Hey everyone! It's me, Julie Anne! Today, I'm joined by the marvelous Janet B. Taylor, whose new book Sparks Of Light wraps up her absolutely gripping Into The Dim series. I couldn't put Sparks of Light down, so I had to read it in one sitting. That's how great it was! This book was published in August, so it's available now in a bookstore near you. You should totally check it out. With that, let's get started with the interview! And don't forget to stick around until the end. We've got an amazing giveaway, and you don't want to miss it!
Julie Anne: Hello, Janet! Thank you so much for letting me read your new book, Sparks Of Light. Could you give the readers a summary of what it’s about?
Janet: Hi!! I’m so excited to be here!! Thank you so much for inviting me! So, INTO THE DIM is a story about an awkward, lonely, grieving girl who is all but crippled with phobias and has absolutely no clue who she really is. When Hope arrives in Scotland, she’s hit again and again with these insane revelations. And it’s like BAM—if she ever wants to see her (oh, by the way, NOT dead) mother, she has to go with these people, these strangers, on some insane rescue mission to medieval England??? I mean, how would you deal with that? Personally, I don’t think I’d do very well!
In SPARKS OF LIGHT, Hope has begun to gain a tiny bit of confidence. (Though she’s still awful with swords). Despite all the blows she took in DIM (and there were many) she’s accepted her role as a Viator and is excited to become a true member of the family. She misses Bran desperately, but when he shows up with news of his mother’s latest insane plan, the team must travel to 1895 ‘The Gilded Age’ of NYC to destroy a device invented by Nikola Tesla himself.
Julie Anne: How did you first get interested in time travel?
Janet: In the VERY beginning, I actually started out writing straight historical fiction. I was working with a wonderful author of YA Historical Fiction, named Suzanne Dunlap, who—after working with me a while—told me my voice sounded very ‘YA’ and maybe a bit too ‘modern’ for straight adult historical fiction. She suggested I try moving my writing in a slightly different direction. She was right, of course, though at the time, I was pretty devastated. See, I’m a total history nerd, and I knew that’s where my heart lay. So I started thinking…Okay. YA…Modern voice…Must, must have history…Then it hit me. Bazinga!! Time Travel!
Julie Anne: I understand that lots of research was put into making this book. You must’ve researched a bunch about the time they traveled to: 1895 in New York City. How do you choose the places Hope travels to?
Janet: That’s one of the coolest things about being an author of historical fiction! I get to choose the location and time period for Hope, Bran, Phoebe, and Collum’s next adventure. So of course, with SPARKS, I chose one of my very favorite eras. I’ve always been a huge history nerd. Obviously I’m fascinated with the medieval era.
When my editor and I discussed Book II, the Gilded Age was just so perfect for our gang. I was so intrigued by the incredible divide between rich and poor. On one hand you have the incredible wealth and insane glamour of people like the Astors and Vanderbilts. On the other is the unimaginable poverty of thousands of new immigrants, sometimes three or four entire families living crammed up in tiny apartments. Also, there’s a section of the book that takes place in a Victorian insane asylum, which has always fascinated me. Soooo creepy!! And ohhhhh….the GOWNS from that era are just magnificent!!
Julie Anne: Hope has problems with claustrophobia and anxiety. Do you have any advice for teens who deal with problems of the same variety?
Janet: For any teen who’s dealing with overwhelming issues—no matter what kind—I believe the number one, MOST important thing they can do is to talk to someone about it. Someone they trust, whether it’s a parent, teacher, counselor, grandparent. The worst thing anyone, teen or adult, can do is hold their pain inside. No matter what your problem is-- -YOU ARE NOT ALONE!! There are so many programs that exist just for YOU. All you have to do is just reach out.
Julie Anne: In the book I relate the most to Hope and the way that she deals with the problems she faces. Who is the character you relate to the most?
Janet: Oh, I’m about a 50—50 split between Hope and Phoebe. Though I can’t claim Hope’s incredible memory, she definitely inherited her clumsy, nerdy side from me. I also share Phoebe’s fierce loyalty to family and friends. (Plus, I’m bubbly and can talk your ears clean off your head!).
Julie Anne: I like Bran. He’s witty and hilarious. Plus, he and Hope are perfect for each other. They remind me of Romeo and Juliet. Was that intentional?
Janet: Not entirely on purpose, no. Their relationship grew and blossomed as I wrote the book. As I wrote their scenes together, it was like it was really happening! With INTO THE DIM, I had no idea what was going to happen between them, so it was romantic and exciting for me, too!
Julie Anne: You use Nikola Tesla in the book as the man responsible for the creation of their time traveling machine. What about Nikola Tesla captures your imagination?
Janet: First of all, Tesla got a bum deal! I’ve always felt sorry for him. You know, Thomas Edison took credit for many, many of his inventions. And though Marconi supposedly ‘invented’ the radio, it was actually Tesla—though, because he never bothered to file patents for most of his work, others stole them. Tesla cared about people, and he wanted to find a way to provide free electricity for all. He was a true, certified genius, and also a very, very weird dude. Like Hope, he suffered terribly from all kinds of strange phobias. He also believed he’d contacted aliens, and—near the end of his life—fell in love with a pigeon.
Yep. You read that right….A PIGEON.
As poor Tesla once wrote: “I loved that pigeon as a man loves a woman, and she loved me. As long as I had her, there was a purpose to my life.”
Julie Anne: So what adventure are you writing next? Can you give us any hints?
Janet: Oooo! Wish I could tell you, but I can’t talk about it JUST yet….Except to say that it’s definitely historical fiction, and it DEFINITELY has some really cool twists!!
That’s it for today’s interview with Janet, but don’t leave just yet. We’re teaming up with Janet to give away a hardcover of Sparks Of Light, plus some bookmarks, buttons, and a custom-made Sparks Of Light candle. Just click on the image below and enter to win a copy for your bookshelf or classroom. The contest ends on Tuesday, November 7th, and the winner must live in the United States. Good luck!