As part of our mission to promote authors, the joy of reading, and to better understand the craft of writing, we’ve paired with the The Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vermont to present an ongoing series entitled “Three Questions”. In it, we pose three questions to authors with upcoming visits to the bookstore. Their responses are posted on The Book Jam in the week leading up to their engagement. Our hope is that this exchange will offer insight into their work and will encourage readers to attend these special author events.
We are pleased to welcome Pam and Jon Voelkel, authors of the Jaguar Stones series set in the Mayan underworld. Their childhoods may have been a bit different – Jon spent his in South and Central America, Pamela spent hers in a seaside town in England - but they have found common ground in their books starring a boy living with unusual family circumstances and significant connections to the Mayans. The Jaguar Stones books were heavily researched by the Voelkel family in over forty Maya sites in Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico. For more information about their most frightening experiences on those trips, visit the Norwich Bookstore website. For more information about Mayan culture and the books, visit the Voelkels’ web site.
Their latest installment in the series – The River of No Return – officially goes on sale September 25th but the Norwich Bookstore has special permission from the publisher to celebrate early. So to meet these interesting authors in person and purchase their latest book, stop by the Norwich Bookstore on Saturday, September 15th between 10 am and noon, or call in advance an order your copy for signature. Now on to our three questions.
1.What three books have helped shape you into the author you are today, and why?
Jon: The Narnia books by CS Lewis are the model for a children’s series – deceptively simple writing style, tons of adventure, engaging maps and illustrations, continuity across series, but each book stands on its own. George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl taught me that, from a child’s point of view, the more outrageous the better. I’d also choose Raiders of the Lost Ark, a movie not a book, but the fast-paced story and visual feast is exactly what I try to bring to the Jaguar Stones books.
Pamela: The book that made me fall in love with words was The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster; for years, I was obsessed by The Owl Service by Alan Garner and I’m sure it embedded the idea of retelling ancient myths in a modern setting. The book that inspires me to blend humor with a serious ecological message is The Island of the Aunts by Eva Ibbotson.
2.What author (living or dead) would you most like to have a cup of coffee with and why?
Jon: The ancient Maya artist/scribe who produced the Dresden Codex, a beautiful, enigmatic and tantalizing book that archaeologists have been trying to understand since it was found two hundred years ago.
Pamela: I’m a big fan of James Joyce, but I think we’d have something stronger than coffee.
3.What books are currently on your bedside table?
Pamela: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed, The Road to Ruins by Ian Graham, and The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis (reading with youngest daughter).