Caroline Trussell holding her novel

From Her Campus Contributor to Published Author: Meet Caroline Trussell

Allow me to introduce you to UCF and Her Campus alumna, Caroline Trussell! As a student, she earned a degree in writing and rhetoric in 2018 with minors in mass communication, journalism and political science. She currently works as a communicator and technical editor with a government consulting firm. However, her long-time love of writing led her to the self-published author she is today.

Caroline Trussell holding her novel

Her Campus at UCF: You’ve obviously been writing for a long time and really love it; do you remember what got you into writing to begin with?

Caroline Trussell: So, I have always kind of been really passionate about writing. I guess it kind of runs in my family. My great grandfather won the Pulitzer Prize for journal articles and he wrote for The New York Times and reported on a bunch of different wars. My dad was also a reporter, so I kind of grew up around it. I think I noticed that I enjoyed creative writing when I was about eight. I had to write these little stories for my English class, using the vocabulary words of the week, and I feel like I was the only kid that actually liked doing it.

HCUCF: A lot of writers are also really big readers; can you think of any books that inspired you to write?

CT: I was really into the Harry Potter books — I still am — so, I love fantasy books. I also really like the classics, like Jane Austen, who I recently got into. I’m trying to think of books that inspired me, and I feel like actually, I forgot to mention my grandpa was an author. His name was Charles Tait Trussell. He inspired me to write novels. He wrote a collection of children’s stories and I always read those growing up, so I feel like seeing his work published kind of inspired me to want to publish my own work.

HCUCF: Let’s talk about your book now. Can you tell us a little bit about “Love in the City with No J Street?"

Caroline Trussell holding her novel

CT: So, Love in the City with No J Street is mostly a contemporary young adult novel, which is basically a coming of age story. The main character’s name is Jeannette Jaxon and she moves to D.C. and it is about her experience there and everything she goes through. It just explores a lot of different issues that I would say teens go through. It focuses a lot on mental health-related issues and navigating complex relationships. It also just really details the growth she goes through as a person and her character transformation. There’s a little bit of romance and mystery. I feel like it is very much mental health-focused because being a young adult is so much about finding yourself and navigating the different troubles you face and how that can all take a toll on a person and affect your mental and physical health. With that being included, the book can get kind of heavy at times and some parts can be hard for people to read and even though that’s not the main focus of the book, I wanted to make sure that it was taken seriously.

HCUCF: So, would you say that you took inspiration from your own life to write this book?

CT: It’s actually really funny because when I first started writing this book, I was 17 and it was set in New York, but I had never been to New York and I really didn’t know anything. So, I wound up going back to this story about a year ago and I changed the setting to D.C. because I was familiar with it and it just kind of made more sense. It connected better with me and my own experience from living in D.C. because I lived there for about a year and I guess it helped shape the narrative a bit and helped the setting feel more real because I knew everything.

HCUCF: What was your writing process like for this book? How did you manage to get it from an idea to a published work?

CT: So, as I said, I started writing the book when I was 17. The idea came out of nowhere and I had just had surgery, so I wasn’t in school and had all this time to chill. I just started writing and wrote pretty much the entire base of the book in about a week or two, like I would stay up until four in the morning just writing. So, yeah, I wrote the original draft in like two weeks and then I kind of just put it aside, like I got busy and I didn’t touch it for a year or two. When I finally looked at it again, I gave it to my mom and my friends to read and give me feedback and I wanted their help with editing. After that, I didn’t look at it again for a couple of years and then one day, while I was living in D.C., I kind of realized I wanted to be published. I found a whole writing community on Twitter and got advice and learned more about the whole publishing process and that’s when I brought the story out again and started editing and rewriting it. I was done with it by October and then put the finishing touches and published it through Amazon in December.

caroline trussell holding her novel

HCUCF: What advice would you give to other writers that are hoping to publish their work one day?

CT: My number one piece of advice would definitely be to just keep writing. Sometimes it’s really hard to find the time or motivation, but once you’ve got the idea and start writing, keep running with it and follow your passion. It’s easy to get discouraged but force yourself to keep at it because it’s better to do that than to never get anything done. As for publishing, if you want to go the self-publishing route, I would recommend Amazon because it’s really easy and they’re really quick with edits and they provide cover designs. For traditional publishing, definitely do your research. Look into publishing companies and literary agents, the ones that will take your kind of writing. It takes a lot longer, but it’s worth it.

HCUCF: Can we expect more novels from you in the future? If so, what ideas do you have for them?

CT: I’m actually working on something right now and it’s basically a psychological thriller, which is very different from this last book I wrote. I’m trying to incorporate all these layers and different themes, I think it could even end up being a book series. With this new book, I’m really hoping to go the traditional publishing route. So, yes, definitely expect more books from me because I’m hoping to make a career of some sort out of writing books, it’s been a dream of mine since I was little.

If you want to keep with Caroline and her writing journey, be sure to follow her on Instagram (@carolinetruuu) and don’t forget to check out her debut novel, Love in the City with No J Street, available on Amazon!