Jacqueline West, Writer

Bestselling author of The Books of Elsewhere and Dreamers Often Lie

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




July 16, 2013    Tags: , , , , ,   

Today’s the day: THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE, VOLUME FOUR: THE STRANGERS is an official, purchase-able, readable book.  Look for it at your local bookstore (and if you’re in Barnes & Noble this month, please note the special displays of Volumes 1 – 3 in paperback!) or library.  Pictures of THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE  in the wild are always welcome.

Find it on IndieBound here or on Amazon here — and of course it’s also available for Kindle and Nook for you e-reader readers.

AND, along with THE STRANGERS, VOLUME THREE: THE SECOND SPY is available in audio format at long last!  You can find both books at (Here’s THE STRANGERS, and here’s THE SECOND SPY).  They’re read, just like THE SHADOWS and SPELLBOUND, by the wondrous Lexy Fridell.

Release day — even now that it’s my fourth — is exciting and frightening in equal measure.  Knowing that THE STRANGERS is out there in the hands of actual readers fills my stomach with staticky butterflies; they’re bumping around in there, giving each other little electric shocks.  If you read and like the book, please consider writing a review on Goodreads, Amazon, or any other bookish blogs.  Or tell your friends.  That’s even better.

If you’re in the MN/WI area, I hope you’ll consider joining me at Karma Gifts in River Falls, WI for a book party this Saturday, July 20, from 1:00 – 3:00 (more info on Facebook here).  It’s going to be great.  And if you’re on the MN side of the river, stop by Valley Bookseller in Stillwater at noon on Saturday the 27th.  I’ll also be at the Summer Reading Finale Celebration at the Hazel Mackin Community Library in Roberts, WI, on Monday, August 5, from 6:30 – 8:00, signing books and chatting with readers.

IMG_20130713_133037Here’s the whole BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE crew (plus a photobombing copy of Neil Gaiman’s THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE, which is just as good as everyone says) at the Anderson Center’s celebration this weekend.  Thanks to everyone who stopped by.




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.











Endangered Authors, Week 2

April 22, 2013    Tags: , , , ,   

It’s the end of another exciting/exhausting week on the road!  The “Endangered Authors” show is running like a smooth and bookish circus: We pile out of the minivan, snap the set together, talk and laugh with kids, and zoom away again, leaving the scent of Sharpies in our wake.  For another (and another) perspective on the tour, check out this review in ( and this blog by a teacher at Carver Middle School, Miami (  Thanks for spreading the word, Pamela and Janas!

This was my fifth visit to Texas in two years — the Lone Star state has been awfully good to me — and we had a great time in Houston and Austin on Monday and Tuesday.  Thanks again to everyone at West University Elementary, Bunker Hill Elementary, Mills Elementary, Kiker Elementary, and to the booksellers at Blue Willow Bookshop (where, by the way, signed copies of our books are currently in stock), and to the fabulous folks at Perma-bound.

IMG_20130415_103939(A slew of signed books at West University Elementary)

Then it was off to Chicago, where torrential rain caused some crazy flooding, turning roads into rivers, schoolyards into swamps, and cemeteries into zombie aquariums…or so we imagined.  Dozens of schools were forced to close, including Hester Junior High, where we were supposed to stop on Thursday.  [Students/staff at Hester JHS: We’re sorry we missed you. If you’d like to arrange an email interview, or get some signed bookplates, or schedule a future in-person visit with me, please get in touch any time.]  To everybody at Lincoln Middle School, Cossitt Middle School, Heritage Middle School, Lincolnwood School, and Oak Terrace School: You were awesome.

Here’s the crowd at Lincolnwood on Friday morning, making us feel welcome (and slightly deaf):IMG_20130419_101056

Chicago is a wonderland of indie booksellers.  To find signed copies of The Books of Elsewhere, The Chronicles of Egg, Wereworld, and A Tale Dark and Grimm, visit The Book Stall in Winnetka (where Robert can answer all of your kids’ lit questions), Magic Tree Bookstore in Oak Park (thanks again for braving the deluge, Rosie!), and Anderson’s in Naperville.

