Book Nerd Interview
Photo Credit: Mark Jones
Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Speaking for myself, at its core, storytelling keeps me sane and hopeful whenever I’m down, and it fires my imagination when I’m up. For me, it’s really that simple.
What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
Most people are surprised to learn that in addition to being a writer, I have a day job in accounting and tax preparation. Sometimes it’s a challenge to balance the artistic part of my brain with the concrete numbers part, but sometimes it’s a comfort too.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I think I was in my early twenties when I first tried to write a (not very good) novel. This would have been around 2002. The novel was actually a paranormal romance that I submitted to Harlequin. They rejected it, of course, but they took the time to give me some good feedback, for which I was grateful.
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
In regards to my writing, the greatest thing I learned in school was grammar. My high school English teacher was tough, but she gave me such a good foundation for my writing skills.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Creative, quiet, funny. Hehe, you can interpret “funny” however you like.
In your new book; The Mark of the Dragonfly, can you tell my Book Nerd Kids Community a little about it and why they should read your novel?
I think if they enjoy fantasy, friendship stories, or trains, they will enjoy reading THE MARK OF THE DRAGONFLY. It’s the story of a world where objects from other lands fall from the sky in violent meteor storms, where two young girls who couldn’t be more different have to come together to save each other, and to do that they have to stow away aboard a beautiful old steam train called the 401.
For those who are unfamiliar with Piper, how would you introduce her?
She’s a female Han Solo. That’s how I’ve always thought of her and how I describe her to others—at least the ones who are familiar with Star Wars. She’s a rogue, a survivor, and though she seems to be out for herself, she has a large heart.
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I think it would be fun to introduce Anna to Ophelia from Karen Foxlee’s OPHELIA AND THE MARVELOUS BOY. Anna loves to read and has a scientific mind like Ophelia. I think they could get into all kinds of trouble together.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Seventh grade was the time I really started to fall in love with fantasy novels and fantasy writing, and I read a bunch of Dungeons and Dragons tie-in fiction. I loved those sword and sorcery tales. Ed Greenwood was the author of many of those novels, and I actually had the chance to meet him several years later at a convention, and we’ve since become friends. He also did a lot to help my early writing career, so if I have a mentor, it would be him.
You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
If you mean advice about writing, I would say, write because you enjoy it. That will make everything else easier. If you mean advice about life, I’m actually still trying to figure that out myself.
What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
The year I started working for a local collectibles shop. I got the job because I played Magic: The Gathering, and the store was selling the card game. It was my first real job, and I worked there for seven years.
What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a kid?
That’s a hard one. Maybe the late sixties? If only to watch the Apollo moon landing. How that must have sparked the imaginations of kids around the world. Gives me goose bumps to think about watching that first step.
What scares you the most and why?
The things that scare most people scare me too, but I also have a fear of spiders and flying in airplanes. And a spider in an airplane? Forget about it.
What is your greatest adventure?
Travelling. I love to explore new places and try new things. My last trip overseas I went to Ireland, and it was so beautiful. I think I could live in Dublin.
When was the last time you told someone you loved them?
Last night, before my husband and I went to sleep.
Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day?
My husband. He always knows how to calm me down and make me feel better.
When was the last time you cried?
I went to see Monuments Men at the movies recently, and I cried. But I cry at movies all the time. It doesn’t take much to get me going.
Where can readers stalk you?
Best place: www.jaleighjohnson.com and I’m also on Twitter @JaleighJohnson
Piper has never seen the Mark of the Dragonfly until she finds the girl amid the wreckage of a caravan in the Meteor Fields.
The girl doesn't remember a thing about her life, but the intricate tattoo on her arm is proof that she's from the Dragonfly Territories and that she's protected by the king. Which means a reward for Piper if she can get the girl home.
The one sure way to the Territories is the 401, a great old beauty of a train. But a ticket costs more coin than Piper could make in a year. And stowing away is a difficult prospect--everyone knows that getting past the peculiar green-eyed boy who stands guard is nearly impossible.
Life for Piper just turned dangerous. A little bit magical. And very exciting, if she can manage to survive the journey.
"This magnetic middle-grade debut...[is] a page-turner that defies easy categorization and ought to have broad appeal."-Publishers Weekly, starred
"Heart, brains, and courage find a home in a steampunk fantasy worthy of a nod from Baum."-Kirkus Reviews, starred
You can purchase The Mark of the Dragonflyat the following Retailers:
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