Sunday, May 3, 2015


I was approached by my good friend Mel, over at Girls Heart Books, to help out another Publisher, Leap Books, to review their new YA Anthology.  The very first story in the book seriously kicked butt and captured my complete attention.  A Steampunk, Space travlin, no nonsense Alice and her road to finding the White Rabbit who stole something from her…right up my alley….and everything simply evolved from there.  

I began conversing with the head publisher, Shannon Delany and here we are today….a week of interviews from the Authors whose task was to write about a girl named Alice and a White Rabbit.

To commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the ever beloved Alice in Wonderland, on behalf of Leap Books, I introduce to you….Beware The Little White Rabbit.  

Every day a couple new short interviews will be added to the list (didn't want to hit you over the head on the first day), and another chance to add your name to the rafflecopter.   Follow along down the rabbit hole…tis very curious indeed…
from tim burton's alice

I need to apologize…blogger is not working with me…the fonts and sizes keep changing and it's kinda all over the board…hopefully I'll have this fixed by tomorrow..sorry for the weirdness…maybe we should just chalk it up to the rabbit hole!

Shannon Delany-Publisher-Leap Books
How did the idea of the anthology to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland come about? 
Shortly after agreeing to come aboard with Leap Books, the company's founder, Laurie J. Edwards, mentioned she had wanted to do an anthology celebrating Alice's anniversary. As an author (13 to Life series, Weather Witch series) who has spoken at conferences about the importance of using history and anniversaries to better connect with the market, I saw it as a great fit. And, having written series revolving around the topic of transformation, I loved the idea even more. Alice has quite a thread of transformation and evolution running through her adventures. 

Why Alice?  What is it about Alice that has allowed it to become such a  huge part of our culture?
Alice connects with readers on many levels. We all have either gone through the awkwardness of adolescence (thinking the entire world makes no sense, growth and frustration) or we're approaching it. We've all faced struggles and wanted to understand things that seemed just beyond our grasp. And yet, at the end of Alice's original adventures she simply returns to the safety and sense of her own world--a place she feels safe. So we live vicariously through her awkward adventures, and yet can find comfort in the fact she returns safe and sound. 

The cover of the book is spectacular, I’m sure it will invite many readers.  And the typography suits it perfectly, well done Leap Books.  You added your bit by designing the chapter heads with Alice silhouettes, very well done I might add, do you do other work as an illustrator for other authors?
Thank you--yes, Gaetano Pezzillo and Ashley Poston did lovely work on the cover. Thank you again. I did quite a bit of art--mainly silhouettes and messenschnitte (single blade cuttings) and scherenschnitte (scissor cuttings) before my mother's death from cancer. Then I lost a bit of the love for it and returned to writing. Eight novels later I still have plenty of books I want to write but I like the peace I find in designing art. It seems to use a different bit of my brain. I don't really illustrate for other authors (I think I'm too much of a control freak for that) but intend to illustrate some of my own works eventually.

Why did you take on Leap Books, what is your goal?
Judith Graves asked me to come aboard and develop a line, then Laurie suggested we take the whole thing and we did some talking (and paperwork) and moved operations to New York state (where I reside). Judith and I try to maintain a balance between responsibilities. As to our goal? A better, stronger company with powerful and inspiring stories, and authors and staff who truly can meet the demands of this shifting publishing industry and create a team.

I want to wish you the best with this work.  When I come across something of such great merit I feel driven to share.  The minute I began reading this book, I was hooked.  It flows seamlessly, and is magical.  I so wanted to be a part of getting this out to it’s audience.  I’m an advocate for YA fantasy...I hope I’ve done my part.  Let’s have a terrific event!
Thank you so much, June! We greatly appreciate your support and love your drive to connect books with readers--it is so very important in today's industry. Thank you for giving our authors even more of a voice!

