Jacqueline West, Writer

Bestselling author of The Books of Elsewhere and Dreamers Often Lie

Podcast! (And Kirkus! And a familiar cat!)

January 19, 2016    Tags: , , , , , , ,   

Meant to post this weeks ago: over New Year’s, we got to visit the original Horatio (and his marvelous people) in Madison. I shared a more dignified portrait of him on Instagram (you can find me — and said portrait — here, if you’re interested), but this picture is my favorite.

Horatio photobomb


And, as promised, I’ve returned with the link to the first-ever podcast of “Voices in the Valley”! You can listen to the interview — it’s all about the writing process, getting started and keeping going, and DREAMERS OFTEN LIE — here:

Speaking of DREAMERS OFTEN LIE, the first official, full-book review has come in. It’s from Kirkus, who are notoriously tough, but they had some lovely things to say: “Jaye’s personal drama [still] sets an engrossing stage… A dizzying new twist on one of the Bard’s most famous plays.” You can find the whole shebang here.

Events are starting to solidify. It looks like the official release party will be at the stalwart Red Balloon Bookshop of St. Paul, on Friday, April 8 at 6:30 p.m. More info, links, and confirmation to come, but you can mark your calendars/spread the word/ignore me completely now!


Endangered Authors (Part III!) Tour Wrap-Up

April 22, 2014    Tags: , , , , , , , ,   

…And I’m home.  Funny how when you’re on the road, it feels like you’ve been traveling eternally, and you can hardly remember what it was like NOT to pull your wrinkly clothes out of a suitcase each morning, and you get used to waking up and not knowing what time zone, city, or state you’re in.  And then you get back to your very own house, and all your comfortable routines and favorite coffee cups and non-travel-sized toiletries are waiting for you, and you can hardly believe you ever left at all.

But I’ve got proof: Photos.  Lots of ’em.

In the final two weeks of the 2014 Endangered Authors Tour, we visited Swans Creek Elementary (South Bridge, VA) and the Nysmith School (Herndon, VA), Southern Pines Elementary (Southern Pines, NC) and West Pine Middle School (West End, NC), Hawk Ridge Elementary and Trinity Episcopal School in Charlotte, St. Bridget School and G.H. Reid Elementary in Richmond, VA, Ensworth School in Nashville, Fairhope Intermediate and J. Larry Newton in Fairhope, Alabama, and Doss Elementary and Bryker Woods Elementary in Austin. Huge thanks to all the students, teachers, librarians, parents, and booksellers who made all of this possible.

Speaking of booksellers — Signed copies of The Books of Elsewhere, Wereword, The Accidental Adventures, and Tales from Alcatraz are (or were!) available from:

Bookworm Central, Manassas, VA
Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC
Cardinal Lane Book Fairs, Charlotte, NC
BBGB Books, Richmond, VA
Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN
Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL
BookPeople, Austin, TX

Onward to the pictorial proof section…

EA Elevator Richmond
Curtis (Jobling), Sandy (C. Alexander London), Gennifer (Choldenko), and Peter (McNerney) in the antique brass elevator at the Tobacco Company Restaurant in Richmond

Parnassus Books Scroll
With two young readers (Hi, Katie!) and a scroll of Elsewhere artwork at Parnassus Books, Nashville

EA BoE Crowns 1EA BoE Crowns 2
Rows and rows of readers at Doss Elementary, Austin

EA bulletin board
Feeling very welcome in Texas

EA Library Wall
And, on the library wall at Bryker Woods Elementary in Austin, between quotes from Swimmy and Holes and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a passage from one of my very own books — and from Harvey, in particular. It doesn’t get any better.


