- Multi-genre author, cat lover and mental health advocate
Readers, let’s give a good, hearty welcome to this week’s guest!
Books got Jessica through her darkest years as a teenager, and she hopes that one day hers will inspire young people to keep going. She lives in the UK with her two cats, Rocky and Mishka, who love to ‘help’ write her books.
A writer from a young age, Jessica started off writing about cats, cats, and more cats until she got to where she is today. Jessica is the author of the Elemental Dragons series; a young adult fantasy series set in a world where everyone has a dragon companion and elemental powers. Best of all, the dragons act like enormous puppies. She has also written Mute, a standalone horror book where the main character is stalked through university hallways by a monster that’s desperate to eat her alive.
Jessica, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with the boring stuff, but I know what readers REALLY want to know.
If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?
A dragon, which will surprise no one. Everyone would be terrified whenever it went out for a walk! I could ride around on its back and never worry about being late or in traffic again. Plus, it could keep Mishka occupied while I do chores or write. Though there is always the problem that they could team up to annoy me…
Dragons are a classic for a reason! And there are so many different types of dragons… there probably is one for everyone.
What do you write? And how did you get started?
I mostly write Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Horror. I love writing for teenagers so most of my books are geared towards a Young Adult demographic, but adults can still enjoy them too! I started writing at a very young age, writing Warriors fanfiction. I love cats, and the Warriors series is full of them, so it’s only natural that those books were my starting point.
When I hit seventeen I realised I wanted to try writing my own original book instead of fanfiction. And Elemental Dragons was born! I wrote the first book, Blood and Water, in just under three months and continued from there. Although I dreamed about getting the books published, I didn’t think it would actually happen. I queried agents for about a year before I realised that I was actually hoping for rejections. I wanted that push to delve into self-publishing, and I took it.
I guess I’m showing my age, because my niece introduced me to the Warriors books, and I’ve heard hours of Warrior/Minecraft world-building from her. It seems to be inspiring a whole generation of writers!
What do you like to read?
I still absolutely adore the Warriors series by Erin Hunter. It’s very close to my heart seeing as it helped start my writing journey. But, I also read a lot of Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Horror, and LitRPG. Stephen King was my introduction to the horror genre. Before I read Cujo, I didn’t really know what to expect. Now I’ll happily devour a horror book in a few hours!
Longtime readers know that all the genres under the speculative fiction umbrella have a close spot in my heart.
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.
Write to market.
I have never been a fan of this piece of writing advice. I have no doubts that a lot of authors use it and use it really well, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. My book ideas come to me spontaneously, and if I really like the outline I’ve put together I’ll start the book straight away. None of these books are written by what’s popular at the time, they’re just books that I think are pretty cool and people would like to read.
I think writing to market can suck the fun out of writing if you’re not careful. I’d much rather write what I like to read, and what excites me during the entire writing process. I don’t want to write something that falls out of fashion before it’s published.
The market is so fickle! And what’s being printed now, was bought over two years ago. Plus? It’s the rare writer that can breathe life into a story that doesn’t speak to them on some level. I’m a huge fan of maybe letting the market pick if you’re stuck between two story ideas, but otherwise, following your heart.
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.
Love your story
If you don’t love your story, then you’re not going to get readers to love it. I think that when you’re passionate and really care about a story it shows in your writing. Whenever I edit my books I fall in love with the story all over again. Because I love my books, and the story within, I push harder for them to do better. I’m excited when they get out into the world and people start loving them too. You don’t have to like every aspect of your book, but loving the core story helps the writing process in my eyes.
Definitely! When you love your story — with all its warts and shortcomings — and all its strengths and beauty — you can help your story become the best it can be.
Shameless Self-Promotion time!
Blood and Water (Elemental Dragons: Book 1)
Born to a common life, Hazel’s fate will be anything but…
Hazel is a commoner born with water elemental powers. When her dragon egg hatches, she’s left with a black dragon that is the first of its kind to be tamed. Faced with discrimination on all sides, Hazel finds herself working twice as hard for less respect; and when dragon markings appear on her back, she needs to keep them hidden.
Bound together with friends and foes alike, Hazel must seek out the answers they so desperately need as quickly and quietly as possible. In a world where political parties divide those who would live with dragons as equals or masters, time is running out to uncover just who, or what, threatens them all. Against a world that has shunned and belittled her, Hazel must find the courage to seek the truth and make her own mark on Aria.
Venom and Earth (Elemental Dragons: Book 2)
Life just keeps getting harder.
Hazel and the gang are back, but after the near cataclysmic events of the last year they might not be together for long. The Wyrms are on the move and so are those that serve them, including the Cindaraans who will let no-one get in their way. As long as they are on the hunt no dragon is safe, and if the group can’t learn to control their elements in time then they never will be again.
Just as they are starting to settle into a routine back at the camp, the group falls under the public eye mostly because of newcomer Violet who harbours a secret that quickly thrusts them all straight into the limelight.
Can they duck the paparazzi and stop the villains at the same time? Or will some of the very people they’re trying to save be the group’s undoing?
Glass and Ice (Elemental Dragons: Book 3)
Being on the run isn’t easy.
Hazel, who’s learned just how dangerous messing with dragons can be, now finds herself battling yet a new foe: the great Anthropomorphic Dragon.
With enemies old and new mounting around them, Hazel and the others are running out of safe places to flee. Finding themselves prisoners in a strange city, they’ll have to learn who to trust if they want to survive. Some members of the group soon find that they’re developing strange new abilities, but at what cost?
Will Hazel and her friends be able to save themselves from the battle and ever-shifting alliances of the Wyrms? Or will they fall at the hands of the Cindaraans?
Cinder and Fire (Elemental Dragons: Book 4)
Avoiding a war isn’t getting any easier.
Hazel and her companions are shaken after the last battle and don’t know where to turn. Realizing that in the event of a full-scale war they would be sorely pressed, they take their time to regroup and try to form a better plan.
If that wasn’t already bad enough, tensions are high for other reasons as well. More personal ones. They have lost friends in their fight for justice and those losses now threaten to tear the group apart. Hazel discovers that she has an exciting and dangerous new ability. One that might give them the edge they need to win. But only if she can survive long enough to use it.
After joining a videogame society, she soon finds herself in a fight for her life and those of her groupmates when they are attacked by a mysterious creature. Injured and with her voice stolen by the monster; it is up to Audra to put a stop to the attacks before it’s too late.
There is only one problem – the monster hunting them in real life bears an uncanny resemblance to the one they’re creating in the game.
But Yang doesn’t believe them. As president of the society, he actively tries to get her to drop it and turns the others against her.
With only a mysterious stray cat to help her, Audra has to get to the bottom of the monster attacking them and the connection to the game before it’s too late.