JANUARY 16, 2019 / JAMES QUINLAN MESERVY
Tell us about yourself:
My name is Elizabeth Jade – or rather it is, and at the same time, it isn’t. I wanted to keep my writing separate from the other things I do, so I decided to use my middle names. This makes perfect sense until someone calls my author name in public and it takes me a moment to realise they are talking to me. I’m a children’s book author and an animal lover. Animals make much more sense to me than people. This is probably why the main characters in my current series are wolves and huskies.
I live in Somerset in the UK with my family and three dogs – two Shih Tzu and one mad Border Collie – although the younger Shih Tzu thinks of itself as a Border Collie. Like my dog, I’ve always had a unique take on life and I was finally diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome (an autistic spectrum disorder) two years ago, when I was eighteen. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for a number of years and writing is a form of escapism for me. I become so absorbed in what I’m writing that I lose all track of time.
Tell us about your book:
Akea – The Power of Destiny is a children’s fantasy story that was written when I was fourteen. Technically, it’s for 8-12 year olds, but younger children have enjoyed having it read to them and some adults have found it hard to put down too. It’s a journey of self-discovery, loyalty and hope, and nothing will ever be the same.
Akea is a Siberian Husky who was born into a family of sled dogs and a life which should have followed a predictable path, but from the day she first saw the lone wolf, Akea knew her future lay beyond the safety of her home. The wolf, Kazakh was well aware of Akea’s destiny and the traditions he would break to help her reach it. His task was to make sure Akea would be ready, no matter what the cost.
Akea leaves her family and with the help of the wolf pack, she finds her inner wolf. Suddenly, the pack turns on her, casting her out to fend for herself. She spends some time in an animal shelter before going to live with a new family, yet she quickly abandons them to follow Kazakh to the Wolf Queen’s den. Just as their goal seems in sight, Kazakh is shot and seriously wounded and Akea must choose between protecting him and fulfilling her destiny?
There are a couple of references to a character known as The Great Volk whose identity and influence on their affairs becomes increasingly significant as the series progresses. Book 2 is currently being edited and the writing of books 3, 5 and 6 are in progress. Yes, I know I left out Book 4, but my quirky brain has opted not to write that one yet, and as it always seems to know what it’s doing, it’s easier just to follow where it leads.
What influenced you to write your current genre?
I began exploring writing when I was fourteen. At that time, I was reading mostly animal based children’s stories such as the Animal Ark series by Lucy Daniels or Ben Baglio (depending on whether you bought them in the U.K or U.S). I have always had a natural rapport with animals, but struggled to understand people, so for these two reasons, animal based children’s books came naturally to me.
The idea for Akea itself, however, came purely by accident. I like to work with a photo or illustration of my character in front of me. I was searching for an image of a husky for a story idea I had involving a Dalmatian and where the Husky was a secondary character. I came across a particular photo which felt like the husky was looking at me and telling me her own story. The sensation was so strong that I had to write it for her, and ‘Akea – The Power of Destiny’ was born. Incidentally, the Dalmatian story was never written.
Who are your favorite authors?
I love authors who can mix my two favourite things – animals and fantasy – into a compelling read, so for favourite authors I would say Erin Hunter – another collective pseudonym, Brian Jacques and Jack London. The funny thing is I hadn’t read Jack London’s books until someone pointed out the similarity between my book, Akea, and Jack London’s White Fang. That’s probably as flattering as being told your book reminds someone of a JK Rowling’s novel.
What are your favorite books?
Aside from books written by my favourite authors, I’ve really enjoyed Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park; most books based on Gene Rodenberry’s Star Trek; Roots by Alex Haley – which also made a great television series, and Pride and Prejudice – particularly the audio version read by Joanna David, who played Aunt Gardiner alongside Colin Firth’s memorable Mr. Darcy.
Who are your favorite literary characters?
I have a real thing for villains, especially when I can find out about their back-story – what makes them ‘tick’ as it were. That or I invent my own. They also help me to visualise what makes a good villain and hopefully how to write a good villain. You never know when that may come in handy. I’m also very taken with stories involving Anthromorphic characters, so I really enjoy a good anthromorphic villain, such as Cluny The Scourge and Slagar The Cruel from Brian Jacques’ Redwall.
Is there anything you want to share with potential readers?
Having Aspergers and mental health issues can make life a real challenge, but with the right support I was able to make my dream of becoming an author come true. My parents have been amazing and I couldn’t have got here without them.
There are lots of talented people out there, including many who are on the autistic spectrum, and I wanted to inspire them to pursue their dreams too. With this in mind, I donated a copy of Akea to the Somerset Autism Collection at a major library in our area. Akea will be the first book in the collection to celebrate the achievement of someone with autism, rather than supporting them with it. I hope people will be encouraged by my personal journey as well as enjoying my book, and I hope people will encourage and support one another in all areas of life.
Where can we go to learn more about you?
If you would like a free taster, there are three dramatic readings from Akea on YouTube.
I’m also on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
JAMES QUINLAN MESERVY