Delighted to welcome author of Young Adult Fantasy, Jean Lee to Getting to Know You. Jean Lee also blogs from her Website. You will find posts on the writing process and character development and Author Interviews: Shehanne Moore
Before we find out which of the questions that Jean has chosen to answer.. here is the official word….
About Jean Lee
Jean Lee is a Wisconsin born and bred writer excited to share her Young Adult Fantasy fiction with those who love to find other worlds hidden in the humdrum that surrounds us. Her first novel, Fallen Princeborn: Stolen, has recently been released by Aionios Books. Stories from her short fiction collection, Tales of the River Vine, have also been published at varying intervals in 2018.
Stories are the fire that warms the soul. They melt fear, ignite hope, and spark relationships like nothing else. I’m honored you seated yourself here by my hearth to enjoy my fiction’s light. Please feel free to visit often, for there are many treasures bizarre and fantastic in my imagination waiting to speak with tongues of flame. Then we can talk about the writers that refuel us, as I do on my site
Welcome to Smorgasbord Jean and to start us off today can how would you describe your fashion sense?
I can sum it up with this question: “What’s at the thrift store today?”
See, I grew up on hand-me-downs and church clothes sewn by my grandmother, so spending more than ten dollars on any item irks my Midwestern Frugality. In the early years of motherhood, it made no sense to spend more than a few dollars on clothes bound to be burped or shat on. Even today, I try to only purchase items on super super clearance, while taking care to only buy new when all the kids can use it, or I can get several years out of it. So my closet ends up being a hodge podge of oddball tshirts, quirky blouses, ill-fitting skirts, and jeans. I am who I am, and I see no need to fit in with trends or styles. So long as I’m comfy, I’m good.
What is your favourite holiday and why?
Christmas Eve. Yes, I specify Eve.
My parents both worked in the ministry all my young life, so December was the most intense month of the year. Constant meetings, rehearsals, practices, concerts—it all kept building up and up and up until at long last it was Christmas Eve, a loooooong day of church services and caroling, but after THAT—at last! Despite the late hour, my family would sit together around the Christmas tree, share presents and snacks, and be together in a season that always pulled everyone a thousand different directions. We’d all stay up past midnight despite the demands of services Christmas morning, but that didn’t matter—we were together around the tree with carols and candles soft in the background.
Then came Christmas Day.
Sure, the morning service was nice and boisterously joyful, but then we had to go to my aunt’s house. Kind as my aunt was, she had no toys of any kind, and no, we weren’t allowed to bring our own because that’d be seen as “rude.” Plus she always made ham, and I hate ham.
I still get a heavy “meh” attitude the minute Christmas Day services end. Hmm, maybe I should just bring some toys to play with at the in-laws’ this year…
If you could choose a different career, what would it be and why?
This is going to sound silly, but a librarian.
You’d think that teaching writing should be right up my street, but here’s the thing: remedial composition focuses on basic paragraph structures. For my students, writing anything coherent for more than a few sentences is a challenge. Now I don’t mind helping many students face this challenge; many are just trying to dust the cobwebs off of knowledge they learned 10-30 years ago, while others are in military service and are trying to get a head start on school during their service. I applaud those determined to write a new chapter to their lives after serving time in incarceration. I want to help.
But then there are the students who expect the A just for showing up, who want to follow the guidelines “their way,” refuse to heed any feedback, and then chew you out for daring to give them a “bad grade.”
These are the students that make me look at the librarian desk, and sigh wistfully.
These are the people who can help design reading programs for various age groups, organize activities to bring the community together. They are the gatekeepers between children and countless worlds of imagination and learning. They get to share their passion for books with other people for a living.
That is just. Plain. Cool.
Are you a morning person or a night person?
In the halcyon days of yore, I’d have said a night person. I wouldn’t start homework until 11pm. I’d do a pie run with friends at a local diner at 2:30am. Wake up, feel fantastic.
Then came motherhood. Aaaaall ’s turned me into a morning person.
When I was a kid, I never understood why my mom would get up at least an hour earlier than the rest of us to just eat cereal and watch the news.
Now I toooootally get it.
Having a little peace in the house before the chaos of kids makes such a difference to my sanity. Mom must have felt the same way before going off to teach a couple dozen youths for several hours at a day. Cereal and news for her, coffee and blogs for me—it’s that peaceful moment of just, waking up to learn something new while giving the body the taste of smooth comfort. I love that.
So that’s why if a child wakes up mere minutes after me and insists on staying awake, I am a guaranteed crank ALL DAY.
Have you ever played a musical instrument or sang in public?
I studied piano for fourteen years, violin for five, clarinet for eight.
Being a preacher’s kid means finding some way to glorify God, and music is often that way. I began lessons at the mature age of four, and began participating in recitals shortly thereafter.
Playing for church, for chapel, for the classroom—it was all just a part of my godly duties.
