Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Author/Character Interview with Jess Lourey author of The Toadhouse Trilogy: Book One

The Toadhouse TrilogyHello readers! Thank you for joining me today as I welcome Jess Lourey, veteran author of murder mysteries, as we discuss her foray into the young adult genre with her new book The Toadhouse Trilogy: Book One (THT).

Welcome Ms Lourey.

Also with us today is the heroine of THT, Aine (pronounced Aw-Nee).

Did I pronounce that correctly?

You did pronounce it perfectly! It's a Gaelic name.

I have to say, when I read the blurb for THT, what immediately came to mind was the animated feature
The Pagemaster, where a young boy becomes lost in a library and the only way out is by journeying through books until he reaches the glowing exit sign. Could you tell me what inspired you to write a book that takes place within books?

First I have to check out The Pagemaster...crap! They stole my idea before I had it. :) I'm going to have to rent that movie now. You can't go wrong with Christopher Lloyd as a librarian. The idea for the The Toadhouse Trilogy actually came from the alchemy of these three things: 1) reading Cornelia Funke's Inkheart series, Mary Pope Osborne's Magic Treehouse series, and Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games series, 2) a sense that I was shortchanging myself by not reading the classics outside of college, and 3) raising two amazing kids. All three factors were rolling around in my life the same year, and I had a thought: what if a sister and brother one day realized they'd been living in fiction all along, and they had to travel into their favorite--but exceedingly dangerous--classics to save themselves? That idea snowballed, and from it, The Toadhouse Trilogy was born. Books are magic.

How did you choose the books you used in THT? I imagine it was hard to choose from so many great novels.

One natural constraint was that I had to choose books published before 1926, so they would be within the public domain. I researched all the classics published before then and chose the ones I most wanted to read, with an eye toward choosing a wide variety--books written by men, books written by women, adventures, morality tales, books written by non-Europeans, etc. I have a pile of over 100 classics on my shelves, and I have a general idea of how the plot in each of the three books will go. I'll pick up a book that I think will work and start reading it. I can usually tell within the first 50 pages if it'll fit the story.

As I stated in the intro, you also write murder mystery novels. Is it easier or more challenging to write for the YA genre?

Definitely more challenging to write for YA, but I think that's because I'm fairly comfortable writing mysteries. My eighth mystery, December Dread, came out October 2012. That said, I see a lot of crossover between the two genres. They both require well-fleshed characters, tight pacing, and a cinematic setting.

Which do you prefer writing for?

For me, I think more of my idea than my audience when I'm writing. I want to write the best story I can, whether it's a mystery, YA, magical realism, or historical fiction.

I haven't forgotten you Aine, this one's for you. Which of the stories you traveled through was your favorite and why?

Aine: Yay! My favorite story was the one we were living in all along because it was the only home I ever knew.

I know you are an avid reader. Which book is your favorite and which would you most like to travel to in Book 2 of the series?

Aine: I hope that I haven't read my favorite book yet. I want to always read with hope and joy. If I could take a break in any book, though, it'd probably be Charlie and the Chocolate Factory so we could be safe for a moment and stock up on food for the rest of our journey.

Ms Lourey places you in some pretty tight spots that I, as a reader, enjoy because of the energy rush. Was there a time you felt you weren't going to make it? I
know that's a hard question to answer without revealing spoilers!

Aine: I know we have to make it. All the stories are depending on us. If we can just stay ahead of Biblos and get to the three objects, we can return home, and the stories can survive.

When you first meet Gilgamesh you seem kind of star struck, but as your story develops, your feelings swing back and forth. What are your feelings for Gilgamesh?

Aine:Honestly, I don't know. All I can be sure of is that I have to trust him right now to survive.

Ms Lourey, how do you see Aine's and Gilgamesh's relationship developing? Is there a romance in their future? Sorry, die hard romance fan here!

I love romance, too! Here's the deal: I would like romance to develop between the two of them, and that's what I'm pushing for. These characters push back, though. Originally, Aine was a much different character, but she wouldn't stick in the story the way I wanted her to. It took three massive rewrites until I found the true Aine. So, I vote yes for romance. Let's hope Aine and Gilgamesh agree.

Ms Lourey, can you give us a hint of what to expect in Book 2? Pretty please?

I love that you care! Here's the plan for The Toadhouse Trilogy: Book Two:Monsters 

Available June 2013

Aine, Spenser, and Gilgamesh have retrieved the first object, but their time is running out. Biblos the Book Worm has returned, and he is devouring the greatest novels ever written in his hunt for the the threesome. Their desperate search for the remaining two objects is further complicated when Madame Bovary discovers the secret of the toadhouse and escapes her novel to wreak havoc across worlds. Aine leads the desperate race through Babbit, Frankenstein, Beowulf, and The Jungle, confused by the developing romance between her and Gilgamesh, worried for her brother Spenser who is growing ever inward, and amazed as her and Spenser's magical powers develop by the day. Will they retrieve the second object, or will Biblos destroy them first?

Okay, one silly question, if you were stranded on an island and could take only one book with you, which book would you choose and why? (for both yourself and Aine).

Hmm. Could I instead bring unlimited pen and paper so I could write stories? If not, I would probably choose Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon. I read that book at a really pivotal time in my life, and I love the sweeping, high fantasy of it.

I hope this wasn't the worst interview given ever, and I thank you for your time. I hate to admit, but I only knew
Sinbad and Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and then from animated films and cinema, not reading the books. Thank you for sparking my curiosity and I look forward to reading Book 2 and seeing what books will be used.

Yay! I'm so glad the book inspired you to check out the classics. They are definitely worth reading. Thank you so much for having me!


Jess Lourey
The Toadhouse Trilogy (Young Adult)
Murder-by-Month Mysteries

The Toadhouse TrilogyAine believes herself to be a regular teenager in 1930s Alabama, but when a blue-eyed madman named Biblos attacks, she discovers that the reclusive woman raising her isn't really her grandmother, she's been living inside a book for the past five years, and fairies are real. With her blind brother Spenser, she flees the pages of the novel she's called home, one terrifying step ahead of Biblos and his black magic. Their only chance at survival lies in beating Biblos to the three objects that he desires more than life.

With dangerous adventures into The Time Machine, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, A Tale of Two Cities, and the Indian saga The Ramayana, this series aims to do for classic literature what the Percy Jackson series did for Greek mythology.

Four Stars, 0 Flames

I enjoyed this story. It reminded me of The Pagemaster, where Macaulay Culkin journeyed through different stories to get to the exit and back to the library. I loved that movie as a kid and Toadhouse has the same magical vibe. Jess Lourey is able to seamlessly combine her story with the classic tales we know and love. I like to think of it as a book within books.Toadhouse has something for everyone, whether you're a boy or girl, young adult or adult. Thank you so much for the chance to review your book, Ms. Lourey, it was truly a pleasure, and I cannot wait to read book 2! 

Book provided by author for an honest review.

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