J.L. Powers speaks better Zulu than many South Africans do. While working on her PhD in African Studies, she lived in Imbali, studying the culture, the language, and learning of the longing of ordinary young women who want a better life. While Powers presently lives and works in San Francisco, she frequently visits South Africa. Cosmo City, north of Johannesburg, is her second home. Jessica, as her friends call her, is the award-winning author of multiple young-adult novels, most recently Broken Circle, which she co-authored with her brother. She is also the editor of two collections of essays and the author of a picture book, Colors of the Wind. She worked as an editor and publicist for Cinco Puntos Press, and is the founder and editor of the online blog The Pirate Tree: Social Justice and Children’s Literature. She used to teach creative writing, literature, and composition at Skyline College in California’s Bay Area, and served as a jurist for the 2014 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature. In 2017, she launched Catalyst Press to publish African writers and illustrators and Africa-based books. Her young-adult novel Amina won the 2016 USBBY Outstanding International Book Award, and the collection of essays she curated, entitled That Mad Game: Growing Up in a Warzone, received a Skipping Stones Honor Award in 2013 and was crowned as a Notable Book for a Global Society in 2012.