Aine (pronounced “Aw-nee”) believes herself to be a regular teenager in 1930s Alabama, but when a blue-eyed monster named Biblos attacks, she discovers that the reclusive woman raising her isn’t really her grandmother and that she’s been living inside a book for the past five years. With her blind brother, Spenser, she flees the pages of the novel she’s called home, one terrifying step ahead of Biblos’ black magic. Her only chance at survival lies in beating him to the three objects that he desires more than life.
As she undertakes her strange and dangerous odyssey, Aine must choose between a family she doesn’t remember and her growing attraction to a mysterious young man named Gilgamesh. Only through treacherous adventures into The Time Machine, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, A Tale of Two Cities, and the epic Indian saga The Ramayana will she learn her true heritage and restore the balance of the worlds… if she can stay alive.
What makes your book different than other books out there?
The Toadhouse Trilogy combines epic adventure with paranormal fantasy and classic literature to create a unique thrill ride.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I get a lot of my inspiration in dreams and sleep with a journal next to my bed. I also pay attention to the world. I’m an avid people-watcher, eavesdropper, and listener, and much of what I see, hear, and read morphs into stories. However, many of my ideas (and often the ones I consider my best writing) come out of whole cloth-I am at my computer, committed to turning out at least five pages. Once the pump is primed, the story unfolds from the cosmos, through me, and onto the page.
The idea for the The Toadhouse Trilogy came from the alchemy of these three things: 1) reading Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart series, Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Treehouse series, and Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games series, 2) a sense that I was shortchanging myself by not reading the classics outside of college, and 3) raising two amazing kids, an older sister and her younger brother. All three factors were rolling around in my life the same year, and I had a thought: what if a sister and brother one day realized they’d been living in fiction all along, and they had to travel into their favorite classics to save themselves? That idea snowballed, and from it, The Toadhouse Trilogy was born. Books are magic.
What kind of books do you read? Are they similar to the books you write?
I read a lot of young adult, but I also write and love to read mysteries.
Dream cast your book for us.
Definitely Emma Watson for Aine, maybe Andrew Astor or Drew Mikuska for Spenser, and Cainan Weibe for Gilgamesh. Would love Dame Judi Dench for Grandma Glori!
Do you have a ‘day job’? What is it?
I teach English and sociology at a Minnesota college, and that means I get to combine my two passions at work: writing and people-watching!
What has your biggest struggle been so far?
My biggest struggle so far has been balancing time with my kids with my job and writing time.
How do you feel about romances being so common in YA (and to a lesser degree MG) books?
Romance in and of itself is not interesting to me, but if it serves a larger plot and helps characters to develop, then I think it adds some great spice.
What trend do you love in MG/YA books? What trend do you hate?
YA books are some of the best books getting written right now, and anything goes in them. I love that sense of adventure. As far as trends I hate, I don’t hate any of them, but I think some books sacrifice characters to focus on romance too much.
What’s next for you?
Right now, I have a contract to write my next mystery in my Murder-by-Month Mysteries (it’ll be called January Thaw). After that, I need to start writing The Toadhouse Trilogy: Book Two (Monsters) so it’s ready for a fall 2013 release!
Jess Lourey is the author of The Toadhouse Trilogy: Book One, the first in a young adult series that celebrates the danger and excitement of reading. She also writes the critically-acclaimed Murder-by-Month Mysteries for adults with a sense of humor. She’s been teaching writing and sociology at the college level since 1998. When not gardening, writing, or hanging out with her wonderful kids and dorky dog, you can find her reading, watching SyFy-channel original movies, and dreaming big.