Another Worldcon interview! I had the fortune to meet Jessica Meats, and I took the opportunity to speak to her about her writing process.
With an MA in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of York, Meats went into Microsoft through their graduate programme, and now works in the IT industry as a pre-sale consultant. Outside of work, she loves reading, playing badminton, and kung fu.
Hailed as ‘unputdownable’, Child of the Hive was published in 2009, and is a sci-fi thriller, which grips the reader and explores what it means to be human in a world of ever-increasing technological sophistication. Meats’ latest novel, Traitor in the Tower, was released in March this year, and follows Jenny and her escape from Grey’s Tower. Set in modern-day New York, this fantastic novella continues the adventure from Omega Rising, and continues to hook the reader from the very beginning.
Meats never made a conscious decision to become a writer; it’s something that was always there.
I’ve always loved making up stories. I have early memories of folding sheets of paper together into little books and writing stories in them. I still remember a story I wrote when I was about six – about how I found a dragon in the living room, slayed it, and then was made to clean up the mess by my mum.
Ideas are everywhere, according to Meats.
Some of the ideas I explored in Child of the Hive came from technologies discussed when I was getting my degree. I looked at things that were in research and wondered what would happen when they became more prevalent or if development took a particular direction. Other pieces are stolen from real life, like the experiences of Jenny trying to find her first job. Mostly I just collect random thoughts and ideas and passing notions, and let them simmer in the back of my brain for a while. Some of them I forget, but others linger and those are the ones that work their way into my books.
I wanted to know if Meats has any tips for aspiring writers. She did not disappoint:
Write. Write some more. Do a bit more writing. Read some different stuff. Write again. Read some of the stuff you wrote earlier and take note of the problems with it. Write something better. Get someone to read it who’ll honestly tell you what they think about it and what the problems are. Cry in the corner. Rewrite the thing paying attention to the advice you got. Write some more. Repeat those last few steps until you get something you are proud of.
Meats had some difficulty finding a publisher for Child of the Hive, because no one was sure whether it fit into the young adult category, or the adult category.
The protagonists start of seventeen, so the first thought most people have is that it’s young adult, but there’s a two-year time jump in the middle and some of the issues in the second half are considered more adult. I got a couple of rejections where people said that they loved the book, but they weren’t sure how it would be categorised and so they were going to reject it.
Meats is currently working on a sequel to Shadows of Tomorrow, as well as the third book in the Codename Omega series.
My challenge is generally sticking to the one thing to completion when there are a hundred other ideas whispering at me that they want to be written.
As of August, her next appearance was to be at book-themed event to raise money for a charity project called Fifty for Fifty. She hopes to be attending more conventions in the future, as well as attending library talks and local author days, so keep your eyes peeled for further information.
I always want to know what authors are reading. Meats recently finished We Bleed the Same by David Wilkinson, which she describes as a brilliant sci-fi adventure dealing with war and politics and trying to do the right thing in murky situations. She – like myself! – also bought several books at Worldcon, and is still working through them.
Many of Meats’ fantastic novels can be found on Lovereading.co.uk, the UK’s No.1 book recommendation site.