Jaime Lee Mann writes every day as a copywriter and ghostwriter. She also writes fiction under her own name and late last year had her first, very own, middle grade novel published. Elora of Stone is the first book in Mann’s Legend of Rhyme Series which describes the magical adventures of two twins, who were separated when one disappeared at the age of four, and who must find each other before an evil sorcerer takes over the world.
We caught up with the PEI author to learn more about herself and her stories.
Where are you from originally?
JLM: Lower Rollo Bay. (A teensy speck on the east coast of Prince Edward Island.)
Why do you think at nine years old you decided you wanted to be an author when you grew up? (What inspired this?)
JLM: I feel like it was decided for me that I would grow up to be an author. I don't remember a time when I was not dreaming up stories. I loved writing. But I got the hugest thrill when classmates enjoyed reading my work. I remember my friends getting a kick out of giving me a word and asking me to write a poem or story based on it. I never really thought about the significance of that feedback from my peers until now. Maybe that enjoyment of my words by my peers let the whole "authoring" idea percolate in the back of my mind.
How did you come up with the intriguing plot for Elora of Stone? And, is this your first published book?
JLM: Elora of Stone is the first book I've had published under my own name. (As a ghostwriter I've had other works released.) The plot changed many times. I can't give you a clear answer without spoiling the ending! I knew how the novel was going to end, but I didn't know how I was going to get there. I wrote a very rough first draft based on my initial outline, and it was crap. It had issues. So I sat with my husband (and some wine) and he (they) helped me to work through it. When I came up with the twist I wanted to use, the plot was perfect.
“No books I've read in my life have stayed with me like the books I read in my childhood.”
What age group is your book/series geared towards?
JLM: It was written for the 9-12 set, but I've had really positive feedback from younger and older readers, as well.
I love how the series is called "The Legend of Rhyme". What's the significance of that?
JLM: It was impossibly hard to come up with the name for the land where this magical stuff was going to take place. I originally pictured a land like Ireland, but with more Icelandic geographical features. The name "Rhyme" just came to me during one of my bouts of brainstorming. I thought it would pique interest on the shelf. And the entire series is based around Legend surrounding this mysterious land.
How hard was it and how enjoyable was it to sit down and write the first book?
JLM: When I allowed that creativity tap to be turned on at a full roar, it was a huge thrill to just let my own words flow. From my own brain! My own stories! I love ghostwriting and copywriting (that is my profession)but with my own stories I have complete freedom. Writing is not hard for me. Editing? Hard. Writing? Bliss.
“I remember being a little girl at Rollo Bay School and listening to Deirdre Kessler reading us her book, Lobster in my Pocket.”
What has the response been like to Elora of Stone?
JLM: Completely overwhelming. I was proud to have a book written. I set out to have a novel published. I did it. Yay! Oh, right. Now I'm completely open to criticism and potential rejection if these people don't like it! I haven't been in front of a group of kids yet where they didn't get upset that I couldn't keep reading. The feedback is unanimously positive from all grades 3-6 classes I've read to so far. I'm getting positive feedback all the time and it's the most incredible feeling.
How have you enjoyed touring schools and libraries so far?
JLM: I remember being a little girl at Rollo Bay School and listening to Deirdre Kessler reading us her book, Lobster in my Pocket. That was proof that I could be an author one day. To be able to sit in front of these groups of children and read to them is an honour. I'm also remembering how much I love kids. Obviously I love my own kids, but I love the energy that comes off a group of kids. I love teasing them and making them laugh. It's so much fun.
What are you working on now?
JLM: I'm trying to wrap the first three books in the series. Book 2 I should be working on right now because it's due to the editor. But I am answering your fun interview questions instead, until my coffee is ready.
When you are not writing novels, what are you up to?
JLM: When I'm not writing novels, or working on client projects, I'm probably in the kitchen. I love cooking. I'm also always doing dishes because of my aforementioned love to cook, plus our lack of a dishwasher. I'm also a kettlebell addict and can be found at the local fitness studio quite often.
What's your favourite kids’ book/kids’ author?
JLM: I'm a diehard Dr. Seuss fan. The Chronicles of Narnia is also tops. I love books that make kids think.
What do you like most about children's or YA literature?
JLM: Children's literature has the power to shape the way you see the world. No books I've read in my life have stayed with me like the books I read in my childhood. To think that one day, a child may look back on Elora of Stone as a story they will carry with them? That would be awesome.
“Hard work and determination will get you there much faster than wishing on stars.”
Anything to add?
JLM: No matter how old you are, follow your dreams. It took me 25 years or so, but I'm proof that if you focus and work hard, you can make your dreams come true. Hard work and determination will get you there much faster than wishing on stars.