Let’s welcome back author Jane-Holly Meissner (who was previously interviewed for her book Fae Child last year), this time for her brand new project Mutants: Uprising (or X-Men meets Call of Cthulhu).
Mutants: Uprising is a second person POV novel about humans with super-human abilities trying to overcome the shadowy organizations that want to control them. The story centers on Jane “Zombie” Meyers, a relatively new leader of an underground cell of the League of Mutants, a terrorist organization, who is trying to make a name for herself while rising above her enforcer roots. Along the way she uncovers a plot against the pregnant founder of a second-chance shelter for homeless mutant teens, and must work hard to save her from harm and figure out what the ulterior motives of her enemies are, all while earning the other woman’s trust. Oh, and there are horrors from other dimensions trying to break into ours, and state governments who want to register all mutated humans “for the greater good.” All in a day’s work.
See Jane. See Jane save the day.
NG: How did you come up with the idea for Mutants: Uprising?
MEISSNER: With a little help from my friends, I think! Jane “Zombie” Meyers has been a character that I’ve been playing with for about seven years, and Anna Fernandez (another central character in the book) has been in my head since 2009. Initially both were created for an online X-men roleplaying game, but after that fizzled out I sat down and decided to pull the best bits I’d come up with for the RP, added in a whole bunch of new characters, and created a Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) thread on another message board. Over the course of the last two years I’ve been writing what I am now using as the first draft of Mutants: Uprising, with input from readers as to the decisions the main character makes. I have always had an overarching plot that the character was moving inside of, and getting to decide what the consequences were for each choice was a lot of fun.
Having Jane be a ‘bad guy’ who is really trying to do some good in the world is an angle I’ve always loved playing with. I’m always trying to create more grey areas in my stories, and make it feel more real. It also highlights the saying that ‘everyone is a hero in their own story.’ Jane might be a part of the League, which the government has labeled a terrorist organization, but she doesn’t think of herself as a terrorist. Rather, she’s simply willing to do whatever it takes to protect her fellow mutants – and in fact, she’s more moderate than many of the other League cells around the country.
NG: What prompted you to write in second person?
MEISSNER: Mutants: Uprising was written as a CYOA, and so the second person point of view came naturally. The Reader is the main character, making the decisions that shape the story. When turning the thread into a novel I decided to keep that POV choice, rather than edit it all into a more conventional third person narrative. I think it lends a sense of urgency and personal stake to the story. It isn’t “Jane’s story” any more, it’s YOUR story. I think it brings the audience fully into the character’s headspace in a very interesting way.
NG: How important is it for audiences to see “Jane save the day”?
MEISSNER: I think as the story goes on and the stakes get higher, you’re going to want to see her win. I don’t just want you to sympathize with her, I want you to root for her – she’s making the best decisions she can in situations where there might not be a right answer. If Jane is just a villain, that’s boring. If she’s working for a not-so-great organization and is trying to set herself apart and make a name for herself by doing things a little differently – that’s more interesting. If she’s stumbling into world changing conspiracy plots that are way above her pay grade and forcing these shadowy organizations to pay attention to HER, now we’ve got a story.
NG: How has this project helped you grow as a writer?
MEISSNER: I loved how the CYOA format forced me to think on my feet. I absolutely enjoy having curve balls thrown at me that I have to figure out, and I certainly got a few! I have definitely learned how to take criticism, and also how to ignore it when I need to. Writing so much in second person has also been a learning experience – it was difficult at first, but now I’m really used to it and I love the style.
NG:How has your experience with Inkshares been?
MEISSNER: I have really enjoyed my experience with Inkshares. I funded my book Fae Child through them last year, my campaign actually ended in February 2017, which was a long and stressful process, but ultimately very rewarding. I started that crowdfunding campaign as part of their Geek & Sundry fantasy contest, but when I didn’t place in the top three I decided to keep going. Six months later I had enough pre-orders to reach Quill, which is Inkshares’ light publishing imprint. The whole community of authors and readers on Inkshares is amazing, and I’ve made a lot of friends and been really encouraged in my writing. I did so many things I never thought I’d do (video interview, for one) and really outed myself to all my friends and family as an author. Inkshares has published a lot of books, churning them out at the rate of a couple a month, and Fae Child is in the queue for publishing behind about forty other Quill books. My first draft is almost finished, but there’s no pressure for me to get it turned in right away.
Now I have this opportunity with their current science fiction contest to possibly place in the top three and win a full publishing contract. The contest is sponsored by Nerdist, and at least one book will be chosen by them to be part of their Inkshares imprint, which would be amazing. Mutants: Uprising is currently tied for 2nd place, and the contest runs through June 25th. I am definitely still in the running to win this! Getting pre-orders is the difficult part, and every single one helps.
NG: Thank you very much! Good luck with winning the contest!
Jane-Holly, an Oregon based writer, has been scribbling stories into notebooks and online for most of her life. She squeezes in time for homeschooling her three kids, date nights at the movies with her husband, and explaining her first name to everyone she meets. Jane-Holly believes that, if creativity is directly correlated to how messy your house is, she might just be one of the most creative people on the planet. You can follow Jane-Holly on her Facebook page.