Meet Jessica Khoury.
Hi Jessica! Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.
Jessica Khoury wrote her first book at age 4, a fan fic sequel to Syd Hoff’s Danny and the Dinosaur, which she scribbled on notebook paper, stapled together, and placed on the bookshelf of her preschool classroom. Since that day, she’s dreamed of being an author. In addition to writing, Jess is also a fantasy cartographer, and spends far too much time scribbling tiny trees and mountains in fictional worlds. She is very passionate about orcas, Spanish soccer, and choosing the perfect font. She currently lives in Greenville, South Carolina. She is the author of the Corpus trilogy, The Forbidden Wish, Last of Her Name, and, forthcoming, The Mystwick School of Musicraft.
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“Good maps are detailed yet simple; fantastic yet logical.” You are the first mapmaker I have had the pleasure to interview. So awesome! Where did your mapmaking journey begin?
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved the maps in fantasy novels, and probably spent hours staring at Narnia, Middle Earth, Mossflower, and countless others. The first map I remember drawing was of Tirel, a kingdom I created in my first finished novel when I was 13, and since then I’ve always drawn maps for all my fantasy novels, published and unpublished. They became an obsession of mine—fictional maps, real world maps, globes, atlases. It was a perfect marriage of my love for writing fantasy and drawing!
As a mapmaker and an author, do you write by picturing your worlds first?
Absolutely! The map is one of the first things I create when I’m brainstorming a new story. I even have maps for my “real-world” books (I spent hours on Google Earth when I wrote KALAHARI, charting distances the characters would travel!)
The Last of Her Name is a retelling of Anastasia among the stars. What made you decide that Princess Anya was meant to be in space?
I’ve wanted to write a book set in space for years, and especially one about royalty. I’m particularly fascinated by the idea of royalty existing in a ultra-high-tech world, and the concept of power being tied to one’s bloodline. If you know the historical story of Anastasia, you know that DNA plays a big part in it. Many women came forward claiming to be the lost duchess, but DNA evidence proved them all to be imposters. But what if the DNA told a different story? What if it not only proved Anastasia’s past, it also dictated her future? That’s why this story begins with the reveal of the lost princess, rather than ending with it as most Anastasia retellings have in the past. Setting the story in a high-tech, space-age world gave me the opportunity to explore how an ordinary girl can grow to fill an extraordinary role, because of the secret—Oh, wait. Nope. Can’t tell you that part—SPOILER! 😉
From age 4, with a sequel under your belt no less!, how did you cultivate your writing to become the published author you are today?
I read. I read a lot. And honestly, for anyone who wants to become a writer, that’s where it starts. Read enough, and you’ll start learning how to tell a story simply by osmosis. All those plots, characters, and world I consumed through childhood taught me how a story should be crafted. Not that it’s easy, of course! I’m still learning, and every new book I write requires me to learn some new technique of storytelling. And even still, when I get writer’s block, the surest way for me to move past it is by picking up and reading a really great book.
If you could live in any one of your books, which would it be?
I would really love to visit Stacia’s galaxy, because I dream of traveling through space! And it’d probably be a lot cheaper and safer in her world than ours right now. 🙂
Tell us a little about any author appearances you’ve had in 2018 from book festivals to signings to school visits. What are they like for you as an author vs. you as a reader/fan?
I love doing appearances for two reasons: first, I love meeting readers face to face! It reminds me why I do what I do every day, alone in my office. It brings real joy and meaning to my writing to see my stories in readers’ hands. Secondly, I am a fan! Of so many writers! Whenever I get to just sit and listen to other authors talk about their work, I learn something new. I get some of the best writing advice this way. But more than that, because writing is such a lonely, solo endeavor much of the time, it’s immensely refreshing to be able to hang out with other writers and talk about writing with people who have been through all the same things I have, from writer’s block to editing woes to industry changes.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?
I’m so excited to share this new story with you, and to hopefully make you gasp a few times at some of the surprises in store for Stacia and her gang!
Thanks so much for this interview!