Author Jordi Burton started writing when she was ten-years-old and hasn’t stopped since! Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.
My name is Jordi Burton. I recently graduated from the University of Florida this past December with a degree in English and a minor in history. I am a major sci-fi and fantasy enthusiast. I love anything Marvel or DC—I can’t decide between the two—and my dad instilled a love of Star Trek in me at a young age. I believe in love at first sight, thanks to my beautiful Boston Terrier, and I am a long-suffering Dolphins fan.
When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing when I was ten-years-old. I had been playing a pretend game in my pool and was telling my mom all about it when she suggested I write it down. It had never occurred to me before that I could simply write a book. I sat down and started writing that afternoon, and I haven’t really stopped since.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I first considered myself a writer my senior year of college. I had published my first novel the previous summer and was working on releasing my second. I found that when people would ask me what my plans were for my future, or what I wanted to do, I told them I was focusing on writing, or that I wanted to be a writer. That was when I truly accepted I was a writer. Before that, I was just a student that liked to write.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
My current book is called Call Me Anastasia. It follows the story of sixteen-year-old princess Anastasia Piliar. She is half-god-half-angel, and her people, the Nadmilise, are the ancient ancestors of the human race. In her world, there are ten dimensions known as realms, and each realm houses a race of mythical beings, such as werewolves or vampires. Each realm also has the culture of a part of history. Anastasia’s realm is based on the Renaissance, the werewolves’ on traditional Hindu culture, and the vampires’ in Victorian England.
At the start of the novel, Anastasia witnesses her grandparents’ murder at the hand of the Shadows, an equally as ancient race of monstrous beasts. In the first chapter, Anastasia returns to her home realm after living in hiding amongst humans for ten years. She must find a way to protect her people from the Shadows—who have once again set their sights on her homeland—and learn to become a part of the life she left behind.
What inspired you to write this book?
My inspiration for Call Me Anastasia came from the City of Bones novels by Cassandra Claire. In the novels, there is a homeland for Claire’s heroes where no technology exists. It is a kind of Renaissance land in the modern-day world. I wondered what it would be like to live in such a place, to have modern ideals in such a historical setting. Thus, Anastasia’s realm was born. The rest of the story took place around the setting.
Do you have a specific writing style?
My writing style tends to be descriptive. I’m often told my novels read like screenplays in that everything can be visualized as though it were a movie. I also tend to write female protagonists for my novels, and I lean towards male protagonists for my short stories.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
After I finished writing Call Me Anastasia, I was having a talk with my dad. I couldn’t figure out what to title the book—I always title things after they’ve been written so that I have a feel of the work as a whole. He asked me if there was any word or phrase that was repeated throughout the novel, something that seemed to encapsulate Anastasia as a character, or her world. It was then that Call me Anastasia went from a line of dialogue to the title of my novel. It showcases Anastasia’s approachability, as she prefers to be referred to by her name rather than her proper title, as well as her upbringing. She chooses to be personable with her people, a trait that I felt aptly summarized the main point of the novel.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I don’t believe there are any overt messages in the novel, but I definitely had certain intentions when I sat down to write. I knew I wanted a female protagonist that was strong and had high self-esteem. As a young reader, I had difficulty connecting with female protagonists because most of them were self-deprecating. I wanted to have a protagonist young readers could look up to. I also wanted to stray from other YA tropes, such as the love triangle, the female protagonist needing to rely on male characters to accomplish her goal, and the idea of the Chosen One. Other than that, I hope my readers take away Anastasia’s connection to her family and her people, as well as her strength.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?
In the novel—without giving too much away—Anastasia suffers from a kind of illness, where she struggles with severe stomach pains and headaches. At the time when I was writing Call Me Anastasia, I was dealing with health issues. I took the physical illness I was dealing with and used it to make Anastasia’s struggles realistic. I also fashioned Anastasia’s parents after my own parents. I even used things they had told me over the years as advice Anastasia’s parents give to her.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
The authors that have most influenced my life would be Christopher Paolini and Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. I started reading Naylor’s Boys vs Girls series when I was in middle school, and have since read all eight novels three times. I loved how she took a real life event—the conflict between the Hatfords and the Malloys—and turned it into an engrossing set of middle-grade novels.
Chrmiddle-gradelini inspires me because he started writing his debut novel, Eragon when he was fifteen-years-old. He self-published through his family’s publishing company and put together his own 130-stop book tour. He created his own language he uses throughout his four Eragon novels when he was only a teenager. His incredible talent, and his young age encouraged me to pursue my dream of writing. Whenever writing was tough, or I wasn’t being taken seriously because of my age, I just thought of Paolini and persevered.
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor?
I would consider S. Usher Evans a mentor in many ways. I met her at a comic convention, right around the time I was working on releasing Call Me Anastasia. She gave me advice, as well as her personal email address, and answered any and every question I threw her way. She helped me decide to pursue writing full-time and walked me through many aspects of self-publishing. Not to mention, her novels were captivating to read.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
I designed the cover of my book, but Aaron Lambert is the artist that brought my concept to life. I was at a comic convention—the same one where I met S. Usher Evans—and came across some incredible drawings of The Flash and the T.A.R.D.I.S. from Doctor Who. After purchasing both, I fell into conversation with Aaron and realized that he would be the perfect person to create my cover. I have used him for the second novel in the Anastasia Series, and plan to use him for all the others. I am inspired by his work.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
My advice would other writers would have to be, as cliché as it is, to keep writing. Even if you hate what you’ve put down on paper, it’s better than staring at a blank computer screen or page. Sometimes, you just have to get over that first bump in the road, or those roadblocks along the way, to really get your word flow going.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
To my readers: I do what I do for you. I love to tell stories—I always have—but I would be talking to myself in an empty room if you weren’t there to listen. I am grateful for all of your support, and I can’t wait to share more with you.
Call Me Anastasia
Cover Artist: Aaron Lambert