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After the Barricades

Jessica Stilling

May 23, 2023

Today I talked to Jessica Stilling about her new novel After the Barricades (DX Varos, 2023).

After her mother dies in a tragic accident, Anna cleans out her closet and finds a striking painting that she’d never seen before. She also finds a trove of letters from Stefan Terre, a name she’s never heard. She travels to Paris for work and also to learn more about her mother, Bethany, who studied at the Sorbonne in 1968. That was a year of student protests and labor strikes by students and workers demanding better pay, workplace safety, and a more equitable society. Bethany never told Anna about her affair with Stefan, a Romanian Jew who survived the Holocaust, became a painter, and was working as a waiter when she met him in Paris. Now it’s 2019, and Anna wants Stefan to tell her about how her mother once wanted to change the world.

Jessica Stilling earned a BA from the New School and an MFA in Creative Writing from the City University of New York. Before she published After the Barricades, she published The Weary god of Ancient Travelers, Between Before and After, The Beekeeper’s Daughter (Bedazzled Ink Press), Betwixt and Between (IG Publishing), Nod, and the Hugo Award nominated young adult Pan Chronicles Series (D.X. Varos). Her short stories have appeared in The Warwick Review, The Hawaii Pacific Review and Wasifiri, and her nonfiction has appeared in The Writer Magazine, Ms. Magazine, and She has worked as an editor at The Global City Press and The Global City Review and has taught creative writing at both high school and university level. She has published young adult fantasy under the name J.M. Stephen, lives in southern Vermont, with her family, which includes a dog, a cat, and many chickens, whose squawking sounds exactly like a T-Rex if you listen closely enough.

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