Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Author Interview: Elle Jacklee

Today please welcome Elle Jacklee, author of The Tree of Mindala,  the first book of the middle grade fantasy Wunderwood series. Elle Jacklee's love of reading began with classics such as L. Frank Baum's Oz books and C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. The endless hours of enjoyment that they, and countless others, gave her sparked her passion for writing. She hopes that her stories will help instill in children a life-long love for reading as well as the knowledge that imagination has no limits. Elle lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two young sons, none of whom are in a hurry to grow up. And that's just fine with her.

1. Describe your ideal writing space. How does it compare to reality?
While the first thing that comes to mind is a tranquil beach setting, I live in Wisconsin where the winters are long, so I guess I'd have to agree with E.B. White, who said, “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.” But once I sit down to write, it doesn't take me long before I'm in “the zone,” fully immersed in the fictional world I've created. So I suspect it might not matter that much. The reality is that I do most of my writing at home during my kids' naps.
My “background music” has usually consisted of whatever helped them to nap the longest. It's gone from lullabies to white noise machines to nothing other than the purring of the cat beside me. If the words are flowing, I tend not to change my routine too much. You know, just in case.

2.What is the first story you remember writing and what was it about? 
I was about seven years old. It was about a girl named Marie who loved to paint. One day, her favorite painting came to life and she was suddenly inside it. It was a very nice world she had painted, and she enjoyed herself there quite a bit for a while. But then she began to miss her parents and her dog, and even her mean big sister. She finally figured out that she had to paint her own real world from inside the imaginary one in order to escape. In the end, as I'm sure you can guess, she made it home safe and sound. But she still painted whenever she got bored. Hmm... now that I think about it, Marie sounds a lot like someone else I know...

3. Name a memorable book from your childhood. Why is it memorable? 
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is my all-time favorite book from my childhood. It had everything that I loved: a fantasy world full of magic, talking animals, and children who proved heroic in the face of dire circumstances. I even started the trend of playing a game at recess that I called “Narnia”. I enjoyed being the White Witch as much as I enjoyed being Aslan. (Ok, maybe even a little more.)

4. If you could ask any writer (living or dead) a question, who would it be and what would you ask?
I would ask J.K. Rowling to write a prequel to the Harry Potter series, say, from when Voldemort was a little boy and spanning until Harry's parents and others of the adult characters in the series first meet up at Hogwarts. While Ms. Rowling touched on these times briefly, there's a lot of unexplored territory there. The series, of course, stands perfectly as is, but I know I'd love to learn more about the back story. (And yes, maybe I'm still just a little sad that the series has come to an end.)

5. If you could pick any of the worlds or characters you have created, which would you want to visit or spend a day with?
I would love to visit Wunderwood. I'd be fascinated to learn what ability, if any, would be my magical specialty... and what that might say about me. And I'd love to spend time with Skye, picking his brain. His ability to change into anybody or anything he's ever come in contact with would surely provide some enlightening perspectives.

6. What is one thing you like to do when you are not reading or writing? 
As cliché as it might sound, the only things I truly enjoy more than reading or writing are spending time with my kids, who are my inspiration, and my husband, who is my soft place to land and my rock all at the same time.

7. What are you currently working on? 
The second book in the Wunderwood series. Stay tuned...

More about The Tree of Mindala:
Soon-to-be twelve year old Miranda Moon's overactive imagination has landed her in trouble again. This time, she's been suspended from school. Since her Halloween weekend just got extended, her parents decide to take her and her straight-laced younger brother, Marcus, to her late grandparents' old cabin. That suits Miranda just fine. She's always felt there was something special about the place. Besides, she has a knack for making the best of things.

But when Miranda finds a curious water globe hidden in the cabin, she and Marcus are catapulted into a world even she never imagined. A world where everybody already knows their family name and magic flows through the trees. A world called Wunderwood. But their arrival happens to coincide with the release of a sinister warlock from a forty-year imprisonment. Thornton Crow resumes his deadly agenda to find the source of Wunderwood's magical power, the Tree of Mindala, and seize it for his own.

As Miranda learns of her own connection to Thornton, she realizes that it's up to her to end his cruel and relentless cycle of death that would steal not just magic, but also hope. With only the cryptic words of a prophecy to guide her, she holds the fate of the entire realm as well as the safety of Marcus and the newly found branches of her family tree in her hands. Miranda's signature optimism is put to the ultimate test when she chooses to carry out the task that will save Wunderwood... or doom it forever.

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