So, four authors and an improv actor walk into an elementary school…

March 30, 2014    Tags: , , , , , ,   

Week one of the Endangered Authors tour (part III!) is done.   It was a more endangering week than any of us expected: we were in outer Los Angeles during Friday night’s 5.4 earthquake.  I was standing at the hotel room sink at the time, and my first thought was that some rude group of people was running loudly up and down the hallway above me, which shows what a weird old curmudgeon I’ve become.  And then the walls started to sway.  I stood in the doorframe, watching the curtains swish back and forth and hoping that I wouldn’t have to run outside in my glasses and my hotel bathrobe…and then the rumbling and swaying stopped, and everything was fine.   (It was kind of exciting, really, at least to this Minnesotan.  Still, if no tornadoes, hurricanes, or Biblical plagues follow us on the next leg of the tour, we all be happy.)

Earthquake excepted, California was very good to us.  Curtis Jobling (Wereworld), C. Alexander London (An Accidental Adventure), Gennifer Choldenko (Al Capone Does My Shirts) and I spent our days getting threatened by diabolically smarmy game show host Holden A. Grudge (actually the brilliant actor Peter McNerney) and being rescued by excited young readers, and the show just keeps getting better.  Thanks to everyone at Lakeview Elementary and Oak Meadow Elementary in El Dorado Hills, to Brittan Acres in San Carlos and Sacred Heart in Atherton, to all the schools and students who joined us at Amador High in Pleasanton, to Grant Elementary in Petaluma and Monte Vista Elementary in Rohnert Park, and to Telesis Academy in West Covina and De Anza Elementary in Baldwin Park, who even helped me sing “Happy Birthday” to my dad — thanks again, guys!.

School Hug(One good morning in California.)

Double-extra-huge thanks to the booksellers at Face in a Book (El Dorado Hills), The Reading Bug (San Carlos), Towne Center Books (Pleasanton), Copperfields (Petaluma), and Mrs. Nelson’s Book Fairs (Los Angeles), all of whom now have signed copies of The Books of Elsewhere, Wereworld, The Accidental Adventures, and the Tales from Alcatraz in stock.

Now we’re in lovely Alexandria, Virginia.  Tomorrow we’ve got two local school visits before we head down to North Carolina.  Nashville, Alabama, Austin: We’ll see you soon!

EA show De Anza




February 19, 2014    Tags: , , ,   

This has already appeared on Facebook and Tumblr (and it may or may not have turned up on Goodreads and Amazon), but here it is again: The lovely, eerie, swirlingly snowy cover of THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE, VOLUME FIVE: STILL LIFE.  I knew how lucky I was to be paired with illustrator Poly Bernatene the very first time I saw his sketches, and with each volume of THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE, I feel even luckier and even more certain that these books should not — or maybe even could not — have turned out any other way.  Thanks to Poly and the brilliant designers at Dial, these are books I would want to climb inside.

large_Still_LifeThe very last volume of the series will be turning up in bookstores, libraries, and mailboxes everywhere on June 17th.

Events are also falling into place.  The release party will be held at the glorious Red Balloon in St. Paul on the actual release date (that’s still Tuesday, June 17th, for anyone who’s lost track) at 6:30 p.m.

The following weekend, I’ll be at Valley Bookseller in Stillwater, MN.  If you’re in the area at 2:00 on Saturday, June 21, I’d love to see you there.

More to come…




Recent events, not-so-recent reviews, and one truly awesome map

November 18, 2013    Tags: , , , , , , , ,   

The last four weeks have been a little crazy: seven school visits, three bookstore events, one book festival, one cross-country road trip, and Halloween in New Orleans.  At Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis, I met with lots of wonderful readers (including one with earrings that looked like miniature copies of The Strangers) and got to pet a chicken on its belly.
photo(3)photo 5

At schools in Wisconsin and Louisiana, I answered questions, signed books, led writing workshops, and received hugs and pralines.

In New Orleans, we visited yet another cemetery — Greenwood — and found the Ducoing family tomb, where John Kennedy Toole (A Confederacy of Dunces) is interred.  We also wandered in the Garden District and the Quarter and Audubon park, and bought lots of books and ate lots of pastry and caught beads at a Halloween parade.