Charlotte Bennardo-Alice Through The Wormhole

Okay Charlotte...steampunk, space traveling, badass Alice...yes!  What a terrific concept, I thoroughly enjoyed your story.  It was the perfect piece to start off this ride, in my opinion.  It’s so in your face and takes on some of the original story characters and nuances almost literally, yet twists and turns.  How did this percolate in your brain?  Does being from New Jersey help with the girl power attitude (cheeky, I know)?
Thanks for the Alice love! There was a previous story in which Alice gets stuck in a maze chasing the White Rabbit. I think I kept too true to the original story that Alice didn't seem Young Adult, but more middle grade. That annoyed me so I scrapped that story, made Alice older and thought.... hmmm, space (since I was working on a sci fi novel at the time). Traveling through space, and on her own, she'd have to be tough. I'm a Scorpio (which should tell you a lot) and I don't like being made a fool of, so I gave Alice this trait. (I'm originally a New Yorker, so add that on top of living among Jersey girls and it makes you a bit more cheeky!). I love the trend that gals are empowered, not sitting around waiting for someone to give them something; they work for it.

Do you usually write in this genre...and you mostly write for middle grade and young adults? 
I write in whatever genre my muse slaps into my head. My sci fi is new adult, I've written a middle grade contemp, and currently am working on an historical fiction, a time traveling fantasy, a few other ideas.

Do you have other stories you are you intrigued to share, brewing perhaps? 
My sci fi about a 19 yo who has a way with chemistry is out on submission and I'm revising a middle grade historical fiction set in World War II at the Berlin Zoo. The Nazi's had a plan to resurrect extinct animals.... And that's all I'm going to share for now!

What does Alice mean to you, why is she still a part of your world? 
Alice was the first book that was complete nonsense- and I loved it. The fact that you could have things that didn't make sense, like the cakes and potions conveniently laying there on tables just when Alice needed to get smaller or bigger, or that you could have creatures that were so outrageous, like the Jabberwocky and the Mad Hatter, and it was okay! It made me realize there is no right/wrong way to write a story that's in your brain.

Good luck with your work, if this is any indication of what you can do, I’m a fan!  Personally, I’d like to see where this Alice goes to next...more please! 
I may have Alice appear in a sequel if the sci fi gets picked up. I think she needs to meet my main character....
Thanks!  Char

Tom Luke-Alice and Her Shadow

Okay Tom, we need to have a serious discussion...what part of your psyche does this kind of story come from?  This was Creepy with a capital C...and guess what, it seriously worked!
Hah, thank you! Unsettling people is half of why I write. I think I'm fairly sane, as these things go, but it's all perspective. If I wanted to pinpoint a specific event that got me interested in horror, it was when my uncle sent me Edward Gorey's The Gashlycrumb Tinies for my fifth birthday. It's an alphabet poem that goes "A is for Amy who fell down the stairs, B is for Basil, assaulted by bears, C is for Clara, who wasted away, D is for Desmond, thrown out of a sleigh," and so on. I have it memorized. Has some great illustrations of, uh, dead kids.

How did you get this good at twenty-one?  Was it always in you to be a wordsmith, or did you study...get turned on to a specific piece of work that transported you and you never looked back..what?
It's a pretty silly story, actually. I read a lot as a kid (and still do) which was obviously a huge influence. But I first started writing, really writing, when I was walking around my university campus and a story just popped fully formed into my head. So I locked myself in an abandoned classroom and wrote feverishly for about four hours. When I came out I had a few thousand words about this guy who gets followed by an green orangutan only he can see. I'm not at all certain where it came from. It was the first real story I've ever written and I'm still a little fond of it. It was three years ago, and I haven't stopped writing since.

I have to tell you, I’m so NOT a horror fan of any kind.  Oh, I read my fair share of Steven King back in the day, but at one point I simply couldn’t anymore.  In your story, the shadow character’s voice is strong, I could hear it.  It’s what drew me in.  And even though I was a bit terrified, I kept turning the pages, quickly I might add, I’m certain she’ll take everyone by surprise.   You kinda have that valley girl speak down by the way how’d you get so good at speaking (and thinking), like a girl?
I read somewhere that there are two kinds of people, the people who like a certain amount of managed terror in their lives, and the people who don't. I'm definitely the first kind, and I guess you're the second. 
The shadow girl is sort of an amalgam of the way people on certain websites (Tumblr springs to mind) talk about their favourite shows, and the way talk about my favourite shows. I didn't intend the valley girl vibe at all. I guess I'm sort of a valley girl? It's funny, I'm actually really bad at writing men. Whenever I try, I end up thinking "no, this character would be better as a woman." Especially if there's romance involved. I end up writing a lot of queer women.
So I didn't really answer the question! Sorry about that, but I guess I don't really think about writing women in a particular way, I just...write.

