he got lost in Great Aunt Harriet's hair. More recently, a big umbrella and a bigger wind propelled him to a very strange--and yes, BIG--tree. So big it has an elevator with an operator, Sir Shaw. Jackson only wants to go home, but instead finds himself in a series of adventures on the various branches of the tree where he keeps running into the troll Stimple, Keeper of the Tree, who has random half-rotten food stored in his beard in case he wants a snack.
Jackson meets Burt, a girl elf who's more than a little OCD. She takes care of the garden, and she's certain the only way the Author will like her is if she does a perfect job. Which means Jackson may not sit on the chairs in the gazebo or do more than look at anything at all. In fact, Burt says the Author will love Jackson more if he cleans up a little, and sends him to Miss Pottle, a rather large chicken (see the title of the book) who runs the Tree's beauty shop and wears an excessive amount of make-up.
As you can see, Jackson learns a few important lessons about his relationship with the Author before he finds his way back home. Jackson Jones: The Tale of a Boy, a Troll, and a Rather Large Chicken is told in captivating language sure to keep the middle grade reader spell-bound, and the younger child enthralled to be read to. The author (not to be confused with the Author) keeps the story flowing with a breezy, humorous voice and very short chapters (89 of them!) titled intriguing names such as Chapter 32: In Which Burt Shrieks a Lot. You'd Better Cover Your Ears.
Jenn Kelly is a regular blogger here at International Christian Fiction Writers. I wanted to help her get the word out about her newest book and find out what else she's been up to lately. So here we go!
VC: Jenn, I see your own son's name is Jackson. Did you model your character after him?
JK: You know, a lot of people ask that question. A lot. Like it's starting to make me crazy... just kidding. Only one person ever asked if Jackson Jones was modelled after me. Because authors usually put a piece of themselves into their main characters, right? (am hoping that's not the case with Stephen King) The only things that my son and Jackson Jones have in common is their hair colour (blondish-brownish) and their eye colour (blue/green/brown/gray) and their name.
In my novels, Jackson Jones is a shy writer. He has a head filled with imagination and doesn't make friends very easily. He likes to spend large amounts of time alone. He loves his family and he loves God. He knows lots about knots, about trees and how they grow. And deep down, he wonders about his purpose in life, his faith.... And even though he's a boy, he hates earwigs. Yeah, that's pretty much me.
VC: What is the biggest tree you've ever seen? Anything to compare with The Tree in this novel?
JK: Well, I can cheat and say that I visited that huge tree in Stanley Park, BC, where you can drive through the middle. Or I can choose the huge silver maple at Kemptville College which I had to climb to the top of to retrieve a flag (and tore my rotator cuff in the process, thus destroying my arborist career as a climber) or I can pick the 4' wide red oak my husband cut down in Rideau Ferry a few years ago when a raccoon attacked him in the tree and peed in his eyes. Or I can pick the little Russian Olive that I grew from a seedling planted out front in my yard. Hard choice.
VC: I loved the idea of the Prayer Tree (a tree within a tree!) with its stained glass leaves held on with copper wire. Where did this idea come from?
JK: I love the idea too. For some reason, my best ideas come when I dream. I'm actually a very vivid dreamer (lucid?) where I always remember my dreams and I actually used to keep a dream journal so I could remember stuff in the morning. I should probably do that again. Last night I dreamt that we could travel to another world a la 'Once Upon a Time' but you had to stand in your shower. The night before I dreamt the cast of Jersey Shore was moving into my house (I was very upset!).
So two years ago when we were family vacationing in Topsail Beach, North Carolina (you must go in May - it's quiet and 30C every single day) and I was trying to figure out how to end the novel. I needed something brilliant and fantastic and beautiful. I closed my eyes and dozed off (30C sunshine and the lull of the ocean will do that) and then I saw the tree. It was shimmering and I woke up with goosebumps all over. And it took me some thinking to figure out what was trembling on the tree as it wasn't leaves. And then I realized they were prayers. Prayers on bits of stained glass held on with copper wires. And when a prayer comes true, poof! It disappears.
VC: What are you working on now?
JK: Well, I've got a super cool dystopian novel for teens that I've almost finished (not including editing - as I keep forgetting characters names and am too lazy to look back to find them) and I've been working on an Amish novel since January, but it wasnt' clicking. And last week I had a dream (surprise!) that gave me the voice that I needed to nail it. And now I'm excited writing it. So the question is now, do I slug through the dystopian or do I finish the Amish?
And my favourite tea at the moment is cinnamon chai. Because I know you were curious.
VC: Thanks, Jenn! Cinnamon Chai. Mmmm. Sounds delish! Now to the part we've all been waiting for! (Well, I know you all wanted to hear from Jenn, too...so this is the OTHER part you've been waiting for.
Interested in reading Jackson Jones: The Tale of a Boy, a Troll, and a Rather Large Chicken? Jenn is offering one reader a copy, anywhere on Planet Earth. If you'd like to put your name in the hat, please add your email address with your comment before Wednesday, November 23, replacing @ with (at) and .com with (dot) com.
"Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws."
Her first published work, a novella, will be available in the collection Rainbow's End from Barbour Books in May 2012. Visit her website and blog to glimpse inside her world.