Jessie Atkin lives in Upstate, NY, 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.
Thank you for joining us today, Jessie. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?
Hello, all. 🙂 I guess one fun thing to know about me is that I am a twin (the younger in a set, and thankfully we are not identical). My twin and I are the oldest of four kids, and all four of us ended up going to the same college. None of this was on purpose, but it does show what a close-knit group we are (even if we like to deny that).
When did you first get bit by the writing bug?
The first time I really started fantasizing over the idea of being an author was at the start of fourth grade. Harry Potter had come out the summer before and once I found Harry, and a new love for reading, I could think of nothing better than creating stories myself.
Why did you decide to write stories for children?
I don’t think it was ever a conscious decision, that’s just often, where my story ideas tend to lean. Children’s books, along with YA books, were, and still are, the books that mean the most to me, so I guess I just wanted to be a part of the genre I continue to be most drawn to.
Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?
I think it’s hard to write a book for any audience. I love it, but it does take work and commitment. I think younger audiences are particularly critical, which can make things a little difficult. They’re not going to say that they love the writing style even if they didn’t like the plot or the characters. You have to really have the complete package. But I think a younger audience can also be the most rewarding to write for. There’s a passion there you don’t often see with other audiences.
What is your favorite part of writing for young people?
I really feel like I can give my imagination free reign. As long as I construct a world clearly, I can take it almost anywhere I want. As long as you build that trust, in being true and clear about the world you’re working to create, young people are much more willing to follow a story down a new path.
Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?
Well, it’s about an underground world, and adventure, and magic, and freedom … But, We Are Savages, at its core, is really about being true to yourself. The main character, Tris, is being forced to grow up a bit faster than she’d like, but she begins to learn that she doesn’t have to change who she is to do that.
I started writing We Are Savages when I was in college. So, the very original idea came from my missing my dog. That’s why the story starts with a girl and her dog. But, I was also cast in a college production of Peter Pan, and I was really inspired by Neverland. I kept wondering, if the Darling children were escaping their home today, what world might they end up in instead?
Where can readers purchase a copy?
The book is available on amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/We-Are-Savages-ebook/dp/B008HWHFD8/
What is up next for you?
I am currently working on a YA dystopian trilogy.
Do you have anything else to add?
If you don’t have an ereader, We Are Savages will be released in paperback sometime before Christmas, so keep an eye out.
Thank you for spending time with us today, Jessie. We wish you much success.