Chris: Today I'm interviewing Elle Jacklee, author of The Tree of Mindala.
Elle: Chris, thank you so much for having me. It's a pleasure to be here!
Chris: Your book is a middle-grade/ya fantasy, the first in the Wunderwood series. Could you tell us a bit about the plot?
Elle: Sure, I'd love to. Miranda Moon's overactive imagination has landed her in trouble again. This time, she's been suspended from school. Since her Halloween weekend just got extended, her parents decide to take her and her straight-laced younger brother, Marcus, to her late grandparents' old cabin. That suits Miranda just fine. She's always felt there was something special about the place.
But when Miranda finds a curious water globe hidden in the cabin, she and Marcus are catapulted into a world even she never imagined. A world where everybody already knows their family name and magic flows through the trees. A world called Wunderwood. Their arrival happens to coincide with the release of a sinister warlock from a forty-year imprisonment. Thornton Crow resumes his deadly agenda to find the source of Wunderwood's magical power, the Tree of Mindala, and seize it for his own.
As Miranda learns of her own connection to Thornton, she realizes that it's up to her to end his cruel and relentless cycle of death that would steal not just magic, but also hope. With only the cryptic words of a prophecy to guide her, she holds the fate of the entire realm as well as the safety of Marcus and the newly found branches of her family tree in her hands. Miranda's signature optimism is put to the ultimate test when she chooses to carry out the task that just may save Wunderwood if doesn't doom it forever.
Chris: Do you draw a lot of inspiration from your personal life, or try and write in scenes or characters that mirror reality?
Elle: Miranda Moon has a vivid imagination and some have accused me of the same thing... Other than that, I would have to say that the characters are a combination of people I've encountered throughout my life, but no one of them is modeled after a particular person. I do think that their behavior is realistic for their circumstances, but it is a fantasy so I think that readers should expect a bit of the unexpected, too.
Chris: What were your experiences like with the publishing industry before you decided to self-publish?
Elle: I actually never went down the traditional publishing road. Ultimately, it was a lack of patience that was the final factor in my decision. It could take years to get published traditionally, if you are published at all. I have heard that landing an agent is like winning the lottery. I've never really been that lucky. And I also know that the a lot more goes into an agent/publisher's decision of whether or not to take on a new author than if the writing is good. They may deem that the subject matter won't appeal to the masses or that it's not inline with the current trends or any number of other reasons. With those things in mind, I really just wanted to get my book into the hands of interested readers when I was ready, then put my energy into writing the next one versus. I really like the idea that, thanks to the advent of self-publishing, I have the opportunity to share my book with readers who would enjoy it, whether there be ten or ten million of them. And as a reader, I'm really happy to have the opportunity to read books that would otherwise have been unavailable to me. Some of my newest favorite authors are self-published and were virtual unknowns when they started on their self-publishing journey and when I first read their works. Some of those works, I'm delighted to say, I have since seen on bestsellers lists. Others, I have not, but I'm still happy to have had the chance to read them, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for them! They may end up there yet!
Chris: What would you say is the most profound change writing this book has had on your life?
Elle: It's been profoundly fulfilling to have accomplished this life-long goal. It's also been really rewarding to hear from readers, especially kids and young adults, who've enjoyed my story. One of the reasons I chose to write in the MG/YA genre is because I'm passionate about keeping kids interested in reading. So if my work has done that for someone, then it's all been worth it! That's all the motivation I need to keep at it!
Chris: If you could give an aspiring author one piece of advice that you had to learn the hard way, what would that be?
Elle: I would say: now is the time to make the transition from being an aspiring author to a full-fledged author. With the opportunities now open to you for self-publishing, there's nothing holding you back. There's no reason to wait. There's no denying that writing a book takes a lot of work, a lot of dedication, and a lot of time. If you're like most of us and you don't have a lot of free time, and you have to write a sentence here, a paragraph there, then do that. You'll be closer to your goal than you were before. That's what I learned the hard way. I kept relying on this myth that I would do it "someday when I had a lot more time on my hands." Then I realized that I couldn't really envision a time in the foreseeable future when that would be the case. And I didn't want to look back years from now and regret that I hadn't at least tried. So ultimately I just made time here and there. So that would be my advice. Make the time.
Chris: When can we expect to see more of the Wunderwood series?
Elle: The Triad of the Tree: Wunderwood Book Two is well underway. I'm shooting for a release date around the end of this year. I'm really excited about revealing more of Wunderwood's history, letting readers get to know the characters a little better, and introducing them to new ones!
Chris: Thank you for your time. We're all looking forward to the next book.
Elle: Thanks so much for having me, Chris! It's been fun!
Chris: Find Elle's work here…
Tree of Mindala (Kindle)
Tree of Mindala (Print)
Connect with Elle here...