Jessie Andersen, 33, Frewsburg Central School graduate, recently published her debut young adult novel "At What Cost" and will host a meet-the-author event at Myers Memorial Library in Frewsburg on Wednesday from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
It has always been a goal of Andersen's to get a book published, and that dream finally became a reality. On June 14, Astraea Press released the e-book version of her novel about a high school junior who expected to be shopping for prom dresses and not maternity clothes.
"I've always had a heart for the abortion issue," said Andersen. "So, when I was considering writing a book, that was really what the topic had to be for my first one."
During the meet-the-author event, Andersen will be holding a Power Point presentation on the writing process and her experience through publishing.
"It's been a long road," said Andersen. "It's taken about six years from the time I started writing to get an agent and get published. My agent Steve Hutson of Wordwise Media managed to publish the book super fast, and that was really encouraging."
"At What Cost," which focuses on the issue of teen pregnancy and abortion, follows the story of a fictional character named Maggie Reynolds, who instead of studying for the SATs, has to read "What to Expect When You're Expecting." Maggie's mother lives in fear of her daughter doing something to taint the family name, and thus she cannot turn to her for help. And, her father is oblivious to anything but his 9 to 9 job. But, at least she's pretty sure her boyfriend Justin will stay by her side.
"The story of Maggie Reynolds is really a compilation of the many stories of women I've met," said Andersen. "When I was doing the interviews, I didn't want to come at them from one perspective. I'm pro-life, but I didn't want to it be just about that, or to sound preachy. So, I was grateful that some women I interviewed didn't regret having an abortion, and then there were women who did regret it. Being able to see both sides of that was really important for my research."
In order to do research on women who've had similar experiences, Andersen teamed up with Sharon Hamilton, the director of Women Services of Jamestown.
"Sharon gave me a lot of resources," said Andersen. "She was able to arrange some interviews with post-abortive women. The few interviews I did spurred a whole bunch more because when I told people my topic, others wanted to tell me their story as well."
Even though the novel is based on a controversial subject, it has been well received thus far, according to Andersen.
"One of my friends said to me that she was at the opposite side of thinking than I am and was nervous to read the book because she didn't want to have to lie about it being wonderful when she really didn't think so," said Andersen. "But, she then said that she really appreciated that I wasn't preachy and approached the topic in a way that can be received by all readers."
The book, which Andersen wrote to target an audience of secular teen girls, touches on the life of a teen who finds herself with an unwanted pregnancy. Her boyfriend suggests an abortion and, she thinks it might be a good idea because she's scared to death about telling everybody, Andersen said.
"At first she thinks it's a great idea because she doesn't have to tell anybody," she continued. "But, someone discovers that she is pregnant and encourages her to look at the other side of things. Through their discussions and the person's influence on her life, she has to take a look at both sides. It turns into a difficult decision for her. Once she makes it, she has to deal with the consequences afterwards. Through this trial she discovers her support system to find out who is really going to be there for her."
Andersen found that she wanted to write this story while she was teaching teenagers in Rochester and Panama, and found out just how sexually active they are with each other.
"I knew they were going to have to go through this experience," said Andersen. "And, I wanted to portray from a teen's perspective the struggles they might go through when choosing what to do when an idea seems perfect, but has consequences."
Now that her debut novel is on the market, Andersen can now focus on writing a series of dystopic novels with the working title "The Unviables." She is also working on a contemporary young adult novel with an abstinence theme.
The meet-the-author event is scheduled for Wednesday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Myers Memorial Library, located at 6 Falconer St. in Frewsburg. For more information call 569-5515 or visit MyersMemorialLibrary.weebly.com.
Although only the e-book will be available at the meet the author event, Andersen will have post cards and bookmarks to sign. She hopes that the print version of the book will be available by December. In the meantime those interested can purchase the e-book at Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com or Astraeapress.com by searching for "At What Cost." For more information on the author visit Jandersenbooks.com.