Jessica not only wrote 3 wonderful stories for our anthology series, but also volunteered as an editor on this project. Her wonderful edits and support have helped our author’s stories reach their full potential.
I loved reading her character insights and writing advice in this interview. Though I do wonder how one makes a dentist cry? Oh, and her children’s book looks delightful!
The Debut Collective is a supportive tribe of authors (both published and aspiring), editors, formatters, and cover designers working together to foster a new generation of stories and authors. We will be publishing 5 short story anthologies in June 2016.
We are pleased to share the following interview with contributing author, Jessica Dorn
Please share a little about yourself and your background.
I am currently a freelance writer and copyeditor at Rare Bird Editing and Indie Books Gone Wild after several years in higher education communication. Things I like: speculative fiction, social justice, learning new crafts, dancing, insects, complicated heroines, the infinite variety of humanity. I live in awe of the creative and destructive potential of my two kids, and live in the sunny US south with aforementioned chillen and my co-progenitor.
Please share information on any published or upcoming books.
I am working on my first novel, which is in the fairy tale genre. I have published one short story, “Dirt Road,” in the Southern literature anthology Chinaberries and Crows (Click here!) and self-published a children’s picture book, The (Not Very) Scary and (Sometimes) Hairy Book of Monster Letters (Click here!), both as Jessica Nelson.
Which Debut Collective anthology/anthologies will you be published in?
My three stories are in Underdogs, Hostile Takeover, and Secret Identity.
Share a brief teaser or logline for your story/stories.
Underdogs: When Rona’s shapeshifting identity reignites old fears, she is forced to accept what she cannot change.
Hostile Takeover: The unwanted girls of Swizzlewyld Orphanage fight back when armed townsmen come looking for wives.
Secret Identity: After a childhood in hiding, a genetically anomalous teenager sneaks away to seek adventure and test her power in a world on the brink of upheaval.
Share an insight into your main character. What made you want to write a story from their perspective?
People tell you determination will get you anything you want in life, but sometimes our biology disagrees. That can be a tough lesson for someone used to getting their way. This character struggles with accepting what life hands her.
My main character here is someone who has very specific skills that could have gone unused in other circumstances, but she finds a place to shine. This story takes some small seeds of reality and pushes those ideas to extremes.
This character is driven by a sense of purpose. She’s different in ways that both separate her from others and bind her physically to her world. It’s a classic coming into your power story.
What genre(s) do you write and what draws you to that genre?
I am most drawn to speculative genres – sci-fi and fantasy, and all their lovely varieties. Fiction is always about deeper truth, and I love the way these genres deal profoundly and imaginatively with what it means to be human. I read everything, but when I sit down to write, aliens and magic tend to be where my mind goes.
Describe a typical writing day, or is there such a thing for you? Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? Write in Scrivener, notebooks, or on cocktail napkins?
I juggle freelancing with writing, so every day revolves around which deadline is most pressing. I write in the margins for now. My two awesome critique partners help keep me accountable. I use Word, but I’ve got Scrivener, and intend to one day finish its “Get Started” tutorial. I keep my notes handy, whatever form they are in, to keep me focused.
Are you a plotter (outline plot) or a pantser (prefer to run with an idea)?
I always thought I’d be a pantser, but it turns out I’m more productive with a strong outline. I still want space for magical things I didn’t plan, but I write better and faster with structure.
What book(s) are you currently reading or would you recommend?
Most of my reading these days is editing work, but my favorite person to recommend is Octavia Butler. She was a revelation, and cracked open my ideas about what science fiction and fantasy could be in the best way.
What is your favorite writing/reading related quote?
There is no passion in the world equal to the passion to alter someone else’s draft. – H.G. Wells
Tell us 5 random facts about you:
1) To a nearly pathological degree, I avoid conflict. But I love heroines who don’t.
2) I love Lindy Hop.
3) I once played Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors, thanks to an all-female college experience.
4) I am a terrible singer.
5) Once, I made a dentist cry.
Does music influence your writing? If so, can you share a song that inspired your Debut Collective anthology story?
Bad Reputation by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts relates to my main characters in various ways. They either share a bit of her bravado, or wish they did. That song never fails to make me feel vicariously badass.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers? How has participating in the collective and the anthology project inspired or pushed you creatively?
Everything you read influences your writing. Choose those influences carefully.
This project has helped put me closer my lifelong goal of writing novels. Having these stories out in the world pushes me to get over my impostor syndrome and just write.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Thank you for participating! Look for more interviews with Debut Collective members next week!