Jacqueline West, Writer

Bestselling author of The Books of Elsewhere and Dreamers Often Lie

Glad to live in a world where there are Octobers

October 15, 2015    Tags: , , , , ,   

Anne Shirley Octobers
(Anne Shirley and I are kindred spirits.)

It’s my favorite month. Blustery days. The light that falls through red and gold leaves. Jack-o’-lanterns and cider and eerie stories read while wrapped up in a blanket. Beren highly recommends BabyLit’s Dracula; he’s been practicing counting wolves and castles and rats and garlic blossoms, and occasionally howling like a true little child of the night. I highly recommend Through the Woods, by Emily Carroll — twisted, brilliant, beautiful, and terrifying comics that take folk and fairy tales to even darker places — and Get in Trouble, Kelly Link‘s latest collection of gobsmackingly good short stories. Or, of course, you could read The Books of Elsewhere. I hear they’re perfect for Halloween season. Especially Volume Four. (And if you liked them, you could recommend them to other readers, which is the best possible Halloween gift you could possibly give an author. Just saying.)

Bear and Dracula

October is also the month of the Twin Cities Book Festival. If you’re anywhere in the area, come to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds on Saturday the 17th for a truly incredible day of readings, signings, panels, talks, and bookish fun. I’ll be moderating a Middle Grade Adventures panel featuring Lynne Jonell (The Sign of the Cat), D.J. MacHale (Voyagers: Project Alpha), and Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis (The Map to Everywhere), and in true middle grade style, we’re going to play Truth or Dare. Come join the fun: 12:15 p.m., 10/17, Middle Grade Headquarters. (And the whole incredible day is FREE!) Lots more info here:

Along with the leaves, events for the next school year are beginning to pile up… Keep an eye on my appearance calendar if you’d like to know where I’ll be.

And for even more autumnal richness, The Books of Elsewhere, Volume Five: Still Life is a finalist for this year’s Silver Falchion Award, as well as being up for the Reader’s Choice Award — go and vote, if you’re so inclined.

Happy October to all you kindred spirits out there.


All Hallow’s Read Giveaway

October 30, 2014    Tags: , , ,   

I’m overdue for a tour recap, but this is just a mini-post to spread the word that over at my main Facebook page ( ) between now and noon on Halloween, you can enter to win one of two signed paperback copies of THE STRANGERS, along with some creepy books of my choice.  Go forth and comment!  Happy All Hallow’s Read!

raven_all_hallows_read_poster_by_blablover5-d7xwiid (Poster via Introverted Wife.)


STARRY-EYED giveaway (and other Halloweeny goodness)

October 14, 2013    Tags: , , , , , , , ,   

October is my favorite month.  Sweaters.  Falling leaves.  Cider.  Pumpkin carving.  An excuse to read creepy books and watch creepy movies and scatter creepy things over every household surface.

Over at my Facebook page, I’m asking readers to share their own favorite things about October.  On Friday the 18th, I’ll pick a winning comment at random, and that winning comment-writer will receive a free signed copy of the new YA anthology STARRY-EYED (and I’m throwing in a signed ARC of THE STRANGERS too, just for fun).  Go forth and comment/share!

This is also the season of All Hallow’s Read

allhallowsread2(Supercool poster by Introverted Wife)

I’ll be in New Orleans over Halloween this year, thanks to the Louisiana Book Festival (which reminds me: Come see me talk at 1:30 on Saturday, November 2nd, at the Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge!), so I’m going to celebrate All Hallow’s Read a bit early by putting together a big box of Halloweeny books and passing them on to a nearby school, where I hope they’ll find their way into the hands of young readers who need or want them.  If I had enough money, I’d blanket the entire area with Ray Bradbury and Poe and James Howe books, all dropped from a Jack-O’-Lantern-shaped hot air balloon on spiderweb parachutes…

Maybe someday.

If you’re looking for some All Hallow’s Read books of your own to share, remember that you can catch me and THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE at the Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis at 1:00 on October 26th.

Here’s a lovely new review of THE STRANGERS at Charlotte’s Library.

And finally, here’s me, my mom, and our spiderweb cookies. October: I love you.



Lizard-Cats and Olive Costumes (Happy Halloween!)

October 31, 2012    Tags: , , , ,   

Behold: This year’s jack-o-lanterns.  We carved them with friends on Saturday, and mine is already starting to look a bit backward-leaning and droopy (it’s the one that appears to depict a cat crossed with a chubby lizard), but Ryan’s creepy face just gets creepier as it shrivels.

If anyone’s looking for a last-minute literary costume, check out Books Together.  There you’ll find step-by-step instructions for assembling your own Olive Dunwoody costume, and links to several other book-based costume ideas.  (You can also enter to win a set of seven fantastic Halloweeny books published by Penguin, including The Shadows!  Go!  Go NOW!)

Speaking of giveaways: the Facebook All Hallow’s Read giveaway ended this morning, and I’ve contacted the randomly selected winner.  (I asked entrants to name the fictional character they’d least like to encounter in real life, and there were a slew of great responses: multiple mentions of Cthulu and Count Olaf, as well as votes for Randall Flagg of Stephen King creation, Commander Woundwart from Watership Down, Eric Cartman (I agree–he’s terrifying), and Snooki.)  Thanks, everyone.

