Each week, the editors of Jenny Magazine sit down with either fellow literary magazine editors or past Jenny contributors for short interviews. This week’s interview is with Kayla Jeswald, a past contributor of Jenny Magazine.
Describe your first publication. Where was it, when, and what was the piece about? How old were you at the time and how did it feel?
I first published work in The Jenny in the fall of 2015. I had a poem about what the mind allows you to say versus what you write, and I had a nonfiction story about dealing with depression. I was 26 at the time. It made me feel really good to read in front of people; I’ve never really done that before.
What inspired your pieces in the Jenny?
They were things I had already written, but I was looking for an open submission and I like the Jenny so I submitted.
What got you into writing?
I started writing in the 8th grade. I started writing poetry and that’s where I found my passion. I’ve been writing nonfiction and fiction the last few years. I just love getting my words down. I feel like I can express myself better that way.
What do you like writing the most?
I like being able to reach people with my experiences and words. I really like nonfiction and fiction. Nonfiction is probably my favorite, because it is natural to talk about yourself and tell your stories.
What are your influences? Who are your favorite writers?
I really love Sylvia Plath, Alice Sebold, Mitch Albom, Chris Barzak, some of Stephen King’s work, and Harper Lee.
What’s your proudest moment as an author?
Probably getting my thesis done these last few months. It is something I am incredibly proud of and I feel like I really found my voice.
How has your writing developed over time?
I was always someone who just wanted to get stuff down instead of expanding it and making it a good story. These last few years I have expanded my stories and shaped them and they are so much better now.
Are you currently working on anything?
Basically editing my thesis, but I am working on a few nonfiction stories about current things in my life to turn into class and to try and get published.
What’s your writing process?
I don’t have much of one. I usually get an idea and jot down little notes about what I’d like to include in it. I usually don’t write anything until I let myself sit down and work on it.
What are you currently reading?
I am reading a book called Brain on Fire about mental illness. I am also reading Stephen King’s Bazaar of Bad Dreams.
Have you ever co-written something with another author? If so, what was that experience like?
No I have not, but I think it would be fun.
Have you ever worked with a medium other than writing? Or collaborated with someone in another medium with your writing?
No I have not, but one of my friends is an artist and I think once she graduates I’d like to work on greeting cards with her.
Are you a past Jenny contributor or an editor at a literary magazine and interested in an interview? Send us an email.
In celebration of our upcoming women’s issue, we wanted to introduce you to a few of the great ladies of Jenny Magazine. Our staff is currently reading through submissions for Issue 11, dedicated to exclusively featuring writing and art by female-identifying creators, which should be released in November. Stay tuned for more!
Jenny Magazine Staff Member
Issue 11 Poetry Team
Major: MFA in Fiction
My preferences are all over the place when it comes to reading. I am a big fan of Alice Sebold, John Green, and Chris Barzak. I do like stories with a bit of a darker side to them; those always peak my interest. Right now, I am reading The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King. My favorite things I read this year so far, include Citizen by Claudia Rankine, Selected Poems by Mary Ruefle, and Sweet Nothing by Richard Lange.
I am currently working on my thesis to graduate. My thesis focuses on mental illness within my main character. I wanted to discuss this because I feel like mental illness is a bit taboo in our culture, and I wanted to break that barrier. I used to write a lot of poetry, but the last few years I have really enjoyed writing nonfiction pieces and fiction pieces. I am currently in a flash fiction course, so I am challenging myself to write very short, precise pieces, which is new for me.
When not writing or reading, I am probably working. When I do have free time I like to cook, hang out with my family or friends, play with my puppy, or do something active. I am pretty excited about fall coming up. I love the crisp air, so spending some time outside will definitely be a must.