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Friday, May 23, 2014

Interview: Jackson Pearce (aka J. Nelle Patrick)

Interview with
J. Nelle Patrick 
(aka Jackson Pearce)
author of 

Jackson Pearce is the author of nine novels, including Tsarina (her latest).  

Tsarina is set in Imperial Russia swirling with rebellion.The Reds are gaining ground, and the loyal Whites struggle to hold Saint Petersburg. But Natalya isn’t afraid. Wrapped in fur and tucked inside her lavish home, she feels safe. Alexei Romanov, heir to the Russian throne and her first love, has told her a secret: Hidden within the Winter Palace lies a Faberge Egg enchanted by the mystic Rasputin. With it, the Romanovs will never fall from power. The Reds will never take the country. And one day, Alexei will ascend the throne and Natalya will be beside him— the tsarina of Russia. But when the Reds raid the Winter Palace, the egg vanishes and the Romanovs are captured. Natalya must find the egg to save Alexei, her way of life, and her royal future. To do so, she’s forced to ally herself with the enemy— a young Red named Leo who wants the egg for his own purposes. But as they brave a war-battered landscape of snow and magic, Natalya realizes that the world isn’t as simple as it seemed back in Saint Petersburg. Nothing– not friends, not politics, and not love– are as clear as Red and White.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Pearce: I’ve always wanted to be a writer—there was a brief stint where I wanted to be a veterinarian, but then my grandmother told me that sometimes I’d have to euthanize animals, so I quickly dropped that prospect. I started writing stories when I was about ten years old because the library didn’t have the sort of books that I wanted to read and, being a sort of arrogant kid, I decided I’d simply have to write them myself. My first story was about a little orphan girl who found a variety of adorable animals and had secret magical powers. I had big plans for her to save the world from an evil monster, but I threw in the towel after about ten pages! I started writing with the idea of getting my work published when I was in high school; I sold my first book when I was twenty-two.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Pearce: It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where inspiration comes from. I know I get my inspiration from everything—sometimes seemingly meaningless things will inspire a whole novel. I just finished writing a historical fantasy that was inspired by something I saw on Antiques Roadshow years ago; it took a while for the idea to percolate into a full length book. I got the idea for Sisters Red when two ideas slammed into one another—one was an idea of a hardcore, tough Little Red Riding Hood, and one was an idea for a book about sisterhood. I have no idea where I got the idea for Sweetly from! It just came to me while I was driving one day, out of the blue.

Why do you write for young adults?

Pearce: Because I love reading young adult books. The thread that most young adult books have in common is a “coming of age” story. I think I identify more with coming of age tales—stories where the characters are figuring out what, who, and how they want to be—because I feel like I’m still “coming of age” (and that feeling shows no signs of letting up).

What advice do you have for young authors?

Pearce: I think that there is a huge amount of pressure on young people these days to go to college and get a “stable” job. To take every AP class their school offers and finish college in three years, to start contributing to a 401k plan early, and to avoid taking risks. And while all those things are certainly nice and have their place, I also think it’s important for teenagers to know that you can be whatever it is you want to be. If you want to be a writer, a singer, an acrobat, it is totally possible. There is someone out there willing to pay you to be all of those things. You might have to work ridiculously hard and eat Ramen noodles for a little while, but it is possible. Don’t give up!

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