To be writing at your age, and to be as good as you are, I would imagine this is what you're meant to be doingwhat do you think?
Haha, I don't know! I'm pretty new at this, but yeah, I think I wouldn't be too unhappy if I could write for the rest of my life.

Do your friends appreciate your talents?  Do you have hobbies that you attend to with the same passion or joyor is it write, write, write?
My friends are generally pretty great. I went through a period where I was incredibly bashful about anything I wrote, which lasted all of a month, and now I just push it on anyone within arm's length.
Hobbies. Hm. Um. Not really? I spend most of my time either doing schoolwork, writing, or watching, reading, listening to, and playing anything I can get my hands on. I love media of all sorts. A bunch of my favourite shows are coming back soon, so that's really great. 

Well, if this is any indication of where your mind can go ...I can’t wait to see what comes next.  Good luck to your future successes....Cheers!
Thanks again! For all the nice things you said and for the opportunity to talk about writing (and dead kids and valley girls). Hopefully I can unsettle more people in the future.

Goodreads link


Jessica Bayliss - Alice in Wilderland

Oh Jessica, what a lovely little story. I don’t usually read too much when it comes to YA romance, however, you really did an excellent job here. It was tasteful…not overt or in your face, it was sweet. It actually doesn’t really read like a romance until much later, and by then, you’re hooked. Well done you!
Thank you so much! I’m really glad you liked it. I was a bit uncertain about entering a contemporary romance for this book. “Alice in Wonderland” is one of our iconic fantasies, and a huge favorite of mine. Of course, I had some fantasy ideas when I read about this call for submissions, but then the idea for “Alice in Wilderland” came to me, and I went for it. I’m still blown away that it was accepted.

It says that your deepest dream is to dazzle the hearts of young readers …what is it about this genre that sings to your heart as a writer?
I’ve always liked my romance with either a supernatural twist (horror is one of my favorites) or some element of danger. I’ve never been one to read straight romance, so that’s why “Alice in Wilderland” has that flavor.
But, I’d say what really speaks to my heart as a writer is creating stories that young readers will love. When I was in 6th grade, I had a teacher who brought a book bin of novels to class. It was my first exposure to YA. I felt like a whole new world had opened up. After that, I was ravenous. I want to write books that will create that same excitement for the young readers growing up today.

You must have been so excited when your story was selected. Only 13 authors, how did it feel?
Incredible! I still can’t believe it! I’m a new author. I began writing seriously in 2010. My first book was a Middle Grade fantasy. But “Alice” is the first of my pieces to be accepted for publication, which made it extra special. When I saw the email, I couldn’t breathe, I was that excited. My brain wouldn’t even process the words. My poor husband, I made him read the acceptance letter to me. Twice. And I danced around the house for about a week after that. Literally. My happy dance is not pretty, but it’s full of joy.
“Beware the Little White Rabbit,” is full of so many incredible stories. I feel immensely privileged to have my story included among them.

Why do you believe Alice is so ingrained in our culture?
This question has come up a lot lately, and it’s one I’ve given a great deal of thought. First off, who doesn’t like crazy silliness? “Alice” is full of that. I’m a huge fan of shows like “Monty Python,” “Kids in the Hall,” and “Portlandia,” which I think share that same element. But in Alice, there’s also a darker side. As I said, horror is my literary candy, and it impacts everyone whether they like it or hate it. It compels us. Characters in “Alice” are sinister one moment, allies the next, and of course there’s that Jabberwocky. Finally, I think “Alice” has become so ingrained because anything can happen at any time. Wonderland constantly throws obstacles in Alice’s path, but that’s where the wonder is born.
My story is based on this notion. “Alice in Wilderland” is about the unexpected. My main character, seventeen year old Alice, has been dealing with the aftermath of the unexpected—unfortunately, a sad, life-changing event—for a couple years now, but what she’s forgotten is that not all surprises are bad. To learn that, it takes having her path changed again—literally, by a bear—and getting stranded out in the woods, all night long. With the hottest guy in school. Karma is giving Alice a very good obstacle this time around.

