My Quick Bio.
J.R. Alcyone is the penname of an author of literary and historical fiction. Her debut, Five Fathoms Beneath, is a life-affirming literary novel about suicide. Her second book, The Stars That Govern Us, was selected as the 2021 “Book of the Year” by the Historical Fiction Company and is a character-driven novel about the heart-lung machine.
When she isn’t writing, Jen is a nature and wildlife photographer who enjoys hiking, reading, and birding. A graduate of Baldwin-Wallace College, where she majored in history and philosophy, and the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, where she was managing editor for the Cleveland State Law Review, she is a warranty law attorney.
Me. Myself. I.
For those who would like to know a little more about me, here’s a little more detail.
I’m Jen, and I’m a native of Cleveland, Ohio. Every writer starts out as a reader, and as a child, my favorite books were Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series. While I’ve only been on a horse a handful of times, I still love them. Alec’s horse Jarrah in my novel The Stars That Govern Us was inspired by the Black Stallion and the star-crossed filly Ruffian.
(The photo to the right is me with Kentucky Derby winner and Hall of Fame champion racehorse Silver Charm. He is a sweet old man!)
Although I love to write, I’m probably better known as a photographer. My favorite subject matter is birds, and of the many beautiful birds that we get to see in Cleveland (yay for living in a migration corridor!), my favorite is the green heron. My work has also been featured by a variety of organizations including the Cleveland Metroparks, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and BirdNote; I’ve been published in Cleveland Magazine, Lake Erie Magazine, etc.
You might say green herons are kinda my thing!
As you may have guessed since I write historical fiction, I love history. I became really interested in history as a teenager after seeing the movie Gettysburg. I’m a lifelong Civil War buff and a pretty dedicated battlefield stomper, and I majored in history as an undergrad in college. I am also a volunteer photographer for the American Battlefield Trust. If you are a member of this organization (and it’s a good one!), you’ve likely seen some of my battlefield photography in the Trust’s gorgeous magazine, Hallowed Ground.
One of my favorite battlefield photos.
I write #ownvoices fiction. An #ownvoices book is a book about a marginalized person written by someone who is actually part of that marginalized group. Like Alec in The Stars That Govern Us, I deal with bipolar disorder, general anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. (How Alec’s mind works in the novel is modeled directly on how my mind works.)
I wish I could say I write professionally, and I sort of do, but unfortunately, I don’t make living as a novelist. By profession, I am an attorney. It wasn’t my first choice of professions, but I graduated right into the recession that followed the September 11th attacks, and well, here we are. I work for a small law firm in the Cleveland area as a brief writer. What that means is I spend most of my day researching and responding to motions, drafting documents, and doing research on various topics for the firm’s partners. We’re consumer lawyers (that means we fight for the little guy), and I like to think we help keep big companies honest when they make a product that doesn’t work right.
Here are five fun facts you may not know about me.
- My favorite color is green, although my favorite car color is red.
- My favorite band is Pearl Jam. However, I absolutely cannot write to music with lyrics. When I am writing, I listen to instrumental, mostly soundtracks. The nice thing about soundtracks is you can almost always find a song/track that fits the scene you’re writing.
- I once tried to barehand catch a foul tip off the bat of Francisco Lindor at an Indians’ game and nearly broke my hand! (I did manage to snag the ball. And Frankie is still my favorite player even though he’s no longer with the team and the Indians no longer technically exist.)
- I share my house with four guinea pigs and two parrots.
- J.R. Alcyone is a pen name, although I use my “real” picture and “real” biographical information. Alcyone comes from the genus that includes kingfishers. Next to the green heron, the kingfisher is probably my favorite bird.
This is a female belted kingfisher coming in for a landing.