Jessica Rising travels every day, either hanging on to the wings of her imagination or sliding through a portal in the bathtub drain.
Her recent “vacation” took place in Nil, where she spent three years getting to know the locals including Papercut, Books, Turtle, Roach and Fist. Her traveling companions were Emily, Trevor and Tabitha, siblings who quickly learned that nothing is as it appears to be and Earth is not the only habitable planet.
Rising has known that all along, though; since she was a child, she has been to many fantastic worlds.
“As far back as I can remember I’ve seen the world differently,” she said. “My dollhouse was never enough; I always created an entire world around it with everything in my bedroom. Where most people saw a leaf on a tree, I saw an air boat for a tiny elf. Where most people saw an office building, I saw a sideways world where people could fall off the walls into space.”
Rising is a writer and Nil is a “world of giant bugs, monstrous machines, and a disturbing lack of working toilets” as described on the dust jacket. It’s the setting for “Dr. Fixit’s Malicious Machine,” the first release in a trilogy of books geared toward ages 8 to 13. “I write for the next generation of dreamers, thinkers, visionaries and leaders,” Rising said.
The genre is called speculative fiction, which includes fantasy, science fiction, horror, steampunk, post-apocalyptic dystopia or anything else that is obviously fiction. Rising likes it like that; boring is no fun and purpose and individuality can be discovered in quests.
“We are all looking for who we are in this world, and the vast majority of us are no longer finding a satisfying answer,” she said, adding, “What if society was so ruined that I could finally do something that mattered?”
Nil could be an exaggerated depiction of our society, where individuality is stifled and divisions exist. In Nil, the heroes are children. “Their names define who they are and what they contribute to their society and every one of them contributes something that matters,” Rising said.
Rising, 35, is a mother of five. Sitting around the dinner table, they imagine the impossible. Her 9-year-old son came up with the character Papercut, who has the ability to turn a piece of paper into a cutting apparatus.
Rising began writing at age 5, remaining constant to her desire to travel on the wings of her imagination. Her dreams are now coming to fruition; a query letter she sent to the Blair Partnership, a publishing company in London whose first big client was J.K. Rowling, was followed by a response from the company. They are interested in reading about the inhabitants and visitors of Nil.
Asked why she thinks speculative fiction has become so popular, she offered, “The other day I saw some graffiti that perfectly sums it up. It read, ‘In a society that has destroyed all adventure, the only adventure left is to destroy that society.’ ”