Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hot Off the Press

This week we're celebrating the official release of For the Love of Strangers by Jacqueline Horsfall. Interior and cover art by Mary B. Kelly.

To celebrate, we're offering a special 30% off code that you can use in our bookstore to purchase your hot-off-the-press copy of For the Love of Strangers. From now until the end of February, if you type in FLOS30 at checkout, 30% will automatically be deducted from your order (and that includes any other books you purchase too).

We've ask the author and artist to share a bit about themselves on the blog so you can get to know them. Today we're posting an interview with Jacqueline. Enjoy!!

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a big believer in the idea that the world is not what it seems on the surface, that the reality we’re presented with every day is only a partial representation, like in the movie “The Matrix.” Some people call this magical thinking, but I go by certain events that have happened to me: a childhood vision, a near-death experience, and an excruciating period of personal transformation. Like the Queen says to Alice: “Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Writing fiction gives me the opportunity to explore some fringe topics with my characters, whether they like it or not.  

What is your first memory of reading/books? Of illustrations?

I never read “girls” books but loved The Three Musketeers and Tom Swift, Boy Scientist novels. Boy protagonists always seemed to have more fun, more excitement in their lives. My uncle worked in a paper mill and brought home boxes of paperbacks—without covers. From a very early age, I had an endless supply of adult books of every genre. My parents would have had coronaries if they had known what I was reading.

Were you always a writer?

Always. My aunt was a secretary with her own typewriter, and I’d beg her to let me use it to type my stories, slowly, by hunt and peck. I never played house with my siblings and cousins—I played Postmaster. They mailed letters at my post office, and I wrote replies to them, usually of the hilarious potty-humor type, of course.  

When did you first fall in love with writing and why?

First, I had a long love affair with poetry. I stayed after school so that I could use the typewriters in the business lab and type Elizabethan sonnets. I moved on to song lyrics, and submitted them to music companies, and the letters came back with contracts: “Accepted! Send money.” My first run-in with scams. 

What was the most challenging job (writing or otherwise) you’ve ever had?

Working as a legal secretary. The paperwork was endless, the legalese mind-numbing. I felt like a robot pumping out documents no one would read.

What were some of the surprises you had with working on a book for Leap?

I was surprised by my editor’s friendliness and willingness to consider my opinions. I’ve worked with some very curt editors whose deadline e-mails consisted of three words: “My desk. Friday.”

Without thinking, what are the first three things that leap to mind when you're asked to list what you love most about being an author for Leap Books? Quick!

Creative freedom, friendliness, attention to detail

Your plane just crashed on a deserted island. You have 30 seconds to grab a few items from your bag. What would you grab first?

My glasses. Or I wouldn’t be able to tell a coconut from a brown rock.

What is the first piece of advice you'd give to an aspiring writer?

Keep your day job.

If by writing, you could change the world, what would you most like to write?

Books where characters come to great realizations about themselves and their world views. Change starts with each of us, individually, like Michael Jackson’s song “Man in the Mirror.” (I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways.) 

Please tell us about your book and how you came to write it.

For the Love of Strangers is a mash-up of life events and interests: mythology, women’s rights, animal rights, mother/daughter relationships, animal consciousness. I originally wrote it as an MG novel, with a 12-year-old protagonist, interested only in saving the deer population. But the plot seemed too shallow. I decided to include some of the domestic violence issues I’d come across in my human services work, and that meant aging Darya to at least 16, and upping the age of the reading audience to young adult. I’d also traveled in Russia during the White Nights, and a friend of my DIL had recently returned from there with two children, siblings, one unexpected. It all fell together from there.

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