April 19, 2011

Interview with Jackie Morse Kessler

Jackie Morse Kessler is the author of the Riders of the Apocalypse series as well as several books for adults. You can read my review of HUNGER now and my review of RAGE later today. You can also read my previous interview with Jackie to find out more. The next stop on this tour is Wicked Awesome Books. Scroll to the bottom for a cool contest.


Rage (Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Book 2)

1. The scenes where Missy cuts herself are emotionally intense. How did you ensure that Missy's story felt emotionally authentic?

JK: Writing those scenes, and the ones leading up to them, left me feeling emotionally raw, and very drained. I tried to be honest to the story and not gloss anything over. (I also wound up eating a lot of chocolate. To soothe the nerves, you know!) I don’t think any writer can ensure anything. All we can do is our best, and hope it works.

2. HUNGER and RAGE address real world issues in a fantastical manner. What advantages are there in using genre conventions to approach the more difficult parts of reality?

JK: I’ve always loved the notion of using monsters and fantastical creatures to show the struggles of humanity. In RAGE, a cutter has the opportunity to use her new blade — the Sword of War — to destroy the world, or possibly to save it. Writing fantasy, or magical realism, elevates personal battles to the level of the mythic. Doesn’t every emotional battle we go through feel like that, like the world itself depends on the outcome?

3. In HUNGER, Lisa visits some real places and some made up places as Famine. Missy visited an unnamed place as War; did it have a real world analogue?

Hunger (Riders of the Apocalypse)

JK: All the places Lisa visits are real places—or I suppose it’s more accurate to say they’re based on real places. Some, like Egypt, are more apparent than others. The climax of that book, for example, takes place in a country that’s, loosely speaking, Haiti. As for RAGE, the place where Missy visits as War is based on Yemen.

4. Part of the proceeds of HUNGER are donated to NEDA and part of the proceeds of RAGE are donated to To Write Love on Her Arms. Both are probably the most prominent charities addressing the issues in the novels. From what you've revealed about LOSS, it will deal with bullying. Do you already have a charity in mind? Most of those that I can think of that deal with bullied youth focus on LGBTQ kids.

JK: I do have a charity in mind, but I’ll talk about it after I’ve completed the book. :)

5. You've stated that you didn't plan to write about the other horseman until your agent asked about them. Was it harder to write Missy's story since you hadn't been planning it for years?

JK: OMG, YES. There were times when it was a true struggle. Maybe part of that is because writing HUNGER was very cathartic for me, partially because I used to be bulimic. I never self-injured, so I had to do a lot of research to understand what self-injury is, and what it’s not. But the story itself took a vastly different turn from what I had planned. HUNGER, I just wrote. For RAGE, I came up with a synopsis, but I wound up throwing it out about a third of the way into the actual writing. I had no idea how the book was going to end until I wrote the last two chapters. That was sort of terrifying, in a very cool way. (And I ate a lot of chocolate during that time. Did I mention that it soothes the nerves? Or, at least, my nerves? **grin** )

6. Which authors inspired you the most? Do you have different influences for your YA fiction than your adult fiction?

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, WitchOn a Pale Horse (Incarnations of Immortality, Bk. 1)Speak: 10th Anniversary EditionLooking for AlaskaTwelfth Grade Kills #5: The Chronicles of Vladimir TodPlease Ignore Vera Dietz

JK: So many authors!!! In terms of Horsemen of the Apocalypse influences, there’s Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (read GOOD OMENS. Read it. READ IT!!!) and Piers Anthony (ON A PALE HORSE — terrific stuff). Reading Laurie Halse Anderson’s SPEAK was truly eye-opening as to what YA fiction could be, as was John Green’s LOOKING FOR ALASKA. In terms of being inspired to write something personally meaningful, I absolutely tip my hat to Heather Brewer and Amy King.



Riders of the Apocalypse giveaway! Three lucky winners will receive one copy each of HUNGER and RAGE along with postcards and a mini-poster! To enter, send an e-mail to RageGiveaway@gmail.com. In the body of the e-mail, include your name and e-mail address (if you're under 13, submit a parent's name and e-mail address). One entry per person and prizes will only be shipped to US or Canadian addresses. Entries must be received by midnight (PDT) on 4/30/11. Winners will be selected in a random drawing on 5/1/11 and notified via email.

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