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.)


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.


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.



Release date approaching…

October 1, 2013    Tags: , , , , , , ,   

Just one week until STARRY-EYED hits shelves!  Kirkus really liked it:

Sixteen stories of performing are each paired with anecdotes about life behind the scenes and in front of the footlights.
Even a teen with only a pang of stage or screen hunger will be fascinated by this book, with its various accomplished contributors, from the introduction by Clay Aiken to stars from television shows such as Modern Family and Glee. The stories run a rich and varied emotional gamut… Each story is followed by a first-person anecdote by a noted performer, which is itself followed by a brief biography. Teens needn’t be star-struck to enjoy this collection, as under the hubbub of the theater world are themes that deal with common teenage issues such as insecurity, jealousy, the fear of coming out and young love.
Definitely worthy of applause. (Anthology. 12 & up)

You can read the whole review here, at least for now.

The school visit season is kicking into high gear.  Events are lined up in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Louisiana, and Missouri, with Tennessee and Illinois as additional possibilities. To find out where I’ll be, keep an eye on,and I’ll do my best to keep it up to date, I swear.

It’s October, my very favorite month of the year. It’s time to reread some of my very favorite books and rewatch some of my very favorite movies and listen to the fallen leaves whisper along the curbs. And later, there will be miniature Milky Ways and Twixes.  (Twixices? Twixi? Is Twix already plural?)  The only way this month could be better is if it lasted twice as long. And if Twixes were calorie-free.

Right now, I’m rereading this particular favorite book…
something-wicked new
…although it’s this cover, which was on the copy that I checked out from my middle school library twenty years ago, that left its mark on my mind for good.
something wicked hardcover

Now back to the copy-edits of STILL LIFE. Nearly done…


A Very Merry Unbirthday

July 31, 2013    Tags: , , , , ,   


Yesterday was THE STRANGERS’s 2-week birthday.  I’ve been getting lots of wonderful notes from readers who’ve already finished it (and are tapping their feet impatiently for the next volume), which makes me feel happy and lucky and relieved.  I know I’ve said it before, but if you are one of those who has finished and enjoyed the book, I hope you’ll consider leaving a review or rating at Goodreads, Amazon, B&, or another book site.  That sort of response really helps.

And, for the second week in a row, VOLUME ONE: THE SHADOWS had made the SIBA bestseller list, where it has moved all the way up to #4!  (This may be the one and only time in my life when I’ll outrank Suzanne Collins.  I’ll take it.)

In celebration of these two crazy weeks, I’m offering two signed hardcover copies of THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE, VOLUME FOUR: THE STRANGERS, to be sent directly to the homes of two lucky winners and enjoyed (I hope) at their leisure.

Here’s how to enter:

As those of you who’ve read it know, THE STRANGERS begins at Halloween — Olive dresses up as a jabberwocky, Leopold is the Duke of Wellington, Harvey is the Hunchcat of Notre Dame, and so forth — so, in the comments for this entry, describe your own favorite Halloween costume.  On Wednesday, August 7 (one week from today), I’ll select two winning entries at random.

My own favorite Halloween costume was one I never got to wear.  In fourth grade, I was going to be Alice (from Alice in Wonderland, in case you know any other Alices).  I had a puffy blue pinafore and a white blouse and patent leather Mary Janes and a black velvet headband, and I even had a white rabbit puppet to carry in one arm.  And then, on Halloween morning, I got the stomach flu.  It was a school day, but I soldiered on, throwing up twice in the girls’ bathroom without letting anyone know — and I was the kind of kid who would totter dramatically down the hall to the nurse’s office at the onset of an imaginary headache at least once a week, so this was a genuine struggle — because if I endured to the end of the school day, I could finally put on my costume for the class party.  In the end, I didn’t quite make it.  A teacher noticed my face, which I’m sure had the color and texture of a mushroom by then, and my mother came to pick me up half an hour before the party began.  I spent the rest of that Halloween in my bedroom, so sound asleep that I didn’t even hear the friends and neighbors ringing our doorbell and shouting “Trick-or-Treat.”  Sigh…

Your turn.


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