An Interview with @janetleecarey for her #DragonMoonBlogTour

dragon_moonBeware the dark moon time when love and murder intertwine
All Uma wants is to become a healer like her father and be accepted by her tribe. But when the mad queen abducts her and takes her north, Uma’s told she must use her healing skills to cure the infertile queen by Dragon Moon, or be burned at the stake. Uma soon learns the queen isn’t the only danger she’s up against. A hidden killer out for royal blood slays the royal heir. The murder is made to look like an accident, but Uma, and the king’s nephew Jackrun, sense the darker truth. Together, they must use their combined powers to outwit a secret plot to overthrow the Pendragon throne. But are they strong enough to overcome a murderer aided by prophecy and cloaked in magic?

~In the Time of Dragon Moon is a story of courage and romance that readers will not soon forget.~ VOYA

What inspired you to write In the Time of Dragon Moon?
I’d mentioned the indigenous people of Wilde Island in Dragonswood, book two of the series. When Dragonswood went to press, I already knew what I wanted to work on next. It was time to look more closely at the Euit people of Wilde Island, to tell a story from a young Euit girl’s point of view. I knew early on that she would be a healer. As I was finishing the first draft, I flew to Maui for a “Maui Immersion” with indigenous healers Lei’ohu Ryder and Maydeen Aio.

On that trip I learned much more about lost traditions and the power of the earth’s healing. I was profoundly changed by these women’s ancient healing practices and the experience confirmed the importance of telling Uma’s story.

What is the first book you remember reading that you could not put down?
The English author E Nesbit wrote many magical adventures. My favorite was Wet Magic an adventurous story about four siblings who journey beneath the waves into the hidden mermaid kingdom. I remember wishing I could breathe underwater.

You seem drawn to writing for YA, particularly YA fantasy. How did that happen?
I fell in love with fantasy books when I was a child, and knew I wanted to write them someday. I’ve heard it said that books are doors and mirrors. They are doors into adventure. They are mirrors that reflect our humanity back to us. I seek to do both in each one of my books.

Dragon Moon final cover UmaA line from the recent Voya review for In the Time of Dragon Moon says: “While Uma’s struggle to help the queen and save her people is intriguing, the depth of her character reaches much further, exploring issues of race, gender, and identity.”

Uma’s father is Euit, her mother is English. The two peoples have been at war with each other for centuries. This means my central character is at war with herself at the opening of the book. Who is she? Where does she belong? The opening raises these questions and sets her on a dangerous quest seeking the answers.

How long does it take you to write a book and what is your favorite part of the process?
It takes me a year to write the first draft of a book as long as In the Time of Dragon Moon, and another year to revise it multiple times with my editor. My favorite parts of the writing process are those rare “ah ha!” moments when I discover something unexpected or when I make a connection in the fabric of the story that suddenly brings everything together.

You also offer school visits. What is your favorite thing about interacting with students?
The students ask such interesting questions! I enjoy the lively dialogue in the assemblies, and in the smaller classroom settings. I’m interested in the students’ experiences, their observations and their opinions. In the smaller classroom or library sessions, I notice the shyer boys and girls eventually raise their hands, too. We get into some riveting discussions about how reading affects our minds. When we read we are like a film director, creating a movie in our minds. We discuss particular books (mine as well as others). We talk about the difference between books and other media. We discuss aspects of creating stories on the page and talk about the way stories impact our lives.

school visit RJH, with students Divya and AmandaWhy should schools host author visits?
I would have given anything to meet an author when I was in school. Every student deserves the chance to see “the person behind the book” and to ask him or her questions. On author visits Students are given the chance to learn the nuts and bolts of the novel writing process, to hear about failures and successes, and the hard work and the joy of creating books for readers. Authors can serve as ambassadors of the word. On my visits we can inspire children and teens to read, encourage them to value their language, their ability to communicate, and to write about their experiences. People matter. Our stories matter. Our shared words create a culture of understanding.

Author Janet Lee Carey Photo Credit Heidi Pettit
Author Janet Lee Carey Photo Credit Heidi Pettit

Janet Lee Carey grew up in the bay area under towering redwoods that whispered secrets in the wind. When she was a child she dreamed of becoming a mermaid (this never happened). She also dreamed of becoming a published writer (this did happen after many years of rejection). She is now an award-winning author of nine novels for children and teens. Her Wilde Island Chronicles are ALA Best Books for Young Adults. She won the 2005 Mark Twain Award and was finalist for the Washington State Book Award. Janet links each new book with a charitable organization empowering youth to read and reach out. She tours the U.S. and abroad presenting at schools, book festivals and conferences for writers, teachers, and librarians. Janet and her family live near Seattle by a lake where rising morning mist forms into the shape of dragons. She writes daily with her imperious cat, Uke, seated on her lap. Uke is jealous of the keyboard. If Janet truly understood her place in the world, she would reserve her fingers for the sole purpose of scratching behind Uke’s ear, but humans are very hard to train.

Visit her website here.

For other stops on Janet’s Blog Tour, click here.

Uke loves journals 3

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