Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday Finds: Featured Artist Series - Mia Siegert

I was introduced to Mia and her work by a good friend. Mia writes fiction, including young adult fiction. The themes she covers are so important and relevant to not only teens, but to so many. I have always really loved young adult fiction. I think it is that time in our life where we kid of begin to figure out who we are - and for those of us who consciously try to keep figuring it our, young adult literature really resonates. We need more people in this world like Mia who face these tough topics with bravery and openness; it has been such artists throughout history that have helped folks figure out who they are and who they want to be. Welcome to the Whiskey Summer family, Mia.  

Artist Bio
Mia Siegert received her MFA from Goddard College and BA from Montclair State University, where she won Honorable Mention in Fiction (2009 English Department Awards). Her debut novel—a YA coming-of-age thriller called JERKBAIT which revolves around twins, coming out as gay in the professional hockey world, and online predators—will be released in Spring 2016 by Jolly Fish Press and can be found on Goodreads. Siegert has also been published in several other small presses including Word Riot, Clapboard House, and The Limn Literary and Arts Journal. When Siegert’s not writing, she’s designing costumes or traveling.


Tell me a little about how/when you were drawn to your art.

There wasn’t really a specific time. I was always drawn to writing as a kid—then writing scripts—but it wasn’t until about ten years ago when I started buckling down seriously. I couldn’t imagine not-writing.

What are some of the things that inspire your art?

I start with themes rather than plots. Usually I’m joking around about potential characters or a plot, something really irrelevant, and it hits me fast. I usually think about it for a few hours. 

As a writer, I make it a priority to reflect on my craft to ensure that I am growing. Tell me one way in which you have seen yourself grow in your craft. 
While I’m aware of, and can easily recognize, my personal growth as a writer (particularly in maturity), I consciously try to avoid thinking about it. I’m an extremely anxious writer by default so trying to actively think about growth rather than trusting the process of improving with mentorship and editors is terrifying. That said, my editor for JERKBAIT (McKelle George) and my agent (Travis Pennington) have taught me so many things about writing with keeping the market in mind.

Do you create other kinds of art as well as the craft you are featuring today?
I make costumes and cosplay, mostly for the musical CATS, and recently my designs have been used onstage in professional, part-equity performances (I do everything from making wigs (from scratch), to painting unitards, to hand-knitting warmers). When not writing fiction or making costumes, it’s really, really silly but I like to roleplay for some old fandoms people probably have already forgotten about. I like making fan music videos though I rarely share what I create anymore. I would really love to get involved with making video book trailers.

What are your goals for your art?
Onward and up. There are a lot of exciting things going on that I can’t talk about yet (#CrypticBurrito for those who follow), but I can hint that the future looks exciting thanks to the incredible support I’m receiving from friends, family, and Goddard alumni. Keep an eye on my twitter (@miasiegert) for announcements!

I hope that JERKBAIT will reach a lot of people, not just teen readers (especially those who feel like the anti-stereotype) but parents. There are a ton of well-meaning parents who micromanage their kids’ lives, especially if the kid is a promising athlete. Sometimes they’re so caught up in the future that they miss the warning signs in the “now.” 

A Sample of Mia's Work:
by Mia Siegert

            Tolerance is one thing, acceptance is another. That was the closest thing to an explanation Frank gave when I asked why he didn’t tell me he was gay. I didn’t understand it, and he wouldn’t explain further. Maybe he just couldn’t. Sometimes it was hard to tell the difference when it involved Frank. It was harder to tell when I became part of the equation.

            Frank’s my best friend. He always is my best friend, at least when I talk to other people about him. Things weren’t supposed to change just because of differences in perspective. He liked guys. I liked girls. It should have been cool. 

            We were having a guys night in: Jake, Tex, Frank, and me. Everything was cool. We were raiding the fridge and playing Sonic and Knuckles on the old Sega Genesis. Jake was kicking Robotnik’s ass, I remember, and in the midst of a bonus stage, Frank blurted out, “I’m gay.”

            Jake stopped playing. The end stage sound came. I kind of blanked before Jake and Tex started to crack up. Frank looked ill; his face got greenish.

