© 2013 Clive Eaton
J.E. Rogers was born in the Bronx, New York, and raised in New Jersey. She is a graduate of Western Connecticut State University, where she studied history.
Infused with a reverence for life, she loves animals and has always been especially intrigued by the unusual animals that can only be found in Australia. An avid student of every facet of the country, Rogers’ love of all things Australian has flowed into her first book. She hopes to spark an interest in young readers to the flora and fauna of Australia while engaging them in a wildly imaginative tale of adventure. Her second book will introduce a new group of animals and places inspired by her passion for the Land Down Under.
She lives in Connecticut with her family, which includes a standard poodle named Phoebe, and a cantankerous cat named Libby.
The Sword of Demelza
In the shadow of Fortress Demelza, the lives of three friends collide, forging an unlikely friendship.
Devon, a young red fox, along with Erik and Emma, two young marsupials, learn that an evil king has gained control of a powerful sword. Under the king’s command, a demon thylacine and dragon lizards are burning villages and threatening the peaceful creatures of the countryside.
In an act of desperation the three friends realize they must put everything aside and join a rebel army, whose main purpose is to end the reign of the king.
What do you do to relax when you are not writing?
I am always reading something, and I also like to knit.
What, or who, inspired you to become a writer?
I didn’t really ‘become’ a writer, it just sort of happened. However, my first book and sequential ones are written due to my passion for animals, and my desire to teach children about endangered animals. Therefore, my books are ‘peopled’ with them. In this, my first fantasy adventure, I have highlighted the animals that can only be found in Australia.
What or who inspired you to write your current novel?
I am working on another Australian Fantasy Adventure. My work includes more endangered animal heroes. I am concerned by the current plight of endangered wild animals around the world that we run the risk of never seeing again. My writing will continue to highlight animals who are caught in the human crush for living space and resources. Their plight is my inspiration.
Three interesting facts not covered in the synopsis:
Not only are the animals mentioned in the book real, I also mention flora that is quite real and only found in Australia.
Tell us three interesting facts about your book, which are not covered in the synopsis.
1. There is a wonderful goanna in the book who is a in charge of the rebel army. He has no sense of direction – he gets lost.
2. Erik and Emma, two sibling kowaries, are on a personal mission when they encounter Devon.
3. Not only are the animals mentioned in the book real, I also mention flora, and geographical places, that are quite real, and only found in Australia. I believe this will be fascinating to young readers here in the USA, and hopefully in other places around the world as well.
What research did you need to do for this book?
Every animal, plant and place that is mentioned in the book was researched. The places are real, the animals are real and the names of the trees and plants are real. I became familiar with the status of the animals as stated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). However, not every animal in the book is endangered, some are actually not indigenous to the country, and I did use some license in this respect.
Are any elements/characters of your book based on real life experiences or people you’ve met/known?
None at all, it is a complete work of fantasy.
Tell us a little about your current work-in-progress.
Currently I am working on the second book in the Australian Fantasy Adventures. The book will be entitled, The Gift of Sunderland, and will bring us back to the beginning, the forging of the sword of Demelza. I will be introducing new animals, and the story line will be exciting and surprising, with lots of magic and fantasy packed in.
What process did you adopt from inception through to the finished book?
I have been told that many writers create outlines. I don’t do that. I sort of dream the story. It runs through my mind like a movie, and then I write brief paragraphs, describing what is happening; building a skeleton, so to speak. Then I build on that skeleton until the story is established, continually working and re-working until the story comes to life. All along the way the characters are roaming around in my head. They talk to me helping to point me in the direction they want to go. I don’t argue with them.
What do you need (or not need) around you whilst writing?
I don’t need anything in particular when I am writing – maybe peace and quiet. I do my best writing at about 6:00 in the morning when the house is very quiet. I really need to concentrate on the words getting onto the page. If people talk to me and I don’t answer them, they know it’s best to stay away.
What prompted you to self-publish your current book?
I set out with the hope that I would find an agent, and that agent would help me to find a publisher. Easier said than done. Many agents responded to my query letters by saying, they liked what I had written, but it just wasn’t their thing. While that was encouraging, it didn’t quite get me published. Then one day, when I least expected it, a publisher approached me. I was flattered. I had the presence of mind to contact a friend who is familiar with publishing contracts, and she came back with two words, ‘no way.’ Too many rights would be signed away, and the percentage of profit was meagre. So I started to investigate other avenues, deciding on CreateSpace.
What were the three biggest challenges you faced when writing your book?
1. I was working full time while writing. It was nearly impossible, but I’m a bit tenacious – stubborn, very stubborn.
2. Finding the right person to do sketches was difficult at first, but when I found him, things really started to blossom. The sketches in the book bring the story to life, and help middle graders to see the animals, many of which they are completely unfamiliar with. I am indebted to the very talented Guy Atherfold of London, UK.
