I’ve had the pleasure of reading a couple of Advanced Review Copies of upcoming books this year, and the one that’s stuck with me most is Atlas Fallen, Jessica Pierce’s debut novel. It’s hands down one of my favourite books of the year so far and I’m now impatiently waiting for Jessica to get book 2 out pronto! 🙂
Jessica was kind enough to chat with me in the run-up to the launch of Atlas Fallen, which is out now.
An easy one to start off with! Which part of the world do you hail from and have you always lived there?
I currently live in Arizona, but I’m actually from Nashville, Tennessee. We’re a military family, so we’ve traveled and lived in a variety of places. My favorite was Oahu, Hawaii. There’s something about the lush volcanoes that feels inviting and foreboding at the same time.
What was the last book you read, and would you recommend it?
I used to only read books I picked up from the bookstore (Barnes and Noble is my second home), but I’ve found myself reaching for more and more indie YA reads. I just finished Our Dark Stars by Audrey Grey and Krystal Wade. If you enjoy dashing rogues and the charm of The Lunar Chronicles, you’ll love it! It was the type of book that blew me away while also leaving me with some serious plot envy. The writing is just fantastic.
Where do you write your books and what’s your choice of drink and music to keep you typing away?
I love, love love movie soundtracks. If you snoop around on Spotify, you’ll probably notice my playlists are divided by the type of scene I’m writing: tensions, romance, battle, witty character, or whimsical.
When I can hear beats in the music, I feel it really helps me pace the emotional current of that chapter. As for drink—definitely milk! I drink at least one glass of milk per night while I edit, write, or read. As you can see in the photo, relaxing by the fire pit in my backyard is my favorite.
[Ed: and I do believe that photo shows part of the outline for the sequel to Atlas Fallen!]
Tell us about your writing process. Are you a plotter or a pantser?
The first draft of Atlas Fallen was a hybrid pantsing/plotting. I knew where I wanted the story to start, and I knew where I wanted it to end. However, I think I would have saved myself many rewrites if I had organized my ideas a bit more before jumping in. With the sequel, I have to make sure I keep track of all the seeds I’ve planted in book one, so plotting is essential for me now.
Any children or pets you’d like to tell us about?
My husband and I love to travel, so we’ve decided against having a family for now. We do, however, have a fur child named Duncan who is just about as spoiled as a cat can be. He’s a blue-point Siamese, and he knows he rules the house. We affectionately refer to him as “Your Majesty.”
Aside from writing and reading, what do you love doing most?
I will drop almost anything to go see a movie. It’s more than the movie itself, though, because I really love the whole experience. Aside from that, my husband and I love to bake and try new foods. Our next challenge is creating the perfect macaron!
You’ve produced some beautiful gifts and swag for booklovers through your company, Paperly&Co. Tell us more about this and how people can get their hands on some of your swag!
Thanks! I adore getting bookish swag, so I knew I wanted to offer it for my readers. Any US resident who orders the book, either in e-book, hardback, or the soon-to-be-released paperback, will receive a swag pack which includes an art print, a bookmark, a magnetic bookmark, and a signed bookplate. I regularly run contests through my Instagram account, so you can usually find announcements there.
What three books have influenced your style of writing or the themes you write about the most and why?
This is so tough, because there are so many. Of course I have to lead with anything by J. K. Rowling, because she really pushes the boundaries of creativity. Her world-building is unmatched, and the fact that she gave us so many secondary characters to love really stuck with me as a writer. Pierce Brown’s Red Rising series follows closely behind, mostly for his plot twists (I did not see the ending to Golden Son coming, and I’m still not okay) as well as the sense of grandeur he brings to his words. Last but not least, I’d say the scripts for Star Wars. George Lucas gave us wit, adventure, shocking reveals, and love all within a science fiction world. Watching the movies for the first time was as close to magic as I’ll get.
Tell us about Atlas Fallen. Where did your initial idea come from and why did you choose to write this book?
It came to me years ago when headlines regarding refugees dominated the news. We still hear about these stories today, and it really stuck with me how unwanted many parts of the world made them feel, and how that would reverberate for generations. So, I took an idea and applied hyperbole, making it into an extreme: What if refugees were sent into space? What would their culture look like? If rich people moved in and claimed the station for themselves, how would that affect my main character? Thus, Tesla was born. The book isn’t meant to be a political statement, but it is a statement on the strength of people when they are determined to survive.
What can we look forward to seeing from you next? More in the Cyber Crown Series or do you have other ideas burning away in the background?
I have momentum for the series, so I’m excited to finish it. [Ed: Yay!] Right now I’ve planned 3-4 books for this series, but after it concludes, I have a quartet of retellings planned. The fairy tales aren’t like you remember—the leading ladies are actually con artists who pull heists. I like to think of it as Ocean’s 8 meets Six of Crows.
One space station.
And the girl who holds the key.
Tesla Petrov, daughter of an infamous traitor, no longer lives a life of promise in the Atlas space station’s elite flight training program. Stripped of her military rank and banished to the slums, she now scrapes out a brutal existence competing in illegal robot fights for Minko, ruthless leader of the Red Ashes crime syndicate. But when a wrong move costs her a fight—and a fortune—for the crime lord, Tesla knows her days aboard the Atlas are numbered.
Daxton Larose isn’t just visiting the station to celebrate the Centennial of the Crown—he’s hunting a terrorist threatening to end a century of peace on Earth. To do so, he’ll need someone who knows the station. Someone willing to strike a deal at any cost.
Someone like Tesla.
But as the hunt for the terrorist uncovers dangerous secrets from both their pasts, Tesla and Daxton realize that nothing, and no one, is what it seems.
If you enjoy young adult sci-fi or dystopian stories and series such as Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, I’m pretty sure you’ll love Atlas Fallen! Get your ebook or paperback copy of Atlas Fallen here.