Joshilyn Jackson

The Short Version: New York Times Bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson lives in Georgia with her husband, their two children, and way too many feckless animals. Her debut, gods in Alabama, won SIBA's 2005 Novel of the year Award and was a #1 BookSense pick. Jackson won Georgia Author of the Year for her second novel, Between, Georgia, which also a #1 BookSense pick, making Jackson the first author in BookSense history to receive #1 status in back to back years. Her third novel, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, was a Break Out book at Target and has been shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction. All three books were chosen for the Books-A-Million Book Club.

Her latest, Backseat Saints (June, 2010), tells the story of Rose Mae Lolley, a fierce, tiny ball of war wounds who was a minor character in gods in Alabama. Her life changes dramatically when she meets an airport gypsy who shares her past and knows her future. The gypsy's dire prediction: Ro's handsome, violent husband is going to kill her - unless she kills him first...

The Long Version: Joshilyn Jackson was born by the sugar white beaches of Florida’s Redneck Riviera and raised by a tribe of wild fundamentalists who taught her to be virtuous and upright. Unfortunately, it didn't take, and Ms. Jackson dropped out of college to pursue a career as an actor. She worked in regional repertoire, wrote plays, and traveled the southern third of the country with a dinner theatre troupe.

at work

She decided both virtue and an education were worth the work, so she went back to college to study English literature, focusing on Modern and Medieval Theater. She graduated with honors from Georgia State. She fell for the hometown guy who’d been her best friend since she was a teenager and followed him north, braving Chicago’s winters to marry him. She recovered from a near-terminal case of culture shock in time to earn her MA in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Jackson spent seven years in as a southern ex-pat in Illinois, working with various theatre groups as an actor and playwright and selling short fiction to literary magazines and anthologies such as Calyx and TriQuarterly. She also taught English at UIC, trying to explain the function of the gerund and why Waiting for Godot is a great play to crowds of hung-over 18 year olds. In her first year of teaching, she won the Student's Choice Award for Best English Instructor.


Motherhood made her homesick, and in 1998 she moved back to the South to teach part time, raise kids full time, and try her hand at writing novels in her copious spare time (read: every day from 4 am ‘til the baby woke up.) She’s been a full time novelist since gods in Alabama sold at auction in 2005, but Jackson’s teaching experience and theatre background have both come in handy. She’s been on faculty of writing workshops all over the country and enjoys speaking at book festivals, libraries and literary events. She reads the audio versions of her novels, and her work in this field has been nominated for the Audie Award, was selected by AudioFile Magazine for their best of the year list, and garnered a Listen Up Award from Publisher’s Weekly.

She currently lives outside of Atlanta with her husband Scott and their two kids, Sam and Maisy Jane. They share space with Bagel the hound dog, Boggart Cat, and a twenty-three-pound, one-eyed Maine Coon cat named Franz Schubert. Their outsize aquarium has, over the years, hosted a pair of brother gerbils who turned out to be an incestuous brother-sister baby factory, tadpoles who turned out to be mosquito larvae, more tadpoles who turned out to be newt larvae, caterpillars who turned out to be verminous hairy tent worms, and an egg sack that recently hatched out several zillion cannibalizing mantises who are now living in the back garden. This crew is often supplemented by stray beasts of all stripes seeking permanent homes.

Jackson's latest, A Grown Up Kind of Pretty is forthcoming from Grand Central in January, 2012..