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Shooting the Breeze with Jackson Leake


Leake talks writing, the arts and late night snacking



PHS junior Jackson Leake feels at home in the arts. Leake has recently completed writing Room 22, a fantastical mystery centering around a teenage boy named Dylan, who has survived in the mental hospital Creedmoore for longer than any of the other residents. As more people disappear, others come to take their place, which leads to the introduction of characters Hunter and Scarlett. Information about where you can purchase his book is located at the end of the article. 


Jackson Leake is a 16-year-old Pickens High School student whose book Room 22, the first in a three-part series called the Enspirit Trilogy, will be available in paperback on January 23 through Amazon. Leake is also heavily involved in arts programs at the high school, including theatre and chorus. His parents are Amy and Chris Leake. 



Where did you get inspiration for the Enspirit Trilogy?


I originally wrote Room 22 as a short story back in 9th grade, and in the summer between 10th and 11th grade, I decided to turn it into a book. It wasn't until I was halfway through the book that I considered making it into a trilogy.  


The trilogy is categorized as science fiction/fantasy. Is this your favorite genre?  


Young Adult/Teen fantasy is definitely my favorite genre. I love the action involved and the idea of people that have these gifts or powers.


What can you tell us about the first book in the series, Room 22?


I will try not to give any spoilers. The first book in the Enspirit Trilogy, Room 22, is centered around a teenager named Dylan, who lives in the mental hospital Creedmoore. It's a book that involves lots of action and mystery, but also tells the story of a boy who is just trying to deal with all of the crazy things happening around him. The ending is a perfect set up for the second book, Room 15, and I'm sure there will be lots of anticipation for its arrival.


Are the other two books complete? When will they be released?


The other two books have not been completed. I'm hoping for a release date around July for Room 15, but it's not set in stone. It just depends on how long it takes me to finish it.


In eighth grade you wrote a book that your teacher published and gave to your entire class. What was the book about? How did this impact you as a writer?


Well, it was more of a short story than an actual book. Everyone wrote their own and submitted it, and everyone received two copies of their work. I didn't win any awards with my short story and it never amounted to much, but it did make me think about the prospect of writing longer works and maybe getting noticed for them.


When and where is your favorite place to write?


My favorite time to write is whenever I have an idea, and my favorite place to write is wherever I have that idea. It's usually on my bed with my laptop late in the evening, but I've written in the car, and even at my summer job as a pool monitor.


You are also very involved in theatre and chorus. Why are the arts important to you?  


I'm a very creative person, and I love expressing myself and my ideas through this form. Whether it's writing a skit, acting, directing, or singing, I love to be involved in the Fine Arts, as it's where I truly feel like I belong.


What do you want to do for a living?


This is a question I get asked a lot, and quite frankly, I have no idea. I would like to be involved in Fine Arts, or in television/movies in some form, but anything is fair game at this point. I'll just decide when I get there.


What are your plans right out of high school? Is college in your future?


I am currently Dual Enrolling at Reinhardt, and I am considering whether I will continue there after I graduate or not. I plan to move on and do bigger things, and I eventually want to wind up in New York City for grad school.


Who are your favorite authors?


As of right now, Tahereh Mafi is definitely my favorite author. I love her writing style, and I wish I could read more books like that. I've also always loved Michael Grant and all of his works.


What do you do for fun?


I usually just watch Netflix, and maybe write if I feel like it. Sometimes I even come out of my room and get cereal, which is always exciting.


Kids are criticized these days for too much screen time. You obviously have plenty of hobbies, but do you spend a lot of time watching television or playing video games?  What do you enjoy watching/playing?


I'm currently watching Marvel's Jessica Jones, but really any show like that is right up my alley. Arrow, Doctor Who, The Flash, Lost, Teen Wolf, and The 100 are all on my list of shows I suggest to everyone. I occasionally play Minecraft.


Tell us your guilty pleasures.


I like to eat snacks late at night, if that counts. 


If you were on death row, what would you choose as your last meal and why?


I'm incredibly indecisive, so maybe I will never be on death row so that I don't have to make that decision.


Who are your heroes?


I don't want to make anyone upset or jealous by naming specific people, so I'll just stick with my celebrity hero. Holland Roden. She went to the University of California for molecular biology, but decided she wanted to pursue her love for acting. She switched her major to women's studies, and while she was on set, did her homework in between shots and eventually received her degree from UCLA while acting full-time in the process. I truly admire her for that.


Book 22 is available for PreOrder on Kindle for $4.99. It will also be available on iBooks, Nook, and all other leading eBook providers, and will be available in paperback for $11.95 on January 23rd on Amazon and through Createspace (Amazon's self-publishing service Leake used to publish his book), and at Jasper Drug Store and Salon 84. Visit after the January 23 publishing date to learn more.