Sometimes it seems like there is nothing new and different under the sun - at least as far as media is concerned. One book about vampires or zombies becomes popular and the next thing you know ALL books are about vampires or zombies. I'm a big fan of supernatural and fantasy and science fiction, but I've pretty much reached saturation point on the same old storylines being used over and over and OVER again. Finding something unique to read that stimulates my imagination as well as my emotions is a treat these days and luckily for me and all of you out there that like to read, Jessica Rising has come along to provide that treat.
Post-apocalyptic stories are not a new idea. However, post-apocalyptic stories for KIDS are a whole 'nother enchilada (ooooohhh, enchiladas ... but I digress). And that is exactly what local children's author Jessica Rising writes - post-apocalyptic books for young readers (middle grade, actually, which doesn't necessarily mean Middle School but instead around eight to twelve years old). Her stories are full of burnt-out worlds, Steampunk gadgets (you might want to look that up if you haven't heard of it before - Steampunk is its very own subculture and I don't have room enough to explain it all here), giant insects, nefarious plots by evil bad guys, and amazingly realistic heroes. Child heroes, that child readers can relate to, root for, and look up to. Not because they have super powers or magical gifts or always know the right thing to do at the right time to do it, but because they stumble and fall and fight and cry and get scared, but then pick themselves up and brush themselves off and try again when they need to.
Jessica Rising's main series for middle grade readers is called Guts and Glory: Freedom Fighters of Nil. The first book, Dr. Fixit's Malicious Machine, was released in paperback last winter and introduces readers to not only her main characters, but an entire world of a style she calls "apocalypse punk." This book isn't for the faint of heart. It has some seriously scary moments. Her heroes go through a lot of rough scenes in their quest to rescue their 'mom-napped' mother. But that is how they start to learn who they really are and what they are really capable of. They fall on bad times but they manage to make it through tougher and braver than they started out.
And yes, before anyone asks, I have read all of Dr. Fixit's Malacious Machine. Even as an adult I really enjoyed it. There was a lot of action, some serious suspense, and I could really feel for the kid protagonists. I cared what happened to them, which is more than I can say for characters in other children's and young adult books I've read in the past few years (not that I'm naming names or anything but *cough cough sparly vampires cough cough*).
There is something to be said for unique artistic vision, as well as for someone that uses their artistic vision to do something they love. Jessica Rising loves children's literature. She has read it, studied it, and made it her academic as well as literary topic of choice for most of her life. She's graduating in August with an M.A. in Writing and Literature with a focus on Children’s Literature and is also a current member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. She has fought to make the publication of Guts and Glory a reality - self-publishing her first book when agents and editors turned their backs on it. And she is doing everything she can to find the readership her books deserve. She's done readings at local bookshops such as Aunties, took part in interviews on morning radio shows and local podcasts, and also appeared at conventions including Spokane Comicon. She is finding her audience a book at a time and making her writing dreams come true.
Because just like her characters, Jessica Rising knows how to pick herself up, dust herself off, and do what she needs to do to become her own kind of hero.
Check back on Fridays for more installments of "Get to Know People in Spokane." Have a person or group you think should be featured? Leave me a note in the comments or on Twitter at @MyFoxSpokane!
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