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Monday, March 8, 2010

INTERVIEW: JACLYN DOLAMORE

Aurora is pleased to welcome Jaclyn Dolamore, whose debut novel Magic Under Glass was released by Bloomsbury this past December. She's just finished the synopsis and is polishing the partial pages of the proposed sequel, Magic Under Stone.

Jaclyn enjoys writing books for teenagers because she feels that they tend to be a generally maligned group.

"I think it's too bad," she said. "It can be a hard age, but also a wonderful one full of creativity, discovery, and growing self-awareness. Kids and teenagers make the most enthusiastic fans."

She always wanted to write, with occasional diversions into wanting to be a comic book artist or an actress. In all of those desires, however, the goal was to be able to tell stories.

She's working on one story that she keeps trying to get right.

"It contains a magical Mafia and doll people and telepathy and a lot of cook stuff that is really hard to explain in a blurb," she said, "which is one reason I worry about that story…"

If she wasn't a writer, though, she said she would probably be a librarian, admitting "I'm so predictable."

What's not so predictable is where her writing comes from. Not much of it is based on personal experience, but a lot of it is based on stories she loved as a child or teenager.

"There are things I can trace back to Final Fantasy games or Xanth books or Elfquest comics," she told me.

Dade, her partner, is a creative guy himself.

"He does my website; he did my trailer; and he designs all the bookmarks, posters, and things like that I need," she said. "He's is awesomely supportive. One of his passions is building scale models, so I read him everything I write while he builds models."

Along with Dade, Jaclyn said her parents, her sister Kate, her agent, and her editor have all helped her with her career.

In addition she said, "I have to mention Sarah Cross, the author of Dull Boy. I've been friends with her since I was 14, and for most of that time we haven't even talked that much. Like, I hardly heard from her in my late teens and early 20s. But she was always really determined to be published, and she always encouraged me and told me my stuff was really good. I never really pursued publication because I had trouble finishing books and I was really intimidated by querying agents. But, about four years ago, I started writing more seriously, and I started to think I could really finish novels. But agents and editors still intimidated me. She reentered my life at that point, gave me a well researched list of agents, answered all my questions, and then she got an agent offer herself, which made me think it was really possible. It took several more years, and we mostly faded back out of each other's lives, but she came in and was exactly what I needed at that moment in my life. I really owe her one."



She learned many years ago that she has to outline her books, or she will never finish them.

"With that said, I never follow the outline," she confessed. "I think of it like a destination. I need a map that shows the path, and I need to know where I'm trying to get to. But along the way, I might try a back road, or a shortcut, or I might stop to see if that diner has good pancakes. Sometimes the ultimate destination might even change. But there has to be one to start, or I won't get very far to begin with."

Jaclyn loves to do research for her books—usually, she said.

"There are some things I hate to research, and I try my best to avoid putting those things in a book to begin with! One of my favorite things to do is prowl used bookstores looking for books I've never heard of on different times and places. I try to have a book already in my collection for every place or time or situation I would need. For instance, the last time I was in New York, I spent hours in the Strand and I bought a book about the history of the English country house, and one about shops in 19th century America, a history of posters and a book about Berlin in the 1920s. I mostly write fantasy set in another world, but I like to ground it in something real, and I never know when I might need these things."

Along with prowling bookstores, she enjoys cooking, collecting vintage clothing, as well as home furnishings when she can find them, drawing the characters in her novels, and history. She also goes through sporadic waves of studying Japanese.

One of her favorite meals is good German sausage with mashed potatoes, red cabbage with apples, and linzer torte for dessert.

"I would not want to eat that every often," she confessed, "but when I do…oh heaven!"

On the other end of the spectrum is mayonnaise. Jaclyn told me, "It borders on a phobia."

Finally, I asked, "What do you envision happening within the YA field in the next five to ten years?"

" Right now young adult is really exploding in popularity and creativity. So, like all good things, at some point it's going to get oversaturated... well, that point might already be here. And the genres might become a little more set, like the adult market. I really hope it doesn't lose the magic. I do think, though, that we have some really wonderful talent that's going to be around for a long time, and the tight writing will continue to attract readers in this busy world. I also think there will be a slow trend for young adult to encompass more college and early twentysomething stories."

Jaclyn Dolamore spent her childhood reading as many books as she could lug from the library and playing elaborate pretend games with her sister. She has a passion for history, thrift stores, vintage dresses, David Bowie, drawing, and organic food. She lives in Orlando, Florida, with her partner and two black tabbies who have ruined her carpeting (the cats, not the boyfriend, that is). This is her first novel.

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