I had never heard of the Jaguar Stones series until I heard that the authors, Pamela and Jon Voelkel, were coming to my school in March. We had a rockin’ time.

Once I read a summary, I knew I would love their books. And I did. So when they accepted my request for an interview, I was deee-lighted. Read on (and be sure to check out my review of Middleworld, the first book in the series) …

 ~ LitKid

Where were you when you were writing Middleworld ?

Pamela: Most of at the time, we were at home in Vermont, and part of the time, we were traveling in Belize. In Belize, we wrote in a bamboo hut on a screen porch overlooking a rushing river; in Vermont, we live in an old brick house and share a drafty old office. You can’t see a single surface in the room for piles of papers, books and maps.

Did any authors give you inspiration for your book? If so, why that particular author?

Pamela: As a child, I loved The Owl Service by Alan Garner, and I have tried to recreate that haunting mixture of mystery and mythology. I was also inspired by the rather sensible and self-sufficient child protagonists of Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons. Remember that telegram they get from their father? “Better drowned than duffers. If not duffers, won’t drown.” And, of course, they don’t drown, because they’re smart. Finally, I always enjoyed Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books, not so much for their plots as for the way she  always listed out all the food on their picnics. I always like to know what people are eating, which is why Raul cooks such amazing feasts in the Jaguar Stones books.

Jon: The Jaguar Stones series was partly inspired by the K’iche’ Maya creation myth the Popul Vuh, which tells the story of the hero twins who fight against the ancient Maya lords of death. Nobody knows who wrote it down. Though not a book, the Indiana Jones movies were also a real inspiration. In writing the books, I always try to picture the scenes as a film in my mind.

The Voelkels’ rockin’ visit to LitKid’s international magnet elementary school

Before you became writers, did you want to be something else, like a doctor?

Pamela: I always wanted to be some kind of writer. Originally, I wanted to be a journalist, but then I decided I wanted to be an advertising copywriter, and that’s what I did for 20 years until we started work on The Jaguar Stones.

Jon: I put myself through college playing in a number of rock and roll bands. I then went on to work in advertising. I still play lead guitar in a local band.

Where did you first meet?

In an advertising agency in London.

Are any of the characters in the book based on people you’ve met? If so, why?

Pamela: Like all writers, we steal shamelessly from every single person we meet. It might be the way someone looks, or the way they toss their hair or tap their foot or giggle, but we’re always on the lookout for ways of acting and talking.

Consequently, there are lots of people we know bound into the Jaguar Stones characters. There’s quite a lot of Jon in Max, but there’s also a bit of our teenage son, and when Max is cowardly, that comes from me. I’d say that Lola is who I’d like to be. She’s funny and smart and brave. I also enjoy creating evil characters and basing them on people I know, but of course I can’t share any details. 🙂

Read more about the Voelkels on their author page

Check out the cool Jaguar Stones web site … 

Watch the Voelkels talk with kids about the series on the Today show …

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