IMG_20131102_192712IMG_20131102_171237IMG_20131031_130609Then I returned home to another school visit (here’s a newspaper write-up of this one), rehearsals for The Little Prince, and a middle grade panel at Addendum Books in St. Paul that included me, Brian Farrey (The Vengekeep Prophecies), Lisa Bullard (Turn Left at the Cow), Kurtis Scaletta (The Winter of the Robots), and Anne Ursu (The Real Boy).  I felt lucky just to share a row of stools with these people.

photo 3As long as I’m in the middle of overdue recaps, here are some reviews of The Books of Elsewhere that I missed when they originally appeared:

A recent and very kind writeup on the blog Remembering Wonderland

Great reviews of each book in the series from Common Sense Media

“My Top Ten EPIC Heroes. Or Heroines!” – a list from the Nerdy Book Club blog that puts Olive alongside Harry Potter and Frodo, which is some awfully good company

And now for the Truly Awesome Map.

On Saturday, November 30 — also known as Small Business Saturday — authors all around the country will be joining in Sherman Alexie’s brilliant “Indies First” project (and if you aren’t already familiar, follow the link) by hanging out at local independent bookstores.  As for me, I’ll be back at Addendum Books from 12:00 – 1:00 to chat with customers, recommend books, dust shelves — whatever Katherine and Marcus want me to do.  To help book-shoppers find out what authors will be where–and there are some HUGE names taking part in this!–IndieBound has created this incredible map of participating bookstores all around the country.  I hope that you’ll check out your local bookstores, maybe drop by one or two or more for signed copies and conversation, and show your brick-and-mortar shops some love.


A star for STARRY-EYED

October 8, 2013    Tags: , , , , , ,   

STARRY-EYED: 16 STORIES THAT STEAL THE SPOTLIGHT is out TODAY.  Order your copy here or here or here…or head to an actual brick-and-mortar bookstore to order or browse or drink coffee.  (Chances are they’ve got good coffee.)


Booklist gave it a star (yay!) and even mentioned my Midsummer Night’s Dream-themed story in their review (another yay!), which you can read right here:

For any teen who has dreamed of being a star, Starry-Eyed will serve as both encouragement and a reality check. YA authors like Alex Finn, Aimee Friedman, and Garret Freymann-Weye weave mesmerizing stories of talented kids whose lives revolve around music, drama, and the arts. They’ll meet videographers Stringbean and Goose; Becca First, Meghan’s rival for every solo, every role, but keeper of a sad secret; and the vanished Maia Crane, spotted during a bizarre production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Juxtaposed with each short story is an anecdote from artists familiar and less-so: Clay Aiken, Andrea McArdle, Montego Glover, Anthony Fedorov. The amalgam of swoon-worthy and unfamiliar household names is a reminder that TV, Broadway, movies, and records provide myriad opportunities for happiness and career satisfaction, if not fame and fortune. The short stories themselves, each of which is memorable for unique characters and situations, spotlight the importance of the arts in the growth and development—and even the survival!—of a large portion of the teenage population. Complex and focused on far more than art as a high-school extracurricular, Starry-Eyed “breaks a leg” in the finest sense of the word.
–Booklist, starred review

I’ll be hosting a giveaway for a signed copy of STARRY-EYED very soon, so keep your eye on my Facebook page. (And why not keep an eye on Tumblr while you’re at it?)

Speaking of brick-and-mortar bookstores:

This is one more reminder that I’ll be at Wild Rumpus Bookstore in Minneapolis at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 26 for a special Halloween-themed book event.  THE STRANGERS, creative projects, unusual bookstore pets…You know you want to join in.

Also, my schedule for the Louisiana Book Festival (Saturday, November 2nd, in Baton Rouge) has been finalized.  I’ll be speaking from 1:00 – 1:30 on the 3rd floor of the Capitol Park Museum and signing from 1:45 – 2:30, either in the Barnes & Noble main tent or the B&N Junior tent.  If you are in the area, or if you know any readers who will be, please send them our way!

