Name: Jesikah Sundin
Where are you from? Tell us about yourself.
I hail from the sprawling town of Monroe, Washington, tucked snug in the foothills of the Cascade mountains. For non-locals, I’m about 45-minutes from Seattle. I was born outside of Los Angeles, however, and lived in Southern and then later Northern California until I was fifteen. I pursued a degree in geophysics and marine biology, wanting to become a technical/research writer for NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). Alas, my college funds ran out and I never finished my undergraduate degree. Since then, I’ve worked a stew pot of careers ranging from business administration to the arts, each occupation utilizing my technical and creative writing abilities in some form or fashion. I married my high school sweetheart at age 19. We are still happily married with three children and even more madly in love today than when we were teenagers. 🙂
But here’s the real dirt: Secretly, I want to be forest faerie and haunt the woods in gossamer garments, weaving ferns and berries in my hair. I would snuggle with all the animals and listen to the trees tell their old tales and sing songs to the budding wildflowers. Not a bad way to enjoy immortality, eh?
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Ebook second editions for my first two novels in The Biodome Chronicles series, LEGACY and ELEMENTS, were released mid-August. The new print books will publish by the first of September. I LOVE the second edition paperbacks, which feature gorgeous black and white images woven throughout the novel and brand new chapter headings. *le sigh*
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Oh goodness. That is a difficult question. I spent the first eight years of my life in and out of the hospital, in induced comas, on a respirator. I even lived in a bubble for a time. Through age thirteen I received IV medication every three weeks at a hospital until my body could finally fight off infections––I was born without a neutralizing antibody for most respiratory viruses. Needless to say, my childhood was medically traumatic and my education was spotty as a result. With little to do, I often read or daydreamed while looking out windows. I didn’t actually learn the mechanics of writing until age ten. My fifth grade teacher was unbelievably patient and kind and took me under her wings. She allowed me to fail and correct my mistakes, knowing that each time I failed I grew angry and determined to overcome this obstacle (story of my life, lol). I fell in love with writing during this process. By eighth grade I was penning novellas, writing poetry and song lyrics. I had a gift for storytelling, but my grammar and execution was … atrocious. In high school, I joined newspaper and eventually became the editor-in-chief. Research and technical writing appealed to me greatly, and forced me to learn the nuances of grammar and delivery. In college, much to my relief and disappointment, I learned that I had dyslexia. Still, writing to me was like breathing.
I’m not exactly sure “why” I began writing for pleasure other than I felt a tremendous release early on. I could be free from the constraints and heartache of life and live vicariously through my creations.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
The word “writer” first teased my burgeoning identity when I was fifteen years old, sitting next to a girl I had just recently met who wanted to write a novel as badly as me. Together, we set out to just that, researching, brainstorming, and writing our historical fiction novel together during lunch breaks and after school. Unfortunately, we never finished this novel. But she joined newspaper class the following year and our friendship was solidified. She’s still my best friend to this day and my writing partner. We meet up twice a week to write and go on writing retreats a couple of times of a year, too. She’s the reason I finished my first novel and the ones that followed. I owe so much to this lady and to our writerly womance.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first complete book isn’t published *wink, wink* It’s an epic fantasy that explores the truth and lies behind organized religion. My inspiration? Trying to understand how people are willing die or kill others over their religious beliefs, and how geography plays a role in what a deity looks like as well as how he/she/they are worshiped. I might revisit the project in the future. Undecided.
