Jaclyn Dolamore is the author of Magic Under Glass, an enchanting fantasy romance published by Bloomsbury. Jackie took a break from her busy writing schedule to spend a little time at the Manga Maniac Cafe to answer a few questions.
Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
Lifelong reader and writer. Neurotic. Fascinated by people and places. Always kind, but probably too nice. Loves fashion, food, cats. Outgoing with other writers but otherwise shy.
I don’t know how many characters that was! But I think it’s close.
How did you come up with the idea for Magic Under Glass?
Ideas for novels are funny things. They tend to feel like they come out of nowhere, although they really don’t. Everything I read or see or hear or experience has the potential to weasel itself into my subconscious, spin in the blender of my brain, and come out in a neatly blended "idea smoothie".
I don’t know why I just compared the contents of my brain to a smoothie. That sounds like a really gross smoothie. But I digress.
Strong influences, of course, were Jane Eyre, A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, and the very real history behind 18th and 19th century automata.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?
The ending. I hate endings. It’s one of the most important parts of a story, and yet, every time you change something in the beginning or the middle, you usually have to change the end. So it tends to be the least polished by default. And I have never really been happy with it. Whenever I see a review that complains about the ending a little voice inside of me cringes and thinks, "I knoooooow… so sorry!"
Did you learn anything about yourself through your characters?
That is a great question, because I do learn things about myself from my characters, although maybe not the ones in this book as much as some others. But, I do think Nimira was a great character to write. She’s very practical, more practical than I am. She handles things better than I would, but I think every time I write a character who draws on a different kind of strength, it makes it easier for me to find that kind of strength in myself in the future.
Nim is such a wonderful character – what do you like the most about her, and what are her most glaring faults? Are you anything like her?
Nimira comes from a well bred background, and she carries that with her all her life, through various reduced circumstances. I think that’s her greatest flaw and her best quality at the same time. Sometimes she’s a little too proud. She doesn’t really want to work hard in some lousy job, she thinks she’s better than that, so she can be a little selfish. On the other hand, that pride keeps her going and, I think, makes her interesting. And she’s very thoughtful and, as I said, practical.
I’m really not tremendously like her. None of the characters in this particular book are really "me".
What message do you want your readers to come away with after they have read the book?
I think Hollin and Nimira share a similar emotional journey, in different ways. They are both inherently artistic people who have hardened their shell, and they both feel unloved. They both have to take a risk without knowing if it’s going to pay off, and do the thing that doesn’t feel safe. To me, that’s what this particular story is about, but there are a lot of other issues touched upon, and I think different readers will pick up on different things.
Can you share your experiences finding a publisher? What was the process like?
I looked for an agent first. It me three years and three books, including three different versions of Magic Under Glass, to land an agent. But once I did, it was out of my hands. The agent sends the book to a number of editors and deals with their reactions, which might be "meh" or "boo" or "would you consider a revision?", but if one or more of their reactions is, "I love this and so does everyone else at XYZ Publishing House!", then, you have a book sale! In my case it took a mercifully short three weeks.
What’s next for you? Are we likely to see the continuing adventures of Nim and Erris?
The next book is a companion story about a mermaid and a winged guy who are in love. Which is, naturally, problematic. It’s set in the same world but another country and time, more reminiscent of late 18th-century Italy. But right now I am indeed working on the further adventures of Nim and Erris! Magic Under Glass was about starcrossed lovers coming together, but the sequel deals more with what happens when starcrossed lovers actually get to know each other. (Clockwork men: they don’t leave the toilet seat up but they are kind of emo.)
Jackie, thanks for dropping in!
Wow, a mermaid and a guy with wings! That’s got my attention. And the further adventures of Erris and Nim? It’s a good thing I kept the interview relatively short, because I want to read these now! I kept bothering Jackie with questions, when I should have probably just left her alone so she could get some work done.
If you haven’t read Magic Under Glass yet, give it a try. It’s available in stores now.