BOOK OF THE MONTH: Jodi Perry’s Nineteen Letters
One of 2017’s most emotional reads is definitely Jodi Perry’s Nineteen Letters. We spoke with Jodi about the novel, love overpowering tragedy, and whether Nineteen Letters represents a new direction for her as an author.
Describe Nineteen Letters in three words:
Romantic, heart-wrenching, but also heart-warming.
We meet Braxton and Jemma, newlyweds who’re clearly very much in love, adoringly so, then tragedy strikes—an accident that leaves Jemma suffering amnesia. Braxton sets out to remind Jemma of their life together, recounting their special moments through writing her letters. Ultimately, Nineteen Letters tells a story of love overpowering tragedy—what sparked this concept for you?
The idea for Nineteen Letters was sparked from real life story that I watched on the Today show one morning. It was a about a bride that had an accident a week after her wedding. She hit her head on the steering wheel and lost all memories of her special day … so her husband recreated the wedding for her. Minutes later when I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth, I had a lightbulb moment. The toothbrush was still resting in the side of my mouth when I picked up my phone and typed out the blurb … It only took a few minutes to write it. When I was done, I texted it to one of my Author friends, and her reply was, “Wow, just wow!” The ideas were already flowing, and the story was starting to play out in my head. I was thinking, what if she lost her entire memory … Oh, he can write her letters of their past. As soon as I got home after school drop off, I sat down and wrote the first chapter. I wanted the work LETTERS in the title, and chose the number nineteen because it has always been my lucky number.
Early reviews of Nineteen Letters are overwhelmingly positive and certainly Braxton has shot to the top of many reader’s ‘Book Boyfriend’ lists. What was your biggest challenge in writing this novel from the male perspective?
I’m overwhelmed by the amazing response this book has been getting. I’ve used the male point of view in all my previous stories, but Nineteen Letters was the first book where the majority of the story is told by the hero. If you’ve read any of my other work, you’ll notice my male protagonist are usually quite alpha/bad boys … Braxton is the total opposite, he’s sweet to the bone. He loves with his entire heart. I worried that I’d struggle to portray that without making him look soft—unmanly! But for me, he turned out perfect. He’s the epitome of what all young men should inspire to be. Kind, honest and loyal to the ones he loves … a true romantic. The words to this story just flowed, it was the easiest story I’ve ever written, and the most enjoyable. I wrote from my heart and just hoped for the best. I want a Braxton for myself!
Despite Nineteen Letters taking readers in a somewhat different direction than your previously published works, this novel is being received remarkably well by your current readership (and no doubt attracting an entirely new readership to your writing). Add to that the comparisons between Nineteen Letters and novels by authors such as Nicholas Sparks and Jodi Picoult, will this change your direction as a writer?
Yes and no. I’ll still continue to write stories under the name J.L. Perry, but I’d also love to explore this new genre some more. It was so refreshing to write this kind of story. It’s something I’ve touched on lightly with my publisher, Rebecca. She’s keen for a love story on Ma and Pa just quietly… it’s something I may consider writing in the future, that idea has been planted and already the cogs are turning. I’m thinking Ma’s diary perhaps—entries similar to the small excerpt you see in Nineteen Letters.
What’s next for you?
I’ve spent the last two months having a well earnt break, and it’s been wonderful. I’ve written ten full length novels in the past three years, and needed a timeout. I plan on re-writing the first two books I published back in 2014, as well as finish two new stories I started a few months ago. One has a dark element to it, which is something new for me, but I love challenging myself.
About the Author:
Jodi Perry is a wife and mother, and was born in Sydney, Australia. She has lived there her whole life. Under the name J. L. Perry, her previous four releases have all been #1 bestsellers in ebook: Bastard, Hooker, Jax, and The Boss. Foreign rights in Bastard have been sold to Hungary and France where Bastard recently hit the Top 20 on amazon. Jodi travels annually to the UK and US to promote her books at romance events and to meet her readers. Her other titles include Luckiest Bastard, My Destiny, My Forever, Damaged and Against All Odds. Nineteen Letters is her tenth novel, and debut under the name of Jodi Perry. It will be published on the 29th August, 2017 through Hachette Australia. She has also recently secured a publishing deal in the UK with Sphere, an imprint company of Little Brown, and sold foreign rights to Germany.
Nineteen. There’s something about that number; it not only brought us together, bonding us forever, it also played a hand in tearing us apart.
The nineteenth of January 1996. I’ll never forget it. It was the day we met. I was seven and she was six. It was the day she moved in next door, and the day I developed my first crush on a girl.
Exactly nineteen years later, all my dreams came true when she became my wife. She was the love of my life. My soul mate. My everything. The reason I looked forward to waking up every morning.
Then tragedy struck. Nineteen days after we married, she was in an accident that would change our lives forever. When she woke from her coma, she had no memory of me, of us, of the love we shared.
I was crushed. She was my air, and without her I couldn’t breathe.
The sparkle that once glistened her eyes when she looked at me was gone. To her, now, I was a stranger. I had not only lost my wife, I had lost my best friend.
But I refused to let this tragedy be the end of us. That’s when I started to write her letters, stories of our life. Of when we met. About the happier times, and everything we had experienced together.
What we had was far too beautiful to be forgotten.