs within my novel is speculative or fictitious based on additional research, which includes reading over forty books and having numerous conversations with psychologists.

What would you like readers to take away from reading The Process of Fraying?

I really would like readers to come away with an understanding of how far we’ve come regarding the treatment of mental health as a society AND how far we’ve yet to go. It’s so easy to dismiss something like depression if you’ve never experienced it because it doesn’t have a look, and it doesn’t have a time frame for getting better. I hope readers will face the stigmas presented in the novel head on and reflect on them because while we are making progress, we aren’t there yet.

What was your favorite scene to write?

My favorite scenes were the ones that had a heavy nature presence. That farm is still in my family, and I have fond memories of the fields, the creek, the plants, the way the sun slid over the mountains, the workings of a farm. For me, these scenes were a respite in the midst of many other heavy scenes that were difficult to write.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

Several scenes drove me to tears while writing, but I would say the most difficult scene to write was the first asylum scene. I don’t want to believe that these things could have happened to anyone, much less someone as lovely and kind as my great-grandmother.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I wanted to be a writer from as early as I could remember. I told elaborate stories before I could read or write. I wrote voraciously in middle school and high school and into college, but when an academic advisor told me that it wasn’t feasible to make a living as a writer and that I should change my major to English Education, I followed his advice and put writing on the back burner as nothing more than a child’s dream. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE teaching, but oh, how I wish I hadn’t taken a near-decade hiatus from writing.

What does your daily writing routine look like?

I try to write something daily, but I schedule by the week, so it differs from week to week. Some days I truly do not have much time, and those days I work on blog entries, poetry, or essays. I try to have two-three good novel writing days built into my week. Generally, I aim to write between 3-5 hours on those days.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

Doubt… and marketing. I am still working on both.

Who are your writing inspirations?

I’m not sure it’s fair to ask an English teacher this question. I could fill pages with authors who inspire me. For the sake of space, I will just list a few who come to mind quickly: Mary Oliver, Charles Frazier, Maya Angelou, Kate Chopin, Virginia Woolf, and Richard Powers.

What was the first historical novel you read?

It’s hard to remember so far back. I think I would have to say either Little House on the Prairie or the Felicity series from The American Girls.

What is the last historical novel you read?

The Stolen Bicycle by Wu Ming-yi

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

Historical fiction brings history to life in a way that textbooks simply cannot—it humanizes time periods and adds depth and understanding.

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

I suppose I’d have to say 19th and 20th centuries, but I’m not opposed to other time periods. I don’t think I’ve ever read a historical fiction book I didn’t like.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

Hike, run, walk, be outdoors, watch cooking competition shows, spend time with family and friends, garden, play board games

Lastly, what are you working on next?

I’m always working on poetry. I’m also about 25,000 words into a first draft of a post WWII, reconstruction novel that focuses on an East German woman who saves herself and in doing so gives up family and love. It is also based on a true story, and I am lucky that the woman is still alive and can provide me with scrupulous records and vivid memories.

Wow, that sounds amazing! I can't wait to hear more! Thank you for stopping by today and talking about the Process of Fraying!

The Process of Fraying by Jess Neal Woods

Publication Date: January 5, 2019
Paperback & eBook; 446 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Violet is a pillar of hospitality and compassion within her community. As a farmer’s wife and mother of a large brood, she is resolute, thrifty, and charming. The life that is woven between the land and her family is one of harmony and beauty.

When she begins to struggle with depression, her demeanor changes. At first, the change is subtle, but it becomes increasingly problematic as Violet struggles with bouts of incapacitating depression and anxiety and visions of self-harm. A candle flame offers a way to feel, even if it is the pain of a burn. Her beloved creek becomes ominous as it beckons to her. Having no real understanding of what is happening within her, Violet turns to both the religious and medical communities for guidance. Both fail her. With her identity stripped away and her family reeling from the aftermath, Violet must determine if she can make peace with the changes within herself before she is consumed by them.

The Process of Fraying is a historical family drama that explores the social, religious, and medical stigmas surrounding mental health in the 1940s.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Jess is a debut novelist in historical fiction centering around the WWII era. A graduate of Indiana University, Jess holds a degree in English. When she is not reading or writing, she teaches English (literature and composition) courses online to high school students. Jess currently resides in upstate New York with her husband, Josh, their three children, and their two dogs. Though she is a Georgia native, Jess has lived in a multitude of states. Each place gives her writing fresh flare and direction as she is exposed to new people, stories, and experiences.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, June 10
Feature at Coffee and Ink
Review & Interview at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, June 11
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, June 12
Feature at What Is That Book About

Thursday, June 13
Feature at CelticLady's Reviews
Review at Henry and Benny's Book Nook

Friday, June 14
Review at A Book Geek

Saturday, June 15
Feature at Broken Teepee

Monday, June 17
Review at Mama Panda Bear
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story


During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away a copy of The Process of Fraying by Jess Neal Woods! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 17th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

The Process of Fraying

1 comment:

  1. The interview was very good and the book sounds amazing. Not entering for the giveaway as I am overseas.


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