Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Interview: Jaclyn Dolamore (Author of Magic Under Glass!)
I'm thrilled to have debut author Jaclyn Dolamore here today to chat about her new novel, Magic Under Glass, and other various topics!
A Brief Biography:
Jaclyn Dolamore was homeschooled in a hippie sort of way and spent her childhood reading as many books as her skinny nerd-body could lug from the library and playing elaborate pretend games with her sister Kate. She skipped college and spent eight years drudging through retail jobs, developing her thrifty cooking skills and pursuing a lifelong writing dream. She has a passion for history, thrift stores, vintage dresses, David Bowie, drawing, and organic food. She lives with her partner and plot-sounding-board, Dade, and two black tabbies who have ruined her carpeting.
What inspired you to write MAGIC UNDER GLASS?
I thought there was a surprising lack of Victorian era fantasy in young adult. The Gemma Doyle books were huge and I hoped they would start a mini trend, but... they didn't, really. I wanted more. So I wrote one! Technically, it's on another world, but I think it's obvious what inspired me... I thought of novels like Jane Eyre, A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, and Rebecca, and nonfiction inspires me a lot as well. I had just read "Inside the Victorian Home" by Judith Flanders, which had so many interesting details.
Are you anything like your main character, Nimira?
I'm not tremendously like her. I'm practical, but I think she is more practical than I am. Her life has been more difficult, so she is more independent by necessity. I also don't think I would fall in love as quickly, but she is pretty desperate for someone to love her. Poor girl! It's hard to be a book character!
The names used the book are unique; how did you choose them?
They really just came to me. I wanted them to sound like real names from different countries without being quite obvious. But I don't hit baby name books or anything. My next book had a lot of trouble getting off the ground because the characters' names were not coming to me...
Did you do any research while writing MAGIC? If yes, please explain.
I did a ton of research on the 19th century. Even creating a faux 19th century takes a lot of work. It was fun work, of course. When I was first writing the draft I read a lot of general books on daily life in 19th century. During revisions, one of the things I did was go through a number of books of early photography and take notes on how things looked. I found a gem of a book called "The Tasteful Interlude" in a used bookstore that was nothing but photographs of middle-class home interiors with commentary. You can thank that book for most of the interior descriptions!
What was the most difficult aspect of writing MAGIC?
The ending. Oh God, the ending. I originally thought of this book as a trilogy. Then, I decided that was a bad idea as I queried it and made an ending that was neatly tied up when I totally rewrote it. Then my editor wanted it open again. It's changed so many times and I've never been quite happy with it. And more reviewers gripe about it than anything else, so... that's frustrating. I knew it was a problem all along and I just couldn't seem to nail it.
MAGIC has been compared to Jane Eyre, are you a big fan of this classic?
Yes! I love that book. I still remember finishing it for the first time, closing it, feeling so satisfied. I might have teared up a little, I can't remember, but my mom commented on how emotional I looked. "That was just a great book," I said. Happy sigh!
Did you always want to be a novelist?
As a kid I had no doubt of it. I used to keep diaries just so they could be published after I was dead for my fans. It was only in my teenage years that I doubted myself somewhat. But, my kid self was right after all.
What jobs did you have on your way to being a writer? Did they help you in any way as a writer?
My first job was working at Sears. I worked there for five years because I hate change. It was a pretty lousy job, but I certainly learned a lot about different kinds of people. From there I got a job at a health food store, where I learned a lot about even more interesting kinds of people. That job did not pay any better than Sears (I developed serious thrifty skills) but it was a lot of fun and I became an excellent cook browsing all the cooking magazines!
When and where do you usually write?
I write at my desk. It's cluttered and ergonomic and boring. I used to write on the porch and watch the squirrels, but I had to stop when I developed a repetitive stress injury. I do most of my writing either after lunch or after dinner. It helps to be well fed!
Is there something that is a must have for you to be able to write?
I wish I could say something romantic and strange. Like a vintage hat or an ancient charm or sitar music or tea blossoms.
But, alas. The answer is pajama pants.
What author or book most influenced you as a writer or in general?
Well, I have to go back to age 12. That was when I stopped writing and drawing other people's characters and created my own world. My big influence at the time were Piers Anthony's Xanth books and Elfquest comics. My writing style, however, was probably most influenced by classic children's literature like L. M. Montgomery, Little House, Narnia, Betsy-Tacy, Ramona, etc. etc.
Can you tell us anything about your next YA novel(s)?
Now that Magic Under Glass is out, everyone wants a sequel! So I am sorry my next book is not a sequel. But, I wrote another book while I was waiting for edits to Magic Under Glass. That's the most efficient way to do it, after all. It's about a mermaid and a winged guy who were childhood friends and they meet again against the backdrop of a struggling theater show. It's the same planet as Magic Under Glass but based on late 18th century Italy. So it's a generation or two before Nimira.
The Hiding Spot is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Is there a place, activity, or person that is your hiding spot?
I think my hiding spot is the bathtub... few places are so conducive to cozy, solitary thought!
Anything else you would like to share with us?
Thanks for having me! And if anyone is in the Orlando area, please check out my launch party on January 19, 7 pm, at the Barnes & Noble on Colonial Drive!