Do you write often, is this something you can do every day? What are you working on at present? Or what about future ideas, anything brewing that must simply put down on paper?
I do write often. Every day. I have another whole career that fills my days, but once I discovered how much joy writing brings me, I set a goal of writing every day. Some days all I manage is the hour I put in before work. And then I fit it in wherever and whenever else I can. I make weekends my “writing work days.”  And my hair salon evenings are super because I can work on my laptop while I sit in the chair. My hair dresser was one of my first fans.
I’m a great multi-tasker and a bit of a genre-jumper, so I’m usually working on a few things at a time. I’ve written four novels and seven short stories in the last few years. I’ve learned so much in that time, and of course, my writing has improved. A lot. The first draft of my first book … chagrin city. What I’ve learned, I owe to the amazing network of talented writers I’ve met along the way. Plus a ton practice.
Right now, I’m working on a novel to submit to Three Worlds Press for their River Bend series. It’s a paranormal romance about a psychologist who moves to a new town to hide from the ghosts of her past only to stumble into them again in River Bend. I’ve had great luck with my short stories so far. In addition to “Beware,” I am under contract with Three Worlds Press for my story, “Breathless,” a romantic ghost story that will be released later this spring; and my first horror story was recently published in Issue 31 of Sanitarium Magazine. I just submitted two more short stories for consideration in a couple anthologies, including one for the Leap Books call for “Fright before Christmas.” Fingers crossed!
The idea currently burning a hole in my brain is my next novel, “Ten Past Close,” a YA, or maybe new adult, thriller about what happens when drug dealers take hostage the employees and customers of a small cafĂ© ten minutes past the closing hour. I plan to tell the story in two arcs: one forward and one backward, which will allow the reader to see the series of seemingly inconsequential events that led up to the invasion and the ultimate climax. It’s partly plotted, and I can’t wait to get started on it.

I really want to thank you for participating in our little promotion here, and I wish you the best of luck in your work, now and in the future. Cheers!
Thank you so much, June! I hope we get to talk again down the road. And the best to you as well with your own stories.

Crystal Schubert - The Aviary
I really enjoyed this story Crystal!  One of my favorites.  The love interest was definitely outside of the box, however, the urgency really captured me, the entire feeling of the story really drew me in to see where it would go, it had a magical flavor that swam about.  I was so delighted with the ending....the last sentence in particular gave me a zing!  That’s the way a story should end.  Well done!

So this story has a little bit of, dark fantasy (the bird thing was trippy to say the least), the plague (several of you based stories from that time, I found that very interesting), how did this all percolate in your brain?  Did you research the history, is this something you do when you write?

When I was in college, my senior seminar focused on mythology and that's when I was introduced to the Lais of Marie de France. They're all beautiful stories, but the one that stuck with me was "Yonec," a story in which a woman is trapped by her husband and involves a lover-turned-bird flying into the castle. "Yonec" takes a pretty tragic turn, but I always found that magical element fascinating and wanted to recreate it and give the lovers a fighting chance. I felt like this Alice anthology was the perfect place to explore that idea, since it's such a weird fantastical idea and Alice is all about the fantastic.

And as an English major, I feel like it's a pre-requisite to be obsessed with the plague years in England. Perhaps morbid, but I'm glad I'm not the only one that gets excited reading/writing about a devastating infectious disease.

I read that you’re a sucker for love stories...and a quote from your bio reads as follows, One day, I hope to publish stories with the kind of jittery first kisses that reach through the page and disarm you.   Great word disarm, by the way.  I believe you succeeded in this story.  What is it about this genre that fills you?

New love is such an enchanting experience, but (hopefully!) it's one that I won't experience again in my life. I have a husband and I loooove him, till death to us part, etc. But I still think it's fun to get transported back to the fresh beginning of a relationship where everything is electric. And it's even more fun to create that beginning in all sorts of different iterations! 

What is your personal relationship with the original Alice meant to you as a writer...or maybe even just as a person?

I love all the creative nonsense in Alice's story, but I think what appeals to me the most is the adolescent psychology perspective. Alice is growing up, trying to navigate a tricky, maddening world that doesn't quite know what to do with her. Carroll gives us such a perfect new way to understand what is often a difficult, dramatic stage.

