Jess Jelsma Masterton was born in Louisiana and grew up in Alabama and Pennsylvania. She received a BA in anthropology and psychology from Cornell University, an MFA in prose from the University of Alabama, and a PhD in creative writing and literature from the University of Cincinnati, where she served for two years as the Assistant and Associate Editor of The Cincinnati Review.
As a creative writer, Jess has received support from organizations such as the Sewanee Writers' Conference, Oregon State University's Spring Creek Project, and the Truman Capote Literary Trust. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize anthologies and awarded the Don Hendrie Jr. Memorial Fiction Prize. Her most recent work has appeared in The Arkansas International, Ligeia, The McNeese Review, The Normal School, The Southern Review, and Quarterly West.
As a teacher, Jess has worked with a wide array of students, including underserved youth, continuing education participants, and first-generation and nontraditional undergraduates. She has over eight years of experience teaching creative writing, composition, and literature through the University of Cincinnati, the University of Alabama, the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, and nonprofit organizations. In the summer of 2020, she will join the faculty of the Sewanee Young Writers' Conference. In the fall, she will begin work as a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Albion College.
At present, Jess is at work on a linked short-story collection and a novel written in the form of a true-crime podcast.