Rojas Creative Works
Mia Siegert is an author and costume designer from New Jersey. Their costumes have appeared on Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and several stage productions of CATS. They are also the author of the YA novel Jerkbait.
What was your favorite book when you were a child?
This is difficult because I wasn’t really given much MG/YA when it was age appropriate. Although I pretty much jumped to adult fiction, one that really stood out was Like Sisters on the Homefront by Rita Williams-Garcia. I was very fortunate that my parents provided access to diverse books, but I wish I had access to diverse age appropriate ones—then again, given the time and how many people my age claim those sorts of books didn’t exist, I wonder.
What’s your favorite line from a book?
“The beloved fears and hates the lover, and with the best of reasons. For the lover is forever trying to strip bare his beloved. The lover craves any possible relation with the beloved, even if this experience can cause him only pain.”—Carson McCullers, The Ballad of the Sad Café
Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?
I’m cheating and including a fourth, and even that feels unfair as there are so many amazing writers: Angie Thomas, Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, Tess Sharpe, and Alice Reeds will always be on my bookshelves.
Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?
I wrote tons of scripts when I was a kid as my mom was heavily involved with theatre. But along the way, I became very involved with horses on a hopeful track to the Olympics. After a career-ending injury, I had no clue what to do as I essentially dropped out of high school so I could compete and didn’t have a backup plan. I enrolled in a community college as a film major to get credits while I prepped for the GED (and CLEP-ed out of English), when a friend suggested I look into writing books instead after the head of the program said no women (he didn’t know I’m nonbinary) would be hired for the job I wanted to do. I studied hard and was able to go from being a high school drop out to getting an MFA and being an adjunct professor for Advanced Fiction Workshops for eight years. From my early interest in scripts and screenplays, dialogue became one of my biggest strengths.
Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?
Read as many diverse books as possible by marginalized authors. You will become a more compassionate person and by default your writing will drastically improve. Outside of your main genres, I strongly recommend reading experimental, literary fiction. I’m not talking about the pompous stuff everyone makes fun of, but underrated artists who hone in on their craft and take huge risks and gambles as they convey their stories. You’ll get absorbed in staggeringly gorgeous prose and gain the confidence to be vulnerable and explore.