A. J. York: Author Interview
A. J. YORK
Jen York is the author of Delilah Dusticle.
From the Author:
“First let me introduce Grumpy Stone. I found him on a beach in my home town in Essex, England. Grumpy has become my writing mascot. It is more fun to look at a picture of him than one of me. Promise.”
About A. J. YORK:
About A. J. YORK:
“Well I grew up in the UK, but was born in Gothenburg, Sweden. My childhood influences were a mix of Pippi Longstocking and The Flumps. I have always enjoyed making up characters and their life stories, therefore I jumped at the chance to study theatre at the University of Brighton. I later trained as a drama teacher and I have a Masters degree from Goldsmiths. I have gone back to my roots and I now live in Gothenburg, where I am writing the Delilah Dusticle series. People have told me they love reading my stories and I hope you have fun reading them too!”
Randie: Tell us something about yourself. Any odd quirks or hobbies?
A.J. YORK: “I have a thing about light shops, I like to peer into light shop windows at night and see their displays. I really love looking at all the different kinds of lamps, lampshades and coloured strings of lights, from chandeliers to retro shades and from Christmas lights to lava lamps. To me these shops are like light art installations.”
Randie: What book(s) are you currently reading?
A.J. YORK: “I am reading Simon and the Oaks by Marianne Fredriksson. It is a gorgeous story about a Jewish boy living in Sweden during the war. I am reading it in Swedish, so it taking some time.”
Randie: Is there one book you identify with (or identified with as a child or teen)?
A.J. YORK: “As a child and teen I loved musical theatre more than books. This perhaps is why I ended up studying drama at university. If Grease was a book, I would have read it.”
Randie: What were your jobs/interests before you started writing?
A.J. YORK: “When we moved to Sweden I had just finished a Masters in Arts Administration and Cultural Policy at Goldsmiths University of London. I was lucky to be offered work at the international school and helped set up an educational programme with an English speaking theatre. This was all very enjoyable, but I was starting to have ambitions of running my own project. Back in England I had worked on educational projects, so I was confident I had the skills to set out on my own. Delilah Dusticle turned out to be the project I was looking for. It has been very exciting being the writer, administrator, publicist and project co-ordinator.”
Randie: Describe your book in six words or less.
A.J. YORK: “Delightful, magical, fun, charming, heart-wrenching and heart-warming.”
Randie: What audience were you hoping to reach with Delilah Dusticle?
A.J. YORK: “I had written the book for middle grade, but adults have enjoyed the story too.”
Randie: Tell us about one of your characters.
A.J. YORK: “Mrs Fenchurch-Whittington is the lady of the house and Delilah’s employer. She comes from a humble background and marries into the family for love. She works hard to fit in and to make friends with those at the ladies club, but discovers it is all superficial. I think the challenge in life is to be who you are rather than what you think the world thinks you should be. This is something Mrs Fenchurch-Whittington begins to understand at the end of the story.”
Randie: What was your inspiration for Delilah Dusticle?
A.J. YORK: “Delilah came to me while trying to clean a beautiful apartment that we were renting. The building is from the turn of the 20th century and had a room off the kitchen where the maid would have slept. We were tackling floor to ceiling high bookshelves with dusters and I was hugely unsuccessful, as I had dust all over me and I even broke the hoover! My mind just wondered over to who the maid would have been and how she must have had special abilities that clearly I do not have.”
Randie: Why a series?
A.J. YORK: “After I wrote the first story I found the second story beginning to play in my head. I have now written the second story, but it is undergoing lots of revisions. I have the third story written down now in note form.”
Randie: Delilah Dusticle has an artistic cover. Who designed it? Explain that process.
A.J. YORK: “I am lucky as my partner Gavin Childs is a teacher and an artist too. After he read Delilah Dusticle he came up with some lovely illustrations. As it is set in Post War London Gavin looked at the Art Deco movement for inspiration on what style to use. He also designed the Dustbuster logo and is creating a series of cartoon style illustrations for the second installment.”
Here is a taster of what is come:
Randie: If a reader enjoys Delilah Dusticle, what other books would you recommend?
A.J. YORK: “This is an interesting question. Hmm, it depends on what it was about Delilah Dusticle that the reader liked. I have had feedback that readers like the setting of Post War London. There are many great stories from this period. If you are looking for great stories about a female protagonist then I would recommend Pippi Longstocking, she is much feistier than Delilah, but has special powers too.”
Randie: Do you have any writings in the works or unpublished?
A.J. YORK: “In between writing Delilah a character called Eliza Bluebell keeps appearing in my mind. We are still working on her story :0)”
Randie: Do you write multiple books concurrently or one at a time?
A.J. YORK: “It has to be one book at a time or I would be surrounded by unfinished projects. I write notes for future books as things occur to me, so I don’t forget anything.”
Randie: If you could change one thing about your writing, what would it be?
A.J. YORK: “I would change that I could conquer all my grammar demons. I have read books about grammar but I still struggle. Luckily my super grammar talented friend and journalist Anna Davidson edited the book.”
Randie: How do you manage “writer’s block” or deadlines?
A.J. YORK: “Delilah’s story rolled into my head like waves and I did not suffer writers block once. After I finished I looked into what I could do and I researched the traditional publishing route. I am far too impatient to wait two years and have Delilah sit in a slush pile or perhaps not be looked at all. So I looked into the world of indie writers and liked what I saw. All the deadlines are set by me and I enjoy it too much that I rarely miss one.”
Randie: In what ways has your experience as a drama teacher both supported and hindered your writing process?
A.J. YORK: “All stories whether written or performed are from the observations of the creator. My background in drama means that I have plenty of experience in storytelling and character development. However, I have to consider that the action is expressed very differently when it is written. In drama something can be said with a gesture or a pause in conversation, in writing it is said with a selection of words. I pay special attentions to this and how to add subtext, so the reader can literally read between the lines. I find comedians are the best at observation and storytelling. They have observed something in our everyday lives, create a story around it and then present it us. We laugh and think of course that is so true.”
Randie: Any helpful tips or suggestions for aspiring writers?
A.J. YORK: “I am still an aspiring writer, learning something new every day and focusing on producing the best I can. I did a lot of research when starting the first book and read that I should read plenty of books in my genre, keep up to date with the industry, look at other authors and so on. I did do this, but I started to get distracted and felt swayed by other authors writing styles. That is when I decided to ignore all this advice and just concentrate on my story. So my advice is to pick and choose your advice carefully.”
Randie: What can readers expect from you in the future?
A.J. YORK: “In September, readers can expect the second installment Delilah Dusticle’s Transylvanian Adventure, which is twice as long, humorous with lots of twists and turns.”
Thanks for having me on your blog Randie!
For more information about A. J. York, visit her website: www.ajyork.com
and Facebook book page: www.facebook.com/delilahdusticle
-Randie @ http://randiesreviews.blogspot.com/