TJ: Hello! Welcome to Author Spotlight where both new and veteran indie authors share a little about themselves and their work. I’m really excited to present to you today’s guest, veteran author Jesikah Sundin. I’m not only a big fan of Sundin’s work, but I am also proud to consider her a friend (although we haven’t met IRL yet). Let’s get into it.
Jesikah, I know you through mutual local author friends and social media, but my readers don’t. Care to tell them a little about your awesome self?
Jesikah: Hey there! *waves at Tammy and readers* Thanks for having me on your blog today. So, let’s see . . . I’m a coffee and cheese addicted dystopian punk lit, historical fantasy, and faerie tale writer mom of three kids (ages 12, 16, and 18). My endlessly helpless romantic heart is still moony-eyed for my insta love high school sweetheart of 27 years (married for nearly 24 of those years). Most days I convince the humans around me that forest photography, gardening, and a cottagecore-type lifestyle are simply my personal aesthetic and outdoorsy hobbies. But, really, I’m a Doc Martens combat-boot-wearing earth faerie with wild curly hair, freckles, and a strong connection to trees.
TJ: I love that you married your high school sweetheart. Your entire family is so adorbs. I know you have a geeky family like mine with lots of interests. Care to share with readers some of your favorite hobbies?
Jesikah: My family is intensely geeky AND nerdy. The one interest we all have in common is anime. The kids, especially, speak anime fluently. And a touch of Japanese as a result. We also share a love for non-traditional board games, such as Settlers of Catan, Dominion, Citadels, Lords of Waterdeep, and many, many more.
And here is where I separate from the pack. I prefer more luddite activities––gardening, baking, hiking, and forest macrophotography––whereas my family are hardcore gamers. My sons are even in leagues and do weekend competitions. I play video games too (#Skyrim4Ever), but it’s not something that is my regular daily activity. They also spend copious amounts of time watching YouTube, where I would rather read.
The nerdy part? I love to read books on the science behind baking and food prep, permaculture and forest gardening, and the history behind faerie tales, legends, folklores, and myths. My husband and younger son listen to free lectures from MIT on theoretical physics as well as engineering videos on YouTube. My oldest son loves all things history and will happily brain dump on any history-related subject. Even obscure ones. And my youngest is into visual and illustrative arts and watches many tutorials to upgrade their skills.
But with our powers combined . . . we are a super geeky and nerdy family with varied interests and knowledge.
TJ: I love seeing your baking experiment posts on my FB feed. You really delve into the science of why you succeed or fail and I find that fascinating. Can’t wait to see a cookbook from you. Speaking of books, I’m a big fan of your Knights of Caerleon series. You put a lot of research into those books, and it shows in the rich world building and narrative. Tell me, what is your favorite research experience?
Ooooh, good questions. As much as I loved researching for The Knights of Caerleon series, my favorite research experiences came while writing The Biodome Chronicles. I already came into The Knights of Caerleon with a sold base of Arthurian lore and Celtic cultural studies thanks to several college courses.
But The Biodome Chronicles allowed me to frolic in my earth sciences background. I interviewed several experts in the fields of Isolation, Confinement, and Extreme Environment syndrome (ICE), most specifically ICE studies for those wintering over in Antarctica, parts of Alaska, and those who are working toward lunar and Mars colonization. And because I needed to study habitat in enclosures, the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle arranged for me to have an underground tour with three of their scientists. I spent half the day being able to ask endless questions, study parts of the zoo only employees see, poke around inside the labs, discuss the latest research on habitat enclosures and the human experience. Also, since The Biodome Chronicles is a psychological thriller (albeit a light one), I worked with a psychiatrist who specializes in narcissistic sociopaths to ensure my antagonist wasn’t a cartoonish villain, but a believable one. And, because I was also writing about hackers, I received a personal tour of a tech company with demonstrations in their Faraday cage. A white hat hacker from the company assisted my hacking scenes following my tour. Additional interactive research moments for The Biodome Chronicles: attending several feasts at Camlann Medieval Village, a living museum set-up as a 14th century Anglo-Norman village. I ate meals from authentic medieval recipes and sat with old craftsmen to learn about blacksmithing, tannery, candle making, spinning, weaving, fabric dyes, archery, and more. I also traveled and camped with the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) in full medieval garb to attend the tourneys my sons were in.
I have yet to experience the same incredible research moments and connections since. But . . . another eco-dystopian series I’m currently outlining will need experts and research networking again. I look forward to it!
TJ: Wow. What incredible experiences! You’re so smart, and it comes out in your writing. I’ve recently started reading your new series called The Ealdspell Cycle, I’m enjoying listen to Æroreh, the first book in the series, on audiobook. Can you tell us about this series?
Absolutely! While watching How The Grinch Stole Christmas a couple years ago with my youngest, I was enamored with how the entire story took place on a single snowflake. And I thought: what if an entire faerie kingdom was hidden on a single oak leaf deep within a druid’s forest and all to preserve the last line of faeries from Earth? I love to mix genres and backdrops, often combing old with new. And The Ealdspell Cycle is no different. To keep with my punk lit roots, I fashioned this series into a mythpunk collection. This means familiar faerie tales, legends, mythologies, and folklore are mixed with dystopian cyberpunk elements. Part of how the kingdom on a leaf exists is because of modern technology. Runic magic is both faerie born and human made.
Æroreh is a gritty spin on Sleeping Beauty, blending faerie magic and pagan ritual with high technology. The entire story has a Victorian Industrial Revolutions (textile factories) meets medieval European faerie tale meets near-future cyberpunk. Currently, I’m working on Eirwen, a Snow White tale, which is a WWII Rosie the Riveter / Land Girls meets Cornish and Welsh 18th– 19th century mining culture meets near-future cyberpunk. Are the combinations weird? YES! Do they work? YES! But you’ll have to read to find out how 😛
Each story can be read as a standalone. And each story builds toward preserving the last line of faeries to ensure magic remains alive not only on Ealdspell but also on Earth.
By the way, Æroreh was influenced by Icelandic and cyberpunk culture spellings, Eirwen means “white as snow” in Welsh, and Ealdspell translates to “old story” in Anglo-Saxon.
TJ: Besides your kindness and affable personality, the coolest part of being your friend is there’s always I learn so much from you. Thank you for sharing some of your knowledge and for visiting my blog. Hope to have you back again!
Yes! I hope to return again too. This was lovely. Thanks for having me! *blows kisses to Tammy and her readers*
Where to follow Jesikah Sundin:
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jesikahsundinauthor
Facebook Fan Group: (MoonTree Readers) https://www.facebook.com/groups/MoonTreeReaders
Jesikah Sundin’s Books:
Æroreh (The Ealdspell Cycle 1)
Legacy (The Biodome Chronicles 1)
The Fifth Knight (The Knights of Caerleon 1)
Interview ©TJ Deschamps 2021
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