Lastly, for any aspiring or established fantasy authors out there: The Jim Henson company is searching for an author for a new novel set in the world of The Dark Crystal.  It’s an incredible opportunity, and if I wasn’t in the middle of four novels already, I’d be all over this myself.  Details are here.


One of those posts where you’ve procrastinated for too long and now have twenty disparate things to mention

September 10, 2013    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

Yep, this is one of those.

I can’t believe September is already one-third over.  The end of the summer was a whirlwind: a visit from the in-laws, a final round of revisions on STILL LIFE, and my (not-so-little) brother’s beautiful lakeside wedding.

Dan and Katy Getaway CarCongratulations, you two.

Now I’m digging back in to the Shakespearean YA project, which has been put aside for so long that I can see it clearly again.  I’m eagerly destroying and rebuilding, rewriting and reacquainting, and spending a lot of time staring dazedly into the distance as new ideas fit themselves together.  It feels really, really good.

My fall schedule is rapidly filling with school visits and public appearances.  Among the recently added (public) events are:

Wild Rumpus Bookstore, Minneapolis – Saturday, October 26, at 1:00 p.m.  Reading, signing, chatting, and all sorts of special Halloween fun.

Addendum Books, St. Paul – Saturday, November 16, at 1:00 p.m.  This is a group middle-grade author event, featuring me, Anne Ursu, Kurtis Scaletta, and Lisa Bullard. (I’ll be insanely excited just to be in the same store with these writers, so please come and watch me make a fool of myself.)

And new information is constantly being added to the Louisiana Book Festival website.  The Festival is held in Baton Rouge on Saturday, November 2nd; once I know just when and where I’ll be speaking, I’ll share the info here.

Even with book releases, summer tends to be the quietest time of the year for me, events-wise.  I’m looking forward to a new round of school visits… And speaking of schools, this 4th grade class in Milford, CT read THE SHADOWS, created their own magical paintings, and wrote short stories to accompany them.  Learning that your work has inspired others to create things of their own — stories, paintings, playground games, new names and histories for their stuffed animals — is just about the coolest thing in the world.IMG_5605-1

Thanks, Ms. Nastasia, and everyone at Meadowside Elementary. 

Another cool Elsewhere-in-the-wild sighting, this one courtesy of my very own editor:

Water Street Bookstore Exeter NH On display at Water Street Bookstore, with THE SHADOWS sold out, in Exeter, NH.  If I ever/finally get to New England, I’ll have to make a stop there.

And (I was serious about the twenty disparate things) I am starting to use Tumblr at last.  I know a lot of my readers can’t/don’t use Facebook, so I’m hoping this platform will be a bit more accessible.  I don’t think it will take the place of this blog, in terms of actual information, but it may outdo it in number of dog pictures.  We will have to wait and see.


The Book Release Blur

July 27, 2013    Tags: , , , , , , ,   

So much news…

First of all, THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE, VOLUME FOUR: THE STRANGERS was released on July 16th (to a fanfare that played only inside of my own head), and I’m starting to get pictures of the new book in the wild.  Here it is at Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis, and on the new releases shelf at Barnes & Noble, and in the legendary Powell’s Books in Portland…

BoE at Wild RumpusNew releases B&NThe Strangers at PowellsSign at Powells

Also, B&N stores are currently carrying a special display of the paperbacks of THE SHADOWS, SPELLBOUND, and THE SECOND SPY, so if you spot one, please feel free to play a little fanfare inside your head for me.  (Here’s one in Clackamas, OR.  That’s some pretty sweet placement right there.)
Clackamas B&N Display

Meanwhile, THE SHADOWS has made its way back onto the SIBA (Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance) bestsellers list, at #7 in the Children’s Fiction Series category.  Yippee!

