On June 29, 2008, Jessica Brody’s debut novel, THE FIDELITY FILES, hit the Denver Post bestseller list as the number two bestselling paperback in Colorado. Now she’s aiming her sites at the global book market with a recent release in the UK and upcoming releases in France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Russia and Taiwan.
The provocative novel (first released by St. Martin’s Press in June of 2008) strikes a sensitive chord in readers, telling the story of a charismatic, young woman who goes undercover as a “fidelity inspector” to test men’s loyalty.
Jessica recently flew to London to promote the November release of the book’s UK edition (published by Random House UK) which debuted in WhSmith’s (one of the country’s leading booksellers) top 100 bestselling paperback list. The title continues to sell across the pond, gearing up to outperform even the American release.
The Fidelity Files confronts the thorny issue of infidelity head-on with its controversial main character Jennifer Hunter. Operating under the code name “Ashlyn,” Jennifer leads a double life. Her friends and family all think she’s an investment banker who’s too busy to date. In reality, Jennifer is hired by suspicious wives and girlfriends to test the faithfulness of their partners. Her job has made her pretty cynical about her own love life. But just as she’s ready to swear off men for ever, Jennifer meets sexy, sophisticated Jamie Richards, a man who might just past her fidelity test. However, before she retires her secret agent self forever, she takes on one last assignment – a job which will permanently alter her perceptions of trust, honesty, and love.
A gripping story of one woman’s quest to come to terms with her past, find her future, and—most of all—rediscover her faith in love, THE FIDELITY FILES was chosen as one of USA Today’s hottest summer reads and has recently been optioned for television. St. Martin’s Press and Random House UK have already purchased the sequel (yet untitled) to be published in the fall of 2009 and Jessica has recently sold two young adult novels to Farrar, Straus, Giroux.
Judi: Jessica, I’m sure a lot of readers have seen the television show Cheaters. Can you tell us what was your inspiration for this book?
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 behaviors gradually declined from professional to something else entirely. Something hardly capable of being described as “appropriate.”
Witnessing these “indiscretions” upset me on a profound level. 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.
Judi: Have you ever put anyone you know in your stories and, if so, how do they feel about it?
Jessica: My friends are definitely in my books. There’s one in particular that stands out. One of Jen’s friends, Zoë, has a bad case of road rage. And she tends to talk on the phone while she drives, so Jen often finds herself on the phone with Zoë while she’s cursing out another driver. I have a friend who does that and that’s where I got the idea. This friend has read the book but I’m not sure how she feels about the similarities. She acts like she’s fine with it, but I guess you never know. She could secretly be totally offended.
Judi: Who is your favorite character in this book and why?
Jessica: My favorite character is definitely Jen’s gay friend, John. Every scene he’s in was always the most fun to write. And the easiest. He’s definitely the comic relief of the book. I don’t know where some of his lines come from. They just kind of emerge as if I’m channeling a flamboyant and sometimes annoying gay man from another dimension. I would be writing a scene with him and he’d respond with a line that was so him and I would just stare back at it on the page, laugh and say, “Where did that come from?” Needless to say, he was one of my favorite characters to return to in the sequel.
Judi: Do you have a sample chapter readers can see?
Jessica: Sure! It’s at www.thefidelityfiles.com/excerpt.html
Jessica: Oh, gosh, I have so many things going on right now, it’s hard to keep track! Although, this question may help me get my head around everything. I just finished the first draft of the sequel to The Fidelity Files which St. Martin’s is publishing in Fall of 2009 and is yet untitled. That’ll also be out in the UK around the same time. I’m waiting to get my revision notes back on that so I can go for round two. Also, I just finished revising the manuscript for my new young adult book, THE KARMA CLUB, which FSG is publishing in spring of 2010. And I recently started a new YA series that I’m super excited about and will hopefully try to sell early next year. AND…one of the screenplays I co-wrote just got financed for a feature film so we hope to start shooting that in April. Yes, I know, I’m a masochist. What can I say, idleness is my only enemy.
Thanks so much, Jessica, for stopping by and best of luck with all your projects!