If you mean LEGACY, the first book in my current series, then I was inspired by one of the oldest themes in literature: cradle-to-cradle systems aka the cycle of life. I wanted to explore how life, death, and rebirth played out in an emotional/psychological state. Can we reinvent ourselves? If so, does a part of us die to make way for this new beginning? For a kingdom to rise, must another fall? In order to know joy, must we first understand sorrow? Are we a product of ourselves or our environment? What is nature vs nurture and how does that play out in cycles of abuse vs. unconditional love? Big questions with no easy answer. Still, I had to see how my many questions played out with the cast of characters I created, each character representing various stages, ideas, and archetypes of death, life, and rebirth.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I personally prefer poetic styles of writing when reading and writing. However, my current series is a blend of writing styles. The “outside” world (aka the real world) is contemporary. Shorter sentences. Contractions. Fragments. The biodome world is flowery, flowy, and fantasy-like in style. I intentionally wanted the writing style to reflect each world and character.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Well, my villain delivers a “watchword” in each book that both inspires and infuriates the hero. Because I’m cheeky and enjoy doing things that humor me, I decided to make my titles a “watchword,” capturing the literal and metaphoric theme of each book. Does this also make me a villain? Hmmm… 😉
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There is a difference between being able to love and believing your love is worth giving away, even if just to yourself.
The elements that comprise your life (love or hate, greed or sacrifice…) is your legacy.
You are good enough.
Spin the tales of your life. Weave them together. Make a reality all your own. Don’t allow others to determine who you are or your value.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Now, that’s a loaded question 😉 There are indeed parts of the book that are realistic and from experiences in my own life, but I won’t share which parts. None of the characters are me, though. Or anyone I know. They are symbolic/metaphoric in nature. Even the villain.
Fiona: What books have influenced your life most? A mentor?
Books/Plays: Tristan & Iseult, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pride & Prejudice, Great Expectations, Stardust, Strangers in a Strange Land, The Silver Chair, The Horse and His Boy, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Anne of Green Gables, The Catcher in the Rye, John Carter of Mars … I know I’m forgetting some
Mentors (all authors/writers): Melissa Patton, Amanda June Hagarty, Selah J. Tay-Song, Robert Slater, and Raven Oak.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
New Authors: I love the writing and stories of Maggie Stiefvater, Veronica Rossi, Marie Lu, Leigh Bardugo, Melina Marchetta, Sarah J. Maas, Kate Morton, and Mary E. Pearson.
Huh. All female scifi/fantasy authors.
Favorite Authors: Jane Austen, J. R. R. Tolkein, C. S. Lewis, Neil Gaiman, Robert Heinlein, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Charles Dickens, Shakespeare, and … my list is SO large!
What strikes me about their work (new and fave authors): Their worlds are rich and exotic; their characters are bold, memorable, complex, and believable; and their writing is lyrical and/or vivid. My imagination always sighs in satisfaction when I finished one of their novels.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Melissa Patton – bestie since high school, writer partner, and editor for my books. She’s a professional journalist, freelance writer, and an amazing editor. She’s also in the heat of penning a historical fiction novel, a beautiful, poignant piece.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely! It’s my full-time job.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
The ONLY thing I would *possibly* change is the format. I originally wanted to release The Biodome Chronicles as a serial, publishing novella length segments at a time. I think the unfolding quality of this particular story lends itself well to this format. In the end, I was talked into publishing my story as complete novels in a trilogy. I still wonder if I should have followed through with my original idea. But I’m happy and proud of what I’ve accomplished, regardless of format. So, long answer short––No. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Yes, while writing a “state report” for Kansas and Kentucky in Mrs. Keller’s fifth grade class (and yep, I chose both states because of the K’s. Again, cheeky and all about humoring myself.). I loved the research and the puzzle of putting words in a specific order to create a complete and coherent thought. Alas, I had to re-write this state report three times until my writing improved well enough to pass.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sure! I’m in the heat of drafting the final book in the series, GAMEMASTER. This has proven a daunting task as I’ve never wrapped up a trilogy before. I’m enjoying the learning process, though.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Keeping all the details straight and the voices of each character true. I spend more time in revision than in drafting to ensure all the fiddly bits and complexities streamline and the characters remain true to him or herself.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No, not really. Although, I would LOVE to visit Biosphere 2 in Arizona and The Eden Project in Cornwall, England. Biodome bucket list!
