I am thrilled to welcome Jaclyn Moriarty to The Unfinished Bookshelf today as part of the Tangle of Gold blog tour. I love Jaclyn’s delightful novels and have really enjoyed discovering the Kingdom of Cello through the Colours of Madeleine trilogy.
What inspired the Kingdom of Cello and the Colours of Madeleine series?
I was living in Montreal, Canada and it was winter. I went to a cafe, opened my new notebook, and discovered a row of coloured pencils, each in its own separate pocket, sewn into the inside cover. Through the window I could see snow and ice; inside my notebook were unexpected colours. So I decided to draw pictures of a Kingdom, and that became the Kingdom of Cello.
I love the epistolary nature of your books. What appeals to you about this kind of storytelling?
I like the fact that letters can be honest, intense, unreliable, and light-as-a-feather all at the same time. I like making stories out of fragments and I especially like the power in the spaces between letters.
If you could write to any person, living or dead, who would it be?
I’d love to have a correspondence with Jane Austen.
How extensively did you plan the series? Was the ending always mapped out, or did it evolve over the course of writing the books?
I spent about a year planning the trilogy before I started writing it. The plan was about 200 pages long and I knew the major plot points and how it was going to end. But a lot of things changed between books. A friend made a suggestion about Elliot after he’d read the second book, and I said, ‘That’s ridiculous,’ but then I went home and decided it was brilliant and made some major changes to my plan for the third book.
Has the writing process for the series differed to your other novels?
I did a lot more research for these books than I have for the other books (but I’d already been stepping up the research with every book so maybe that was going to happen anyway). Also, all the crazy planning. I never did that much for the other books.
What do you hope readers take away from A Tangle of Gold and the Colours of Madeleine trilogy as a whole?
I hope they will believe that the Kingdom of Cello exists, and I hope they will become mildly obsessed with colours.
Does music play any part in your writing process?
It plays a big part for me. I choose a song for each character in each of my books – sometimes a couple of songs – and then I close my eyes and listen to that track before I write a scene involving the character. It seems to make me feel closer to the character. And it’s a good form of procrastination.
For some reviews, I try and pair books with a song. What does the Colours of Madeleine trilogy sound like to you?
I remember listening to one song over and over when I was just starting the trilogy. I was dancing around the living room imagining the people of Bonfire building a pyramid of pumpkins, and getting ready for a deftball championship while Elliot runs across a field and a butterfly child falls through the air. That’s when I could see the Kingdom of Cello clearly for the first time, and I started to feel intensely excited about it. The song was Vampire Weekend’s, ‘Ottoman’, and that’s what the trilogy sounds like to me.
Which books have left their mark on you as both a reader and a writer?A Room of One’s Own and The Waves by Virginia Woolf; The Republic of Love by Carol Shields; Letters from the Inside by John Marsden; Castles in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones; the Narnia books; The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl; The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin; The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins; Self-Help by Lorrie Moore; By Grand Central Station I sat down and wept by Elizabeth Smart; Under Milkweed by Dylan Thomas; What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge; Mary Poppins Comes Back by P.L. Travers … I could go on for a long time here but I’d better stop.
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