While the rest of the troupe flew home to NYC for some family-hugging and underwear-washing, Curtis and I headed on to DC.  We spent today visiting TWELVE local bookstores to sign books (it was supposed to be THIRTEEN, but we were just a few minutes too late for the downtown B&N), so for a limited time, you can find signed copies of Wereworld and The Books of Elsewhere at almost every DC-area Barnes & Noble, at Books-A-Million in McLean and at Dupont Circle, and at the practically perfect Politics & Prose Bookstore.

Here’s the staff picks display at the Rockville, Maryland Barnes & Noble, which made me very happy:

(Not staged, I swear)

And here’s famous author Curtis Jobling in the children’s section at Politics & Prose:


And lastly, here’s some student art from Lincolnwood Elementary:

Read Forever Lincolnwood El

“Read Forever.” Good advice.




Endangered Authors Tour, Week 1 (mostly pictures and thank-yous)

April 11, 2013    Tags: , , , ,   

Hey, everybody!

We’re wrapping up our first week of traveling, school-visiting, and book signing.  Things have been marvelous all around, although I’m starting to feel a bit loopy and disoriented. (This morning, I couldn’t find my glasses, my phone, or the buzzing alarm clock, and I spent several seconds wondering where on earth I was and whether I was supposed to be asleep there before I found my glasses, saw palm trees out the window, and remembered that I was in my very own hotel room in Miami.)  Geoff Rodkey and Curtis Jobling are top blokes, as Curtis himself might say, and they’ve both been blogging about the tour.  You can read their delightful observations here and here; I’m feeling too out of it for a full-scale recap.  Maybe later.  For now: Pictures!!!

IMG_6387Watching Curtis mock One Direction and sparkly vampires at the Davis Academy in Atlanta, Georgia

IMG_6408Chatting with readers at the Davis Academy

IMG_6422Assembling the crazy collapsible set

IMG_6472The crowd at St. Thomas More School in Decatur, Georgia

IMG_20130410_103152Curtis enthusiastically signing books at Page & Palette between school visits in Fairhope, Alabama

Speaking of signed books, you can now find signed copies of all four of our series (A Tale Dark and Grimm, The Chronicles of Egg, Wereworld, and The Books of Elsewhere) at the following fantastic independent bookstores:
Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH
Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, GA
Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL
Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL

These are the kind of bookstores that give me hope for the future.  Huge, HUGE thanks to all of the booksellers who have hosted us, and who have connected us to these amazing schools:

– Campbell County Middle School, Alexandria, KY
– Davis Academy, Atlanta, GA
– St. Thomas More School, Decatur, GA
– Fairhope Intermediate School, Fairhope, AL
– J. Larry Newton School, Fairhope, AL
– Carver Middle School, Coral Gables, FL

The enthusiasm, insight, and warmth of the kids at each of these stops has blown us away. Palmer Trinity School and Gator Run Elementary: We’ll see you tomorrow!


In Minnesota, there’s an April snowstorm.  In Miami, there’s an orchid in my drink.


Between travels

April 5, 2013    Tags: , , , ,   

I leave on Sunday morning for the big Endangered Authors II tour, and I’ve just had time to unpack my New Orleans luggage, send the latest revision of Volume Five off to my editor, and get my carefully cleaned coat re-covered with Brom hair.  New Orleans at Easter was lively and lovely and full of amazing hats.  We caught beads at Easter parades, walked the Quarter, took a streetcar to the Garden District, and ate a shameful amount of pastry.

Here, in panoramic West-vision:

J Writing at Croissant D'OrVol. 5 Croissant D'Or               Ryan’s view                                                            My view


Ryan Pere Antoine Alleyphoto(3)Lafayette Cemetery Easter     Pere Antoine Alley            Jackson Square                  Lafayette Cemetery

This year’s Endangered Authors Tour includes the Story Pirates, Adam Gidwitz (A Tale Dark and Grimm), Geoff Rodkey (The Chronicles of Egg), and Curtis Jobling (Wereworld)… and me.  I’m excited to be hitting the road with them, seeing new parts of the country (hello, Connecticut!), and meeting young readers.  It looks like all of our events this time will be school visits—in other words, not open to the general public—but we will be signing stock at local bookstores in each location, so if you’re looking for signed copies, check with your indie booksellers!  I’ll post a list of stores where we’ve signed once the tour is complete.  Also, a few last-minute schedule changes/additions are possible — I pre-apologize for any mistakes.

