Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Interview with Jodie Brownlee

Jodie Brownlee is the author of The Traveler's Telescope.

About Jodie:
Jodie wanted to be a genie when she grew up. Then she discovered they could spend centuries locked in a bottle and now writes about them instead.

When not writing about Ruby's adventures, Jodie has adventures of her own.

As a traveler, she's crossed the Rajasthan desert on a camel, plied Asian rivers on an elephant, driven a tuk tuk in Sri Lanka, dined in a haunted Scottish castle, climbed an active volcano on a tiny Pacific island, swam horses in the sea, dived with sharks in Sydney Harbor, parachuted from an old Cessna biplane, visited witch doctors in Africa, and explored overgrown temples in Cambodia, underwater caverns in Jamaica, and bat caves in outback Australia.

Jodie has now settled in Colorado with her husband and their adopted cat, Lola.

How did you get the idea for The Traveler's Telescope?

I wrote the kind of story I would have loved to read when I was ten. It’s a blend of mystery, adventure, comedy, light horror, the real and the magical. I also wanted a strong female protagonist who inspired girls to live bravely, to be a loyal friend, and to explore. From that came the character - Ruby, and the genre – fantasy based in reality.

We all have a certain attraction to things whether it be antiques or cars. For me it is old objects that seem to have an inner magic – an ancient Persian rug, a treasure chest, an old fashioned key, an old brass telescope. The Ruby series incorporates these objects and I give them the magic I have imagined is already there.

How long did it take you to write The Traveler's Telescope?

One year from first word on the page to publication. My first draft was rejected by the publisher altogether and I had to start again from scratch. Looking back, they were right, but it was a hard pill to swallow.

Please tell us about the first book in the series.

In the first book – The Magic Carpet – Ruby is given a magic carpet from her grandmother for her twelfth birthday. This transforms Ruby’s predictable timetable-like life into one of adventure and danger, but it also brings her in touch with friendship and her own undiscovered powers.

About The Magic Carpet:

In a magical oasis where genies and humans live side by side, almost, Ruby meets Jaffa, a human, and Avalon, a genie. These three children from very different backgrounds form a friendship, but a bold misadventure through an underground labyrinth has them wanted by those in charge. Their friendship and courage become the only hope to save each other and the entire genie population. For the first time in her sheltered life Ruby’s powers are tested to their limit - including those powers she still doesn't know she has.

How long have you been writing?

Since 2000. In the beginning I was working full time and writing at night. Between 2004 and 2010 I was able to write full time. I wrote a first draft of two YA novels during that time, as well as the second and third Ruby books. From 2010, I have again been working full time and have relocated to the USA from Australia. I am now able to make the Ruby books available to the rest of the world and complete the two YA books, but I must do this in between copywriting jobs.

What inspired you to become a writer?

After writing a couple of short stories for children, my partner encouraged me to pursue it further. I initially did it as a hobby, but decided to submit my first manuscript to literary agents to see what happened. They all soundly rejected me. I sent it to three publishers. Two of those three were interested. The third publisher had not read it yet but appreciated my call to let them know rights were being negotiated with Scholastic.

Who are some of your influences?

Tolkien was probably the largest influence. Bilbo’s transformation from a homey hobbit to a hero, his adventures and impossible quest, and Tolkien’s well crafted world, had me reading The Hobbit over and over again. I was also inspired by 1001 Arabian Nights, and for the later books, J.K. Rowling’s influence came through a little.

What are your other interests and hobbies?

I enjoy painting. I actually studied art at college, not writing. I’ve had several solo exhibitions in Sydney, but I don’t feel I really found my way with visual art. I also enjoy photography and used to have a darkroom in the days before digital (I’m revealing my age I suppose). I am passionate about animal welfare, human rights, and environmental issues – a passion I am able to satisfy through my copyrighting work which is all for international not-for-profits working in these fields.

If The Traveler's Telescope was made into a movie, who would be in your dream cast?

My knowledge of child actors is limited, but here goes…
Ruby: The young actress who played Ann of Green Gables would make a great Ruby. Avalon: with her pale skin and dramatic Persian eyes, a young Anne Hathaway would capture her look. Jaffa: I modeled Jaffa on a school friend called Alfie Genspichler. He has thick dark lashes, dark expressive brows, olive skin and white teeth. I added a dimple in Jaffa’s cheek, but the dimple was inspired by another person I know called Neil. I am sure there is someone out there who would make a perfect Jaffa. Isra: Here’s a scene to give you an idea of Isra…

A centipede crawled through Isra’s violet tumble of knots and a spider abseiled from her earlobe.

A young Helen Bonham Carter would be perfect for playing this part. Gwyneth Paltrow would make a prim and proper Mrs Rosemount. Bette Midler or Barbara Streisand would be great as zany Granny McQuirky.

Also, please include a few random, fun facts about yourself. Just whatever you would like.

After reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, I fantasized about entering other worlds. My best friend and I even went so far as to take the back off a wardrobe in my cubby house and cut a hole in the wall, creating a secret passage through the wardrobe into the dark under-the-house world where Dad kept his timber and terracotta pots. It wasn't until I had grown up and moved out that Dad discovered it. Thankfully he has a sense of humor.

You can find out more about Jodie Brownlee and the Ruby Series on her website, Twitter, and Facebook.

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