3. Everyone wanted to give me ideas. It was difficult to shut them out, especially when family and friends were making the suggestions.
Every author seems to suffer with writer’s block at some point. How do you overcome it?
Is there a writer on the planet that doesn’t suffer from writer’s block? I’d like to meet that person. There have been countless times that I have sat in front of the computer screen and stared at it. Like really, will words appear magically? It’s silly to think that sometimes I feel as though my story’s characters have taken a powder and left no forwarding address. I usually take a walk and hope that they will contact me soon so that I can get back to work. There’s really not much more one can do except wait for the muse to return.
What single piece of advice would you give to any aspiring writer?
I think the one thing that new writers need is tenacity. You have to keep trying. Depending on where you are in your writing process, whether you are in the midst of writing that book you always wanted to write, or you’re still in school studying the craft, the best advice I can give is keep at it. It’s the fire in the belly, the sense of urgency that will get you to where you want to be. Lastly, I would have to add that you must write for yourself, in other words, write about what you love and the rest will fall into place.
What genre does your book fall into?
I write middle grade fantasy. However, it is out of the ordinary in that along with an epic adventure, my readers are introduced to creatures that they are probably not familiar with. So in a way, they will learn something new about our natural world as they read. How much fun is that!
How did you get interested in this specific genre?
As a youngster, I had always been an avid reader, and my father would always bring home books that he thought I might enjoy. One day he came home with Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy. Many readers will recognize that this is the book the movie I Robot starring Will Smith, was based on. It has always been one of my favorites. Even though it is science fiction, it was the beginning of the road leading to fantasy. From there I went to Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Terry Brooks, Brian Jacques, Neil Gaiman, Edgar Allen Poe, just to name a few. They all fed my growing love for fantasy.
You as a reader
Which three authors have inspired you the most, and why?
At the top of the list would have to be Tolkien, followed close behind by Brian Jacques. There will not be another Brian Jacques any time soon. He is missed. Sorry, I didn’t mention three, but if I were to name another author that had a great impact on me, not necessarily inspiring me, but certainly setting my imagination on fire, that would be Franz Kafka. I have read everything he wrote. He was a sad genius.
What was your favourite book as a child?
I would have to say Kipling, especially, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, and the Elephant’s Child, from Just So Stories. I have a copy of The Jungle Book, from when I was young. I will never part with it.
What is the best book you’ve read in the last 12 months?
I thought about this question for quite a while before answering. It was difficult for me to pick one, so I will mention two. There is a new young author, Stefan Bachmann, who wrote The Peculiar. It was spectacular debut novel, and I am waiting for the second book, which is scheduled for Fall 2013. It is fantasy for young people at its finest. I reviewed the book on the blog, and also on Amazon.
Then there is the absolutely superbly written, Gunnedah Hero, by Clancy Tucker. It is dear to my heart because it took me on a journey through the outback of Australia. Australia is a place I have never been to, but thanks to Clancy I have been lucky enough to ride the ‘long paddock,’ with Gunnie Danson. It was an unforgettable adventure. I also reviewed this book on my blog, and Amazon.
What was the last book you recommended to a friend, and why did you think it was worthy of recommendation?
My last recommendation was not just a recommendation it was a gift. I purchased a copy of Mike Mignola, and Christopher Golden’s Joe Golem and the Drowning City, for a friend of mine. It was one of the finest examples of imaginative fantasy that I have read in a while. What a strange world they created in my mind’s eye, and I wanted someone else to see it. However, having said that, I have to include Jasper Fforde’s, The Last Dragonslayer, which I recently recommended. Now, that was an imaginary ride, but when is Jasper Fforde not a completely fanciful trip. He has the ability to mingle the ordinary with the extraordinary, and he’s a wiz at it. This particular book was no different than his others – just super.
Hollywood is calling
You’ve had the call from Hollywood and they want your opinion on who should play the leading roles in the film based upon your book. Who would you choose, and why?
Since the main characters in my book are talking animals, it would be the voices that are important. When I hear the characters talking in my head, they have English accents, and some are young. It would be a difficult thing to do, but it would be a lot of fun to attempt putting the right voice with the right character. I’m thinking Sean Connery, and Alan Rickman.
The film of your book is now going to need a soundtrack. Which musician(s) would you want to write and play it?
The soundtrack would have to be really dynamic, like ones that you hear when watching a medieval timepiece.
Drink – Tea (Earl Grey)
Meal – Anything Italian
Holiday destination – What else? - Australia
TV programme – Game of Thrones
Film – Loved Avatar, and Lord of the Rings trilogy
Method of travel – walking
Sport – Football (US). I am an avid Giants fan.
How can people connect with you?
Where can readers find your book?
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