- Author website/social media: www.jacquelinewest.com; Instagram: jacqueline.west.writes; Facebook: Jacqueline West, Author
- Tell me a little about yourself:
Hi! I’m Jacqueline, and I’m a writer. My middle-grade fantasy series, The Books of Elsewhere, began in 2010 and got a bunch of lovely accolades, including a CYBILS award and a spot on the New York Times bestsellers list. My new middle-grade fantasy, The Collectors, will be released on October 9, 2018, and I’ve got two more middle grade novels and one YA novel coming out in 2019. I live in Minnesota with my husband and our son, plus one bouncy brown dog named Brom Bones.
- When you were my age, did you like to read?
YES. I was the kind of kid who got in trouble for reading too much—like when I was supposed to be paying attention in class, or when it was two hours past my bedtime, or when I completely missed my bus stop because I was so absorbed in my book. But it was all worth it!
- What was your favorite story?
As a young reader, I loved stories that mixed fear and funniness, mystery and magic. Some of my very favorites were The Hobbit, the Bunnicula series, Alice in Wonderland, and everything by Roald Dahl.
- How do you get your ideas?
I’m an idea collector. Everywhere I go, everything I read, everything I see or hear or overhear becomes material for the story collage. The real trick is putting those ideas together…
- What author do you really like right now?
Oh, I love SO MANY authors, I can hardly choose. I’ve never read anything by Kate DiCamillo that I didn’t think was fantastic. Same goes for Jewell Parker Rhodes and Laurie Halse Anderson.
- Do you have any new or lesser known authors or illustrator you would suggest?
Diane Magras’s MG debut, The Mad Wolf’s Daughter, just came out this spring, and it’s one of the best middle grade books I’ve read in a long time: breathtaking adventure, a fascinating historical setting, and a main character I adored.
- There is a lot of talk about the need for multicultural books. What do you think about this?
I think the discussion is long overdue, and I’m glad it’s happening. Readers of all backgrounds need and deserve to see themselves reflected in the books they read, and authors of diverse backgrounds deserve the chance to tell their stories. On top of that, reading creates empathy. When you read a story, you’re stepping inside of someone else’s life for a while—and what a world-changing experience that is! We might never be able to completely understand the experiences of someone whose life is very different from our own, but the more stories we share, the closer we get.
- What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author/illustrator?
Read like crazy. Write like crazy. Repeat.
- As an illustrator/author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?
Yes, I get a lot of mail from readers, and it’s incredibly cool! Most of a writer’s work is pretty isolated—in my case, it’s usually just me, in my house, in my wrinkled pajamas, scribbling or typing away. Hearing from readers reminds you that your books are traveling all around the world to places where you’ve never been, that your stories and characters exist in the imaginations of people you’ve never met. And that’s like magic.
The Collectors (Greenwillow/HarperCollins, 2018)
The Books of Elsewhere (Dial/Penguin, 2010 – 2014)