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Amalia Chitulescu. She. Is. Amazing. I’m so lucky to have her talent and illustrative magic clothe my novels.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Honestly, the fear of what others who know me might think of me after they read my novels. It’s a vulnerable feeling I’m not very good at dealing with, though I think I mask it well. I do my best to ignore that nagging voice of self-doubt and write what I want and try not to worry about the opinions or reactions of others. So hard, though.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I’m a badass inner-warrior woman.
That’s it. 😀
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
O_O Sorry. The thought of a movie was an overwhelming thought for a moment.
Many of these actors/musicians are too old now to play teenagers / early twenty-somethings. But here are my character models:
Character – Actor/Musician
- Fillion Nichols – Andy Biersack / Andy Black of Black Veiled Brides
- Leaf Watson – a young James Franco (from Tristan & Isolde)
- Willow Oak Watson – Sophia Myles (from Tristan & Isolde)
- Coal Hansen – Travis Fimmel (from Calvin Klein and Tarzan TV series days, but way more muscular, like his Vikings role)
- Lynden Nichols – Hayley Williams (but freckly)
- Mack Ferguson – Sorry, ladies. Imagine your favorite kilted man. *waggles eyebrows*
- Ember Hansen Watson – Emma Watson (Ha! Same last name and first name initial.)
- Skylar Kane – Bradley James (from Merlin)
- Rain Daniels – Natalie Portman (from Star Wars, the braided hairstyles)
- Hanley Nichols – Bradley James (Yes, he and Skylar look that similar)
- Della Jayne Nichols – Eva Green
- Joel Watson, Timothy Kane, Connor Hansen, Norah Daniels, Brianna Williamson Hansen, and many others … no clue, LOL.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
This is the message I always give:
It takes a village to write a novel! 🙂 As a writer, your job is to tell a story. That’s it. Tell a story. Pour words onto a page. Don’t worry if it’s well written or the worst stuff ever penned in the history of the world. An editor will polish the writing to make your story shine. Beta readers will help you fill in plot and character cracks and crevices so the reading experience is even smoother. But your job is to purge the story, no matter how messy the process. Neatly chisel each word into existence or vomit the letters onto the page. But get them out. Once you do, editors, beta readers, and fellow writers will be there to help you the rest of the way.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thanks for taking a chance on my series and for your continual support and encouragement. I love interacting with you on social media. Readers rock! *blows kisses*
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m eagerly awaiting “A Torch Against the Night” by Sabaa Tahir (released on August 30th). In the meantime, I’ve been leisurely re-reading “A Court of Mist and Fury” by Sarah J. Maas while also re-reading “Neuromancer” by William Gibson. Additionally, I just started “The Fair Folk Chronicles” by local indie authors, Jeffrey Cook and Katherine Perkins and plan to read, “Amaskan’s Blood” by another local indie author, Raven Oak. Oh! I also just ordered “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov at the local library, too.
I like to dip my imagination into several books at once! 😛
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Nope. But I do remember the first books that gripped me (around ages 10-11): “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett followed by “Anne of Green Gables” by L.M. Montgomery, “Little Women” by Luisa May Alcott, then “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis. From there began a love affair with fantasy and science fiction, though I have a strong love for the Classics, too.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
The real question is: what doesn’t make me laugh? I laugh a lot. I’m addicted to laughter. I enjoy being happy and carefree and delighting in all the little things in life. I don’t cry easily. But when I do, it’s typically because I’m embarrassed or ashamed.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
Two people, actually:
1) Jane Austen because I think her brand of sarcasm would get along well with mine; and
2) Marie Curie because she was the first women to earn a Nobel Prize for her contributions to science in an era when women didn’t have such careers, and the ONLY women to have won twice, still to this day, and the only person to have ever won in two different sciences. Her list of achievements as a woman in science is incredibly inspiring.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
“So long and thanks for all the fish.”
Because I find it more humorous than, “I understood the meaning of life and it wasn’t 42.”