This afternoon, I visited one of my favorite bookshops – Valley Bookseller in Stillwater, MN – for a chat and signing.  Thanks again to the fabulous staff and to everyone who came…especially those who had traveled all the way from central Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Texas!  Signed copies are in stock now…

Valley Bookseller SignedValleyBookseller Reading

And way back on July 20th, Karma Gifts of River Falls hosted a book party crammed with the amazing and creative touches of owner Val Lundgren.  There was a glowing fireplace (those who’ve already read Vol. 4 understand the significance), a display of books featuring tattered pages from Twilight drifting from the ceiling, and Mrs. Dewey’s very own Gingerbread Bars and Dutch-Cocoa Sour Cream Swirls. As far as I know, no one lost their memory as a result of eating too many.

Karma decorKarma displayDutch cocoa sour cream swirlsSigning at Karma 2

Everybody knows this is not an easy time for independent businesses.  After four years of bringing unique and beautiful stuff to the main street of my hometown, Karma is closing.  I’m sorry that this was my last event in the shop, but I’m sure that Val will embark on her next adventure with the same strength and style she brought to this one (and if anyone is looking, she would make one incredible events coordinator).

If you missed both of these events but want a signed book, I’ll be at Hazel Mackin Community Library  in Roberts, Wisconsin, for their Summer Reading Finale on Monday, August 5, from 6:30 – 8:00.  I’m giving a short talk/Q&A/reading at around 7:15, but I’ll be signing and selling books both before and after.

In celebration of THE STRANGERS, here’s a new interview–with lots of dog pictures–at Coffee with a Canine, which is truly a blog after my own heart: read the interview at Coffee with a Canine.

You can also read a little sample of THE STRANGERS (page 69, specifically) and hear my thoughts on if and why and how this page is reflective of the book as a whole at The Page 69 Test.

More news to come…


Summer Events

June 24, 2013    Tags: , , , ,   

In three weeks,  THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE, VOLUME FOUR: THE STRANGERS will appear with a burst of shimmery purple in bookstores, mailboxes, and readers’ hands!   23 days and counting.


June began with a week of school visits in DC/northern Virginia.  To the fabulous teachers, librarians, and students at Porter Traditional School, Centre Ridge Elementary, Eagle View Elementary, Crestwood Elementary, Lutie Lewis Coates Elementary, Old Bridge Elementary, and Laurel Hill Elementary: Thanks again for the welcome, the pizza and strawberries, the works of art, the fabulous questions, the follow-up emails…and most of all, for reading my books.   Thank you, thank you, thank you.  And more thanks go to the staff at Hooray for Books! in Alexandria, for providing boxes full of THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE.

Now, with most schools out for the summer, I’ll have a couple of quiet-ish weeks before THE STRANGERS events kick off.   And THEN…

Thursday, July 11: THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE, VOLUME THREE: THE SECOND SPY is released in paperback.

Saturday, July 13: I’ll be at the Anderson Center here in Red Wing, MN for the annual Summer Celebration of the Arts — an outdoor festival featuring local food, art, and entertainment on the Anderson Center’s gorgeous grounds — selling and signing my books, including a limited number of pre-release copies of THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE, VOLUME FOUR: THE STRANGERS.  Come on down/up/out and join us.

Tuesday, July 16: THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE, VOLUME FOUR: THE STRANGERS is released in hardcover and downloadable audio format.  The book is already available for pre-order, so visit IndieBound, Amazon, or B&N anytime.  And if your favorite bookstore doesn’t have it on the shelves, ask them to order it — word of mouth means so much.  AND, for those of you who have been waiting for it, THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE, VOLUME THREE: THE SECOND SPY will also be released in downloadable audio format.  More info on that when I’ve got it.

Saturday, July 20: Party for THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE at Karma Gifts, 204 N. Main Street, River Falls, WI.  Art projects, treats, reading, Q&A, book signing — the whole shebang — and copies of THE SHADOWS, SPELLBOUND, THE SECOND SPY, and THE STRANGERS will be available.

Saturday, July 27: I’ll be reading, chatting, and signing books at Valley Bookseller, one of my favorite bookshops, in Stillwater, MN.

