Jesse Haynes is a storyteller who is never short on words. Only a junior media studies student at TU, Haynes has already published three books and three podcasts, and with “The Others” podcast receiving 1.5 million downloads, his words have developed a remarkable fan base.
“I am the young adult, young adult writer,” Haynes joked. He infuses his teenage experiences into stories for the high school crowd. By fourth grade, he set a goal to write a book before high school graduation. His novel Creepers was published his senior year at Skiatook High School. A post-apocalyptic novel, Creepers follows the journey of two brothers struggling to survive in an America overrun by zombie-type creatures.
“I want my science fiction to be more action and adventure,” Haynes explained. His second novel, Creepers 2 was published last year, but over the summer, Haynes jettisoned the creepy creatures for a drama set in the halls of high school. His third book Special features a blooming friendship between a cheerleader and a boy with Mosaic Down syndrome. “I want to make a point about judging others and how dangerous that can be,” Haynes said.
Haynes takes his show on the road with numerous high school speaking engagements on writing, passion and time-management. “I took 15 hours each semester my freshman year and managed to write two novels and a podcast series,” he said. Haynes’s popularity has grown beyond the Oklahoma classrooms. This year, Haynes is a featured author at the Louisiana Book Festival, which boasts 27,000 attendees.
At TU, Haynes is using his media studies classes to learn how to create an online brand and hone his media editing skills. Quoting his favorite professor, Ben Peters, Haynes explains, “Media studies is going to open a thousand doors an inch for you, and you just have to pick two or three doors and kick it open.”
When creating his podcast “The Others,” TU supplied a sound booth equipped with microphones and editing tools. The story opens with a man stranded on an island struggling to maintain his sanity in isolation, but the plot twist is inhumane creatures lurking in the trees driving him to madness. From the chirp of seagulls to a splash of rain puddles, Haynes layers sound effects on top of the narrative to be a “movie for your ears,” he said.
Haynes does not restrict himself to fiction. His first podcast, “Cryptid Creatures” is the science and myth behind legendary animals like Big Foot or the Loch Ness Monster. For 12 episodes, Haynes wrote a 4,000-word research paper to prep for each podcast.
His next endeavor is producing an online fiction writing workshop tailored to ages 12-14. “The goal is in five weeks you’ve written the outline for a book and the first chapter,” he said.
Haynes’s limitless energy can leave his audience speechless, but no worries, he can fill in the words.