Anything brewing that you’d like to share?  Are you open for anything that comes to mind, or are you strictly YA Romance?

I'm not strictly YA romance, but honestly, those are the story ideas I tend to get so that's what I've stuck with. Right now, I'm finishing revisions on a contemporary YA romance that's heavily influenced by my obsessive binge-watching ofSupernatural

This story really captured my imagination and I believe you’ll have nothing but successful stories ready to spring forth..can’t wait to see what comes next.  Cheers to your career!
Thanks so much!! :)


Medeia Sharif - Mustang Alice
Well, where do I begin? Without giving anything away, this was creepy, except you don’t know that until the end. I swear, it ran shivers up my spine from the surprise...well done you!
Thank you so much. I’m glad you enjoyed my story.

I read that you mainly write for middle grade and young adults. What genre do you prefer, and why for kids?
Although I’ve been writing more middle grade lately, my favorite thing to write is contemporary YA. There are so many topics, important issues, and deep emotions to explore with that genre. I’ve been writing edgier things, to the point that I get shaken while writing, and I even see this reflected in my reviews. I’m glad I’m able to make my readers feel something.

What is it about Alice that draws us in and has become such a tremendous influence in our culture?
She gets to live through (or should I say, “dream through) such an amazing, imaginative adventure. There’s never a dull moment in the story with each action scene and all those interesting characters. I read it numerous times and the most interesting time was in college for a lit class—the interpretations are fascinating.

Do your students know how talented you are? Do you share your work with them? I would assume as a teacher you would have an in when it comes to book fairs, has it given you a leg up in anyway professionally?
Most of them don’t know. My life is compartmentalized. I don’t discuss my writing at my day job and vice versa since I’m a private person and I don’t want one to interfere with the other in any sort of way. When I go to conferences and other places, people see me as an author first—even if they know I teach—so I don’t think of it as a leg up.

I really appreciate your participation in this event. Much luck and happiness in your continued success...Cheers!
Thank you for having me.

Laura Lascarso - White is a Human Construct
Okay, another one of you with the talent to send shivers down my spine.  The creepiness just slithered around the entire story and held my complete attention.  This could be a movie...clever, edgy, well written....Well done you!
Thank you! I really enjoyed writing it and settling into the twisted mindset of Lewis Carroll and his somewhat devious characters.

It appears you’ve been doing this writing thing well for a while now.  Your debut novel won you an award, a Gold Medal I might add, for Counting Backwards, at the Florida Book Awards 2012 in YA literature.  Congrats on that.  So it seems this is what you were meant to do.  Could you talk to us a bit more about your passion to write for young adults?
I am passionate about storytelling, in general, and the young adult audience, in particular. I believe this is an age where people are really searching for meaning in their lives and trying to figure out their place in the world. Whatever wisdom I’ve acquired at the ripe old age of 35 I’d like to share with the next generation. I aim to write stories that evoke strong emotions and raise questions about the world around us. And entertain, of course.

How excited were you to be a part of something like Alice? What does she mean to you?
I was super-excited. This is my first anthology and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the other authors and read their own interpretations of Alice. It’s amazing how 13 people can be given the same prompt and come up with 13 entirely unique and original stories.
As far as the character of Alice, she is somewhat of an enigma to me. In Carroll’s story she yearns for something different, fantastical, nonsensical and yet, when she finds it, she wishes to return to her ordinary life. Perhaps Wonderland is the journey and not the destination. That’s what I hoped to convey in White Is a Human Construct, that life is constructed of several journeys and the path you are currently on, doesn’t necessarily have to be the path you are on forever.

I see you have chickens, so do I.  They’re like shoes to me...they’re all so pretty and unique and I fall in love with them and just keep buying more...we’re lousy with eggs over here, ha!  So what do you do besides write good books and tend chickens?
I am a voracious reader of YA fiction and avid fan of film and television. My daughter and I are currently hooked on The 100 (the books by Morgan Cass and the TV series on the CW). We are racing each other to see who finishes the third book first. 
For my paying job, I work in communications in the non-profit sector, which is also very satisfying. And with both my kids playing soccer, I decided to start playing again myself. Does that make me a soccer mom?