Poetry news:  My poem, “Wendigo in the 21st Century,” was a finalist for this year’s SFPA poetry contest.  You can read the winners and see the full list here.  The SFPA is also hosting a Halloween poetry reading; visit their Halloween page to hear me reading my Rhysling-nominated poem, “Escaping the Dawn” or to listen to other great poems and poets.

And, finally, my super-cool new t-shirt:

(Here’s the local paper’s write-up.)  Two days until showtime…


All Hallow’s Read (and other Good Things)

October 19, 2012    Tags: , , , ,   

It’s time for my favorite new gift-giving holiday!

If you aren’t familiar with the coolness that is All Hallow’s Read, click here.  If you are, I hope you’re already on the hunt for creepy, wondrous books to give to your favorite readers for Halloween.  Last year, I hosted a giveaway on this blog.  This year, I’d like to try something a little bit different: If you visit my Facebook page, you’ll find an All Hallow’s Read thread, in which I’ve asked readers to share which literary character they would be most terrified to meet in real life.  On October 31, I’ll pick a winning commenter at random, and he/she will be sent a signed hardcover copy of THE SECOND SPY.  (And if you share the giveaway link, you’ll be entered twice.  Got to get around that new “promoted posts” malarkey somehow.)  Go!  Comment!  Win!

Last week, I got to attend another rehearsal of “Under the Bed.”  The actors now have their lines memorized, and getting to see and hear words that I wrote coming out of REAL people’s mouths, without any papers or print between us, was truly something special.  Plus, the kids are smart, and heartbreaking, and so, so funny.

Here they are, being bullied by big sisters/being bullying big sisters and getting trapped by fear-collecting spiders.

I’ve also just learned that THE SHADOWS has made the list for the 2013-2014 Indiana Young Hoosier Book Award, which makes me very,very happy.  Thank you, young readers–Hoosiers and non-Hoosiers alike.


All Hallows Read, Part Three

October 25, 2011    Tags: ,   

Thanks, all, for the many marvelous All Hallows Read recommendations!  Several of you mentioned books that I’ve loved, too–books that helped me learn to read (The Berenstain Bears), a book I smuggled off of my grandma’s shelves and devoured while hiding behind an armchair (Flowers in the Attic), a book I pored over again and again during high school and college (Frankenstein–Drat that eighteen-year-old prodigy Mary Shelley!), a book I loved so much I named my dog after it (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow; Brom Bones heartily endorses this particular choice), and books I read while wedged into a corner so that nothing could sneak up behind me (basically anything by Stephen King).

Without further ado, the randomly selected winners of the giveaway are:

1. Andrea Polk

2. Brenda Tjaden

Winners, please send me your postal addresses (via so that I can put your books in the mail ASAP.   (Or perhaps that should be ITTBRUTCWAFOHN — In Time To Be Read Under The Covers With A Flashlight On Halloween Night.)


All Hallow’s Read

October 10, 2011    Tags: ,   

A year ago, Neil Gaiman blogged about the lack of traditions involving books and proposed starting a brand-new one: Giving each other scary books for Halloween.   Other bloggers replied (some of them recommending The Shadows, which in turn was tangentially mentioned on Mr. Gaiman’s blog, making me squeal with delirious delight), the idea spread, reading lists were generated, and websites were born.  Behold:

I will jump all over this bandwagon.

And so, without further ado, here is my completely unsolicited list of 2011 All Hallow’s Read recommendations for young readers.


Bunnicula, by James Howe.  Its sequels, Howliday Inn, The Celery Stalks at Midnight, and Nighty Nightmare (the titles alone should tell you how awesome they are) are also fabulous, funny and scary — my favorite combination.  As kids, my brothers and I read the covers off of these books.

The Witches.  This may be my favorite book by Road Dahl, which is sort of like saying “This is my favorite cup of coffee” when there’s a whole pot of the delicious stuff sitting right beside you.  But this is Dahl at his darkest, twisted-est best.

The House with a Clock in its Walls, by John Bellairs.  Mysterious old houses.  Unexpected magic.  Edward Gorey illustrations.  Enough said.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, retold by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Steven Gammell.  My fourth grade friends and I pored over these books.  We read them aloud at slumber parties; we shuddered over Gammell’s artwork — to this day, I don’t think I’ve seen a still image that has frightened me more.  This book and its two sequels left a serious scar on my already overactive imagination.  (“The Wendigo”?  I can’t even type that title without looking over my shoulder.)

Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury.  This feels to me like the dark counterpart to Dandelion Wine: gorgeous, eerie, and wonderful.

(Or, of course, you could get my books.)

And speaking of All Hallow’s Read: Karma Gifts, a great indie shop in downtown River Falls, Wisconsin (about 40 minutes drive from the Twin Cities, for you urban folk) will be hosting me for a special Halloween event on Saturday, October 29, at 1:00 p.m.  The Shadows and Spellbound will be available (though it wouldn’t hurt to pre-purchase or reserve your copy), and I’ll be signing books, reading aloud, chatting, and answering questions.  See or for more information.  Fall treats!  Art projects!  Local business!  Come on down!


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