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Adam Interviews... JR Creaden!


Happy April!

I hope you haven't had too many pranks go sideways on you today. And if you're one of those who plays the jokes, well, have they been funny ones?

Spaking of jokes--no, it's not a joke; I have a fantastic author interview for you to brighten up your morning.

JR Creaden (they/them) is an author of hopepunk-styled speculative fiction for children and adults, represented by Sheldon Fogelman Agency, who was hailed “an exciting new voice in science fiction” by Publishers Weekly. Raised in the Low Country and Appalachian piedmonts, they now live in an artistic paradise disguised as a suburban house. No matter the genre or age group, they aim for their works to leave no ups unpunched, no pain unprocessed, no light uncelebrated, and no whimsies unwhimmed.

Their adult debut MOON DUST IN MY HAIRNET is a cozy, near-future sci-fi about a queer autistic lunch lady as she juggles grief, political upheaval, and adulthood on the moon’s first independent colony. With Moon Dust In My Hairnet, JR seeks to remind dreamers like themselves--who can't math, don't fight, and wouldn't dare fly rocketships—that they have an important place in humanity's story wherever it lands, just the way they are.

Find them at



Star Trek or Star Wars?

STAR TREK. I teethed on both, but the storytelling format of Star Trek has always been more my speed. Star Wars is something fun I enjoy sometimes, but Star Trek is encoded into my cells.

Reboots – a great idea or a lack of creativity?

I think a lot of creativity can go into reboots, but I’m not usually a fan. I’d rather see new projects adapted. There are entire franchises happening in literary spaces that deserve recognition, not just in a monetary sense, but in the sociocultural sense of influencing the living audience they’re aimed toward; these newer works don’t need complete overhauls to make them palatable to a modern audience.

I love seeing things like Wheel of Time and Expanse produced, but I want to see The Broken Kingdom on my screen next. Murderbot. The Bobiverse. I want the younger generation to get to see Amari and the Night Brothers or Sal and Gabi while they’re still young. And if producers can’t let go of an old franchise, at least keep expanding on the original, as Star Wars or Star Trek has done, and bring in fully new characters and timelines.

A book you’re looking forward to release (by someone else)?

I’m really looking forward to Heavenly Tyrant, Xiran Jay Zhao’s sequel to Iron Widow. The first one was such a perfect ride, and I’m so excited to see how hard Xiran goes with the next installment! I’m also really excited for In Universes, by Emet North, which is an April debut like me.

 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

My most interesting writing quirk, to me, is how thoroughly I compartmentalize my project worlds. I can leave a project alone for years, not even thinking about it, then revisit it on a whim and have instant access to the whole project’s internal logic and reality as though it never stopped playing in the background of my brain.

I rely on this quirk to solve my story problems more often than I probably should! I’ll just decide to “check out” if I reach a plot point I can’t figure out, assigning the problem to my brain until it pings me that a solution’s been reached, like a story toaster.




Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I’m still early in this journey, waiting for my debut launch, but I can already say yes! I knew from working with CPs and betas that this manuscript (Moon Dust In My Hairnet) has a weighty impact on readers, and I’ve hoped that would stay true. So far the readers who’ve reached out have done so before even reaching the midpoint. They mention how much the representation means to them, and how validating that feels, plus how much they love it. A lot of readers say they’re sharing the book with their partners, club, or therapist. A couple have even said they’re now going to get a therapist and use it as a reference!?

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

The effect writing has on my energy entirely depends on what part of the process I’m working on. Drafting feels like “being” the sun, the source of all life, growth, and warmth, and when I’m in flow whole days can pass by me like single breaths. But to get to that, a project has to survive development, which involves me yoyoing between loving and hating making all the big decisions. Revising and editing energize me too; I really enjoy doing both, because it feels like play. Proofreading at the publishing stage however is the absolute worst for me, to my surprise; there were weeks when I could only focus on one page a day!

Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

I believe that writers need a “healthy” balanced ego. When a writer is too humble or too placating, not only can their work suffer from attempting to please everyone, they risk missing opportunities. An overly egotistical author’s career and work can suffer too, from stagnation and refusal to grow. I think it’s important for us as authors to be proud of our work, honest with ourselves about our strengths and weaknesses, but always remaining open, eager to learn and improve our craft. A healthy ego says, “I believe I can do that well, or I’ll learn how to,” rather than “I do everything/nothing well.”

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I decided early on that “I” am my first reader. I strive to give myself the reading experience I want, whether that’s exploring new territories in the story or prose, or reimagining something already beloved.




Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

This is such an interesting question! My first reaction was to think, “Of course!” because not all writers are working in fiction. On deeper reflection, I think there’s room in fiction for authors like this too, though I’d be curious about their process since it takes so much emotional energy just to complete a single draft for all the authors I know. Moreover I’d want to know if the act of writing and revising changes their emotional processing over time, as I know it has for me—like, are they just not in tune with their strong emotions, are they dissociating from them, or what?

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I’m extremely blessed with great author friends, enough that there are too many to name! From Xiran Jay Zhao I learned to be bold with my style and message, from Liselle Sambury I learned how to conceptualize subplots and balance multiple projects, from TA Chan I learned that there’s always room for cuteness in space travel, from Karen Bao I learned to trust my brain and body to show me story solutions, from Sally Pla I learned to embrace my full voice while drafting. I could go on forever, because every author friend I meet ends up sharing something that pushes my craft.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you building a body of work with connections between each book?

Most of my works so far have been standalones, and my debut scifi novel certainly is. But even if a work of mine isn’t part of a series, I think my books all share a similar spirit, with themes that readers can recognize as part of a larger conversation I’m having with them.

Are you traditionally or self published? Or both? Do you feel there are advantages to one over the other?

I’m traditionally published with a small press as of next month. While both publishing paths have their advantages, I’ve always known that self publishing wasn’t the right avenue for me or my work. As much as I like to be hands-on, I know my own limits and prefer to focus on my craft rather than all the other aspects of publishing, trusting experts instead of my amateur guesswork. The most successful self-publishers I see work in very different spaces than I do—romance, thriller, and litRPGs while I work in genre fic and children’s—and they also tend to work much faster than I would want to.




What does literary success look like to you?

Literary success to me means being read widely, not just by my personal connections, receiving favorable reviews from my target audience, and getting recognized by other authors as having contributed to the genre in a significant way. Technically, I think I’ve already accomplished those already, and I’m still a month shy of launching my debut. It must be time to raise the bar! I dream of winning awards and making enough money to leave a legacy for my children.

What do you have coming next?

My adult debut scifi Moon Dust In My Hairnet launches April 19 from Mythic Roads Press. It’s a very queer, and very autistic, space drama about a lunar lunch lady, grief, and what life might look like if diversity were normalized and disabilities accommodated. This book—it’s weird and hard to categorize. It’s cozy but with high stakes, heartwarming, and hopeful.

Next, if sub goes well, I’ll be introducing my middle grade fantasy about a kid drummer named Memphis and their family band. Think the Partridge Family meets The Addams Family meets Matilda.

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