Author Spotlight/Guest Post: Jackie Morse Kessler

Posted July 25, 2013 by girlswit in Author Spotlight, Giveaway, guest post, Uncategorized / 14 Comments

Bio.:  Jackie Morse Kessler grew up in Brooklyn, NY, with a cranky cat and overflowing shelves filled with dolls and books. Now she’s in Upstate NY with another cranky cat, a loving husband, two sons, and overflowing shelves filled with dragons and books (except when her sons steal her dragons). She has a bachelor’s degree in English and American Literature, and yet she’s never read any Jane Austen (with or without zombies). She also has a master’s degree in media ecology. (The living study of technology and culture. Which is cool, but she still can’t figure out how to use Tweetdeck.)

Jackie spends a lot of time writing, reading, and getting distracted by bright and shiny new ideas. (She just came up with a new idea right now.) She has a weakness for chocolate and a tendency to let her cat take over her office chair.

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Guest Post:

By Jackie Morse Kessler

The Riders books began with one idea: An anorexic teenage girl becomes the new Famine, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. From there, the world of the Riders expanded, leading eventually to the origin of the Horsemen, the creation of the universe, and why teenagers are chosen to wield phenomenal power. Plus talking horses, the importance of chocolate, gallows humor, and music!

The first book, HUNGER, was rather cathartic for me to write; I’d had the idea for 10 years before I actually sat down to write it, and as a former bulimic, writing honestly about eating disorders felt strong and right. The book focuses on Lisa, a 17 year old who’s in denial regarding her eating disorder. When she becomes Famine, the Black Rider of the Apocalypse, she discovers her own inner strength. This one’s short. (Cue a joke here: a book about Famine is, appropriately, a slim volume! Ba-dum-bum!)

RAGE is about a sixteen-year-old girl who cuts herself to gain some semblance of control over her life…and then she’s offered the Sword of War, the Red Rider of the Apocalypse. It’s sort of a companion piece to HUNGER; it takes place after the events of the first book, but it’s a standalone novel. The main character is Missy, and the book starts three months after she decided to stop cutting herself. (Spoiler: This won’t last.)

LOSS is very different from the first two books, for a number of reasons. The main character is Billy, a 15-year-old boy who is horribly bullied at school. There are two issues at work instead of one: he’s bullied, and he’s also stuck being a caregiver to his grandfather, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s and can get violent. Unlike in the first two books, Billy isn’t given the choice of becoming Pestilence, the White Rider of the Apocalypse: he was tricked into it. There are two White Riders who feature prominently in the book. And structurally, LOSS is different from HUNGER and RAGE: there’s a middle section (“Into the White”) that is sort of a freefall of memory and history. This book expands on the Riders world much more. (And there’s a hat tip to Piers Anthony!)

And then there’s BREATH. This one not only tells the story of Death–the main link through all of the Riders books–it also focuses on Xander, a high school senior with a secret. This book has it all: answers to the main questions from the first three books, how the Riders came to be, a central mystery threading the entire book, a personal look at something painful (depression and suicidal thoughts), and a talking horse. (Well. Sort of a horse.) The main question of the book is this: When Death himself has given up on life, what hope is there for the world? The answer lies with Xander. 

So there you have it: the Riders of the Apocalypse series. More than 10 years in the making. I hope you enjoy it. 🙂

PS: There will also be a Riders short story (about Famine and Death from a very, very, very long time ago) in an upcoming anthology, VERY SUPERSTITIOUS, which will hit the shelves this October.

* Even though my biggest musical influence for the Riders series was Nirvana, this Doors title felt right for this blog post. Jim Morrison, like Kurt Cobain, died at the age of 27. And, fun fact: Jim and I share a birth date: December 8. (Of course, he rocked leather pants better than I ever could, and I can’t carry a tune.)


Book Overview:  “Thou art the Black Rider. Go thee out unto the world.”

Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she’s been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Traveling the world on her steed gives Lisa freedom from her troubles at home: her constant battle with hunger, and her struggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places where hunger is a painful part of everyday life, and to face the horrifying effects of her phenomenal power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power — and the courage to battle her own inner demons?


Book Overview: Missy didn’t mean to cut so deep. But after the party where she was humiliated in front of practically everyone in school, who could blame her for wanting some comfort? Sure, most people don’t find comfort in the touch of a razor blade, but Missy always was . . . different. That’s why she was chosen to become one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War. Now Missy wields a new kind of blade—a big, brutal sword that can cut down anyone and anything in her path. But it’s with this weapon in her hand that Missy learns something that could help her triumph over her own pain: control. A unique approach to the topic of self-mutilation, Rage is the story of a young woman who discovers her own power and refuses to be defeated by the world. 


Book Overview:  Fifteen-year-old Billy Ballard is the kid that everyone picks on, from the school bullies to the teachers. But things change drastically when Death tells Billy he must stand in as Pestilence, the White Rider of the Apocalypse. Now armed with a Bow that allows him to strike with disease from a distance, Billy lashes out at his tormentors…and accidentally causes an outbreak of meningitis. Horrified by his actions, Billy begs Death to take back the Bow. For that to happen, says Death, Billy must track down the real White Rider—who is lost in his memories.

In his search, Billy travels through White Rider’s life: from ancient Phrygia, where the man called King Mita agrees to wear the White Rider’s Crown, to Sherwood Forest, where Pestilence figures out how to cheat Death; from the docks of Alexandria, where cartons of infested grain are being packed onto a ship that will carry the plague, to the Children’s Crusade in France—all the way to what may be the end of the world. When Billy finally finds the White Rider, the teen convinces the man to return to the real world.

But now the insane White Rider plans to unleash something awful on humanity—something that could make the Black Death look like a summer cold. Billy has a choice: he can live his life and pretend he doesn’t know what’s coming, or he can challenge the White Rider for his Crown. Does one bullied teenager have the strength to stand his ground—and the courage to save the world?


Book Overview:  Contrary to popular belief, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse aren’t just harbingers of doom—they actually keep life in balance. But what happens when their leader and creator, Death, becomes suicidal?

Before the first living thing drew its first gasping breath, he was there. He has watched humanity for millennia. And he has finally decided that humanity is not worth the price he has paid time and again. When Death himself gives up on life, a teenager named Xander Atwood is the world’s only hope. But Xander bears a secret, one that may bring about the end of everything.

This heart-pounding final installment of the Riders of the Apocalypse series looks at the value of life, the strength of love, and how a small voice can change everything . . . forever.

GIVEAWAY TIME!!! Thank you Jackie for providing us with a guest post. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


14 responses to “Author Spotlight/Guest Post: Jackie Morse Kessler

  1. Thanks Jackie for the guest post "Riders On The Storm". I enjoy learning the reasons as to why an author writes a book. Thanks for the awesome giveaway and the chance to win the whole series.

  2. Thanks, Jackie! Great post and THANK YOU for the awesome giveaway! LOVE that you're giving the whole series! What a great way to let a reader really love your characters!!

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