Today I want to take the time to welcome L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright.
“L. J”. as I like to call her is the author of the YA fantasy: The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin. She is also the author of the Prospero’s Daughter series: Prospero Lost, Prospero In Hell, and Prospero Regained. She has published numerous articles on Japanese animation and appears in several short story anthologies, including Best Of Dreams Of Decadence, No Longer Dreams, Coliseum Morpheuon, Bad-Ass Faeries Anthologies (where she is also an assistant editor) and the Science Fiction Book Club’s Don’t Open This Book.
Thanks for allowing my followers to get to know you some L.J. So lets get into it!
1. So tell us about your book. Why did you write it and who is it targeted towards?
The Unexpected Enlightenment series is targeted at older teens, but is currently being read and enjoyed by people of nearly every age.
I decided to write this series because I fell in love with the idea for it, which was made up by a friend. I thought if I and my husband and our friend loved the idea so much, perhaps others would love it as well.
The series starts out much like Harry Potter. It concerns Rachel Griffin, a little British girl who attends Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts, a school of magic in New York’s Hudson Highlands. She starts out as many children at schools of magic, concerned about fighting villains, fitting in, and making friends.
However, there is something else going on in her life. She lives in a world like ours except there is no notion of Monotheism—no God, no Jews, Christians, or Muslims. As the story continues, Rachel begins to discover that these things. Apparently, they once existed in her world, but all trace has been removed by magic.
As the story continues, Rachel fights evil, learns magic, struggles with friendships and star-crossed romance, but she also begins to learn about God, angels, Jesus, Heaven, the Bible and many other things that are part of the true wonder of the world.
2. What were some of the biggest challenges in writing the book?
The biggest struggles so far have been outside the book. Perhaps, when we are working on something important, we find ourselves facing unexpected odds. This one project has been fraught with more heartache and less support than anything else I have ever written.
If it were not for my love of the idea, and the delight my early readers took in the story—including a 15 year old girl in Alaska who read the first book eight times!—I very well might have given up.
3. What advice would you give new novelists?
Don’t give up!
Actually, as someone who waited 17 years for my first novel to finally be published I have two pieces of advice: Don’t give up and Don’t settle for less than the best you can do.
Take a look at your craft. Identify where you are weak. Do what you can…writing exercises, writing classes, whatever it takes, to strengthen those weaknesses. Don’t let yourself do less than your best.
I also strongly recommend the book Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, and the related Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. Whenever I get stuck, I go back to these two books.
4. Tell us about your journey of faith. How did you become a Christian?
I have always been a Christian. But we all grow closer to God as we journey. As a child, attending church youth group and camp really helped cement me on the way. Since then, it has been a steady process of progress and plateaus. Times when I grow closer to God and can really feel his presence, and times when I flounder and get sucked into worldly thoughts.
Yet He is always waiting when I look up again, always ready to catch us!
5. Who are some of your favorite authors and or books to read?
I love Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy. I find it to be such a great companion to the Bible, illuminating it and helping me understand more in the Bible each time I read it.
I love Tolkien, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, C.S. Lewis, Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain, and Roger Zelazny’s Nine Princes of Amber. I am also a big fan of Harry Potter and Harry Dresden—I particularly like the hints of Christian presence in Jim Butcher’s Dresden series.
6. Now that you’ve written the book what other projects if any are you working on?
Currently, the first book, The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin, has been published. The second book, The Raven, the Elf, and Rachel, is finished and will soon go to press. I am currently writing the third book, Rachel and the Technicolor Dreamlands.
I really enjoy writing this series and am glad I have a great deal more to do.
7. When did you start writing?
I wrote my first chapter of my first novel at the age of twelve. I have been writing, on and off, ever since. My first published series, The Prospero’s Daughter series, was started in 1992, and was finally published by Tor in 2009. (This first series is a sequel to Shakespeare’s Tempest set in the modern world. It is a sort of Shakespeare meets Dante story.)
8. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I try not to write with a message, but rather to pray and let whatever message the Divine Muse might wish to share with readers reach the page. I hope that the books can bring a sense of wonder and joy to those who read them, as well as make them think about how they see life and the world—and, ultimately, to help them grow closer to God.
9. Do you have a specific writing style?
I don’t know if I do. I try to write with a sense of wonder…if romances are about love and mysteries are about curiosity, then my books are about wonder…about seeing the beauty of the world beyond what we often recognize. But they are also stories of action and humor and romance.
10. How did you come up with the title?
The title for the first book came to me as I contemplated how my character changed. In the original setting in which I was introduced to the idea, I did not realize it was a Christian story…hence the Unexpected Enlightenment. The title for the third book came to me in a dream. Friends and family members liked it, so I decided to stick with it.
11. Ok so do you have any advice for other writers?
I have a weekly column called Wright’s Writing Corner (Wright is my husband’s name.) It has regular posts on the art of writing as well as guests posts and posts on the state of the market. You can see it here:
I want to thank you L.J. for spending time with us today, is there anything else to add before we go?
Enjoy the wonder. God loves you!
When not writing, L.J. switches to her secret identity as wife and stay-home mom in Centreville, VA, where she lives with her dashing husband, author John C. Wright, and their four darling children, Orville, Ping-Ping Eve, Roland Wilbur, and Justinian Oberon.
Her website is: http://www.ljagilamplighter.com/
Her blog is at: http://arhyalon.livejournal.com/
On Twitter: @lampwright4
You can read the first four chapters of The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin for free: http://www.ljagilamplighter.com/chapter-one-the-treacherous-art-of-making-friends/
The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Unexpected-Enlightenment-Rachel-Griffin/dp/1937051870