Interview the Author Jacqueline Jules
Jacqueline Jules is the award winning author of 22 children’s books, including Zapato Power (2010 Cybils Literary Awards winner), Benjamin and the Silver Goblet (Sydney Taylor Honor Award), No English (a DE Diamonds Booklist and TN Volunteer State Award nominee), The Hardest Word, The Princess and the Ziz, Unite or Die: How Thirteen States Became a Nation (winner of the 2010 Library of Virginia Cardozo Award for Children’s Literature) and Duck for Turkey Day (2010 Notable Social Studies Trade Book). Her poetry and prose have appeared in over sixty publications, including Highlights, Cricket, Cicada, Spider, Ladybug, Stories for Children, and Christian Science Monitor. She won the Arlington Arts Moving Words Contest in 2007, Best Original Poetry from the Catholic Press Association in 2008, and SCBWI Magazine Merit Poetry Award in 2009.
Jacqueline lives in Northern Virginia, where she teaches part-time at a local elementary school. She is married to a wonderful man who edits her stories and does all the technical work for her Web site. She is also the mother of two grown sons. Her hobbies include reading, walking, and attending the theater.
Interview with Jacqueline Jules author of the Zapato Power Series.
I want to thank you for being my guest here on Mymcbooks Blog
What is the last book you read?
I just finished Talk Thai: The Adventures of Buddhist Boy by Ira Sukrungruang. It’s a vivid and engaging memoir of the Asian American immigrant experience from a very male perspective. I am an avid reader and generally consume about one book a week.
What were your earliest memories of writing?
I remember wanting to be a writer from the time I was in elementary school, but I don’t think I really began to write much before I was in high school. I took creative writing as an elective and from then on, it was a passion.
Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?
Writing grew out of my love of reading. We naturally want to create something which gives us pleasure. In high school, my teachers were encouraging. But in college, I had teachers who were critical. One professor, when discussing my future said, “What do you really want to do with your life? You don’t think you can be a writer, do you?” I was crushed. The day of this conference was actually my 22nd birthday. Thirty some years later, having recently signed my 24th book contract, there is a part of me who would like to find that professor to tell her how wrong she was. But I don’t remember her name, just how rejected I felt at the time. Maybe my writing wasn’t any good in my 20’s. Like any art form, it takes years to hone the craft of writing. Only a lucky few are prodigies. Most of us have to be apprentices first, sometimes for a long time, before our writing is publishable.
Are you working on a new book?
Yes, I am always working on something. At this moment, I am immersed in a middle grade novel which I hope to have a first draft of by the end of the summer.
What inspired you to write Zapato Power?
Zapato Power was inspired by my students when I worked as an elementary school librarian. So many first and second grade boys asked for book about superheroes. There wasn’t much available for them that was both age and reading level appropriate. So I got the itch to try and write one myself. The idea of creating a character who resembled my students intrigued me. What if one of the little boys who kept asking for a book on superheroes suddenly acquired super speed? How would his life change?
If you had a super power what would it be and why?
This is the question I thought long and hard about when I first began the Zapato Power series. What super power should I give Freddie Ramos? I decided on super speed because that was a power my own son used to pretend to have every time I bought him new shoes. He’d race around the store as if the new sneakers gave him a burst of speed. Lots of little boys do that. But the best super power for Freddie Ramos in Zapato Power would probably not be the best power for me. I’d like the ability to see things far away. I have always been near sighted and I’d like to be able to see better.
How did you come up with each character?
Most of my characters are based on my students. I begin by picturing a particular student but as I continue to write, the characters become a composite of myself, my own children, and other students I’ve taught. By the time the book is finished, the characters are individuals with their own personalities.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
Writer’s block has never been a problem for me. Finding the time to write down all my ideas is my challenge. I teach in an elementary school, so writing time during the school year is very precious. I love the summers when I have more time to spend on my work.
What is the most difficult part of writing?
First drafts are very hard for me. They go so slowly. Revising is fun. I love rearranging words until they say the same thing, only better.
What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?
I don’t have a lot of hobbies anymore. There is not much free time between my teaching and my writing career. But I like to walk, attend the theater, read, and spend time with my family. I garden a little and enjoy watching the birds at my backyard feeder.
How do you react to a bad review?
I try to tell myself it is just one person’s opinion. I have certainly disliked books that everyone else seemed to think were fabulous. But bad reviews hurt. There is no way around it.
Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with?
I’d like to dine with the poet Billy Collins.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
I am a workaholic. My greatest desire is for more conscious hours in the days. If I didn’t need sleep, I’d be an ecstatic soul. I am guilty of trying to cram too many projects into one day and feeling frustrated. It’s something I need to work on.
What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?
Go to the library with your child. Have fun picking out interesting books together. Allow your children to choose books they find personally interesting. Respect their choices. Read aloud together every night. Nothing builds a love of reading like sharing stories with an adult.Readingaloud is the most effective method of building literacy in young children.
What advice you would give to new writers?
Join SCBWI, http://www.scbwi.org/ and attend writing conferences. Join a writing critique group and learn from other writers. And most importantly, read every children’s book you can get your hands on —the classics you enjoyed as a child and the books currently popular. Analyze what makes a book a good reading experience. Knowing the children’s publishing market is essential.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Please write to me on my website at www.jacquelinejules.com. I’d love to hear from you.
Thank you for this interview.
Thanks for having me.
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My name is Ella Johnson. I started Mymcbooks to promote reading. As a former teacher, I know that making basic education fundamentals interesting to children can be challenging. Education can be fun, exciting and captivating for children with the right learning tools. So my goal is to “make learning interesting and fun” for the children while they learn, by introducing them to fun books with colorful and captivating illustrations.
In 2009, I start the giveaway program giving away free school supplies at random to 2 winners each year. I also started a monthly free giveaways for books and gifts.
August 2010, I extended the free school supplies from 2 to 5 winners at random on my blog and also give away 20 bags full of school supplies to familes in need at Chick-fil-A in Brandon, Florida during their family nights. And in 2012, I beat my that number and gave away a lot of school supplies to needy families. Hopefully, I can continue to do this each year.
In 2011, I started writing reviews on children’s books then giving these books away free on Mymcbooks Blog. I increase the number of books we giveaway free to help support parent. My goal is to give away as many as I can each year. This is also a great way to introduce parents to new books.
Mymcbooks blog is always looking for other ways to give kids free books. So I started Mymcbooks Birthday Library http://mymcbooksbirthdaylibrary.wordpress.com/
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Books Given in 2011: 315
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Read Interview about Ella Johnson, http://melangeofcultures.wordpress.com/2011/07/31/interview-with-ella-johnson-founder-of-memorable-children-books-gifts/ Interviewer: Nicole Weaver
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