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Jackie Morse Kessler grew up in Brooklyn, NY, with a cranky cat and overflowing shelves filled with dolls and books. Now she’s in Upstate NY with another cranky cat, a loving husband, two sons, and overflowing shelves filled with dragons and books (except when her sons steal her dragons). She has a bachelor’s degree in English and American Literature, and yet she’s never read any Jane Austen (with or without zombies). She also has a master’s degree in media ecology. (The living study of technology and culture. Which is cool, but she still can’t figure out how to use Tweetdeck.)
Jackie spends a lot of time writing, reading, and getting distracted by bright and shiny new ideas. (She just came up with a new idea right now.) She has a weakness for chocolate and a tendency to let her cat take over her office chair.
Connect with Jackie:
Welcome to Book Faery, Jackie! Can you tell readers one unique thing about yourself?
My husband thinks my sibilant S is sexy. (He told me to write that!) Yes, I have a sibilant S and a funky New York accent in which I can’t pronounce S-T-R words correctly. I always add an H in there. So “street” is “shtreet.” I don’t know why. Can I blame Elmo? (Actually, no, I can’t; Elmo was after my time. God, I’m old.)
You currently have three series (Hell on Earth, The Icarus Project, & The Riders). Could you give a quick summary of what each is about, and what genres they all are?
Ah, my pseudo-secret identity has been revealed!
Hell on Earth (HELL’S BELLES; THE ROAD TO HELL; HOTTER THAN HELL; HELL TO PAY) focuses on a runaway succubus who hides on Earth as an exotic dancer and learns the hard way about true love. Not aimed at teens (i.e., rated NC-17). Even though these books were marketed as paranormal romance, they’re really urban fantasy.
The Icarus Project (BLACK AND WHITE; SHADES OF GRAY) is a dystopian superhero duology coauthored by me and Caitlin Kittredge. The books focus on Jet and Iridium: two superpowered women, once best friends, now on opposite sides of the law, who must once again work together to defeat the Big Bad Evil. (Bwahahahahahahaha!) The Icarus Project is aimed at adults and older teens.
Those two series are written under the byline “Jackie Kessler.”
The Riders’ Quartet (also known as The Horsemen of the Apocalypse books) focuses on one Horseman of the Apocalypse and the very human teenager who comes into contact with these eternal powers. HUNGER is about an anorexic teenage girl who becomes the new Famine. RAGE (April 2011) is about a teen self-injurer who becomes the new War. These books, aimed at teens, are written as “Jackie Morse Kessler.”
What inspired you to write about the Horsemen of the Apocalypse?
Not so much writing about the Horsemen as it is writing about the people who become the Horsemen. In HUNGER, if you take out the Horsemen aspect, there’d still be a story there—a completely different story, but still a story. If you took out the anorexia, there would be no story at all. The Horsemen are how I tackle the issues raised in the books.
Is there one question you wish bloggers would ask you about but don't? What is it, and how would you answer?
“Is it true that Neil Gaiman kissed you?”
Yup. Uh huh. Sure is! It was at the Fantasy Matters conference in November 2007, and Neil was the keynote speaker. After his keynote, he signed autographs. I gave him a copy of the first two Hell books and told him he was my single biggest inspiration to become an author (very true; he is my god of writing). He thanked me and kissed my cheek. (Swoon!)
If you could choose one book (or series) to turn into a movie, which would it be? Who would be your dream actors and actresses?
Wow. I can’t answer “All of them”??? Okay… I think HUNGER could be an amazing movie, but because so much of the book is internally focused, the movie would have to do more with external scenes. If Alan Ball is interested, I’d be happy to have my agent contact his office. J I’m not sure who should play the role of Lisa, the anorexic teenage protagonist. But Death looks and sounds exactly like Kurt Cobain, so Ewan McGregor (who’s going to play Kurt in the biopic) should play the role of Death. (Or Matt Damon. Man, I adore Matt Damon.)
Thanks for stopping by, Jackie!
“Thou art the Black Rider. Go thee out unto the world.”
Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she’s been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?
Traveling the world on her steed gives Lisa freedom from her troubles at home: her constant battle with hunger, and her struggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places where hunger is a painful part of everyday life, and to face the horrifying effects of her phenomenal power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power — and the courage to battle her own inner demons?