Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Voices You Should Hear: Jessica Lee Anderson
New Year's 2009-2010 Edition of "Voices You Should Hear."
In 2010, I'm beginning a new series I'm calling "Voices You Should Hear," in which I will interview writers you may or may not know, writers who are not debut authors but whose books are memorable, engrossing, maybe troubling, but always worth your time. My first VYSH guest is Jessica Lee Anderson, whose recently released novel, BORDER CROSSING, is a novel featuring a compelling protagonist who is unexpectedly afflicted with schizophrenia.
Congratulations on the publication of your novel, BORDER CROSSING. It's quite an emotionally intense story. Can you tell us a bit about what inspired it?
Thank you so much! While taking an eye-opening history class in college, I felt completely shocked when I learned about Operation Wetback. I also felt vulnerable and insecure, even though I’m Anglo. Based on the emotions I experienced, Manz’s voice and story began to develop three years later.
I know that you've also written an acclaimed novel, TRUDY. Would you fill us in on that story?
Trudy's parents are old. Really old. Like so old they get mistaken for her grandparents. Besides dealing with this, Trudy also struggles with math and changing friendships. When her father begins to repeat himself, forget things (including her), and is generally confused, Trudy knows her life will be forever changed. She must find the strength to accept things and be there for her family.
It sounds like you are not afraid of difficult subjects. Can you describe your path to publication? Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
When I started to pursue publication, I purchased CHILDREN’S WRITER’S & ILLUSTRATOR’S MARKET, which was incredibly helpful and informative. I also became a member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and began attending conferences. My first sales were craft articles to children's magazines, and my first novel was later pulled from the slush pile by an editor who believed in the story and also believed in me.
I’d encourage beginning writers to do plenty of market research, learn as much about craft as possible (read widely, attend conferences/get critiques, participate in critique groups, take writing classes, etc.), and to make their manuscripts gleam (revise, revise, revise). Over and over again, we hear how highly competitive the marketplace is—a well-targeted, polished manuscript stands a much better chance of finding a home.
Can you tell us something about your personal life - inspirations, plans for the future, goals, etc.?
My husband and I have a goal to visit as many national parks as we possibly can. Some of our favorite trips so far include snowshoeing the North Rim of Bryce Canyon by moonlight, grasping chains to climb to the top of Angel’s Landing in Zion, and spotting bears and wolves in Yellowstone. We’re planning a trip to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary in 2010, and Glacier National Park looks like a top contender since the glaciers may soon vanish because of the temperature rise in the area.
I'm a big fan of the national parks, too! Do you have any new writing ventures underway?
I recently sold a novel, CALLI, that will be published by Milkweed Editions in 2011, and I’m currently revising a middle grade novel, tentatively titled FINDING BIGFOOT.
Congratulations on CALLI, and I must say that FINDING BIGFOOT sounds like it will be fun! Do you have a website where readers can learn more about you and your work?
Photo of Jessica by Michael Anderson