#ReadWomen2014 – Jessica Hagy

Jessica_HagyJessica Hagy is our #ReadWomen2014 Author of the Month! She is an artist and writer best known for her Webby award-winning blog, IndexedA fixture in the creative online space, Jessica has been prolifically illustrating, consulting, and speaking to international media and events since 2006.

Her work has been described as “deceptively simple,” “undeniably brilliant,” and “our favorite reason for the Internet to exist.” Her style of visual storytelling allows readers to draw their own conclusions and to actively participate in each narrative. “Her images don’t always tell us what to think; quite often, they elegantly offer us ideas to think about.”

Jessica got her start on where she’s a weekly blogger, by creating a “How to Be Interesting” post that went viral, attracting over 1.4 million viewers, with tens of thousands of them liking, linking, and tweeting the article. This genius idea led to her first book, How to Be Interesting (In 10 Simple Steps). It’s a book about exploring, so explore below to find out more about Jessica, How to Be Interesting, and hew newest book, The Art of War Visualized, which is out in March 2015!

Q: How to Be Interesting started off as a blog post. Were you surprised when it went viral and eventually turned into a book?

A: That post originally went up in November, but it really took off when people started making “be more interesting” their New Year’s resolutions. The views started racking up, and I knew I had to put a proposal together. I’m glad it struck such a chord, and a lot of the comments the article generated informed the tone of the book. The feedback loop of the internet can be a great resource for writers.

Q: Is there an eleventh piece of advice that you would give to someone who wants to be interesting?

A: The eleventh piece of advice would be to look for what’s interesting in other people. Finding people who are curious, adventurous, and admirable is easier than you think; those people are everywhere, and you already know a lot of them. Listen closely to any conversation, and you’ll find fascinating stories and great, inspiring, weird, and silly details.

Q: Where did you get the idea to write and illustrate The Art of War Visualized?

A: I realized that I had three copies of that book in my house, but I’d never really read it all the way through. The book is written in verse form, and each verse felt like the caption for an image that wasn’t there yet—an image I knew I just had to draw up.

Q: Did anything surprise you while working on the book?

A: I was mostly surprised by how thoughtful the Art of War is, instead of brutal. The book has a reputation for being really mean and masculine, but Sun Tzu seems a lot more measured and human than his legend would lead us to believe. I wanted to faithfully illustrate that patience and thoughtfulness, especially the idea of strategy being decidedly more valuable than aggression. We all that that little flicker of raw aggression, that teeth baring, stabbing prey through the heart instinct, but this book really preaches that that instinct is a liability, and that thinking beyond emotion is the only way to victory.

Q: Who are your favorite female authors?

A: Alice Munro, Jennifer Egan, Caitlin Moran, Lionel Shriver, Barbara Ehrenriech, Linda Hirschman, Sally Hogshead, Madeleine L’Engle, Joan Didion, and on and on and on. I gravitate toward writing that’ll push buttons, instead of just entertain.

Q: What are you reading now?

A: I’m rereading Geek Love. I’m halfway through my issue of Granta, and I’m dipping in and out of Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism.


Order your copy of How to Be Interesting from the following online retailers:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Workman












Pre-order your copy of The Art of War Visualized from the following online retailers:

Amazon| Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Workman



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