Fantasy continues to reign supreme in the children’s literary world, and debut author Jaleigh Johnson brings the genre to life for tween readers with THE MARK OF THE DRAGONFLY (Delacorte Books for Young Readers / On Sale March 25, 2014 / Ages 10 up), a thrilling adventure story with the feel of a timeless classic.
In the scrap towns, a day’s pay depends on what you find in the Meteor Fields. Storms rain down objects from other lands, and ever since Piper’s father died, scavenging is the only way for her to survive. Until the day she strikes gold. Unconscious, lying in the fields amid the rubble, is a girl. She’s beautiful and well-dressed . . . and has a dragonfly tattooed on her wrist. The mark of the dragonfly means the girl is from the Dragonfly Territories. If Piper can get her back there, she might get a reward and be able to start a new life.
The 401 train is the safest way to get to the Dragonfly Territories, but Piper will have to sneak aboard, and convincing the girl to join her seems unlikely—until there’s a knock on Piper’s door and she learns that the girl is more valuable than she could ever have imagined. There are people who want her back, and they won’t stop until they have her. Piper wants a new life, but running for it isn’t how she thought she’d get there. And the race to the Dragonfly Territories looks like it might be impossible to finish alive.
With a cast of characters who stand up and walk off the page, THE MARK OF THE DRAGONFLY has an action-packed plot, a page-turning pace, and a vivid, unique setting that will charm girls and boys who want to escape into another world.
JALEIGH JOHNSON is a lifelong reader, gamer, and moviegoer. She loves nothing better than to escape into fictional worlds and take part in fantastic adventures. She lives and writes in the wilds of the Midwest, but you can visit her online at www.jaleighjohnson.com or on Twitter @JaleighJohnson.
We sat down with Jaleigh Johnson to discuss her love of reading and writing and gaming brought her into the fantasy genre. Thanks for chatting with us, Jaleigh.
LS: What in your childhood informed your love of reading and influenced your desire to be a writer.
I have to give gaming the credit for that. Especially fantasy roleplaying games. I was probably destined to be a gamer ever since I was five years old, and I used to listen to my older brother and his friends play Dungeons and Dragons. The fantasy settings captured my imagination. They made me seek out fantasy novels to read and ultimately to create my own stories.
LS: What about fantasy specifically speaks to your creative nature?
To me, fantasy deals with imagining amazing, impossible things, whether they’re mythological creatures, magic, or alternate worlds. But in imagining the impossible, I love the idea that fantasy can reveal new perspectives on reality. There’s great truth in it, and as a writer, finding that balance between truth and the impossible is fascinating.
LS: What is your writing process and has that changed over the years?
Surprisingly, it hasn’t changed that much at all over the years. Deadlines affect it a bit—compress it, maybe—but with each new project, the pattern is similar. I start with a brainstorming session, usually done in a notebook or journal. This is when the characters and the world take shape. Then I prepare a detailed chapter outline to see where the plot’s going—and to make sure it doesn’t go off the rails! When I start writing, I try to get 1000-1500 words a day, which gets me a draft in roughly three months. After that comes several rounds of revisions with editors and/or critique partners to get to the finished product.
LS: What would be your idea of career fulfillment?
My writing is very fulfilling to me now, but I think if I could someday make it my full-time job that would be wonderful. I don’t know if it will ever happen, but it is something that I think about.
LS: What can your readers look forward to you from you in the future?
At the moment, I’m working on another book set in the same world as THE MARK OF THE DRAGONFLY. It follows a different set of characters and explores a unique part of Solace. I’m very excited about it!