I’d like to say I’ve really enjoyed getting to know a bit of your work.  Looking forward to more of the same, seriously, I think this is a genre you should stick with and write a novel around...I’ll be the first in line to own one!
Thank you again! I’m currently finishing up a dark romance, which will have some of the same themes as White Is a Human Construct. I’ll keep you posted.

DAY FOUR  (again, I can't apologize enough for the weird formatting and answers for you)

Christine Norris - The Watchmakers Ball
Okay, before I begin, what is a Pygmy Warrior?  (this is in reference to her dedication)
Oh, um, well...that's a long story. And a private joke involving a NJSCBWI conference and a late night. If you have an image in your head, you're probably right. Let's just leave it at that. 

Well, there you have thatso now that we’ve cleared that up, what a story!  A steampunk, clever girl, futuristic thriller inside of a grandfather clock...well done.  It’s in the vein of a Carriger character, which in my book is superb!
Is this the genre you typically write?
First -- thanks! I am always so flattered when compared to other writers I really admire, and I fell in love with Gail's books last fall. I also read a lot of Tiffany Trent and Kady Cross. As for genre, well it is and isn't what I 'usually' write. I have a book coming out May 21, called A Curse of Ash and Iron.  It takes place in the same year, in Philadelphia, like this one. The Watchmaker's Ball sort of grew out of a tertiary character of that book. But CURSE is the first Steampunk book I ever wrote. My other books are more middle-grade, urban fantasy/mythology based. The LIBRARY OF ATHENA series make up most of my bibliography. 

What are you goals as a young adult writer...where is your next story coming from?
To write books that first, I love, and that other people want to read! I don't follow trends ( I will never, EVER, write a vampire novel), I just happened to be writing Steampunk when it suddenly turned cool. LOL. My next story...well, since CURSE is a re-telling of Cinderella, I am sticking with the fairy tales for now. And I have to finish that last Library of Athena book. Working on both of those right now.

How has the original Alice influenced your world?
I love Alice. One year, my sisters and I (I guess I was about nine) went as Alice characters. No, I wasn't Alice. My younger sister had perfectly straight, blond hair. So she was Alice. My baby sister was the white rabbit and I was the Cheshire Cat. My friend up the street was the Queen of Hearts. Alice has always been part of my life, in little ways. The book I'm currently writing (no, not telling!), Alice keeps creeping in, in little ways, bits of dialogue and small things that are happening.

How excited were you to become one of the thirteen authors selected to be a part of this anthology?
SO EXCITED. I have written very little short fiction. I write LONG. But I decided to give this a try, figuring that if it didn't get in, I could re-use it as a side-along to CURSE. I kind of jumped up and down when I got the acceptance letter :). Only THIRTEEN stories were picked! 

Now let’s talk about many do you know and have you written about them? (again, in reference to a comment she made about the fact that she believes in fairies)
I've met my fair share of fairies, of course. I can't be specific, they like to stay hidden, but suffice it to say, some of my best friends are fairies. Of course I've written about them, early on in my career. I may write about them again someday :) 

Well Christine, I’ll be checking out your work to find another Steampunk based story...I really enjoyed the flavor of your work in this book and hope you have done, or are expecting to do,  more!
Thank you for having me! I really enjoyed it. 

David Turnbull - Alice, Last of the Beating Hearts
Okay, so now we’re going to take on dystopian slash steampunk slash machine future world sci-fi...hold on to your shoes everyone, this takes off.  First of all your attention to detail is brilliant.  You have telescopic eyes and robotic Hatters, where in the world did this modern approach come from?

I wouldn’t say I’m that technically minded so it’s all probably more science fantasy than science fiction. If I was asked to explain exactly how a robotic Hatter or a mechanical White Rabbit actually worked I be hard pushed to come up with the precise detail. Burt for me having a little bit of mystery around how the technology works adds to the wonder and that’s where the fantasy element comes from. Also my Alice is on a bit of a quest in the story so again it gave me the chance to weave in a traditional fantasy motif into the futuristic elements.

Again, this is a world that I would like to see more of, sci-fi with a bold empowered young girl as the you have other works in this genre?

