I first learned of Elle Jacklee in October of 2015 when my twelve-year-old daughter read Elle’s book The Tree of Mindala and couldn’t stop. She had to go on to the second novel. She’s an avid reader but rather picky, so the fact that she continued said a lot.
A Conversation with Elle Jacklee
Book Cave: So here’s the question we like to ask first. What is something you have NEVER done but that you suspect most people in the world have?
Elle: I have never eaten a peanut butter and banana sandwich.
Book Cave: Haha. Quite the delicacy. Was there a time when you first decided you wanted to be an author?
Elle: I made the decision when I was about seven years old, and I never looked back. I was already an avid reader by then, and I loved reading so much that I was inspired to write stories that I hoped people would enjoy as much as the ones I’d loved so much. That is still my goal today.
Book Cave: I think you’ve really succeeded, if my daughter’s reaction is any indicator. I’m sure you have a lot of similar responses. Can you share one of your favorite reviews?
Elle: Any review truly is welcome, but the best one came from a young girl who lives in my area. She told me The Tree of Mindala was “the best book ever.” The best part is that she is representative of the target audience for the book, so that really made my day.
Book Cave: That is great to hear, especially from your target audience. Okay, next question. If you were somehow stranded on an island and you could take only four items with you, what would those be?
Elle: A water desalinator, a comfy blanket, a solar powered ereader filled to capacity, and my pet dragon.*
*Bear in mind: this list was created by a fantasy author, and as a result, items within it may or may not actually exist.
Book Cave: Ha! I’d really love to see your pet dragon. So sometimes we hear about authors receiving negative reviews. How do you respond when that happens?
Elle: I don’t respond at all. I know everyone likes different books, and that means not everyone will like my books, just as I don’t always like the books that others like. If there’s negative feedback that echoes through several different reviews, something that is less subjective and more about structure or form, then I may keep it in mind as something to improve upon. But I think it’s important for authors to remember that you can’t please everyone. I believe if you try to do that, you risk taking that special something from your writing that otherwise would have attracted your target audience in the name of attracting others who are not.
Book Cave: That’s a good point. When you get too caught up trying to please everyone, you risk destroying the core of what makes your writing uniquely yours. Okay, next question. If you could name the most amazing thing you’ve done or are most proud of in the world, what would that be?
Elle: Bringing my children into the world.
Book Cave: I have to agree with you there. How many children do you have?
Elle: Two awesome boys.
Book Cave: Children are amazing—and very impressionable. That’s why writers like you are important for parents who want their children to love books. So with that in mind, are there any authors who have been an inspiration to you, either as a child or as an adult?
Elle: So many inspired me (and still do!) that I couldn’t possibly name them all, so I will just name a few. The very first one was definitely Dr. Seuss. Then there was L. Frank Baum, C.S. Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Terry Brooks, J.K. Rowling, and many in between. More recently there’s George R.R. Martin, Suzanne Collins, Lindsay Buroker, Jeff Wheeler, and Sara J. Maas, and others. These talented authors inspire me not only to write, but to write well. Their works all have something special, whether it be the elegance of conveying much with just a few words, or weaving the story through multiple and equally engaging points of view, or painting a vivid setting without you even knowing they’re doing it. My hope is that the more I read of these works and others of their ilk, maybe their genius will rub off on me. 😉
Book Cave: A great list to look to for inspiration. Of course, that’s a high bar to reach. Have you ever made a writing mistake you wish you hadn’t?
Elle: It was starting a project without having an outline. I have learned that, for me, writing is a little like taking a trip: if I don’t have at least some idea of where I’m going, it’s going to be a lot harder to get there, and I’ll end up making stops along the way that take me much further from where I need to be and require much more effort to get back on course.
Book Cave: So are you writing something new now?
Elle: I’m working simultaneously on a few different projects, including Wunderwood Book 3 and Tides and Tomes (the conclusion to my Etchings and Embers series).
Book Cave: My daughter will sure be happy about that next Wunderwood book, and I’ll have to get her the others. Is there anything else you have planned?
Elle: I also have the bare bones of the project I’ll get working on after those are done, but I won’t say too much about that right now, other than that I’m very excited about it!
Book Cave: We’ll definitely keep a lookout for all these books. To finish up our chat, let’s go in a little different direction. Say you meet a stranger and strike up a conversation, and you have the opportunity to impart one piece of advice. What would you say?
Elle: I would tell them to be kind, to have empathy, and to make every moment count for something good. All right, that’s three things, but they are all related. 😉
Thank you for this chat, Elle Jacklee.
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