Some Thoughts with ... Jessica A. McMinn

17 Jul 2023

The Author/s

Jessica A. McMinn

Jessica A. McMinn

Jessica A. McMinn is a grimdark fantasy author based in regional Australia with a passion for dark fantasy, dark coffee and cats (which, let’s face it, are all dark inside).

Since graduating from the University of Wollongong with Distinction in BCA (Creative Writing) and BA (Japanese), Jessica spent five years in Japan teaching English while refining her writing craft.

She now works as a freelance writer and offers editing and coaching services to authors. When she is not writing (which is more often than you’d think), Jessica can be found raising her two beautiful children or immersed in an audiobook while drawing, crafting or playing video games.

Her debut novel, The Ruptured Sky, is the first installment in the gritty dark fantasy quartet, Gardens of War & Wasteland, and is perfect for fans of Robin Hobb, Anna Stephens and R F Kuang.  

The Interview

1.- What made you choose self-publishing?
It was actually only something I considered quite recently. Back in 2017, someone I went to university with self-published her first novel, and the whole thing was very successful; she’s now a full-time author. Still, I was a little hesitant. I queried a bit, mostly to small presses accepting unsolicited manuscripts, but as recently as last year, I was preparing a query letter when I just thought, “Do I really want to spend all this energy trying to convince someone to publish my book when I can just do it myself?” So yeah, there you have it!

2.- What would you say inspired you to write The Ruptured Sky?
This might be showing my age (and nerdiness) here, but the original inspiration to write a fantasy epic was watching my sister engage in a text-based role-playing game on a message board for Super Smash Bros. Melee fans. Basically, I decided to write my own!  I was thirteen at the time and it was a trope-filled disaster (a mish-mash of anime, David Eddings, and Lord of the Rings) but it was the original schematic for The Ruptured Sky and I’ve been working on refining that original concept ever since. 

3.- The world of Whyt’hallen is kinda unique, different from classic fantasy. How would you say the idea appeared in your head?
Whyt’hallen itself evolved quite a bit as the whole story did, but the concept of a ‘shadow realm’ was there pretty much from the start, as were the immortal magical race (which were heavily inspired by Tolkien’s elves of Lothlorien). There have been so many changes and developments over the two decades, it’s actually at the point now where I can hardly remember where or how it started.

4.- The Ruptured Sky is a multi-POV book, how did you make to write all and keep all in consonance?
I wish I could say that I carefully kept track in a spreadsheet or other planning tool software but I just can’t work that way. I don’t have a system. I don’t have a plan or an outline. It’s all in my head. So yes, I am exhausted ALL THE TIME because it’s so damn busy in there! Any and all cohesiveness definitely comes down to the hard work and keen eyes of my editing team!

5.- From all your characters, which one would you say it’s your favourite?
I probably should be diplomatic and say that they’re all my favourite but let’s be real: it’s Rei-Hai. 

6.- Your book is rather dark (I would almost call it grimdark). Was this by design?
Not originally! When I first started it 20-odd years ago, I’d say it was more a noblebright quest to save the world—a classic good vs evil! But as I grew and matured, and my own tastes, well, darkened, I decided to take The Ruptured Sky down the same path. Some of that influence came from Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire; some of it came from the PS4 game, Bloodborne.

7.- Which other writers would you like to recommend to people?
For trad authors: Robin Hobb, Jay Kristoff, Anna Stephens, Anna Smith Spark, Mark Lawrence, RF Kuang, Maggie Stiefvater and NK Jemisin.
For indies (I’m still very much new here): Krystle Matar, BSH Garcia, Joao F Silva, JC Rycroft, PJ Nwosu + many many more I’m yet to discover!

8.- What does Jessica McMinn like to do in her free time?
I have two kids under 5 so I’m generally lacking on free time, but when I do have a spare moment, I enjoy binging TV shows, videogames, cross stitch, and crochet!

9.- What can we expect from Jessica A. McMinn in the future?
Well, I have three more books of the Gardens of War and Wasteland quartet left to write so I’m going to be pretty busy with that for the foreseeable future, haha! I’m mulling about whether to do an ‘extended universe’ thing that is becoming increasingly common with authors lately (think Hobb’s Realm of the Elderings, or Sanderson’s Cosmere) or doing something completely random like a grimdark gaslamp fantasy featuring a grumpy bounty hunter and a genderfluid bard on a mission to dismantle a child-trafficking religious sect…