The Struggle of Gems, Princess v. Whore and Buddhist Philosophy

Wax Romantic speaks to Jessica Jiji, author of Diamonds Take Forever

Why did you write “Diamonds Take Forever”?

After getting dumped by the love of my life, writing about the experience seemed like a more productive activity than just wallowing in sadness. I figured if I were going to suffer, it might as well be for art rather than over some hunky guy who broke my heart.

How much of the novel is based on your experiences?

Hmmm… well my husband – he’s the happy ending of course – has accused me of writing a documentary, but the answer to your question is not that much! Someone once said that the difference between life and fiction is that fiction makes sense. I’m still trying to get it together in life, but in the novel, all the loose ends are neatly tied.

The heroine in DIAMONDS TAKE FOREVER at one point divides all of her lingerie into two folders, one labeled “Princess” and the other “Whore.” Can you relate to those categories?

In literal terms, no, but metaphorically, definitely. ‘Princess’ here doesn’t connote royalty but rather that side of a girl that wants the finest things in life. And ‘Whore’ is just shorthand for hot.

You are a working mother of two. How did you find time to write a novel?

I wisI wish I could say I did everything brilliantly, cooking organic food for my family every evening and volunteering at the local hospital on weekends, but reality is, again, messier. I wrote whenever I had a spare moment, usually late at night or early in the morning. Because I didn’t have much time, I had to be focused.

So how did you focus yourself?

This may sound strange, but I’ve been a Buddhist for most of my life, and having a sound philosophy and a practice has given me the energy and sense of purpose which underlie my ability to concentrate.

How did you get into that?

Growing up in New York City, I had the fortune of being exposed to all kinds of people, movements and even religions. I went through my different phases, but when I was 17, I learned about Buddhism through the Soka Gakkai International, decided it made the most sense, and never looked back.

Speaking of New York City, there are glittering scenes of Manhattan throughout the novel. Does urban life inspire you?

Walt Whitman said it best:

City of orgies, walks and joys,
City whom that I have lived and sung in your midst will one
day make you illustrious…
O Manhattan, your frequent and swift flash of eyes offering me love,
Offering response to my own, these repay me.

Why call the book DIAMONDS TAKE FOREVER? Is it all about getting an engagement ring?

On one level, yes: the heroine thinks if she gets engaged all of her problems will be resolved. But more fundamentally, she learns that diamonds don’t start out as beautiful gems, they come from coal which only turns precious after being subjected to enormous stress. Ultimately, her own struggles enable her to shine and be strong, just like a diamond.

What’s next for Jessica Jiji?

At this point that remains a state secret! For now, all I can say is that I’m working on another madcap tale of love.  I’ll post updates on my website (www.jessicajiji.com), where interested readers can also contact me.


WAX ROMANTIC ~ ROMANCE FICTION MAGAZINE
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