Creating stories with wings

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Author Jess Owen

Venture into the wild world of Shard and other majestic gryphons with Jess E. Owen, author of the Summer King Chronicles, as her mythical creations struggle with power, pride, injustice and a sense of loyalty. For more than 10 years, Owen has invited young adult readers to escape to an imaginary realm in her works of art and fiction where suspense and adventure soar.

Growing up as a voracious reader and lover of books, it was only natural that Owen gravitated to a career as a writer and illustrator.

“Books were birthday and Christmas gifts,” said Owen. “An afternoon reading was a privilege. I strongly believe reading should be a joy.”

When she got her first library card, Owen sought out Hank the Cowdog books. However, her “favorites” list, featuring lions, wizards and magicians, more closely resembles the family tree of a marriage between Frodo and Alice in Wonderland with Gryffindor-worthy offspring. Now that Owen has grown up and lives with her husband in the mountains of Northwest Montana, she draws much of her inspiration from the flora and fauna of their surrounding geography for her wild tales. She adds that as characters go, many young people grow up reading about dragons, but feels that gryphons are often unfairly sidelined.

“They’re so interesting!” she insists, adding that gryphons and wolves repeatedly crept into her drawings when she herself was a middle schooler. “So, when I thought about what I would write about as an adult, The Firebrand Trilogy by Meredith Ann Pierce was a series that particularly stoked my ideas and fascination. In her stories, gryphons were the misunderstood mortal enemies of a unicorn tribe. What’s not to love?”

The young adult audience provided a perfect audience for Owen’s adventure novels. She aimed to write the books she wanted to read and loved the idea of being somebody’s favorite author someday. Many of the themes and tropes in her books weren’t necessarily new, but writing these stories for a younger audience might mean it was the first time a reader encountered them.

“Their minds are open and they love to picture themselves in the story,” Owen says. “They invest a lot of emotional and creative energy — fan fiction, fan art, and emails — telling me what they loved. It’s a wonderful audience. The best.”

Before becoming an author, Owen worked as an Equity Stage Manager in the theatre. Currently, she serves as the President of Authors of the Flathead, which is an organization of “writers helping writers” and is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. Winner of numerous awards for her craft, Owen’s honors include, the Ursa Major Award for Best Anthropomorphic Novel, Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in the Global e-book Awards, Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Book Awards, and Finalist in the Indie Book Awards.

“The Summer King Chronicles” is Owen’s latest book series featuring a mix of new characters and storyline along with some old favorites. Owen is a strong believer in getting involved with her local library as she is the entire community. She is teaching several upcoming workshops for the Big Read at high schools in Missoula, along with talks at local bookstores, including the Kalispell Art Walk in December at the Bookshelf. In addition, she will be the Writing Guest of Honor at the Texas Furry Fiesta next March in Dallas. The “furries” are passionate followers of anthropomorphic art and literature—an obvious audience of Owen’s novels.

Find the published works of Jess E. Owen in the young adult section of the Whitefish Community Library.

To learn more about other programs or events at the WCL, visit www.whitefishlibrary.org or like WCL on Facebook.

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