What was your inspiration For The Love of Strangers?
FLOS originally came about as a gut punch, one that wouldn’t let up. A relative told me about her single, professional, middle-aged friend who traveled to Russia to adopt a baby, but came back with a baby and an older sibling (who had adjustment problems). I couldn’t get the story out of my head, and blabbed it to everyone I knew. When an idea is that strong, it practically writes itself. I had spent time in Russia years before, so I drew on my visit for the backstory setting.
· How did you develop your characters?
Each human character is a little part of me. The animal characters are based on my observations and interactions with local wildlife. But all the characters, human and animal, are grounded in goddess mythology, specifically from the ancient Russian deer cults.
· Did you have to change the length of your story considerably during editing?
The length doubled! I’m basically a short story writer, so I always practice writing “tight.” Crafting a YA novel at 50,000 – 60,000 words gave me the freedom to expand scenes, develop characters, and add backstory – story elements lacking in the original version.
· Have you become more attached to the main character as opposed to the supporting characters?
That’s like asking which of my children I prefer. All of the characters are my babies, and I love them equally. Unless they go off and do weird stuff I don’t approve of.
· Do you base your characters off people you know?
I mash up peculiar personal traits appearing in my characters so no one can say, “Hey, that’s me!”
· Are there aspects of your story you just don’t like?
I love the story. I highly value my editor’s suggestions. I adore the book it became, with its illustrations and cover art. I’m so pleased and proud that I could craft a contemporary story with a mythological theme because I truly believe that a society without mythology is doomed.
· How would you advise young adults who want to become published authors?
Find an enjoyable career field, one you’re passionate about. Writers can’t be hermits – they need life experience and an income. Read, read, read books by prize-winning and best-selling authors. Above all, ask yourself this important question: Do I really want to be a writer or do I only like the idea of being a writer? There’s a big difference.
Thanks, Anna and Jackie! Great interview!
Jacqueline Horsfall's book, For the Love of Strangers, is illustrated by Mary B. Kelly.
Jackie with her many published books.