Jessica Barksdale Inclán returns to The Spotlight to chat about her latest novel, What the Moon Did

Author Name: Jessica Barksdale Inclán

Book Title: What the Moon Did

Book Genre: Women’s Fiction

Release Date: February 21, 2023

Publisher: Flexible Press

So fun to have you back, Jessica! Please tell us about your latest release.

For most of her life, Mary Jo Johnson tries to contain a terrible secret, the story of what happened to her when she was twelve years old. If let loose, the tale will ruin more lives than it already has. And then, the worst happens.

What inspired the idea for this book?

I am really interested in cause and effect in families. Someone does X and then the next generation is either blessed or cursed by X. Or someone takes X, breaks it into bits, and crafts a Z, a whole new way of living. What the Moon Did really follows a terrible act and follows it for three generations.

How has your real life informed this latest release?

I teach in the MFA program at Southern New Hampshire University, and I think a lot about story structure while reading my students’ work. As I was writing this story, I considered story structure and time, especially when reading their work and the books assigned for the course and came up with something interesting—the past and the present meet in the middle and the end of the story.

In what ways do you think you’ve evolved as an author over the course of your career so far?

I hope I am more patient with myself and my story. I don’t rush my characters through things they need to experience. Also, I’m probably harder on them than I was earlier in my writing career. Things that absolutely must happen to them do.

I’m also more patient with my writing life and career. More accepting, too. I’m not trying to force things to happen in terms of publication. I’m going to write the story no matter what happens to it.

What about the writing/editing/publishing process has changed for you over the course of your career?

The rise of the independent presses has been the most remarkable occurrence during my writing career. As the bigger presses have changed, shrunk, and merged, smaller presses have bloomed and presented opportunities for writers to get their books out there. It’s very exciting to see what is coming out from these presses.

What’s capturing your imagination these days outside of reading and writing?

I’ve been taking Italian for almost three years now, and I find myself spacing out and dreaming about having an apartment in Firenze that is within easy distance from the train station. Watch me head up to Milano! Down to Roma! And the pasta! Forget about it.

Can you tell us about what you’re working on now?

I didn’t mean to do it, but I’m writing a mystery starring three best friends in their late sixties and early seventies who happen to come upon a body by the lake. Stay turned…

Where can readers find you?

Please come find me at my website:

Or on Facebook:

For events and classes or to work with my privately, please click here:

Thank you, Jessica! What the Mood Did is out TODAY.

No matter how we try to hide our past, truth finds its way to the surface, sometimes in devastating ways.

Mary Jo Johnson has a secret.

In the summer of 1949, twelve-year-old Mary Jo is changed forever. Not understanding why, she suddenly has the attention of one of her parents’ friends, Roger Bradfield, who notices things about Mary Jo no one else ever has. In Roger’s gaze, she is special, wonderful, perfect.

But for a twelve-year-old girl, “consent” is a foreign concept, especially when it comes to a much older and powerful man. When Mary Jo becomes pregnant, her parents protect Roger, not to mention their status in the town, and—they hope—Mary Jo’s future. Mary Jo is sent away to live with her grandmother for a time as they spin a story that will blanket all their lives with a lie.

That summer reaches into the decades as Mary Jo moves forward into her own life. Mary Jo gets married, has more children, and obtains the country club membership, nice house, and upper-middle-class trappings promised by her upbringing. But the lie never goes away, affecting not only her but generations to come. At the end, will the truth come out, or will Mary Jo take her trauma to the grave?

Author Bio:

Jessica Barksdale’s sixteenth novel What the Moon Did and short story collection Trick of the Porch Light are forthcoming in 2023.  She’s published two poetry collections: When We Almost Drowned (2019) and Grim Honey (2021).

She taught at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California and continues to teach for UCLA Extension and in the online MFA program for Southern New Hampshire University.

She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband.