Jessica Yinka Thomas has a background in toy design and social entrepreneurship. She authored several award winning academic articles while managing director of the Center for Sustainable Enterprise at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. Her writing highlights her twin passions for technological innovation and for creating significant social change through entrepreneurial ventures.
Growing up in West Africa and traveling around the world has provided her with a rich background from which to draw in her writing. She lives in Arlington, VA with her husband, Jeff Forbes and their son Xavier. Jessica enjoys knitting in the winter and competing in triathlons during the summer. She holds a BS in Engineering from Stanford University and an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.
Thank you for this interview, Jessica. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
A: Of course! I grew up in the US, Nigeria and Senegal, and have had the opportunity to continue to travel around the world as an adult. My childhood and my travel experiences in Australia, South Africa, Japan, Switzerland, France, Kenya, Uganda and Brazil, have provided me with a rich background from which to draw in my writing. I started my professional career as an engineer and shied away from creative writing early on because I thought of myself as a techie. I read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way while traveling across Australia and wrote in big capital letters at the close of the book, “I will write a novel!” Reading that book 13 years ago was a transformative process that exposed the writer in me.
Can you tell us briefly what your book is about?
A: How Not to Save the World follows the story of Remi Austin, a fundraiser for the African Peace Collaborative (APC), a conflict resolution nonprofit founded by her late mother. Frustrated by her inability to raise funds and faced with the imminent closure of the APC, Remi turns to a life of crime to keep her nonprofit afloat. From Sydney, to Tokyo, Geneva and Cape Town, Remi transforms from a fundraiser too shy to speak during staff meetings into a daring international art thief who must stop a war from breaking out and figure out how to save herself from a life behind bars. With the help of her best friend, a designer and inventor who creates gadget-packed gowns, Remi eludes a dashing insurance agent and a terrifying stalker, all while redistributing the wealth of the world, one work of art at a time. I like to call it a social justice thriller.