YABC: What surprised you most while writing your latest book?
Jesse Jordan: I was surprised how much James’s story became about other stories. They just kept popping up—drawings and footnotes and history and imagined history, fairytales and religious tales and books and movies—the more I wrote the more other stories emerged and fit perfectly within this one.
YABC: If you could live in any fantasy world, which one would it be?
JJ: I thought about this one a while, because I want to give a cool answer, but truthfully I keep coming back to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I know it’s a popular answer, but I think that’s actually part of what makes it so special. J.K. Rowling created this world that feels somehow like the living embodiment of what Christmas and Halloween felt like as a child. There are these makebelieve mashups of real things from our world—like butterbeer—that make the world feel both real and better than.
YABC: Do you have a mantra that gets you through the drafting phase?
That’s it. It doesn’t matter if it’s good, it only matters that it’s done. There’ll be plenty of time to make it good later.
YABC: What is your favorite hobby when you’re not writing?
JJ: Reading. Y’know, fun reading, challenging reading, research, comics, fiction, non, poetry, plays—it doesn’t really matter.
Reading, outside, in the sun, that’s the best.
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
JJ: That would have to be Dink, the homunculus. It’s hard to nail down the voice of a miniature warrior from another realm.
YABC: Do you enjoy writing to music? If so, do you have a goto playlist?
JJ: I do, though like a lot of people I can’t write to anything with lyrics. I have a bunch of standards I go to depending on my mood or the feeling of what I’m writing. Lot of Miles Davis, Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Aaron Copland, Hans Zimmer, Ennio Morricone, and the soundtrack of Amelie (which is weirdly super energizing).
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
JJ: There are a lot of organizations and movements I try to help and promote and live right by, but the root cause is pretty much always the same—I really like human beings and I want us to be able to live free, equitable lives with dignity. Anything pointed in that direction I try to help push.
YABC: What’s a book that you’ve read recently that you would recommend to your readers?
JJ: Someone mentioned Louis Sachar recently and I reread Holes, which is still amazing. I really like to reread things, I like to pick up the stuff you get on the second and third trip through when
you’re not just looking at plot, and Holes has a lot of great stuff. So I guess I’m recommending not just reading Holes but rereading it.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
JJ: Oh drafting, definitely. That’s easy. Drafting is exciting. It’s discovery—and sometimes it gets going and it feels effortless. But revising is always hard. Even when it’s going well you’re usually cutting things you once loved—sometimes still do.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
JJ: I’m not easily embarrassed and I’m not very afraid of it. It turns out that’s a really helpful trait when you’re a silly animal in clothes with selfawareness.
Meet This Is Not the End!
James Salley is turning sixteen, and it’s not going well. His family’s too busy to care, the local bully creates new tortures daily, someone appears to be following him, and he’s just learned that he’s the Antichrist.
All James ever wanted out of life was for Dorian Delaney—the operatically trained and suicidal girl of his dreams—to fall as in love with him as he is with her. But once he’s told of his bloody destiny, he finds himself fighting between who he thought he was and who he’s supposed to be.
With the school librarian pushing him to begin the Apocalypse, an irritable homunculus watching his back, and a murderous cabal of Catholics following him everywhere, James must discover how to navigate a world in which everything he’s ever believed is wrong—and if it’s possible to be the hero of a story when you’ve already been cast as the villain.
Coming June 2016
Meet Jesse Jordan!
Jesse Jordan received his MFA at Columbia College. This Is Not the End is his second novel. His first, Gospel Hollow, was released in 2012 by Casperian Books. He lives in Chicago.