March 15, 2010

Interview with Jaclyn Dolamore

I just wanted to say that I've now passed 400 posts. Pretty exciting, eh?

But onto what you're at this post for - Jaclyn Dolamore. Not only does she have great taste in headgear, she's the author of the recently released YA fantasy novel MAGIC UNDER GLASS. (It's likely you've seen it around the blogosphere lately.) Jackie is currently taking a break from the internet, so I was happy we were still able to do the interview - especially since she gave such interesting answers to my questions!


1. The setting of MAGIC UNDER GLASS uses an amalgation of various real world cultures. What were your biggest breaks from reality to create this fantasy setting?

Well, most fantasy worlds are based on places and cultures on this planet. Naturally. Since it's all we know, really! So it's no secret that MAGIC UNDER GLASS is set on an alternate earth of sorts. But there is magic, and many intelligent humanoid species, including mermaids and winged people. So I think the planet would have been settled in a pretty different way. Certainly history on our own planet could have gone very differently if different groups of people had different kinds of magic. So MAGIC UNDER GLASS has cultures that resemble cultures we are familiar with, but the distribution of people and the way politics work in different countries can be pretty different. For instance, I think the winged people, with their increased capacity to travel, would have mapped some far-flung parts of the world and increased communication much earlier on. If I really wanted to think hard, this would probably have bigger ramifications then I convey in the book. But if you get to thinking too hard about alternate histories, your head will just explode!

2. What are your favorite Victorian novels? (If you say TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES by Thomas Hardy, then I will be forced to shun you.)

Wow. People hate TESS. You aren't the first person to say so to me. But I've never read it. Honestly, I am more interested in the nonfiction of the Victorian era than the fiction. I love JANE EYRE, of course, but I'm even more interested in the real Brontë family. I slogged through GREAT EXPECTATIONS, but Dickens himself can be an interesting guy. I don't really "get" poetry (although Kelly Fineman's blog helped...a little) but I am fascinated by the crazy lives of the Romantic poets. JANE EYRE really is the only truly Victorian novel I truly love. I enjoy Jane Austen, but of course she is really before that time.

Book Cover

3. You recently stated that LM Montgomery's Emily books strongly influenced MAGIC UNDER STONE. Were there any specific works that inspired MAGIC UNDER GLASS? Are there any works that you find inspiring in general?

MAGIC UNDER GLASS was inspired by the intricacy of Lost, the music of the Decemberists, the macabre comics of Dame Darcy, the atmosphere of Sarah Waters' novel FINGERSMITH, semi-Gothic novels like JANE EYRE, THE SECRET GARDEN, REBECCA, and no doubt a bunch of other things I can't recall right now. As for general inspiration, my work was shaped by the things I loved when I was about 12-14 years old... those ages when art can really change you. Xanth books, Elfquest comics, anime and manga and Final Fantasy games, many great and classic children's books... I was a geek. ^_~

4. Based on your lj, you're a bit of a foodie. How did you get into making your own meals and buying local and such? You also seem cost concious - what are some of the easiest ways to cut food costs?

My mom and her whole side of the family are foodies. So I guess it was inevitable that I would be one to when I moved out and had to feed myself. And, since I worked lousy retail jobs, I naturally became very cost conscious! I could probably write a whole book on this topic. But, a few tips:

-- Learn to cook. Sure, that's obvious, but the better a cook you are, the more you can save money and eat better. For me, the best way was to read cooking magazines. They come every month. You don't avoid them like a cookbook because they seem small and monthly, and full of colorful pictures. Then you tear out recipes that sound good and doable, and meanwhile you get tips and ideas from looking at the other things you will never make. You could also try adding food blogs to your blog roll or watching food programs on TV. Whatever gets you always inspired and learning new things.

-- Specifically, learn at least one staple recipe for every cheap cut of meat (or alternate protein source) and vegetable. That way no matter what is cheap that week, you will know what to do with it.

-- Make sure you have some good flavors to make cheap meals exciting. A can of beans is tastier if you fry up just one strip of bacon first, then fry an onion in the bacon grease, then add the beans. For vegetarians, that can of beans is more exciting with a little smoked paprika. Some hard Italian cheese is expensive but just a little shaved into a salad makes it exciting.

-- Go to the grocery store to stock up on staples, sale items, and fresh food in season. Don't even venture down aisles with useless stuff like cereal bars or frozen pizza unless you have a sale item you're looking for.

-- But be realistic about your time and ambition and choose the lesser of two evils. I might go to the store and buy a bunch of vegetables and meat to make fresh meals. But maybe the next day I'm tired and busy, and I know I have nothing that doesn't take work, so I end up at McDonald's. It would've been better if I had bought, say, an organic frozen pizza and thrown a few extra veggies on it in five minutes and cooked it up. Make sure you always have plenty of food that doesn't expire super-fast to allow for the circumstances of your life.

5. I loved your entry tracking your past entries about MAGIC UNDER GLASS. I must say, I'm really curious about the excised Roman. What was he like? What helped you write the characters better?

Roman was a bit boring compared to Erris, really. He was a good guy, kind of quiet and noble and tragic. He did not start out trapped in a frozen automaton, but as a regular looking guy who happens to be clockwork on the inside. He also did not start as a fairy prince. But the parts of him I liked went to Erris, like playing the piano and having the ability to rise to a heroic occasion.

I had a lot of trouble with the characters in this book early on. It took hard work to know them, including filling out little internet surveys in their character, but mostly just thinking and drawing and rewriting the book...

6. Now that I've forced you to answer a lot about writing and a little about food, I wonder: Why David Bowie? Not that I don't think he's awesome, but I want to know what attracted you to his music.

Well, when I was about 20 years old, as I mentioned, I worked in retail. My friends were all at college making friends and doing things that at least *sounded* more important, and I was selling hideous clothes to old ladies for just over six dollars an hour. And I really didn't know what else to do. I didn't want to take out college loans unless I knew the degree was going to be useful, and I didn't know what that would be, and I couldn't move because I was living with my beloved boyfriend, so I just felt lost and plain and like my life was completely unromantic and going nowhere. The only thing I had were the characters in the stories I wrote, and of course they were all well dressed and exciting and cool.

That was when I discovered Bowie. Here was this guy who dressed in crazy outfits and had questionable sexual preferences and reinvented himself constantly and talked and sang about being an outsider and poignant stuff, along with epic sounding fun stuff about making it all worthwhile as a rock 'n roll star. In some weird way, it was like he gave me permission to reinvent myself and dress how I wanted and be exciting myself. I realized an important lesson: you don't become a fabulous person because fabulous things happen to you; fabulous things happen to you because you were already fabulous.

And of course, it didn't hurt that I have a thing for really skinny pale guys who look good in eyeliner and have nice cheekbones and awkward teeth, apparently. Although I must confess, that when it comes to just music, and not also the trappings of persona, my favorite is actually Roxy Music.


  1. What a fun interview! Man she has a lot to say.
    It's weird how an amalgamation of things I don't like ended up as this absolutely amazing booK! :-)

  2. Great interview! I loved Magic Under Glass and Jaclyn is really sweet. I'm so excited the sequel is coming out too- this book really needed one!


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