Updated: Jan 16
For this month's Favored Artisan post, we're featuring someone by recommendation! Our patron Shannon was selected, and requested we feature someone else in her stead: Jessica Douglas. This and all Favored Artisan posts are visible to the public, so we can share our wonderful content creating patrons with everyone. If the patron selected for that month doesn't create any content themselves, they may recommend another creator or organization for us to highlight. Join at the $5 tier or above and be eligible to be selected for these feature posts!
Jessica Douglas takes you on an adventure through the mysteries uncovered by the main character Marie in Letters Home. Storytelling and art exposed through the collaboration between two creators of mystery and adventure, Jessica Douglas and Austin Barkdull. Read on for background on these two founders of Letters Home.
1. What type of content do you create?
Austin and I work together to create an episodic story that blends the modern world with high fantasy. The setting is present day in a small town called Diablo, where a young girl named Marie has just accepted a job at Axiom Biotic Solutions. Axiom is working to change the world by using genetic engineering to create a new type of pollinator that can withstand pollution, pesticides, and other modern hazards that have been killing off our bee population. Of course, not everything is what it seems.
We tell the story in bits and pieces of found items. From police reports and stolen company documents to letters that Marie writes home to her father, the reader puts together what’s happening from each post and hopes they get it right. Our format is similar to how tv shows are run. We have the main story arc that makes up the backbone of why things are happening in the story. The story is then broken down into seasons, where each season has its own unique situation for the characters to handle. In the season finale, and sometimes interspersed in the middle of the season, we write a short story to let you know what is actually going on.
We’ve just wrapped up season one, and it’s available for free on our patreon. We’re currently about halfway through season two and a new threat has risen in Diablo City.
2. How did you get started?
Austin: Jessica actually hired me onto the story. I’ve done some writing related things with her in the past and she approached me this past May about the project. Of course I said yes. I mean I get to write and get paid to write, a pretty sweet set up if you ask me.
Jessica: I’ve been writing little dribs and drabs of Letters Home for about twenty years and a rough draft was published about fifteen years ago. It’s always been close to my heart, but I’ve never had a good format to tell the story in. When Patreon came out it just nailed exactly how I wanted to release the content. But once I started writing regularly, I realized that I didn’t have a very strong writing voice for certain aspects of the story, and my art style was very specific to one demographic. So I grabbed Austin because he is pretty much my polar opposite in writing styles and likes. He brings an element of clinical realism and grittiness to the story that it needed, but I couldn’t do on my own.
3. What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Austin: I’ve always enjoyed creative writing, it’s hard to describe a single piece of it that I enjoy over any other. I really got into it in High School, especially during my AP English class my senior year where my teacher had us keep these writing journals that we had to write in at the start of each class and we could write whatever we wanted. I started realizing I had a lot of stories I wanted to tell.
Jessica: My favorite thing is getting to experiment and explore with anything that I find interesting. There are no limits to this story, it’s our creation and we can express it in any medium that we want to. I love the freedom this project gives us to try new things.
4. What are you working on now?
Austin: Pretty much Letters Home. Of course we have an event going on so I’ve been working pretty much non stop the past week or so to make sure that is going well and putting out a piece almost every day. After that I’ll have to figure out what I want to come next for the readers.
Jessica: Letters Home is my main focus, but I also work on a yearly book called “Little Comforts” that is a collection of recipes, art and short stories. I do the occasional licensed work for companies like Zox and 78Tarot, and commissions here and there.
5. Do you have any plans for the future of your content?
Austin: Of course we do! We want to take this as far as we can and we’re definitely going to get much, much deeper into the story as time goes on. I’ve barely scratched the surface of the world we’ve created. Jessica and I have talked in depth of how everything works and how the pace is going to pick up as time goes on.
Jessica: SO MANY PLANS. There’s so much we want to do and get into. The hardest part is slowing down to set the proper groundwork so that the other things we do take off. Aside from the story, we also have collectible art trading cards which feature various creatures and characters from our world. We have prints, stationary, postcards, enamel pins, christmas ornaments, and soon we’ll have little figurines and sculptures! There’s so much in the works both in the story itself and in the fun things we create around the story. My dream goal is to be able to build miniature replicas of all of the settings for our stories, from the Axiom labs all the way to the simple things like the main streets of Diablo city.
6. Where can people find/support you?
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