Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hello! I am L. Jagi Lamplighter (Wright).
For those who find that confusing, Jagi is pronounced J-short a-j-long E, like Jackie with the g from magic. Lamplighter was my maiden name. Wright is my husband’s name that I use around town but not for writing, and, as my old, high-powered New York literary agent put it, “The L is silent.”
Fiona: Where are you from?
I live in Virginia, near DC. I grew up north of New York City.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I am a mom of four kids, the youngest of whom is sixteen and currently homeschooled. I am married to another writer, SF/Fantasy/Christian Apologetics author John C. Wright.
I met my husband at St. John’s College, the Great Books Program school. It was a wonderful place full of all the kids who didn’t do that well in gym back in high school. because they read too much. We studied great books of the past and discussed them.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
John and I are working on a project called Starquest. It’s a really fun space opera with space pirates and an evil space empire and much more. It started as a conversation with our kids in the car. Our family was disappointed by the latest Star Wars movie, so the boys started discussing what they would do if they were to do a Star Wars movie.
That conversation let to “The Review of the Movie We’ve All Been Waiting For”, a humorous article my husband wrote as if the boys ideas has been a real movie. (You can see it here: http://www.scifiwright.com/2018/02/review-of-the-movie-weve-all-been-waiting-for/)
This led to the idea of taking some of our ideas and writing a new series in same genre as Galaxy’s Edge—what they call Star Wars Not Star Wars. Only Galaxy’s Edge is mil sf. Starquest (named for Jaywind Starquest, a hero in the story background) is more like the old serials that George Lucas drew his inspiration from.
We had a crowdfunding campaign to pay for covers, etc. It was quite successful. The outline for all four books is done, and the story promises to just be great fun!
The project is sponsored by Superversive Press. It is their hope that other authors will also write stories in the vast Starquest background. (It takes place in the Andromeda Galaxy and has 12,000 years of history.) Five authors have already requested background info in the hope of writing something, and one story is already underway.
I am the editor on this series, not the writer—but I helped a great deal with the outlining.
My other new project is The Art and Craft of Writing, a course on writing based on my experience as a writer but, more importantly, as an editor. Superversive Press. Prepping for releasing it (hopefully as videos), I decided to give the class online.
I decided I would do it if I got 3 students. I hoped for ten. I got 36 people before I drew the line. Lol
The participants seemed very pleased with the class. So, working on that.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I wrote my first chapter of my first novel at 12. I wrote my first chapter of my first published novel in 1992. The book was actually published in 2009. So, that took a lot of rewriting and a lot of patience.
That series, Prospero’s Children—Prospero Lost, Prospero In Hell, Prospero Regained—originally came out from Tor and now is with the excellent small press, Wordfire. It is a sequel to Shakespeare’s Tempest set in the modern day with magic, mystery, and humor.
You can read the whole story of how I became published here: http://www.ljagilamplighter.com/about/a-writers-odyssey/
As to why, well, I have an article about that, too. Some people think this is my best article: http://www.ljagilamplighter.com/about/why-i-write-fanta
Short version: for the wonder of it.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I mentioned that elsewhere but thought here I would talk just about inspiration. One of my inspirations is the Superversive Literary Movement.
If Subversive means change by undermining from below, Superversive means change by inspiration from above.
Superversive Press is a publisher devoted to Superversive lit. Their motto is:
Hope is the new genre
A light in the void.
Superverisve stories strive to have heroic characters and good storytelling. They can be dark, but they have some moments of something higher and brighter that lift the reader, if only for a moment, to a higher plane of thought.
The original motto of the literary movement was;
Good stories. Great ideas.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Prospero Lost came from Paradise Lost. It fit the story.
My current series, the first book is The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin came from a line in the roleplaying game that the series was inspired by.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
That is an interesting question. Many scenes in the Books of Unexpected Enlightenment and some from the Prospero’s Children series came from roleplaying games.
This adds a kind of realism that comes from a number of people interacting that sometimes is lacking from one person making up a story on their own.
Also, I do put in some of my own experience. I try to share my love of nature in the descriptions, too.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Not usually. The web and Google maps offers so much to work with.
But, I was able to visit Storm King Mountain and take pictures of Bannerman Island, which is where the Books of Unexpected Enlightenment take place. That was a wonderful trip. I went with my mom, we happened to be in New York for the weekend, and we had so much fun exploring and taking pictures.
The interesting thing is that I had studied the area on Google Maps a number of times, (Google Maps has been getting more and more useful) and, yet, I had missed so much. Going there in person was such a useful experience.
Now I want to go visit Dartmoor in England…where my main character’s home is.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
All my current covers were done by Dan Lawlis. He is a commercial artist who used to draw for Marvel and DC. He’s excellent.
He doesn’t normally do covers, but he happens to be a friend. I love his work.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Never give up? Wonder is worth fighting for? Not sure. 😉
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I have read nearly all of Christopher G. Nuttall’s Schooled in Magic series and his Zero Enegma books. He’s a Scottish author who writes so quickly! At his invitation, I wrote a short story where my character visited his, and he put a version of my character into one of his recent novels, just a cameo, but it is great fun!
