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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

An Interview With Jaclyn Moriarty: A Tangle Of Gold Blog Tour

Today's guest on The Great Raven is YA novelist Jaclyn Moriarty, whose final volume in the Colours Of Madeleine trilogy, A Tangle Of Gold, has just come out. In honour of the occasion, Macmillan is running a blog tour, on which this is a stop. If you haven't read the trilogy yet, I do recommend it. It's funny and sad, over the top and just plain entertaining. When it's clear the author is having fun, why shouldn't the readers? But begin with the first volume, A Corner Of White, in which the heroine, Madeleine, first discovers a corner of white paper sticking out of a parking meter in a street in Cambridge and finds herself corresponding with a cute boy in another universe, one in which seasons can change overnight and colours - or, rather Colours - can be dangerous....

To remind you, here is my review of the first two volumes, 

Thank you, Jaclyn, for kindly answering some of my questions about the trilogy. Without further ado, here she is! 

Why "The Colours Of Madeleine”?

Madeleine likes to wear bright colours because she is searching for colour and magic in her life.  She’s also trying to figure out her identity, and what she’s made of: her mistakes, her memories, her thoughts, her friendships, what?  So it’s like she wants to know if she is made of bright colours, complex colours, dull colours, selfish colours, blinding colours or dangerous colours. 


Why the Cambridge setting for the World? (Have you been to Cambridge?)

I lived in Cambridge, England for three years while I was doing a PhD.  I had an attic bedroom with sloping ceilings and a window that looked over a garden overgrown with wild grasses and flowers.  An owl used to hoot in a tree outside the window by my bed.  The place is magical to me, so it seemed like the right location for a crack through to the Kingdom of Cello. 


I've read the entire trilogy now and am still wondering just how important are the wandering seasons of Cello, given that you left them in even after you were  told that farming would be impossible in such a situation? 

Ha!   Wandering seasons are an integral part of Cello: I couldn’t write about Cello without mentioning them!  That would be like describing Paris and leaving out the Eiffel Tower.  And don’t worry, my farming friend was only joking when he said that farming would be impossible with wandering seasons.  There are plenty of places in the world where weather changes are frequent and dramatic so that farming is very difficult.  But people figure out solutions.  When the English first came to Australia they thought it was a barren land where nothing would ever grow.  And don’t forget that living things - including plants -  always find a way to survive.  Plants grow in the most unlikely places and most extreme conditions - in concrete, in sand, in clay, in darkness, in zero oxygen.  The crops that grow in Cello have evolved to resist the extremes of wandering seasons. 

Your characters eat a lot of delicious baked goods, both in Cello and in the World! There are cafes and tea rooms and characters baking at home - is this something you enjoy? 

Yes, this is something I enjoy a lot.  Even your question makes me happy and hungry.  Also, when I first came up with the idea of the Kingdom of Cello I was eating a chocolate croissant. 

Cello has a wide variety of cultures within the one kingdom, from the old style living of Olde Quainte to the high tech of Jagged Edge. What did you have in mind when you were working on this? 

I think the idea might have come to me from places like Europe - where many contrasting countries co-exist in a relatively small geographical space - and the United States, where there are such vast differences between some of the states, and the attitudes and lifestyles of their inhabitants, that it’s almost as if the states are different countries.  I wanted to play with this concept.   

What research did you have to do for this trilogy?

I read many books on Isaac Newton, Byron, Charles Babbage, Leonardo da Vinci and other famous historical figures, as well as books on science, physics and colour.  Also I had conversations with physicists, farmers, pilots, motocross enthusiasts, and other experts.  And I got my aura read and I learned to play the cello. 

In A Tangle Of Gold, we learn more about the Cellian connections of Isaac Newton, Leonardo da Vinci, even Byron and Vivaldi! Was it fun working them into your world? And, if you can tell us without spoilers - why these particular historical figures? 

I loved reading about these people: they are all brilliant, fascinating and flawed, and there is an element of mystery in all of their lives.

This is probably a question for the cover designer, but you might know - why was there a flying umbrella on all three covers? 

I think it’s because when Jack first sees Madeleine she’s walking down the road with a brightly-coloured umbrella?  And because it rains a lot in Cambridge?  Maybe it’s also a reference to the wandering seasons in Cello?  (See, that’s another reason I couldn’t take them out: they’re on the cover.) 

 Now that the three volume epic is over, what's next in your writing schedule? 

I’m writing a book about a girl whose parents have run away to have adventures with pirates leaving her to deliver treasure to ten aunts; a book about a woman who has enrolled in a course that will teach her to fly; a time travel book; a book about my great-grandmother; and a new Ashbury-Brookfield book.  

Find Jaclyn Moriarty on Twitter @jaclynmoriarty.

A Tangle Of Gold is now available! 


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