Interview with Jodi Perkins
By: Kevin 'Myth Master' Adams

Jodi Perkins is a busy writer and full–time teacher of Language Arts for middle–schoolers, so that should make her somewhat resilient to the hellish and devious questions I have for her. She's married with two kids and a handful of pets. She is also the author of the young–adult novel, Chasing Echoes.

Ah middle school, such fertile grounds for the horror that is pre–pubescent drama and hormones.

Let me scribble down a few notes first:

  • Highly intelligent and witty.
  • Bold enough to ask for a 10 minute head start
  • Prefers non–chaffing rope

    Alright, now we can begin.

    Myth Master: You submitted a short story to True Story Magazine, which was purchased for their Mother's Day issue, so you actually got PAID to write. Fancy that. More importantly you won Member of the Month for World of Myth! Will you be inspired to share more with us?

    Jodi Perkins: Maybe. At the same time I don't want to spoil you too much. I'm all about tough love.

    Myth Master: Some writers have a special ritual that they do before writing, some like music and other imbibe alcohol perhaps, what if any steps do you take to get into the writing mood?

    Jodi Perkins: First, I think "Hey, I should write something." Then I stare at the cursor for a while, trying to bully my fingers to type. After an hour of that, I mentally berate myself for the blank page that's still hovering in front of me. A day or two later of swearing at that stupid blinking cursor and pulling my hair out, if I can manage to uncurl myself from the fetal position I am now laying hopelessly in, I'll plod back to my keyboard and start typing something. This method is tried and true and can be repeated as many times as necessary.

    Myth Master: Favorite topic?

    Jodi Perkins: I'd say dystopian is my favorite genre to write; urban fantasy a close second. Most of my stories start out with a "what if" question (i.e., "What if a 17 year old girl were forced to repeat the same 20 days of her life over and over with a guy she hates?" or "What if people could transfer their pain with a single touch?")

    Myth Master: You have a twin sister, is there a psychic link like is often perceived?

    Jodi Perkins: Shannon and I have no psychic link at all! I kind of feel guilty about that. She could be going through some massive trauma––like when she crashed her wave runner and broke her femur bone on our 21st birthday––while I, meanwhile, am sitting on the tail gate of a pick–up truck nearby, happily drinking my Dr. Pepper, swinging my legs to–and–fro like a little kid without a care in the world. Man am I a lousy excuse for a twin. On the plus side, Shan and I do have the ability to look at each other and know what the other is thinking, but so can any two people who are really close. I don't think this counts as a psychic link, it's just being intuitive with each other's facial expression and body language.

    Myth Master: You have a direct influence in the lives of young folk, do you feel any pressure as a result?

    Jodi Perkins: Sometimes my job makes me feel a little more "aware" of what I'm writing and tempted to edit my words to make them more middle–school appropriate, but the feeling passes quickly. Writing is a kind of art, and I think there's more forgiveness when it comes to freedom of expression. Overall I'd say there are more rewards than pressure. It's so much fun when my students read Chasing Echoes for the first time and approach me, dying to talk about it. They're bursting with excitement over it, and totally pumped to write a story themselves. As a teacher I couldn't ask for a more powerful motivational tool to get students excited about writing.

    Myth Master: So why don't you quit teaching and pursue your dream of being a full–time writer?

    Jodi Perkins: Easy. I teach for the money. Hehe...Oh, come on, that was FUNNY. Okay, seriously. I won't quit because not only do I adore my job and love my students, but they inspire me. It was my students who encouraged me to write Chasing Echoes. It was my students who asked me every single day "How's your book coming along, Miss P?" and who squealed every time I read an excerpt, with cries of "Hurry up––I can't wait to read the whole thing!" Somehow being a teacher inspires me to be a writer. And being a teacher is a special thing. Crazy, and stressful, but special.

    Myth Master: Kindly share with us some more juicy details. We like the juicy entrails...I mean details.

    Jodi Perkins: Mmmm, would you prefer your entrails medium–rare or well–done?

    Myth Master: Medium rare. Always. Enough to where it stops mooing or screaming.

    Jodi Perkins: Oh, wait––details. Like hobbies and stuff, right? Okay, I love painting and drawing, shooting stuff, camping, soaking in sunshine....Oh, I'm a major insomniac. Sometimes I'm up so late I watch the sun rise. Though sunrises are overrated and can pretty much bite me. I have a soft spot for animals. Even ugly ones. Sometimes I take in injured animals and try to rehabilitate them. It usually goes well, unless you're a bird.

