A few years ago, soon after my move back to the States, I was lucky enough to get involved in fandom again. I needed a creative outlet and Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast had just come out, and reader…I wrote fanfic. And I have no regrets. Writing fanfic is an excellent way to work on craft and to make friends, and I did both. Including the excellent Jessie Thomas, author of the gothic fantasy story Baptism of Fire. Recently, Jessie and I sat down for an interview, about books, about writing, about publishing, and about upcoming projects.
Where did the inspiration for “Baptism of Fire” come from?
I’d had the vague concept of it in my head a couple of years before it evolved enough for me to start writing it. The idea came from watching a lot of “Chicago Fire” and being fascinated with the jobs of firefighters for a long time. But because I wasn’t interested in writing a regular story about it, I thought: “What if I added demons??” It became a natural progression from there–mixing a totally normal career with a world where Hellfire exists. The concept of a firefighter who could put out fires–especially demonic ones–with some kind of paranormal ability seemed really interesting to me, so I ran with it.
What did you learn while writing this story?
I learned how to finish a book, finally! Really, though, I learned a lot about my own writing process and how much fun it is to watch something go from a concept to an actual novel, which was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. And I came to really understand that a story evolves as it’s being written, and how important it is to build from that first draft. No matter how bad it looks, at least it exists, and it can only get better from there.
What’s your writing method?
I’m more of a “plantser,” I think. I like discovering some of the details as I write, letting my story breathe a little and not get tied down to a rigid outline. I do have some kind of outline at the start, just because I like to know that the story does have somewhere to go before I commit to it. They can change a lot as I get into the draft and learn more about the characters. This happened a lot with my latest novel, “Kiss Me Deadly.” I learned so much backstory about my characters as I wrote them. Some characters didn’t even have names until I’d almost completed the book. I like the act of writing as discovering all of these details.
You chose to self-publish your books as opposed to pursuing traditional publishing: why?
It’s a difficult route, and it’s more work, definitely, but as I did more research about self publishing, I started to feel like it was the right choice for me. I like the freedom and the control over my own publishing journey. I like being able to tell the stories I want to tell, to bring those stories immediately to readers myself. I do have aspirations of querying certain stories for traditional publishing later, but right now I’m enjoying this path and the work I’m producing feels more conducive to the self pub side of the industry. It’s really difficult some days, and it’s still tricky on a lot of fronts, but I’ve just started so I’m excited to see where it leads.
You have a new book, “Kiss Me Deadly”, coming out in 2021. What can you tell us about it?
Right! So “Kiss Me Deadly” is a bit of a change of pace for me compared to my first novel, “Baptism of Fire.” It’s kind of got a different tone than “Baptism of Fire”; Sera, my protagonist, is a little eccentric but she’s got kind of a dark job in the paranormal world, so there’s a whole horror comedy vibe to some of it. It’s a paranormal romance and the first book in a trilogy–an enemies to lovers story between a necromancer (my protagonist, Sera) and a vampire, Nate. They hate each other for a variety of reasons but outside circumstances force them to work together when Nate’s son goes missing. I love the journey that they go on together in this book and how it changes their view of each other, how they end up finding unexpected common ground. It has a lot of humor and heart, which is what made it so much fun to write. And it takes place in my hometown of Buffalo, New York, so I get to show off some of the landmarks of the city and use them as backdrops to some paranormal shenanigans. I also got to write something of myself in Sera–she’s tiny, she’s petite in stature, and yet she’s out here hunting feral vampires and raising people from the dead. Not that I do those things, of course…but I loved writing her as a short girl capable of using that as an advantage in some situations. Nate, meanwhile, is your typical brooding, stoic vampire–at least at first glance. His backstory and struggles are deeply human even though he’s been labeled a monster, and I’d love to explore that as the trilogy goes on.
Do you have any plans to write short stories?
I do! Short stories are, I think, one of the most difficult storytelling mediums but also one of the most freeing. They leave so much room for experimentation; they’re challenging to pull off effectively. I made a last minute impulse decision to participate in this year’s National Novel Writing Month–not sure how it’ll go, since I’m still finishing up work to get “Kiss Me Deadly” ready for publication. But I’m going to try! I’ve been reading a lot of historical fiction and historical fantasy lately, which made me miss it, so I’m attempting to put together a short story collection. I really wanted to try out the Weird West genre–historical fantasy, essentially, or any kind of speculative/genre blending fiction set in the American Old West. So, that’s what I’ll be experimenting with this month! It’s going to be a wild ride, but a nice change of pace after finishing up another book.
Is there anything else you would like readers to know?
I’m currently looking for ARC readers/reviewers for “Kiss Me Deadly,” and people can go to the page on my site to find out more information on how to apply. Applications are open through the end of the month.
And here’s a little teaser from “Kiss Me Deadly”:
I tried to get my tiny body with all its upper arm strength to haul his lithe vampire ass off the rug. He wanted to fight me this time, but he didn’t. The fangs retracted.
“You’re going, right now, because I don’t need you gorging yourself from my carotid. Not happening. I don’t care how much you hate me.”
“You speak,” he grunted as we finally got him off the floor and stubbornly shrugged off my hands, “as though I would consider drinking a necromancer’s blood. Nothing would make me so desperate. I would prefer death.”
“Oh, good,” I scoffed. “At least we can agree on something.”
Thanks so much, Jessie! You can find more information on Jessie and her books at the following sites:
And lastly, would you like to get involved? You can buy me a Kofi! All proceeds go towards helping me make more awesome content.