I've written a few science fantasy stories with strong female characters. These include ‘The Eternal Quest of the Girl with the Corkscrew Hair’ in ‘Girl at the End of the World II’ (Fox Spirit), ‘The Sound Cyclones’ in Sensorama (Eibonvale Press) and ‘The Trail Behind Me Is A Winding Trail’ in the forthcoming Boo Books augmentation anthology ‘We Can Improve You.’ There also a stand alone young adult story set in a distant future, featuring a girl from a nomadic tribe and a mechanical hornet, available for download at Alfie Dog fiction

You have been featured in Salt Publishings Best British Fantasy 2014, for obvious reasons...what work actually got you there?

I was proud to have a story selected for the Best British Fantasy anthology. The story in question originally appeared ‘Astrologica’ (The AlchemyPress) which is an anthology based on star signs in the zodiac. My story ‘Aspect of Aries’ featured the downward descent of the main character in a dystopian society where everything is segregated according to which star sign you were born under. To me that kind of segregation has about as much logic as segregation or discrimination based on sex, gender or religion.

And how does Alice in Wonderland influence the life of a London boy?  Were you taken with the original as a child, as most of us were?
I’m actually a Scottish boy by birth who moved to London later in life. I grew up in a area of Scotland with a strong literary tradition. The town I grew up in was once home to Sir Walter Scott, author of classics such as Ivanhoe and Red Gauntlet. The area was also home to Scott’s contemporary James Hogg who wrote the gothic The Private Memoirs and Confessions of A Justified Sinner. Robert Burn even wrote a ballad about the town I grew in. Alice in Wonderland and many of the other classics is kind of interwoven into my childhood along with lots of other weird British stuff like Monty Python and The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine.


Jackie Horsfall - Rabbit Fever
I loved your story, there was vulnerability surrounding it that made it very endearing.  I found myself rooting for the ending that came in a very clever way.  You’re very good at what you do.

It’s obvious you had some knowledge about the deep do you go into research for a storyline?  And how close to the facts do you stay...or do you take liberty to expand, or build off of,  and use what you need?
To research the history behind “Rabbit Fever,” I limited myself to three authoritative online sources about the last plague era in England. I do this – limiting my research – to avoid spending days obsessively reading instead of writing! For all my historical pieces, I print out the research pages, then highlight facts, along with anything that strikes me as quirky. Example, when I read that powdered unicorn horn was considered a plague remedy, I knew right away it would play a major role – the smoking gun – in my story. Even in fiction, I avoid straying from the hard facts: dates, places, ruling families, religious beliefs, plague symptoms and treatment, disposal of the dead.

I understand you have a fairly extensive catalog of work, what is your favorite genre to write?  To read?
As you can probably guess, I love reading historical fiction (and did even as a youngster), especially the works of Hilary Mantel, Geraldine Brooks, and Philippa Gregory, talented history authorities who also write entertaining fiction. I loved setting “Rabbit Fever” in 1665 London because it resonated on a personal note: my husband William is a descendant of William the Conqueror (William I of England). “Horsfall” is an Old English surname. But I’m also a fan of mythology, philosophy, and parapsychology. Alice’s journey through the rabbit hole has the typical traits of a Near-Death Experience: falling through a tunnel into a land of fantastical beings – some friendly, some dangerous – then returning to the world of the living with a message or benefit for humankind. Alice, of course, brings back the knowledge of plague transmission.
As for my own work, I write a mish-mash of humor (12 kids’ joke books), nonfiction (nature activity books), fiction (2 YA novels), magazine articles and online content. Greeting card verse too. I do it all. And it’s all FUN.

It says you have an original 1960 edition of Martin Gardner’s, The Annotated Alice....I, myself, have this book, mine isn’t quite as old as yours however, what does this mean to you?  Why does Alice effect you so?
I’m fascinated by Martin Gardner’s The Annotated Alice because, although the Alice in Wonderland story is entertaining nonsense, it was written for British readers of another century. So today’s readers aren’t privy to the meanings of many of the puns and jokes meant for residents of Oxford or Alice Liddell’s family. Call me a history freak – I like knowing the stories behind the story.  

