She writes vivid, emotionally-charged stories full of fantasy, romance and adventure.
Jess loves to talk stories and can be found fan-girling her favourite writers and dissecting the plot character motivation of the Vampire Diaries on Facebook, twitter and instagram.
What is the story behind Return to Redwood Valley?
Over Easter this year my husband and two boys went camping in the Yarra Valley just outside of Melbourne. We stayed in a picturesque spot, by the river under shady gum trees. During one of our walks we followed the ferny track alongside the river and were amazed to find ourselves in the midst of a magnificent pine forest. What immediately struck me was the scent of the pines as we walked over a soft carpet of red and brown pine needles– much sweeter than the pines we’re used to. We discovered these were Californian Redwoods – some over 55 metres tall – beautiful and old. They were planted during re-vegetation works in 1930.
The boys enjoyed wobbling over the high trestle bridge, and as we kept walking we came to the village of Warburton – a cute little spot that’s great for cafes and browsing through antique and craft stores. One workshop by the banks of the river took my fancy. It was a workshop that used reclaimed timber to make beautiful furniture and keepsakes. The frames and mirrors in particular stood out. The workshop was set up so you could watch the craftsman in action, although no-one was there the day we visited. But I could picture my hero, Hamish, here working the wood.
There’s something special about the beautiful surrounds of the Yarra Valley, something so ancient in that Redwood Forest, something magical about exploring these places.
So, sitting in my camping chair beside the rushing river while the boys fetched smooth river stones and played under the scented pines, I wrote Hamish and Mikayla’s story.
Which themes do you like to write about?
In this story, I write about loss and grief and things that can help us to heal those wounds. Connections with friends, special places and of course – that special person. The person who knows us inside out, the person who can challenge us and hold our hand as we make our way forward in the world, if only we’re brave enough to let them.
What else are you working on?
Young Adult books have a special place in my heart. They’re what I like to read. I think because of the vulnerability of that time. At that time, acceptance and love is everything. It is life and death. So I think this fits neatly with why I like to write Young Adult fantasy, sci-fi and dystopia. There’s a realness and a grimness to the future worlds my young characters are facing and I think we can all relate to having those battles in our lives. I love writing the mitigating factors. What makes it worth the struggle? Family? Friends? Love? Fun? How can we find peace within ourselves when our world is under attack?
Where else can we see your writing?
Heart’s Symphony is a novella about pushing the boundaries, fighting for what is right and real even when it means putting yourself in great danger. It spans ancient kingdoms and colourful futures and the enduring love of a one-time Princess – Meisha and the traitor she fell in love with.
Find out more about Jess :
I peer through the glass of the workshop. A tall man is working the lathe. Thick, dark hair sticks out from the band on the back of his safety glasses. Skinny grey jeans hang low on his hips, and his feet are bare on the wood chipped floor.
Pieces of wood—projects in various stages—line the workbenches around the room. This is the Hamish I remember—scattered, passionate, madly productive. He’s totally absorbed in his task, shaving the wood down in fine, patient increments. I envy the easy focus on his art.
Finally he looks up, notices me. His tannin eyes send shivers of awareness down my spine. My body remembers his.