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What's next for author, River Falls native Jacqueline West

Local author Jacqueline West started off her presentation in May by talking about the completion of her first series, “The Books of Elsewhere,” and what it took to get started with the series. (Photo by Jordan Willi)1 / 2
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After finishing her first series, “The Books of Elsewhere,” in 2014, local author and River Falls native Jacqueline West has been busy with the April publishing of her new young adult book, “Dreamers Often Lie,” the polishing of her the first book of her new series, “The Collector,” and taking care of her 14-month-old baby.

“It has been the least travel I have done since I started ‘The Books of Elsewhere,’” West said. “The last year has been very much spent at home focusing on finishing up ‘Dreamers Often Lie’ and spending time with the baby. It is a different world now with having a baby and writing. I have one day a week now when my wonderful mother comes and helps. Otherwise I scribble as much as I can while he naps.”

Despite her busy schedule, West recently took the time to visit with New Richmond fourth- and fifth-graders in the middle school auditorium for a presentation and Q&A session.

“Writing is so solitary that you are either on your own or with the people in your head most of the time,” West said. “So getting to get out and meet your actual readers is a blast. They are so much fun. It is good to be reminded that there are real people who are reading what you have written, are interacting with it and bring it to life in their own minds.”

West grew up in River Falls, but currently lives in Red Wing, Minn. Her first series, “The Books of Elsewhere,” features 11-year-old Olive as she and her family move into a strange, old house where she discovers an odd antique painting that allows her to travel to a world filled with shadows.

“Finishing the series was really emotional and a relief as well to feel like everything is done and wrapped up the way I wanted it to be,” West said. “But it was also emotional to say goodbye to those characters after living with them for so long. It still almost doesn’t feel like it is over to me.

“In the back of my brain I can still plop them into a scene and know what they would say and do. Kids write to me all the time asking if I can write a sixth or seventh book, and I could, but I felt comfortable with where it ended and I am excited to start some stuff from scratch after all this time.”

Her new solo novel, “Dreamers Often Lie,” is a complete change from “Elsewhere” and is even an age-group shift from middle-age readers to young adults.

“The new book is a whole different readership and a whole different world,” West said. “As a writer that is kind of scary because it is like starting all over again. So far, since it just came out, I am just starting to get reader response from it. Reviews have been really nice and people either really like it or don’t get it. But that is what I kind of expected.”

The solo novel took about eight years to finish, said West, and was started before she got her first contract for “The Books of Elsewhere” while she was still teaching high school English.

“Writing for that age group — the YA crowd — is a not easy and they are a tough bunch,” West said. “...It is about Shakespeare, romance and brain damage. It is several Shakespearean plays tangled with a modern high-schooler’s life.”

Now that her most recent authorial endeavor is completed, West is shifting her focus to her new series, which starts with “The Collector.”

“My new book for younger kids felt kind of like a jigsaw puzzle, like a bunch of separate pieces came together to make up the core of my idea,” West said. “The pieces are, once again, some talking animals and superstition and wish-making ideas I wanted to play with. It all just fell into place and I had my story.”

The new series will be three books long, but West isn’t sure quite yet when it will be released.

“I like to have things very polished before I show anyone and I’m not the one who sells an idea on an outline like some writers do,” West said. “The first draft is done and now I am re-polishing it. My agent has seen the first half and is excited about it. As soon as I’m comfortable with it in another month or two then we will talk book deal.”

For more information about Jacqueline West, visit her website (jacquelinewest.com) or find her on Facebook (Jacqueline West - Author).

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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