I also really love my husband’s Moth and Cobweb books, particularly Green Knight’s Squire, which is an YA for boys—a rare thing. (Though girls can enjoy it, too.)
Otherwise, my favorite authors are Tolkien, Tolstoy, C.S. Lewis, Lloyd Alexander, and Roger Zelazny. There are others, but those are the main ones. Maybe Margaret Mitchell, too.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My friend Erin who is my alpha reader. Don’t know what I would do without her!
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I think I left out a line I wish I had put it. Can’t recall what it was now.
My current series is great fun. It has been described as Supernatural (TV show) meets Narnia at Hogwarts. It is about a British girl who goes to Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts in America where she has to face such dangers as demons, the omen of the death of worlds, and dangerous older boys. The story has a lot of humor and a lot of wonder.
The main character, Rachel Griffin, has a perfect memory. This is hard on a writer! Lol I have to keep track of so many things.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learned that the advice I give my authors when I edit is good!
95% of what I tell my authors is the same advice. So when I realized Book Four (The Awful Truth About Forgetting) was going to be too long, and I would have to cut it at some random point, I applied the advice I give others.
The result: some reviews have mentioned that “This is the most focused book yet.” Lol For a book I randomly cut in half.
But…it worked. 😉
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
It would be difficult to cast. The main character is part Korean. She is slender as a boy in the early books and later on, she is unusually busty. I don’t know how they would do that.
But there are some fantastic Asian actresses out there. (My first choice, Chinese actress Tiffany Tang, is probably too old now. )
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Years ago, as I was struggling to learn to write, I used to keep a Writing Tips sheet. I shared it with others, they enjoyed it. I wrote a series of articles about it.
My writing class, The Art and Craft of Writing, is based on these articles in part. The whole thing is available on my blog here: http://www.ljagilamplighter.com/writing-tips/
My other piece of advise, from years of experience: Outlines are great—if you can write with them.
But I have seen so many promising authors outline a story and then never write on it again.
If you write an outline and you stop want to write, throw out the outline and remake up the story!
This happened to me twice. I put both books aside for several years. When I came back and ripped up the outline, I was able to write the book.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Enjoy the wonder!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The Broken Throne by Christopher G. Nuttall
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Nancy Drew–the second one, I think.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Lots of stuff. I laugh at nearly every kind of humor. We sometimes discuss if this counts as a cheap sense of humor or an expensive sense of humor, since it includes more levels of amusement than most.
The thing that makes me laugh the hardest–can’t breathe hard—are collections of auto-correct texts that end up saying really wrong things. No idea why I find those so funny.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Probably C. S. Lewis or Lloyd Alexander, because I loved their books so much. Or Queen Elizabeth. I studied her at one point and am so curious as to what was really true and what is history’s veneer of her.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I am a mom, an editor, and an author, and now I am a reader at church. Not a lot of room for hobbies.
I do knit however. I also live hiking, but since I am no longer a Scouter (Adult staff for Boy Scouts. My boys are older now), I haven’t gotten out much.
Oh, and I rollerblade.
I use my rollerblading time, when I am just going in a circle or down a path as my time to make up stories. I do some of my best creative work then.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
One Piece. It is a Japanese series that is as popular in Japan and China as Disney stories.
I want to do a series of articles someday called All My Writing Advice On One Piece. The character designs for this series are FREAKY, but the storytelling—use of characters, plot arcs, characterization, so many things, is just top notch. Some of the best I have ever seen.
The more I watch. The more I am in awe of it. (We are on episode 600. Currently, it goes through around 900 episodes. It has value all the way through, but it REALLY got good after episode 400.)
I also love a lot of the other sf/fantasy stuff out there.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I like lots of music, but when writing I look for foreign music, so the words don’t distract me, or I listen to Pachebel’s Canon.
Currently, I am listening to Bollywood music. In particular, songs from the blockbuster Bollywood hit Bang Bang, which stars my favorite Bollywood actor.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I hope it never comes.
Edit. Read. Maybe travel.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
I leave that to those who are there at the time. 😉
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I maintain three blogs, though I am behind on them at the moment:
Fantastic Schools and Where to Find Them—a website about magic schools with a database of magic school books.
And Superversive Inklings – a website about C. S. Lewis, Tolkien, and related authors and ideas:
I also am a founding member of the Superversive Literary Movement. I help maintain Superversive SF:
For more information about the Superversive Literary Movement, here is a free ebook with essays on the subject called Holy Godzilla of The Apocalypse.
The Books of Unexpected Enlightenment
The same book (the first one) is free on KOBO:
I put this in the document, but here’s the link for the free ebook: Holy Godzilla of the Apocalypse:
Amazon Authors page USA https://www.amazon.com/L.-Jagi-Lamplighter/e/B0028OGMLM/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1