Those of you who live far from my part of the world: I love getting pictures of my books in the wild.  If you spot copies of THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE — and THE STRANGERS in particular — in bookstores, libraries, or readers’ hands and feel inspired to send me photos (, I’ll share them on my blog.







Endangered Authors Tour Wrap-Up (with fake awards!)

April 26, 2013    Tags: , , , , , , , ,   

The big tour is over, although I’m not home yet — I’m in sunny Palm Beach, Florida, meeting with some wonderful kids as part of April is for Authors — and I’m feeling the mix of sadness, weariness, and wistful joy that comes after the run of a play (or after a delicious and way-too-huge meal). I miss my fellow Endangered Authors and our diabolically smarmy game show host already.  Sigh.

During our final few days, we had a fabulous time with the kids at Hollin Meadows Elementary and Mt. Vernon Community School in Virginia, at Meadowside School and Abraham Pierson School in Connecticut, and at C.H. Bullock Elementary and Ridgewood Avenue School in New Jersey. Huge, HUGE thanks to the booksellers at Hooray for Books! in Alexandria, VA, R.J. Julia in Madison, CT, and Watchung Booksellers in Montclair, NJ.  (Get your signed copies at these locations now, Wereworld/Chronicles of Egg/Grimm/Books of Elsewhere readers!)

And now, without further ado, here are Jacqueline West’s Completely Unofficial First-Ever Endangered Authors Tour Awards…

Best chai: Page & Palette in Fairhope, Alabama. (Oh my god.  And there’s more than one kind.)

Best school wildlife: The tiny chameleons skittering through the grounds at Carver Middle School, Miami.  Adorable.

Best dressed: Team West at Palmer Trinity.

Most memorable student conversation: With Anastasia at Campbell County Middle School, who asked, ‘Have you ever had anyone tell you that you couldn’t write because of who you are?’ and then shared her own story with us.

Best comeback to host Holden A. Grudge’s snarkiness: 6th-grader Miguel at Palmer Trinity, who said, ‘This is the first time I’ve met a Holden, and I would have expected you to have the last name Caulfield, but instead you are just a phony.’ Even Holden was rendered temporarily speechless, but he promised Miguel that he would email his own comeback — when he thought of it — to ‘’

Best beer list: Brick Store Pub, Decatur, Georgia.  Overwhelmingly awesome.
(Adam Gidwitz, Peter McNerney, Geoff Rodkey, powerhouse bookseller Diane Capriola of Little Shop of Stories, marvelous YA author Terra Elan McVoy, and Curtis Jobling, over a barrel.  Ha.)

Best bathroom: Little Shop of Stories (complete with The Books of Elsewhere poster by the sink.)

Best tale of a school visit gone wrong: Curtis, hands down.  I can’t repeat it here, but the other four of us laughed so hard we hurt ourselves.

Best photo prop: West University Elementary, Houston.
(Geoff, Curtis, and Adam all live in a yellow submarine.)

Best celebrity sighting: The entire current lineup of Styx in our Chicago baggage claim.  One of them was smoking an electronic cigarette.  Middle-aged rebellion.

Most coma-inducing meal: This one.
(At Gino’s East, Chicago.)

Best kiss: From service dog Peanut, at Oak Terrace Elementary.  IMG_20130419_145023IMG_20130419_144852

Most brilliant blog: Geoff Rodkey. This entry in particular.

Favorite Hotel: The Warwick, NYC.  Schmancy.  Hanging out there with my dear friend Emily (see her incredible work at Haptic Lab) made it even better.

Best Holden A. Grudge book pitch: It’s tough to narrow it down, but it might have been the peacock with the bacon tail, or the rainbow that became a boy with five differently colorful personalities, or the talking mountain of spaghetti and the German mozzarella mountaineer…  (Please head over to the Wereworld Books Facebook page and see several of them for yourself –check out the two from April 17th in particular; you might hear me crying in the background–and if you’re in New York, go see Peter’s weekly improv show, Trike, at Magnet Theater, and know that I am envious of you.)

Two more sleeps, and I’ll be home.











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