Author Interviews

Interview with Jessica Khoury

Being obsessed with Anastasia retellings, you know I had to check out Last of Her Name! So without further ado I’ll just let you get to the interview so you can be as hyped up as I am!


Sixteen years ago, rebellion swept the galaxy known as the Belt of Jewels. Every member of the royal family was murdered–down to their youngest child, Princess Anya–and the Union government rose in its place. But Stacia doesn’t think much about politics. She spends her days half-wild, rambling her father’s vineyard with her closest friends, Clio and Pol.

That all changes the day a Union ship appears in town, carrying the leader of the Belt himself, the Direktor Eminent. The Direktor claims that Princess Anya is alive, and that Stacia’s sleepy village is a den of empire loyalists, intent on hiding her. When Stacia is identified as the lost princess, her provincial home explodes into a nightmare.

Pol smuggles her away to a hidden escape ship in the chaos, leaving Clio in the hands of the Union. With everything she knows threading away into stars, Stacia sets her heart on a single mission. She will find and rescue Clio, even with the whole galaxy on her trail.

Find Last of Her Name on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound & The Book Depository.


Where did the inspiration for Anastasia come from? And in which ways have you tried to stay true to the story and to depart from the story?

The Anastasia story has always fascinated me with its tragedy, its mythic nature, and even the sad closing of the story when Anastasia’s death was finally confirmed almost 90 years after her execution. I read the Royal Diaries series over and over when I was younger, and Anastasia’s was the story that fascinated me the most. We now know that the historical Anastasia’s story ended with the DNA testing of her remains, confirming she did not survive the bullets that also claimed the rest of her family, but in LAST OF HER NAME, I decided to ask the question “What if a DNA test were the beginning of Anastasia’s story and not the end?” So this book launches with the confirmation of her survival and then follows her journey to grow into this mythic, powerful, and morally gray legacy she’s inherited.
Lili here, My tiny heart cannot handle the fact that it was confirmed, I know it’s the truth, but my heart can dream! I love that this was the question that started it all!

The cost of rebellion is something that is discussed within your book, can you think of any pop culture references (or similar situations) that inspired the conflicts and ethical dilemmas your characters face?

Whenever you have a sci-fi story, you inevitably get into questions of technology going too far, or how humanity must adapt to changing environments. As a sci-fi buff, I was inspired by futuristic visions put forth by Black Mirror, The Expanse, and Doctor Who. Also, you might feel Star Wars vibes in LOHN and that’s totally not a coincidence–the book’s original pitch was Star Wars meets Anastasia! It certainly toes the line between sci-fi and fantasy the same was Star Wars does.
Lili here, Doctor Who represent! So glad this also came to your mind!

How was writing in space different than your previous works? Any fun research you had to do that didn’t end up in the book?

I don’t know if most people would count it as fun, but I did far too much research into orbital mechanics and slingshot technique (where you use the gravitational pull of a celestial object to change speed and course of a ship) for one of the earlier chapters in the book. I ended up cutting that scene down a lot and using only a fraction of the science I’d studied for it, but hey, at least now if I’m ever stranded in a dead spaceship at the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere, I’ll have a sort of general idea how I might get back! LOL.
Lili here, that sounds a lot like what they were trying to say in The Martian right?

Would you like to talk about any of your upcoming projects or current WIP? Projects you’d love to write someday?

Right now I’m working on a pretty unusual project–my first middle grade book (The Mystwick School of Musicraft, coming out this fall). It’s unusual because in addition to being printed as a regular book, Audible is adapting it as a musically-enhanced audiobook that will include some familiar pieces as well as some great original compositions. So currently I am compiling lots of music which will be added to the story. It’s very different from my usual work so I’m enjoying it a lot!

Lili, the audiobook sounds amazing! I can’t wait to read it!

If you could re-write another story, which would it be and why?

After working on this story, which is very much a retelling of a historical character and not so much a fairytale, I think it would be fascinating to recast other complex, historical women like Anastasia. I would love to do something inspired by Eva Peron or Annie Oakley–two completely different women but both were full of ambition and energy in the face of overwhelming patriarchy, and I’ve always been fascinated by each of them.
Lili here, so here for this!!!

What are you currently obsessed with? Tv shows, movies, music, books, etc.

I’m anticipating the final season of Game of Thrones with utter terror; currently airing, I’m in love with The Good Place and Superstore–sitcoms are my happy places! I’m also eager for the release of some really fantastic sci-fi novels which pair really well with LOHN–ONCE & FUTURE by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy and SKY WITHOUT STARS by Joanne Rundell and Jessica Brody. I’ve read them both and adore each; they’re based on King Arthur and Les Mis, respectively, and come out this spring–so it’s a really, really great time to be a fan of retellings in sci-fi!

With many books under your belt, how has your writing style or process changed from your first book to now? What lessons have you learned about yourself and your creative process?

I know so much more about the components of story now than I did when my debut, ORIGIN, was released, so I feel like my process has streamlined a lot. I am quicker to discard bad ideas now and slower to rush into new ones without first letting them marinate. I’ve become more patient with my writing, focusing more on the beats, structure, and emotional core then I used to. I feel I learn so much with every new book I write, and then, of course, as soon as I start the next one it’s as if I forget everything and have to start the process all over again! 🙂
Find Last of Her Name on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound & The Book Depository.

About the Author

Jessica Khoury wrote her first book at age 4, a fan fic sequel to Syd Hoff’s Danny and the Dinosaur, which she scribbled on notebook paper, stapled together, and placed on the bookshelf of her preschool classroom. Since that day, she’s dreamed of being an author.

In addition to writing, Jess is also a fantasy cartographer, and spends far too much time scribbling tiny trees and mountains in fictional worlds. She is very passionate about orcas, Spanish soccer, and choosing the perfect font.

Jess currently lives in Greenville, South Carolina. She is the author of Origin, Vitro, Kalahari, and The Forbidden Wish.

Find Jess on Twitter


What historical women would you want to know more about?

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