Jessica Meats is a British science fiction author with a master’s degree in mathematics and computer science. Her first book, Child of the Hive, was published in 2009. Since then, she has written a number of novels, novellas, and a technical manual. When she isn’t writing, she works in the IT industry as a consultant on Microsoft technology. She enjoys playing badminton, sewing, and making jewelery.
Her newest book is Wolf Unleashed:
Werewolves are kept as slaves. Exploited to perform dangerous labor, or kept as exotic pets by rich sadists who want a status symbol, werewolves have no rights.
When Crystal’s stepbrother is bitten by a rogue werewolf, her family is advised to think of him as dead. But she refuses to forget him.
Looking for news from within the werewolf community leads her to purchase Thomas, a rebellious werewolf with a string of abusive former owners. Crystal and Thomas must learn to trust each other enough to help solve each other’s problems. Together, they can work to build a movement aimed at bringing rights and justice to all.
This is an urban fantasy, a paranormal romance with a difference. It teems with intersectional issues of race, gender, and sexual identity. This is a story of injustice and anger, of love and compassion, of rebellion and hope.
Did something in the real world inspire Wolf Unleashed?
Not for the story as a whole, but there are elements within the book that draw from the real world, especially around some of the social media activism and the way that messages can be spread over the internet. It’s a book that deals with prejudice; some of the events in the book touch on reality despite it being a fantasy story. In one of the most revised and edited scenes in the book, a Muslim character needs to become angry and he’s goaded into talking about some of the prejudice he’s witnessed. The book was going through editing as Trump announced his travel ban and I rewrote a section of the dialogue in this scene to include a reference to that as another thing that makes this character angry.
What is your favorite scene in the book?
That’s a tough one. I think I would have to go for the first meeting between Thomas and Crystal’s father. Ethan stops by unexpectedly while Crystal is out and sees that his daughter has just bought a werewolf slave. His reaction is absolute fury and Thomas asks him if he can get him anything: Tea? Coffee? A murder weapon?
It’s quite a lighthearted scene, with Thomas and Ethan joking about Crystal, which was a lot of fun to write, but it also sets up the dynamic between the characters. We get to see Ethan worrying about his daughter, even when he’s angry with her, we get a glimpse of how he feels about the werewolf situation, and we get to see Thomas talking to someone who treats him as a person right from the first instant and how that alters the way he behaves. We learn about all of the characters from watching the way these two act around each other.
What was your writing process like as you wrote the book?
I tend to write first drafts extremely quickly. I pour out words onto the page to get the plot down and then I go back and do a major rewrite in drafts. I try to write every day, so I can usually get a couple of hundred words done in the evening after work, but weekends are when I do most of my writing. I turn on the computer, browse the internet for a bit, and then start writing. When things are going really well, I get into a zone and then realize sometime around noon that I should probably have a shower and eat breakfast. I generally have a vague idea of where I’m going when I write a first draft, but not a detailed plan, so when I reach the end, there are usually a few plot threads that go nowhere or things that happen later that need more of a setup early on.
The first draft of Wolf Unleashed ran extremely long — about 175000 words. In the second draft — as well as fixing plot holes and making sure that character motivation was explained and my usual Draft Two tasks — I had to try and shorten it to a more publishable length, which involved trimming out anything I felt was unnecessary. Of course, when it was accepted by the publisher, my editor wanted me to find another 10,000 words to cut somewhere, which was painful.
What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of the book?
We did a book launch at a convention. As a conversation starter, I spent that convention carrying a stuffed toy wolf with a protest sign reading, “Werewolves are people, too!” Various people commented and we got into conversations about werewolves in general or my book in particular. There was one older lady who cuddled with my toy wolf a bit and talked to me about wolves and her experiences with a wolf sanctuary. We talked quite a while. The next day, she gave me a bracelet. She’d bought it in the dealer’s room for me because it had wolf heads on it and she thought I would like it.
I’d never met this woman before this convention and here she was buying me presents just because we’d had a long conversation about wolves. It was incredibly touching. I still wear the bracelet when I do events for Wolf Unleashed.
What do you have planned next?
I have a tendency to have multiple projects ongoing at any given time. At the moment, I have two books of the Shadows of Tomorrow trilogy published and I’m just getting the final book in that series ready to send to the publisher. I’m also working on the first draft of the next book in the Codename Omega series. On top of that, I’ve been working on and off on a book with the working title of Ridiculously Long and Complicated Urban Fantasy Thing, but it will probably be a while before that one sees the light of day. Probably a good thing, because it gives me time to come up with a better title.
Pick up a copy of Wolf Unleashed from Amazon: https://amzn.to/2U55cXE.
You can follow Jessica’s blog at: http://plot-twister.co.uk.
She also has a YouTube channel with author interviews and writing advice: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTNkMHdRuYyUmucnVydGpvQ.