But seriously? No idea, lol. I’ll let my silly, snarky children decide this. In the end, it will be to ease their grief, anyway.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Gardening. Though, this year, I stopped fighting nature and let my yard grow wild. I simply didn’t have the time. Next year I have big garden plans, though. I also enjoy hiking, music, cooking, and photography.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I don’t really watch a lot of TV, only one series at a time and whatever I can stream on Netflix. My husband and I just started watching the Vikings, which I’m loving. Before that I was pretty caught up in The 100. But the one show I can watch over and over and over again is Firefly. Captain Malcolm Reynolds. *swoons*
One of my absolute favorite movies is the A&E adaptation of Pride & Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. Also, I looooove Tristan & Isolde with James Franco and Sophia Myles. And Star Wars. I’m a HUGE Star Wars fan. I even have a Death Star cookie jar, because, you know, the Dark Side definitely has cookies. Oh, and The Matrix. Another favorite movie of mine.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Favorite Foods: CHEESE. Anything made with CHEESE. And noodles. I heart noodles.
Favorite Colors: Dark plum, black, aquamarine, shades of brown, dark teal green, gray
Favorite Music: Alternative metal, grunge, industrial electronica, glitch electronica, orchestral movie and video game soundtracks, rock and some pop songs. I have a playlist on Spotify that I created for when writing my current series, aptly titled The Biodome Chronicles.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Finish my undergraduate degree and work as a scientist for NOAA. Or, finish a different degree in Forestry and work for the National Parks.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Blog? Er … *blows dust off blog* Yeah, sure. But, better yet, here’s the link to my website: http://jesikahsundin.com/. I feature character and world building pages for The Biodome Chronicles as well as other fun pages. Take a peek.
LEGACY (The Biodome Chronicles #1)
A sensible young nobleman, Leaf Watson, and his sister, Willow Oak, live a rustic medieval life rich in traditions and chivalry. Sealed inside an experimental biodome since infancy, they have been groomed by The Code to build a sustainable community devoid of Outsider interference.
They are unwitting pioneers on a path toward confined interplanetary homesteading.
Life within their walled garden is predictable and peaceful until the unthinkable happens. With his dying breath, Leaf and Willow’s noble father bequeaths a family secret, placing an invisible crown of power on Leaf’s head. Grief-stricken and afraid for their lives, the siblings defy their upbringing by connecting with Fillion Nichols, a punk hacker who, unbeknownst to them, is linked to their lives in shocking ways. Their encounter launches Fillion into a battle with his turbulent past as he urgently decodes the many secrets that bind them together, a necessity for each to survive.
Youth cultures clash when the high technology of the Anime Tech Movement collides with the Middle Ages in a quest for truth, unfolding a story rich in mystery, betrayal and love.
ELEMENT (The Biodome Chronicles #2)
TRANSITIONS: Novella Collection (The Biodome Chronicles #2.5)
Jesikah Sundin is a sci-fi/fantasy writer mom of three nerdlets and devoted wife to a gamer geek. In addition to her family, she shares her home in Monroe, Washington with a red-footed tortoise and a collection of seatbelt purses. She is addicted to coffee, laughing, and Dr. Martens shoes … Oh! And the forest is her happy place.
AWARDS / HONORS:
LEGACY proclaimed winner of:
2014 Chanticleer Book Reviews Great Beginnings Cygnus winner for Sci-Fi/Fantasy
2014 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist for Science Fiction.
2014 Cygnus Award for Sci-Fi / Cyberpunk
2014 Dante Rossetti Award for Sci-Fi / Cyberpunk
2014 Dante Rossetti Grand Prize Award for Young Adult Fiction
“A captivating YA hybrid of sci-fi and medieval fantasy, mystery, and romance, Legacy opens The Biodome Chronicles series with divergent worlds on a carefully planned collision course.” — Chanticleer Book Reviews
“Jesikah Sundin is pioneering a whole new genre: near-future medieval fantasy with a cyberpunk twist…” — Selah J. Tay-Song, award-winning author of Dreams of QaiMaj series
“…This book was beautifully written. It was detailed, immersive, and had a subtlety that I cannot help but be impressed by.” — Kookie Krysp Reviews