    Myth Master: Enough of the pleasantries Jodi, these are all good questions and answers, but let's burrow and root so we can all watch you squirm.

    Jodi Perkins: That sounds fun. And not at all deranged.

    Myth Master: Wait, so you're responsible for several avian deaths?

    Jodi Perkins: Um...um...okay, so despite my good intentions, I tend to have bad luck with birds. If you're a bird that somehow ends up in my house, you have a 90% chance of getting clocked with a ceiling fan, or electrocuted, or having an eyeball fall out...but on the bright side, you have a beautiful 10% chance of living! That's pretty great, right?
    Right?
    *coughs*
    Next question.

    Myth Master: I've scoured your Facebook and your personal website, because reasons. I noticed you dabble some in artwork. Could you please tell us about the piece called 'Johnny the Homicidal Maniac' and what inspired it?

    Jodi Perkins: Stalker much, Myth Master?

    Myth Master: Yup. It's kind of my thing.

    Jodi Perkins: And you know there was a lovely rainbow lily painting on that same site, right? Not to mention some kittens. But you have to ask about the maniac one.

    *Sighs*

    So Johnny the Homicidal Maniac was a comic book cover I was commissioned to paint by a young woman in LA. I'm not into horror, so when my client told me what she wanted, my stomach was sort of twisting over it. I ended up giving the characters in that painting silly names and backstories just so I wouldn't have nightmares about them. Surprisingly it turned out to be one of the funner projects I've done. I felt like a little kid racing through a super scary haunted house, feeling giddy at the end that not only did I "survive," but it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be.

    Myth Master: Are you the typical protective mother of your offspring?

    Jodi Perkins: Ha! No, I'm definitely more of a free–range parent. Don't get me wrong, if my kids were ever faced with a real threat, you'd see this laid–back mama go rabid. But I don't hover over my kids. I like to give my kids appropriate levels of freedom and responsibility for their age while still keeping them safe. I think unscripted adventures––and even misadventures––are such an important part of childhood. My kids have always played in puddles, climbed trees, explored, scraped their knees, gotten dirty, found themselves in one crazy pickle or another... All of this, in my opinion, has played a huge role in the resilient and confident teens they are today.

    Myth Master: You deal with angst–filled teens all day. Does any of that spill over into your world?

    Jodi Perkins: Other than turning me into a glazed–over zombie by the end of the day who can only talk in monosyllabic grunts, no, it doesn't spill over into my world.

    Myth Master: What is your opinion on horror or 'darker' material?

    Jodi Perkins: Blood and guts...*squirms*. Can't do it. Unless it's in the context of a medical drama or something along those lines. Which is a bummer because in real life horror writers are some of the wittiest, most colorful people you'd ever meet, not to mention lovable cuddle–bears. (Sorry horror writing peeps for exposing your dark secret...don't kill me off in your next book). The good news is I can handle some horror or darker material if its executed tastefully. Unfortunately even mediocre writing is bad writing when it comes to horror, given how easy it is for gory scenes to translate as cliché. There're only so many big–boobed blondes you can massacre before your readers start getting bored. But horror in the context of beautiful, elegant writing can be intriguing. It still leaves me unsettled, unnerved, and probably cowering under a pillow, but I can cope.

    On a somewhat related note, I started working on a young–adult novel called The Apathetics that touches upon some darker themes. It's unnerving, but exciting too. It's cool to work on something that pulls me out of my comfort zone and lets me explore different facets of human nature.

    Myth Master: Darkest personal moment please…

    Jodi Perkins: Nope.

    Myth Master: Pssh...you'll pay for that one.

    Jodi Perkins: I assume payment will be the normal going rate of an arm and a leg?

    Myth Master: As always before I maim you, I will give you the opportunity to improve and bolster yourself below…

    Jodi Perkins: I'd grovel if I could but you have this gag stuffed in my mouth.

    Myth Master: That's not a gag, that's a blood–filled piece of gauze from the last victim.

    Now Jodi has asked for a head start, granted.
    Non–chaffing rope, granted. I left her legs free so she could get that head start.
    Lastly, death by a smother–love of a thousand adorable puppies, granted, BUT you did not specify if those were ravenous evil puppies with sharp teeth and empty bellies.

    Man Oh Man! Look at those little bastards go! I enchanted them with hellish speed and they should have her soon, and she'll have that special puppy 'loving' alright. One thousand little sets of teeth all gnawing on her lifeless body.

    *Sigh* Damn I'm good.