22 April 2016

Author Q&A Session #70: With Jacqueline West

Hello and welcome my dear fellow bookaholics,

Wish you all a very Happy Earth Day. Hope you all are saving some kind of energy or Earth's natural resources and trying to pay respect to our lovely planet.

On this Earth Day, I present you a brand new and best-selling YA author's interview, Jacqueline West, whose first venture into the YA world resulted into an amazing book, Dreamers Often Lie, apart from her award-winning middle-grade already epic series, The Books of Elsewhere.

Let's discuss with her about her life, her books and everything beyond  books and all. Keep reading!

Read the review of Dreamers Often Lie

Me: Hello and welcome to my blog, Jacqueline . Congratulations on your new book, Dreamers Often Lie. How will you express your feelings about this  book that has already won the hearts of so many readers?

Jacqueline: Hello, and thanks so much for hosting me! Writing DREAMERS OFTEN LIE was an eight-year process, so knowing that it’s finally finished and out there in the hands of actual readers is a strange and scary and wonderful thing.  

Me: How did you research for your book that is inspired from William Shakespeare's Plays ? Can you tell us briefly about it?

Jacqueline: I started writing the story that would become DREAMERS OFTEN LIE while I was working as a high school English teacher. I’ve always loved theatre in general (and Shakespeare in particular), but while I was teaching multiple Shakespeare units to classrooms full of modern-day teenagers, on top of directing the school play, my entire life became about onstage and offstage high school drama… and that’s really where the story began. I used my years of studying Shakespeare as an actor, English major, and English teacher in order to braid Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream into the narrative that I was creating. 
And then, because my main character, Jaye, has just sustained a serious head injury, I did A LOT of medical research. I read about post-concussion syndrome, traumatic brain injury, and skull fractures. I picked the brains of friends and family members who work in medical fields. I followed blogs and read interviews and watched videos. Obviously, Jaye’s symptoms are fictional, but I wanted the core of her experience to ring true.

Me: Tell us one trait about your main character, Jaye, that intrigues you the most.

Jacqueline: Jaye is a person who keeps a lot of secrets. Who Jaye is and who Jaye is pretending to be are sometimes very different things. There are parts of her past—and emotions connected to that past—that she doesn’t share with anyone. And, of course, there’s the added complexity of her head injury. Getting to know Jaye in the writer/character sense was a lot like getting to know a guarded, complicated, changeable person: it took a long time before I felt like she was totally herself with me. I went through many, many drafts before I really understood the layers of Jaye’s feelings and motives and passions, and even though all that work sometimes made me feel like I was pounding my face against a brick wall, I grew to love it. And I grew to love Jaye. So I guess that’s what intrigues me most about her: her complexity.

Me: How will you describe your journey so far as an author?

Jacqueline: Well, before the release of DREAMERS OFTEN LIE, I had written and published a five-book middle grade mystery/fantasy series called THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE. That series made the New York Times bestseller list, and it got lots of nice awards and accolades, and I’ve traveled all around the US visiting schools and speaking about those books. Releasing my first YA novel, which is so different from THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE, feels a little like I’m starting my journey all over again. I’m not sure where DREAMERS OFTEN LIE will lead me, but I think I’m ready to find out.

Me: Was it always your one true dream to be an author?

Jacqueline: No, it wasn’t! For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved stories—reading them, hearing them, making them up, acting them out—but I never really believed that I could be an author. To me, authors were like wizards. I thought it must take some kind of magical power to create something as magical as a book. Since I was pretty sure that I didn’t have any magical powers, I thought becoming an author just wasn’t an option. But I kept getting ideas for stories; ideas that zipped around in my brain and wouldn’t leave me alone. I started writing those stories down when I was eight or nine years old…and then I would hide them under the clothes in my dresser drawers. It took almost ten years before I started showing anyone what I had been writing, and it took another several years after that before I admitted to myself that I’d actually wanted to be a writer all along.

Me: What other passions do you have apart from writing?

Jacqueline: I’ve been involved in school, professional, and community theatre since I was little, and I still love getting the chance to get up onstage and live someone else’s life for a while (it’s a lot like being a writer, actually!). I also love to read, bake, garden, make music, explore old cities, search secondhand shops for treasures, take long walks with my dog, and spend time with my family.

Me: What's next up on your writing sleeves? Please tell us briefly about it.

Jacqueline: I'm currently at work on a new middle grade mystery/fantasy series about a small boy, a big city, a strange collection, and one highly distractible squirrel. I think it’s going to be called THE COLLECTORS.

Me: Thanks Jacqueline for joining me today on this interview session. I wish you luck for all your future endeavors.

Jacqueline: My pleasure, Aditi! Thanks again for giving me and my book such a warm welcome.

Jacqueline's Bio:

Jacqueline West is the author of the award-winning middle grade series The Books of Elsewhere. The Books of Elsewhere, Volume One: The Shadows (2010) garnered starred reviews, several state award nominations, and a spot on the New York Times Bestsellers List. The series is published by Dial Books for Young Readers (a division of Penguin Random House) in the USA and will also be published in Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Indonesia, Sweden, Norway, France, Germany, Russia, and Catalonia.
Jacqueline's short fiction for adults and children has appeared in a variety of publications, and her poetry has received many honors, including two Pushcart nominations, a Rhysling Award nomination, and a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg prize. Cherma, her series of poems about Wisconsin's Bohemian immigrants, was published in March 2010 by the University of Wisconsin's Parallel Press chapbook series.
Jacqueline loves dogs of all shapes and sizes, is sadly allergic to cats (though she manages to write about them without developing a rash), and is at least a little bit afraid of all fish larger than a hot dog bun. If you are sharing a pizza, she will ask for the crust pieces. Don't get her talking about Kurt Vonnegut, Tori Amos, Northern Exposure, or Sylvia Plath, or you'll be sorry. Jacqueline lives amid the bluffs of Red Wing, Minnesota, with her husband, her son, and her dog, a Springer Spaniel mix named Brom Bones.

Connect with Jacqueline on: WebsiteFacebook Instagram


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