            “Hey, we’re cool,” I said, patting him on the back.

            “Yeah. We’re cool,” he answered.

            Later that night when Jake and Tex were asleep, I asked Frank about it. How he knew, what it was like. He just shifted toward the right side of the bed. “Could you really explain being straight?” he asked me.

      I thought things were cool the next day at school but by lunch I realized I hadn’t sat next to Frank in a single class or exchanged any form of dialogue with him other than “Hey, did you do your homework?” But those talks ended up chopped, strained.

            “Hey Frank,” I said a week later as we walked to the movie theater. “Did you ever like me?”

            He was quiet, shoulders lifting in a shrug. “I guess.”

            So that was it. The tension I sensed, that force driving us apart. I actually smiled, feeling a faint hint of relief. I gave him a hug. Things would go back to normal.

            But the hedge between us thickened. This guy, Eddie, edged his way into our group, filling the indent that Frank had left. I barely noticed Frank at school, didn’t acknowledge him even as we walked past his table after going to the lunch line. I didn’t even know who he was sitting with, or whether he was alone. One time, he saw me at the mall. Stood awkwardly outside of the men’s room. “Are we still cool?”

            “Yeah. We’re cool,” I answered.

            Three months until I left for college. I began cleaning out my room--papers in the garbage bags, donations in the cardboard boxes. I reached under my bed and my fingers touched leather. It was a dusty baseball mitt, the name “FRANKIE” written on the wrist in blue permanent marker. I tried fitting my hand in it, but it was too small. How long had it sat there collecting dust?

            People say after the fact, you always feel remorse. I ditched my closest friend because he looked at boys the way I looked at girls. I didn’t even realize I was doing it, that I didn’t go out of my way to call him, or ask if he wanted to hang out. I convinced myself that Frank had avoided our group--he must have. We couldn’t have been the ones who ignored him in the halls, who sat next to other people on the bus, who didn’t see his ass getting kicked at the baseball field while we walked past, sipping Slurpees from 7-Eleven and doing nothing. That when it was Valentine’s Day and he came to my locker with a rose and asked, “Are we cool?” I didn’t laugh.

            I ran down the steps, taking them two at a time. My boots crunched through the thick snow leaving several wide-spread imprints behind me. The cold air felt refreshing, and my body felt so light. I felt like making snow angels even without wearing a coat. That could wait. Frankie could not.


Frank’s house was boarded up, every window nailed with plywood. Graffiti was sprayed on the siding, initials written in hearts alongside DIE FAGGOT.

As I stepped closer to the house, I remembered my dad trying to talk to me.
“Frank’s moving away,” my father had said.

            “Uh huh,” I replied, not glancing up from Assassin’s Creed.

            “His mom called and said Frank’s been having a hard time in school. Maybe you could give him a visit before he goes. I’m sure he’d like that.”

            “Sure. I’ll call him tomorrow.”

            “I’ll tell his mom. I’m sure he’ll really look forward to that,” Dad had said as I reached into the bowl of popcorn.

      “It’s a wreck, isn’t it?” Eric, Frank’s next door neighbor, said as he walked up next to me. “Kids really trashed it.”

            “How is he?” I asked.

            “Frankie? Not sure, really. His mom wanted him to stay but he got in a few fights too many.”

            “Do you know where they moved?”

            “California. Pretty close to San Francisco, I think. I’m not sure. They didn’t leave an address.”

            “Their mail will just be forwarded by the post office, right?”

            “They stop doing that after a year.”

            “A year? When’d they move?

“It’s gotta be going on eighteen months.” 

I walked back home through the wet snow, shivering with Frank’s mitt clutched to my chest, remembering Little League games and pizza parties. I said, “Are we cool, Frank?” But I didn’t hear his voice when I imagined him answering, “Yeah, we’re cool,” back. I couldn’t remember it at all. 


  1. Thanks for having me on the blog. :) JERKBAIT's cover reveal will be happening next week so definitely stay tuned on Twitter. :)

  2. Great piece! 😊 Great flow of writing here!