Jessie Andersen, a Frewsburg Central School graduate, had her dream come true when she published her first book, "At What Cost" last June. Since its release, Andersen's book has received much praise from the local community, and she has even become an award winning author.
Andersen's book, "At What Cost," is a novel about a high school junior who expected to be shopping for prom dresses and not maternity clothes. It focuses on the issue of teen pregnancy and abortion by following the story of a fictional character named Maggie Reynolds, who instead of studying for the SATs, has to read "What to Expect When You're Expecting."
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Andersen in a Q&A session about the success or her book, her upcoming signing and about what she is currently writing.
Q: How are things going with your book, "At What Cost?"
A: The entire journey of writing and publishing "At What Cost" has been a whirlwind. In November, "At What Cost," was selected as a finalist in the USA Book News Best Book Awards in the youth issues category. This means I get a cool little logo on the back of my print books and can call myself an award-winning author. In December print books became available, and I did my first official signing with tangible books. Let me tell you, there's nothing like holding a book in your hands that you spent the last six years of your life creating.
Q: Tell me about your upcoming book signing at Sinclairville Free Library:
A: The first signing I did was in December. I did a presentation about my journey through publishing. This presentation is going to be geared more toward the teens, which is my target audience. Teens are real and raw in a way adults aren't. They aren't afraid to tell you what they're thinking, which sometimes gets them in trouble. I'd love to sell a ton of books, but that's not what it's about for me. The real reason I write is to create stories that will reach teens on their level, to write characters with which they can identify and to portray choices they may have to deal with. We've all been there. We remember how difficult it can be to try to navigate the waters of the teenager. If I can make one kid's life a little easier through my writing, I've done my job.
Q: Beth Hadley mentioned that you're a member of Sinclairville Free Library's Write Circle, how has the group influenced your writing?
A: I love the Write Circle. Our fearless leader, Beth Hadley, does her best trying to wrangle together a handful of unruly writers. You see, we writers can be a lonely bunch, but we need the interaction of others. We need to be encouraged and challenged. That's exactly what the Write Circle does. We have writers from all walks of life. We vary in age and interest. Some want to traditionally publish, some want to self publish and others want to write for themselves or their families. We meet each Friday at 9 a.m. at the Sinclairville Free Library. The first part of our meeting is for accountability. We each discuss something we've been working on. Then there's a time for sharing bits and pieces of our work. Many times one of our members will want something critiqued, so we do that too. To give us a little focus, someone creates an assignment for the next week, though if you're working on something already, it's not mandatory. I'm so blessed to be part of the community at the Sinclairville Free Library. The library's the hub of creativity for our town, and I'm privileged to be a small part of that.
Q: What are you currently working on, and when can fans expect a new release?
A: Right now, my literary agent, Steve, has my next novel. It's a young adult dystopian. Think "The Hunger Games" if you don't know what "dystopian" is. I've always loved the dystopian genre, but never thought I could write one until the idea for "The Unviables" came along.
Here's a rough mock up of a book blurb for "The Unviables:" When 17-year-old Katherine Dennard discovers The Institute is using unapproved DNA to create the newest generations in their laboratories, she knows they're up to something sinister. But when she discovers it's her DNA they're using, it becomes personal. In order to save her "unviable" son from a brutal disposal, she'll have to trust Micah and his band of underground natural-born rebels. The problem is, if The Institute discovers her betrayal, the next body being disposed of could be hers.
To answer your question of when fans can expect a new release, I'm not sure. I'm hoping to hear back from a few publishers any day now. Believe me, as soon as I hear anything, I'll be shouting it from the rooftops via www.facebook.com/jandersenbooks and jandersenbooks.com.
Here's what else is happening in the area:
Auditions For JCC's Production of A.R. Gurney's "Sylvia" Are Jan. 23-24: The auditions, which begin at 7 p.m. in Scharmann Theatre, will consist of actors doing cold readings from the script. Any previously prepared monologues will also be considered.
The show will be directed by Robert Schlick with technical direction by Steven Gustafson. Performances are set for 8 p.m. on March 8, 9, 14, 15 and 16, and 2 p.m. on March 10.
The cast consists of a middle-aged couple, a young female and one other person who plays multiple male and female roles.
Sylvia is a play about a dog, the couple who adopts it and the drama that results. Greg, a middle-aged man, finds a dog, Sylvia, who is played by a young female, in the park and immediately takes a liking to her. He brings her home. When Greg's wife, Kate, arrives home, she reacts negatively to Sylvia. They agree to allow Sylvia to stay for a few days before they decide whether she can stay longer. Greg becomes obsessed with Sylvia, and Kate fears their marriage is falling apart. The production received a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Play in 1995.
For more information, call 338-1153.
Roger Tory Peterson Presents "The Art of the Line": A new exhibition of artwork by Roger Tory Peterson, the great naturalist of the 20th century, opens Tuesday, and runs through May 12.
Peterson was best known as America's king of bird watching and field identification. His landmark book, "A Field Guide to the Birds," first published in 1934, started a 62-year career as a field-guide author, illustrator and editor that continues to inform and inspire us to know and love nature firsthand.
The exhibition also celebrates Peterson's mastery of black and white with India ink and crow-quill pen with a display of more than 50 rare originals from the Institute's permanent collection, never before seen by the public.
The Institute will also feature a wide range of Peterson's original field-guide art and many of his iconic gallery paintings, as well as the Randolph Mammoth, a huge fossil excavated in Randolph in 1934, on loan from the New York State Museum.
The Institute is located at 311 Curtis St. in Jamestown. It is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays 1-5 p.m. For more information, call 665-2473 or visit www.rtpi.org.
To include an upcoming show or event in this column, email email@example.com or call 487-1111 ext. 253 by Monday.
Blue Grass Jam: 7-10 p.m., Celoron Legion, 26 Jackson Ave. in Celoron. Area bluegrass musicians are welcome to sit in and play.
Pete Pepke with Andrea and The Giants: 6-8 p.m., The Corner Coffeehouse, 54 W. Main St. in Frewsburg. Pepke was named Jazz Man of the Year 2006 by the Musicians' Union.
Bill Ward And Amanda Barton: 6 p.m., The Wine Cellar, 309 N. Main St. in Jamestown.
Stan Barton Jazz Mandolin And Violin: 6-8 p.m., The Corner Coffeehouse, 54 W. Main St. in Frewsburg.
Doc And Bill: 6 p.m., The Corner Coffeehouse, 54 W. Main St. in Frewsburg.
Bill Ward And Amanda Barton: 8 p.m., Tom's Tavern, 4739 Route 430 in Maple Springs.
Sammy Slicker Band: 8 p.m. to midnight, Celoron Legion, 26 Jackson Ave. in Celoron.
Jamestown Thunder Community Drum Circle: noon to 2:30 p.m., Cibo Cafe, 102 E. Third St. in Jamestown. No experience needed and drums are provided.
Still Cool, Former Members of Barefoot Sarah, And Seven Year Anniversary Party: 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., Pine Junction, 9757 Bailey Hill Road in Sherman.
Indie Movie Night Featuring "Wellness": 7:30 p.m., The Corner Coffeehouse, 54 W. Main St. in Frewsburg. "Wellness" won Best Film at South by Southwest in 2008.