I know I usually post my author interviews on Thursdays, but that’s the day I’m starting my new job. I have no idea if I’ll time to post anything then, so I’ll go ahead and offer this week’s feature early. Meet Elle Jacklee, who has written a middle grade/YA fantasy. It’s getting some pretty good reviews over at Goodreads! Check her out here: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6547901.Elle_Jacklee
1. What first drew you to writing?
When I was seven years old and having a lot of fun reading, I decided that I wanted to write stories in the hopes that people might enjoy them as much as I enjoyed other people’s stories. That’s still my goal today.
2. I understand you’ve written a middle grade YA novel. What drew you to this particular age group?
That’s the age that I was when I began reading the books that had the biggest impact on me. I think that the transition to middle grade/YA books, which are typically more complex, more mature, and (hopefully!) even a little more intriguing than the kinds of books kids in that age range had been reading previously, can be an exciting step. If a child of that age hasn’t already fallen in love with reading, it’s that genre of books that might spark that passion. If my stories can do that for someone, that spells success for me.
3. How challenging is it to write for a younger audience? Do you employ any strategies?
I don’t consciously employ any strategies. I actually am quite comfortable writing for this age range. My target audience is at that fun place, somewhere between being still young enough to really be able to throw themselves into a story that is whimsical and fantastical, yet old enough to appreciate plot twists that can puzzle and surprise. It’s really the best of two worlds!
4. Tell me about the book.
The Tree of Mindala centers around Miranda Moon, an almost-twelve-year old girl whose vivid imagination has a way of getting her into trouble. She embarks (unexpectedly!) on an adventure with her straight-laced, pessimistic younger brother, Marcus. They arrive in Wunderwood, a place where magic flows through the trees and somehow, everyone already knows their family name. Coincidentally, an evil warlock, Thornton Crow, has just been freed from a long banishment, and resumes his agenda to find The Tree of Mindala, the source of all the magic in the realm, and seize it for his own. Miranda and Marcus discover branches of their own family tree that they hadn’t even known existed. And that Thornton has a score to settle with anyone in their bloodline. Especially them.
When Miranda discovers just how Thornton came to be freed from his prison, she realizes its up to her to stop him. She must decide if she can carry out the task that will either save Wunderwood or doom it forever.
5. Who is your favorite writer, and why? If I have to pick one, then it has to be C.S. Lewis. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was my favorite book when I was a middle grader myself (and is still on my short list today). I fell in love with his Narnia and all the characters who resided there. But there are so many other writers that I love equally nowadays, like Jeff Wheeler, Lindsay Buroker, and J.K. Rowling to name a tiny fraction. They all have an amazing talent for creating new, vivid worlds that provide the escape I’m looking for when I pick up a book.
6. You and I share a similar theme in our novels–magic flowing directly from nature. How did you come up with this magical system, and is there a message behind it?
I’ve always been a lover of the outdoors and I find nature really fascinating and magical in a very real way. It’s nature’s tendency to maintain a delicate balance along with my belief in the connection that we all have to nature that comprise the underlying theme of The Tree of Mindala.
7. What was the hardest part about publishing your book?
After much careful consideration, I chose to self-publish, which was relatively easy. The hard part is the marketing! I think it’s safe to say that most writers would rather be writing 😉
8. Tell me about your next project.
I am currently working on the next book in the Wunderwood series, The Triad of the Tree. It picks up about a year after the end of the first book. Events during Miranda’s and Marcus’ first trip to Wunderwood have compromised the health of The Tree of Mindala to the point that it cannot be saved. A new Tree must be planted before the original Tree dies, or else, not only magic, but people will die with it. By ancient decree, only the Triad, a group chosen by magical means, can open the box that contains the seeds which must be planted. The problem is the Triad has been broken. Restoring it will be much easier said than done. And time is running out…