Thursday, February 16, 2012

APOCALYPSE NOW: Above World! Interview with Jenn Reese

I was really fortunate to get an ARC for Above World, one of the best sci fi middle grade novels to come out in a long time! There I said it! And it has a great cover too!

And Jenn is not only an agency mate of mine, she is an awesome friend and truly talented writer. So I got to ask her a few questions here on the Lucky 13 blog.

 Ello - Hi Jenn! Congratulations on your book release and welcome to the Lucky 13s! Can you tell us about your road to publication?

Jenn - My road was fairly standard, I think:  I wrote the book, revised like crazy, and managed to sign with a great agent who found Above World a fantastic home. But I certainly couldn’t have done any of that without the support of my friends. Some of them read the first draft as I was writing it and cheered me on, others gave me invaluable feedback on the novel, query, and synopsis. A few gave me lists of the agents they had queried, and some even gave me referrals. When I got offers from more than one agent, they patiently reviewed my comparison spreadsheet and didn’t laugh. Now they’re the people re-tweeting my announcements and giving me pep talks when I get a bad review. Actual publication is just the tip of a mighty iceberg made of effort, support, and love. (For example, if I showed this answer to one of my trusted friends, they’d tell me I was being a sap and to lose the iceberg metaphor. They’d be right.)

Ello - And your book just came out this week! How are you celebrating your book release birthday?

Jenn - First, my partner Chris and I are both ditching work. (Woo!) We’ll hit More Than Waffles for lunch, where I will order “Waffles Benedict with avocado instead of meat,” my traditional meal of celebration. (That’s Eggs Benedict on a waffle, which is even more delicious than it sounds.) Because it’s Valentine’s Day, the Arclight Cinema in Hollywood is showing one of my all-time favorite movies, The Philadelphia Story starring Katharine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart, and Cary Grant. I’ve never seen it on the big screen, and I absolutely can’t wait.  

Ello - Sounds like a blast! Now, the world and mythology of your book is so fascinating! Can you tell us a little bit about how you created it?

Jenn - For this book, I worked backwards. I started with the endpoint, the spark that made me most excited to write the book: a world where humans had bioengineered themselves into mythological creatures in order to survive in harsh climates. Then I tried to build a history that made this future world at least remotely plausible. I speculated that our current problems with overpopulation would continue to worsen, creating the need for creative solutions. These “solutions” (no spoilers!) resulted in the Kampii, Aviar, Deepfell, and Equian cultures.

Ello - And that is what is so cool about your book! In Above World, you can adapt and live under water, in the air, on land, in the deep, etc. Where would you choose to live and what adaptation would you want and why?

Jenn - I’m not going to lie; I want them all. I have always dreamed of shapeshifting into animal forms. Animals are sleek and fast and always free. When I was young, I was in love with horses, and would have chosen them. Then came a very severe dolphin phase. Now, as an adult who spends far too much time in LA’s traffic, I most often dream of soaring through the skies with my own pair of wings.

Ello - Flying. That's the one I absolutely would choose! Ok, last question. Do you have any superstitions that affect you as a writer?

Jenn - Except for knocking on wood to avoid jinxing myself, I am not a superstitious person. In terms of writing, I won’t talk about any good news unless it’s a done deal – but that reflects on my years working in Hollywood, not publishing.

Awesome! Thanks Jenn for stopping by and congratulations again on your awesome new book!

Posted by: Ellen Oh - Writer, lawyer, college instructor, donut-slayer, chocolate lover. Addicted to diet coke. Likes to quote extensively from the Princess Bride, Monty Python and Godfather movies. Never leaves home without her iphone, chapstick, a book and her American Express card. Her debut, PROPHECY, comes out in Winter 2013 by HarperCollins Childrens.


  1. Jenn, love the sound of your book's premise. Very creative--and your celebratory waffles benedict sound great too!

    Ellen, awesome interview!

    1. Thanks, Megan!! Alas, my partner got sick before my release day, so there was celebratory soup at home, instead. Still a fabulous day, though!

  2. ABOVE WORLD sounds great! Thanks Jenn and Ellen!

  3. thanks ladies!!! beams at you both!!!

  4. I love the idea of living underwater. Very cool!

  5. Awesome interview. It's so interesting to hear your road to publication and how other authors supported you along the way Jenn. Can't wait to read your book. Congrats on your debut.

  6. Really enjoyed this! I've been hearing great things about Above World, and I can't wait to read it. Oh, and The Twenty-One Balloons completely captivated me as a kid, too -- nice to see it mentioned here.
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