Jess Mills Interview

Jess Mills is a talented writer whose work covers a wide range of subjects and genres. I interviewed her in February 2021... 

Hi Jess, I’ve really enjoyed reading your work. I’d love to ask you some questions.

What does writing mean to you?

I often think of random scenarios in my head and want to put them on paper, so it’s a way of being creative. Though I usually get inspiration in random bursts.

When did you start writing?

When I was nine. I tried to write stories when I was younger, but they weren’t very good! I used to scribble in notebooks, but then my mum got me a program for my PC called Write Your Own Novel. It was great, putting everything in the right format and correcting all my spelling mistakes.

What made you choose creative writing for university?

I was thinking about doing English Literature as I like books, then doing the A-Level put me off! I enjoyed doing creative writing as part of my course work and wanted to do that all the time, so I looked into studying it.

'Their Story' is very dark, what can you tell me about that?

It was mainly influenced by fairy tales for a module at university. A lot of people were doing things like Cinderella, and I wanted to do something different. It's inspired by ‘Gode’s Story’ by A.S. Byatt, and also by the film Labyrinth. We were looking at fairy tales and how they mean more than they appear.

I wanted to write a traditional fairy tale in the modern-day, so I personified the old fashioned beliefs present in ‘Gode’s Story’ as a character, ‘Them’. In the story, the villagers were very dismissive of ‘fallen women’, so I gave Them these beliefs to manipulate the protagonist into doing what they wanted. Forcing her to conform to outdated views, rather than behaving as she would without their influence.

What is the hardest piece you’ve ever written?

My dissertation, as I find long stories more pressure to write. I agonise over it more, rather than just focussing on the part I’m on.

What is the most enjoyable piece you’ve written?

Lucy, because I love myths and Norse Gods. The characters came to me very easily. It felt like I was writing down the thoughts and feelings of someone I knew well.  

What are you proudest of? (Doesn’t have to be regarding writing.)

I’m glad that I took the time to do the LGBT podcast, which I wouldn’t have considered if I hadn’t been given the opportunity at university. I learned a lot about the community and hopefully helped others learn too.

How did you feel when you won the University of Winchester’s 2020 Writing for Children Award? 

Very surprised! It was after I had finished University, so it was exciting. I didn’t realise they did it!

How would you sum yourself up as a writer?

I’ve always tried to include morals or things that will make people think differently, whether with a creative piece or feature article. I want to give an honest account and allow people to make their own judgements.

What are you currently working on?

The business side of things at the moment, although I have written some WhatCulture articles. 

Is there anything you’d like to share with your readers?

That I’m grateful that they’re reading my stuff! 

If you would like to find out more and read Jess' work, please have a look at her website

Jess' website