C. Lee McKenzie - They Call Me Alice
This one took me a page or two.  It’s written in a bit of broken English from the thoughts of a young Chinese Alice and for some reason it took me a moment to grasp where I was going.  However, I was  quickly pulled into little Alice’s world and within the roundedness of the storytelling, it became quite enchanting and particularly magical. And then you bring in an old tale of Houyi and his moon.  How in the heck did a native California girl come up with this idea?
I’ve been in love with China as long as I can remember. When I was about six, a woman named Enid Mihilov took me under her worldly literary wing. She had a magnificent library with many books from China. I didn’t realize it at the time, but these books, which I was allowed to explore, were very old, one-of-a-kind, and in retrospect, must have been printed on handmade paper in a far-off century. 
Enid, who probably was in in her sixties then, read them to me in Chinese while I looked at the pictures. Someday I’m going to write what I remember of our afternoons together in her library, reading Chinese stories and playing with her very large cradled globe, while she showed me where on this planet these stories had come from. I know it was this woman who set me on a lot of journeys—in books as well as on literal ones around the world.  The myth of Houyi and the White Rabbit may well have been one she read to me. 

Yanyu, Mia Lee, a very endearing how did the ‘real’ Alice effect your real world?
Oh, I fell down that rabbit hole several times, but I never forgot the first time. From the day I met Alice, the world of “what ifs” opened to me. After Alice, there were no limits to the stories I could imagine or the stories I wanted to read. I think that’s why I love to read and write middle grade fantasy. So I guess you’d say Alice affected my real world by stirring my imagination and creating a desire to use it as much as my brain will allow.

You write a lot it says...what do you write and for whom?
As I said above, I write middle grade stories. My first one was Alligators Overhead. I hadn’t planned on writing a sequel until some fifth graders asked me to give them another Pete and Weasel adventure. Even then, it took me a while to do it. I’d never written a sequel, so that was the first hurdle—learn how. I managed to pull the second book together, and now The Great Time Lock Disaster is out. 
I also write contemporary, realistic young adult: Sliding on the Edge (suicide and cutting), The Princess of Las Pulgas (financial loss and loss of a parent, recovery, cultural stereotypes), Double Negative (child neglect, illiteracy), and Sudden Secrets (family tragedy, bigotry).
I switch between these two age groups because I believe that helps me stay fresh. I don’t want to churn out books that are the same, so I work hard not to do that.

And I see that we are neighbors, with a lot of the same activities, gardening, yoga, does Santa Cruz influence your work?
Oh, yes. Santa Cruz a distinct way of life. I love it. When my grandmother was alive she had an apartment there, and I visited a lot. The Boardwalk; of course, the Big Dipper; the Wharf and the beach were big draws. When I was thirteen, won the biggest stuffed dog on the Boardwalk, playing Skee Ball. I’ve written a short story about my teen days in Santa Cruz and my brilliance at Skee Ball. I read it to bring back that summer. I wish I still had that stuffed dog.

Great website by the way...really clever, loved it.  It says you love dragons, ever think about writing about them?
Here’s a secret. I have written a story about them. I’ve just never tried to publish it. It’s steeped in. . . guess what--Chinese mythology and astrology. I love the story. I’ve just never put it out for people to read. Maybe one day. Maybe when I'm sure it’s something I can share. I have a hunch it’s kind of rotten, and I don’t want to rile the dragons with a rotten story.  
*I seriously doubt that's the case..maybe you should just pull it out again and give it another go round…you're a better writer now…either way, I think you're probably mistaken)

Much success in your work.  If this is any indication of where your mind can take us, then we should be seeing you around for years to come...well done you!
That’s very kind of you. I hope that’s the case. I’ll write as long as I’m enjoying it, so that may be until I can’t hold a pen or a thought long enough. Thank you for the great questions. They jarred some old memories I’m rather fond of.


  1. These are great interviews! It's so much fun to learn about my co-authors and their inspiration.

    1. it is nice…yours is coming…thx for the support and enthusiasm!!

  2. Found you! Glad I did because the post was fun to read. Here's to adventures and good stories.

    1. Yes, I'm glad you found me too…much more to see here, huh? Anyway, your story will be up on Thursday…so keep an eye out…and thx ever so much for all your enthusiasm and support…keep retweeting!

  3. Congrats Jessica Bayliss! Great Interview!! ~ S.C. ~