About Jessie Atkin:
Jessie Atkin is currently an MFA candidate in Washington, DC, and attended Washington University in St. Louis. She received a B.A. in English Literature. Besides reading, she was also involved in theater during college, working as an assistant stage manager and even trying her hand at acting in a single show. Jessie learned to read later than most, but her sudden ability coincided with the release of the first Harry Potter book in 1998, and an obsession was born. Aside from Harry Potter, she also learned to love comic books, with a particular affinity for superheroes. Other than young adult fiction, Jessie also writes plays in her free time. We Are Savages is her debut novel.
What inspires you to write?
Writing is like oxygen for me, I think if I didn’t write I’d probably just fall over dead somewhere. So I wouldn’t say I need inspiration to write, I hope to write things that inspire me. For “We Are Savages” specifically I got the idea in college when I was cast as Michael Darling in “Peter Pan.” I started to wonder what Never Land might look like today rather than in 1904 when Barrie was writing.
Tell us about your writing process.
I don’t outline. If I come up with scenes or lines I write them down outside of the story until I reach them, but in general the process is starting a story and just writing my way through. I enjoy discovering the characters and the environment and the end as I go along, as my protagonist goes along. I like my writing the same way I like my reading, to be surprising.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I do talk to my characters, it helps to give them each a distinctive voice if I can actually hear a difference. Sometimes it’s even helpful to take on the voice of a character and have him/her talk to the other characters through me.
What advice would you give other writers?
The best advice I can give other writers is to write something you’d want to read. Style, craft, it’s all very important, but in the end the judgment placed on books is always very subjective. The only audience you can be sure of is yourself, so make sure you’re writing something you will enjoy (you’ll be spending a long time with the story after all). Also, just make sure to write. Outlining and thinking are all well and good but they don’t mean anything if you don’t get a story on paper.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I decided to self-publish after reaching the quarterfinals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. It gave me confidence, a feeling that I wasn’t totally off base in terms of my style or my content. But, at the time, I didn’t have any other work published. It can be very difficult to get an agent or a publishing deal if you don’t have any previous publishing credentials. “We Are Savages” gives me something to say about the writing career I have, as well as the writing career I want.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think we are definitely at a crossroads in book publishing. I don’t believe (as some do) that paperback/hardcopy books are going to disappear any time soon. As a self-published author however, I am very aware of the possibilities that digital formats offer authors. The ability for authors to get their work out into the world has never been more accessible, but the question of what happens when you flood the market remains to be seen.
What genres do you write?: Young Adult, Middle Grade, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Action/Adventure, Coming of Age, Historical Fiction
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print