Jaleigh Johnson's The Mark of the Dragonfly is one of my favorite 2014 MG fantasy novels, so I'm thrilled to host Jaleigh at The Hiding Spot to answer a few questions. Check out my review here, then read the interview for more information about the novel, Jaleigh's surprising day job, and her upcoming novel!
About the author:
Jaleigh Johnson is a fantasy author born and raised in the Midwest. Her novels for the Dungeons and Dragons Forgotten Realms fiction line include The Howling Delve, Mistshore, Unbroken Chain, Unbroken Chain: The Darker Road, and Spider and Stone. Her first book for middle grade readers is The Mark of the Dragonfly, from Delacorte Press. In her spare time, she enjoys gaming, gardening, and going to movies with her husband. Visit her online at www.jaleighjohnson.com.
The 401, the train that travels between the territories, is a character in its own right. From where did you draw inspiration for the train—its security, crew members, etc.?
The 401 train was actually based on a real steam engine, the 401 Southern at the Monticello Railway Museum in my town of Monticello, Illinois. A team of dedicated volunteers at the museum spent fifteen years restoring the 401 to working condition, which amazed and inspired me. I had to make it part of my story.
Did you have trouble writing any of your characters or specific scenes within the novel? Or were any characters or scenes particularly easy to write?
My favorite scenes to write were those involving Piper and Anna, particularly when they’re bantering or when Piper is trying to understand or just keep up with Anna. Those scenes flowed much more easily than others did because I could see those two girls so clearly in my head, how they argue like sisters and care for each other.
Did the title change as your novel journeyed toward publication?
The title did change a bit, yes. Originally, the book was called Dragonfly, but we added to it.
The Mark of the Dragonfly is currently a stand-alone book. Is there a possibility for more novels set in this world? Might we see these characters again?
I’m actually working on a companion novel now that I’m really excited about. It does take place in the same world, but it’s not a direct sequel and it follows different characters.
What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a writer/published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing?
People are usually surprised when I tell them that my day job is an accountant/tax preparer. While I don’t think working with numbers has shaped what I write about, it definitely helps balance my brain. That probably doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I’ll try to explain. In writing, there is no perfect, correct answer to a story problem. So much of writing is subjective. In accounting, there is always a correct answer. You can get the right numbers if you work at it. It’s nice balance of concrete and abstract in my head.
If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why?
Surreal. I think it’s a beautiful word, and sometimes it’s the best way to describe those times when life hands you the unexplainable.
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality?
I love that concept! I’d have to say mine is gaming. I’ve been a gamer (role-playing games, video games, tabletop board games) for most of my life, and it’s brought me great comfort and joy over the years.
Don't miss my review of The Mark of the Dragonfly, here!