JD Steiner - A Deep, Thought-Provoking Escape
JD Steiner is an American young-adult fiction writer, born and raised, and currently at home in the suburbs north of Chicago. Inspired by speculative sciences, human nature and all things creative, JD is also a parent, spouse, and the concierge of their busy household. Holding no formal degree, but with a lifetime of daily practical application, classes, workshops, retreats, and now, published work, writing is entwined into the very fiber of JD's being. She believes in her calling; to create great works of fiction worthy of her reader's deep escape. As our Author of the Day, Steiner tells us about her book, Wreckleaf.
Please give us a short introduction to what Wreckleaf is about.
Wreckleaf is a young adult, science-fiction based on the impossibly unfair life circumstances of seventeen-year-old Nerissa John, and her struggle to rise above them. Nerissa isn’t supposed to exist; as part of a genetically engineered novelty-hybrid breed, her kind were eliminated long ago and thought to be extinct. Originally created for the folly of rich, greedy men, their rediscovered existence is classified, and they find themselves unwitting and enslaved accomplices in a deadly experiment. Wreckleaf is the story of Nerissa’s journey toward freedom, redemption, and ultimately forgiveness, all told within an action-packed, super-relatable, coming-of-age saga set in a near-future, falsely Utopian world.
What inspired you to write about a novelty-hybrid who wasn't supposed to exist?
I was inspired by the invisible, but oftentimes tenacious underdog—those who’ve been made to feel forgettable, or even disposable because of the circumstances they find themselves in at no fault of their own, yet who have something to say, or something to contribute, large or small. I wanted to be a voice for those made silent by default. I also wanted to make a statement about our scientific advancements and our ability to manipulate genetic outcomes. Creating life in any form is not a casual endeavor, and just because we can, doesn’t always mean we should.
Tell us more about Nerissa. What makes her tick?
Nerissa John is a fiery but fearful, wise but naive, and kind but sarcastic teen who is learning to trust in an untrustworthy world. As so many of us do, she struggles to understand her purpose in life and often questions her very existence. But she is determined to own the freedom to finally be who she is without cost or consequence and is willing to do whatever she must to attain that right. Fierce loyalty to her family makes her tick. And nothing gets her amped-up more than fighting for equality and truth, disarming the unjust and oppressive along the way.
Why young adult? What drew you to this genre?
I am incredibly inspired by younger generations. I believe our youth possess breath-taking creativity, vast, lightning-speed, “Matrix-like” intelligence, and are beyond innovative and highly evolved. I hope to offer my readers a deep and worthy escape that is thought-provoking, action-inspiring, and relevant. I also believe that if we do our best to erase what I consider a self-imposed and unnecessary generation gap… what we could harness and learn from each other would be magical and truly transformative. I aim to close that gap, if even just a bit, by deeply connecting to our universal truths.
Have you always known you wanted to be a writer? What inspired your debut?
Yes, I have always known I wanted to be writer. I’ve done it all my life in one form or another; my own personal escape from everything from the daily grind, to the deepest, scariest, or loneliest times in my life. Yet writing was always something insanely private to me. Even though I’ve always acknowledged my dream to be a published author, sharing my work was really anxiety inducing. Over the years, I have begun and stopped dozens of projects… never feeling confident enough or having that one special idea stick. My debut was finally inspired by the feeling I got (like millions of other fans) from the Twilight Saga. It wasn’t necessarily the writing or the story itself… it was the feelings it evoked. It was this transcendent, palpable sensation of being totally connected to the main characters’ inner experiences. That was pure magic to me. And I thought… that’s what I want to do. The concept for my story was a culmination of many of today’s most relevant issues; inequality, objectification, classism, addiction, the abuse of power, corporate greed, the pros and cons of scientific advancement, and good, old-fashioned love and infatuation.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I love almost any creative endeavor, but lately, I’ve been enjoying painting with my family. I’m also (not so) secretly, a singer. And since the age of nineteen, I’ve made my main living as a hair stylist and colorist—a career I’ve absolutely loved but am transitioning out of as my authorship grows.
Readers say that this story drew them in, almost feeling too real. How did you pull this off?
I honestly couldn’t think of a better compliment. And I guess I did this through a combination of things. First, I believe we all create through our own lenses, infusing our work with our own experiences either directly or indirectly. This is absolutely true for Wreckleaf. There is a lot of real-life experience and inspiration in this story—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Second, I tried my best to make my characters as relatable as possible. This isn’t just a science-fiction tale, this is my protagonist’s story in all its beauty, grit and horror, and I pulled no punches bringing it to life. We are all multi-faceted individual’s, possessing both light and dark. My characters are the same, and as much as the reader may love or hate them one moment, I guarantee those feelings will flip to one degree or another throughout the story. That’s real life. That’s relatable. And don’t we all just want to connect, and be acknowledged for all that we are?
Where do you get your best ideas?
I get my best ideas from real life, real struggle, real beauty and humanity. As they say, truth is stranger than fiction. And when I can get my hands on a juicy tidbit of something real, I like to mold it into my own unique creation.
Is there an underlying message you wish to relay about basic human nature through your characters?
Yes. One underlying message is that at our core, no matter who we are, or who we think we are… at the end of the day, we all want the same things. No matter how different we may appear, we are intrinsically more alike than not. We all want unconditional love and connection, equality and belonging. And we all want and deserve to be free, to be exactly who we choose to be.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
As much as I want to be the disciplined and consistent writer, I’m not. I do some form of writing every day, but my projects are created in phases. I’ll sometimes write for eight or ten hours straight, for days on end. Other times, I’ll putter around with research and a few pages here and there. I’ve learned that what works for me is to be very kind and patient with myself. My creativity blossoms with good vibes, not strict, inflexible ideals.
What are you working on right now?
Wreckleaf is book one in a two-part series. The sequel, Silent Blue, just launched, so I’m concentrating a lot of energy on that right now. At the same time, I’m doing research on adapting the series into a screenplay and creating an audio book and a Youtube video series, as well as a couple other spin-offs from the sequel. I’m also really excited to dive into my next project; a dark, coming-of-age thriller titled, Truth. It will be a collaboration with artist/illustrator @Sagums.https://www.instagram.com/sagums/ I plan to have it out next year.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Readers can check out my two websites: JDSteiner.com as well as Wreckleaf.com , my Amazon Author profile https://www.amazon.com/JD-Steiner/e/B07DT1YVB9/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1 , or my Goodreads profile,https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18236591.J_D_Steiner . I’m also on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/authorjdsteiner/ and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJDSteiner/
And anyone can reach me anytime by email at [email protected] …I’d LOVE to hear from you!