I suppose I sound a bit jaded wording it that way. Honestly, I’m not. It takes a steady nerve to not only perform before hundreds of people, but a quick wit, too: when the pastor skips a verse; when communion takes FOREVER so you better find something else to play, when the choir repeats a page that wasn’t supposed to be repeated and you have to cut the interlude short and jump back three pages—you have to be ready for those moments, and you sure as hell better adapt or God’s service is going to suck.
I’d also like to think that studying music all this time helped me better appreciate what music helps inspire my storytelling. When you study music, you’re studying another medium of storytelling: the voices (instruments), the dialogue (harmonies), the pacing (rhythm), the tension (volume). It’s all there, and it all speaks to you, if you’re willing to truly listen.
Books by Jean Lee
About Book 1 of the omnibus, Fallen Princeborn: Stolen
Over the Wall, they came to hunt humans. But now, a human’s going to hunt them. This girl’s nobody’s prey.
In rural Wisconsin, an old stone wall is all that separates the world of magic from the world of man—a wall that keeps the shapeshifters inside. When something gets out, people disappear. Completely.
Escaping from an abusive uncle, eighteen-year-old Charlotte is running away with her younger sister Anna. Together they board a bus. Little do they know that they’re bound for River Vine—a shrouded hinterland where dark magic devours and ancient shapeshifters feed, and where the seed of love sets root among the ashes of the dying.
Fallen Princeborn: Stolen is the first in a series of young-adult dark-fantasy novels by Jean Lee. Watch for book 2 in Spring 2019
One of the early reviews for the book
Charlotte will rescue her sister, Anna, and nothing will stop her. Not abusive uncles. Not crazy bus drivers. Not wolves that might be humans. Not ravens that might be murderers. Not trees that might be vampires. But when Charlotte fails to save her sister, when she is taken from existence herself, she must cross the only thing keeping our world safe from changeling danger: The Wall. From Wisconsin to… someplace else, where all of creation is a predator seeking her heart, where her sister lies… somewhere.
Fallen Princeborn: Stolen is the first in a series of YA dark fantasy novels by Jean Lee, and it starts with menace. Charlotte reminds me in all the best ways of Miriam Black, the broken protagonist of Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds. The opening scenes on a bus and immediately following drip with weird danger that caught my attention and didn’t let up.
I love how Lee took what could have been a fairly standard “Fae” race and made it her own. I’m stunned with the originality; she balanced “familiar” and “different” perfectly. You might guess where she’s going as the supernatural shenanigans begin, but you’d probably be wrong.
Her characters pop as well. Arlen, the noble protector, has that perfect balance of being a welcoming presence and yet holding back something dangerous within himself. Poppy has this manic crazy feel, as of Harley Quinn slipped into a fae story.
However, some of the characters are… too much in character for me. I found myself wanting to strangle Charlotte, our protagonist, more than once. She has a chip on her shoulder that keeps her from trusting anyone (which does become a major plot point), but that refusal got to be a bit tedious after a while. However, we really get inside Charlotte’s head – the chip on her shoulder is perfectly in character, and we know why she does what she does every time. Her self-talk creates an endearing character, even through the annoying tendencies to punch people. It reminded me of my love and frustration with Katniss in Hunger Games, actually.
If you’re looking for a good, complete story, you’ll find it here… kind of. The ending felt to me more like the pilot of a TV show: Setting up all the various plots that will be followed for the rest of the season. They do entice, but it didn’t feel like the first volume in a book series to me. So yes, it definitely tells a complete story, but it also very directly leaves a lot of threads unaddressed.
That said, the book isn’t short. You won’t be walking away unsated; it is a big chunk of good writing that will keep you entertained and rooting for the protagonist. You will know Charlotte and her new companions well before the end of the novel.
Overall, despite my criticisms, this is a solid novel and well worth your time. The originality of the world shines, and the menace is palpable, particularly in the opening and closing chapters. Check it out.
Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1949428001
And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1949428001
Here is a selection of the six short story collections from Tales of the River Vine also published this year.
Read the reviews and buy all the books: https://www.amazon.com/Jean-Lee/e/B07DPP2RV6
And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.com/Jean-Lee/e/B07DPP2RV6/
Jean Lee’s books are also available from Aionios books: https://aioniosbooks.com/jean-lee
You can find more reviews and follow Jean Lee on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18139027.Jean_Lee
Jean Lee’s serialised fantasy, Middler’s Pride, is now available on Channillo with bonus character sketches on Wattpad.
About Middler’s Pride
After a humiliating dinner with a suitor, Meredydd sees only a dull life ahead, destined to crush her heroic spirit–that is, until she’s accepted into the Shield Maidens. Surely nothing but glory and adventure await, right? And they do…if Mer can first overcome the most dangerous enemy of all: herself.
Jean hopes to publish a serialized form of the second book, Beauty’s Price, sometime next year.
Connect to Jean on Social Media.
Thank you for spending time with us today and I know that Jean would love to receive your feedback… thanks Sally