Q: Can you tell us a little about JEWEL?
It’s a time-travel book set in Seattle at the beginning of the Iraq War and the beginning of World War I. The two time periods are connected by my drama-loving main character, Addie, an old theater named the Jewel, and Addie’s best friend Whaley, who is joining the army to go and fight in the Middle East.
Q: What inspired you?
A: I started writing it on the day the American military started bombing Iraq. The parallels with World War I were so powerful to me, as a historian – I wanted to capture the feelings and motivation of young people being swept up in both conflicts and I wanted to do it in a way that deepened both time periods by setting them in counterpoint with each other.
Q: Speaking of history (but not ancient!), what did you read as a child?
A: E. Nesbit was one of the first writers I fell in love with as a kid. I got THE ENCHANTED CASTLE from the library, adored it, and then was devastated to find that most of her books were out of print in the U.S. So I began ordering the books from the UK – FIVE CHILDREN AND IT, THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET, THE HOUSE OF ARDEN of Arden – all in hardcover, with colored plates and smelling very different from American books, somehow. Nesbit had a great sense of humor, a gift for creating magic, and wonderfully strong girl characters, especially for the early twentieth century. She was also a Fabian Socialist and a friend of H.G. Wells, and she supported her large family when her husband lost his fortune to an unscrupulous business partner and contracted smallpox, to boot!
Susan Cooper’s THE DARK IS RISING series also had a huge impact on me – I remember being swept up in the terror and beauty of the adventures of Will Stanton on the eve of his eleventh birthday. What I love about her (and other writers like David Almond) is their ability to combine contemporary experience – “real life” – with fantasy that is rooted in the actual history and folklore of a people. Finally, since I’m a completely infatuated history geek, I love Rosemary Sutcliff, who wrote about Roman Britain. The flavor of the era and the outlook of the people just spring to life.
Q: (Ooh, I’m a big fan of Rosemary, too. ) What are you working on now?
A: In the time that I’ve been waiting for edits on JEWEL, I’ve written a draft of a four-way fantasy novel with fellow writers Chris Eboch, Chris Cheng, and Molly Blaisdell. It’s tentatively titled THE FOUR WINDS. I’m also writing the first draft of a novel set in Ancient Rome.
Wow, that collaboration sounds interesting and unusual. Good luck with both, Louise, and thank you!