Here we go:

April 8: Alexandria, KY (Campbell County School)

April 9: Atlanta/Decatur, GA (Davis Academy, St. Thomas More School)

April 10: Fairhope, AL (Fairhope Intermediate School, J. Larry Newton School)

April 11: Coral Gables, FL (Carver Middle School)

April 12: Palmetto Bay/Weston, FL (Palmer Trinity School, Gator Run Elementary)

April 14: Stock signing in Houston, TX

April 15: Houston, TX (West University Elementary, Bunker Hill Elementary)

April 16: Austin, TX (Mills Elementary, Kiker Elementary)

April 17: Oak Park, IL (Lincoln Middle School, Cossitt Middle School)

April 18: Oak Park, IL (Heritage Middle School, Hester Junior High School)

April 19: Evanston/Highwood, IL (Lincolnwood School, Oak Terrace School)

April 21: Stock signing in Alexandria, VA/Washington DC

April 22: Alexandria, VA (Hollin Meadows Elementary, Mt. Vernon Community School)

April 23: Milford/Clinton, CT (Meadowside School, Abraham Pierson School)

April 24: Montclair/Glen Ridge, NJ (Charles H. Bullock Elementary, Ridgewood Avenue School)

And THEN I head alone to Palm Beach, Florida for April is for Authors.  On April 26, I’ll be visiting with the kids at Morikami Park Elementary, and on Saturday, April 27, I’ll be speaking, reading, and signing books at Palm Beach Gardens High School for the April is for Authors festival.  This is a free public event, so come down and say hello!  A schedule of author events will be posted on the festival website any day now.

April 28: Come home.  Get covered in dog slobber.  Sleep.











A glass of Dandelion Wine

June 7, 2012    Tags: , , , ,   

Ray Bradbury died yesterday.  The thought of him being gone followed me throughout the day, turning the whole world a different, darker color.   I never met him in person, but his work had such a profound impact on my life that I’m not sure I could separate it from myself now, from the way I think, the way I write, the way I look around me.

There’s the powerhouse that is Fahrenheit 451, of course, and the gorgeous nightmare of Something Wicked This Way Comes, and the classic Martian Chronicles.  “A Sound of Thunder” is still one of the most memorable short stories I’ve ever read, and “Zen in the Art of Writing” is packed with inspiration and wise advice.  But it was Dandelion Wine, which I first read when I was twelve, that turned me upside down.  The way it depicts the inner and outer worlds of a child growing up in a small Midwestern town (just like I was), and makes those worlds so rich with magic and danger and romance and wildness, was a revelation.  It showed me that everything–a new pair of running shoes, a jar of fireflies, an unusual flavor of ice cream, playing shadow tag, even mowing the lawn–was layered with life and meaning and possibility.  I reread it every summer, and when I’m done, I look around with brand new eyes.

Thank you for this, Mr. Bradbury.

I’m currently in the middle of week of school visits in Fairfax County, just south of Washington D.C.  (Eagle View and Laurel Hill: Thank you!  Union Mill and Fairfax Villa: I’ll see you soon!)  This means I get to visit with wonderful relatives and wander the city in between book events.  Here I am on the National Mall…


…and at the Hirshhorn Museum, about to be eaten by one of Ai Weiwei’s Zodiac Heads.

Yesterday afternoon, I stopped by Politics & Prose to sign their in-stock copies of The Shadows and Spellbound.  If you’re in the D.C. area looking for a signed book of your own, this is the place to find them (and you should stop in even if you don’t want my books, because the store is absolutely amazing).  While you’re there, you could pre-order The Second Spy.  Just 28 days to go…



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