If you are interested in having Jacqueline make an appearance at your school, library, or conference, please use the online request form or email the Author Appearance Coordinator at authorvisits[at]us.penguingroup.com with possible dates, your organization, location, details about the day, and your contact information.
A Note from Jacqueline West:
Dear Librarians, Teachers, and Other Lovely Bookish Folk,
I was one of those odd, dusty children who spent their free time sitting on the floor of the public library, already too immersed in the books I had just pulled off the shelf to manage to carry them to a chair. Booksand the people in themwere absolutely real to me. Writers, on the other hand, were not. My school didn't have authors visit, I didn't know any writers personally, and many of the authors I adored had written their books a century ago, holding nib pens and squinting in the light of kerosene lampsa situation so romantic and mysterious that the writers seemed like fictional characters themselves.
Meeting an author, learning the story behind the story, hearing about how books are thought up and written (and rewritten, and rewritten...) would have had a lasting impact on a child like me. Now, when I get to impact other kids this way, it is an honor. I hope my books will come alive in kids' imaginations, just as my favorite books did in mine. And I hope that meeting the writer behind those books can bring to life the other side of writing: the side that lives (most of the time) in the real world, working and thinking and collecting ideas to create new stories. Authors may never be quite as real as the books they write, but we can hold two-way conversations. And sign things.
This House is Keeping Secrets... Be Careful Where You Look
Watch the book trailer for The Books of Elsewhere: The Shadows!
Author Appearance Q&A with Jacqueline West:
What can a school, library, or conference expect when you are making an appearance? What might you do differently with audiences of varying sizes, ages, and interests?
I generally give a short talk, which is tailored to the audience and event, before reading from my work. Kids usually want to know more about the books and to share their own reading and writing experiences, while older groups like a more in-depth discussion of the writing process, publishing, and literature in general (and these are things I could talk about all day long). I like to end with a Q&A session. It's my favorite partI love the dialogue that occurs. And it's good to know that at least one person in the audience really wants to hear what you're saying.
What makes your author appearances unique?
I'm ridiculously enthusiastic about literature. Some of my high school English students asked me why I smiled the whole time I was teaching, and I didn't even realize I'd been smiling. I've worked as both a teacher and an actress (sometimes it felt like I was doing both at once, especially during those 7 a.m. classes), so I've had some experience in front of a crowd. Moreover, the reason I wanted both to teach and to perform was because I wanted to share stories, whether it was by encouraging students to read, fostering discussion, or bringing a story to life on stage.
Do you enjoy making appearances for adult audiences? What do you do when presenting to adults?
Yes, I like speaking to adult groups. Most of the questions I get from adults are about the realities of the writing and publishing process, and I'm happy to share the nuts-and-bolts experiences of a first-time novelist (which are extremely fresh in my mind...). As a former English teacher from a family of teachers, the subject of literature for young readers is something I'm passionate about, and I'm able to discuss writing for kids and the impact of books on a child's life. I especially enjoy leading writing workshops in fiction and poetry for adults; I've taught creative writing to both large and small groups, and I love this sort of intensive, interactive work.
What can schools and libraries do to ensure a successful appearance?
I really appreciate it when the audience has read my work ahead of time; it makes the discussion so much more in-depth and interesting. I also love it when an event's planners tell me exactly what they would like me to do, in as much detail as possible.
Do you enjoy traveling to other parts of the country for appearances?
Do you ever make appearances at more than one school in an area? Could schools and libraries from one area join together to bring you to their institution?
SureI understand time and budget constraints, and I try to do what is most convenient for educators and librarians.
What do you hope your audience will come away with from your presentation?
Whenever I leave a great class or a wonderful author event, I feel a renewed desire to get back to my own reading and writing. I hope that's what my audiences feel as well: a wish to dig into another library book or to get out an old journal and start scribbling. And, of course, I hope they'll want to read my books, if they haven't already.
What was your most memorable appearance experience?
At a pre-release gathering for The Books of Elsewhere, Volume One: The Shadows in Chicago, all the kids in attendance had read the book ahead of time, so they could not only tell me what their favorite parts were, but several had memorized lines from the book, and quoted them to me. That turned my world upside down.
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Do you have questions about an author visit or comments about this page? Please contact the author appearance coordinator.