We are super excited to present our newest feature on Dying Dahlia where we talk to some amazing women writers and get a peak at what they are up to, what inspires them and more! This week we are happy to present Jessica Mehta, author of ORYGUN: Poems, What Makes An Always, Last Exotic Petting Zoo, Secret-Telling Bones and The Wrong Kind of Indian. She also has two books that will be released in 2018 and 2019. Jessica’s poems “Recipe for an Indian” and “Look at All that Beautiful” were featured on Dying Dahlia in February of 2017.
What inspires you the most?
My husband. (How cliched is that?). All eight of my books are dedicated to him, and my one (and only) novel explores our story. I didn’t start writing fervently until that particular relationship, and it continues to feed and inform all of my collections. However, another major source of inspiration is the woods. As a native Oregonian, I NEED at least one session of hiking and forest bathing a week to unclog my thoughts. My collection Orygun is an homage to how the wild feeds us.
Who are your favorite women writers?
Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison will always top the list. However, I fell deeply in love with Alissa Nutting’s first book, Tampa.
What does your writing process look like?
I simply write when I feel like I need to. With eight books published in less than eight years, it seems like that’s pretty often! It’s common to come up with the first line of a poem while on a hike or in the middle of the night. I agree with the idea that 4 a.m. is the “writer’s hour.”
What advice do you have for fellow women writers?
The good stuff comes when you let all your shame and guilt hang out. You don’t need to be a likable voice. You don’t have to strive to be a relatable one. Don’t pull the punches, and submit, submit, submit at a feverish pace. Define your own lines (for me, self-publishing will never be an option. Cheers to those who found their groove in it). Work towards always having at least one manuscript in the wings. Finally, don’t pay for reading fees simply for regular submissions (book contests are different). It’s not worth it.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on my two books that will be released in 2018 and 2019. In 2018, Constellations of My Body is being published by Musehick Publications. In 2019, Savagery will be released by Airlie Press, a unique publisher collective based out of Oregon. I also have a prequel to my first novel and a collection of essays based on Native American mythology tucked away and slowly looking for a home.