Jessica Drake-Thomas

A Kind of Dying, poem, Issue 45, December 15, 2018

Jessica Drake-Thomas is a graduate of Tulane University, Emerson College’s M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and the University of Arizona. She is a poet, tarot reader, and freelance writer. She is the author of a chapbook, Possession, from dancing girl press.

Get to know Jessica...

Birthdate? October 7, 1988

When did you start writing?

In the 8th grade, my Language Arts teacher would let us have the entire class period on Fridays to write whatever we wanted. The only requirement was that we had to spend the period writing. I started writing poetry and I haven't stopped.

When and what and where did you first get published?

I was first published in my high school's literary arts magazine starting in my freshman year (2003). My poem was titled "The Watcher." It was about a person living in a haunted house who was looking out at the world outside.

Why do you write?

Because I have all of these weird and interesting ideas in my head that are just kind of floating around and need to come out. I've tried other forms of expression, like painting and the violin, but writing has always been my medium.

Why do you write Science Fiction and/or Fantasy?

When I first started writing, I was reading a lot of Tolkien...I wasn't aware back then why I felt such a connection to his work, but after reading his biography, I've found that our work ethics are similar. I also will edit and pick at things (he used the term "niggle") until they reach the state of polish that I feel it needs to be at. My editing process on a single piece can take anywhere from two weeks to two years. Another thing in his work that really captivated me was the world building--I was struggling with depression for the first time, and to curl up inside of Middle Earth was the most beautiful therapy. I think I'm still trying to create a similar experience for my own readers.

Who is your favorite author? Your favorite story?

While Tolkien has been the author that I've gone back to for the longest, my favorite author is Shirley Jackson. The Haunting of Hill House has long been a book that I've appreciated the crafting of--it's simple, yet effectively chilling. I'm always really disappointed when the only story of hers that people have read is "The Lottery."

What are you trying to say with your fiction?

As a person with mental illness, I've often felt lonely or that my struggle isn't considered valid because it can't be seen. I'm trying to inform those who don't have psychiatric illnesses that it's something to be understood and not feared, and I'm trying to tell those who do that they're not alone and that if they speak up, there are those who will listen and support them. "A Kind of Dying" is inspired by a person who claimed to be someone who cared about me. When I was struggling and needed support, this person turned their back on me. It's a piece about moving forward and leaving behind a friendship that has, ultimately, been toxic and destructive.

If you could write your own epitaph, what would it say?

Had her cake and ate it, too.

Do you blog?

No, but I'm always thinking about how I should.

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