A little girl from Kentucky, Jacquitta A. McManus was always drawn to fantasy stories. It was a way for her to immerse herself into exciting adventures in faraway lands that she otherwise wouldn’t experience. As she got older she would find that immersing herself into those fantasy stories was just the beginning of a journey of writing children’s books.
With nothing else interesting her, she headed off to college to pursue a degree in digital animation. She took art classes along side animation classes and of course her basics. If you asked her she didn’t have a need for the basics.
“ I was one of the students who hated taking the basic courses. I was there for animation and that was all I wanted to do. Math… uhhh could have left it. Spanish… uhhh could have left it. English… well… was never a strong subject for me. Grammatics, (I know, it’s not a real word… but it sounds good.), just didn’t sink into my brain. I didn’t get it. Therefore I didn’t even consider being a writer of stories. My focus was getting into my animation classes.”
By the end of her college experience she started developing an interest in film. She also had a son, and although her grandmother was concerned that she wouldn’t finish, she did with a Mass Communications degree with an emphasis in Digital Animation and minors in Art and African American studies.
Married with a son, she moved to Atlanta. And not too long after had another baby, a girl. With a daughter growing out of watching Sesame Street and Blues Clues, Jacquitta realized that there were not a lot of stories, with protagonist that look like her, out there for her daughter to get into. And this bothered her! And although this didn’t immediately start her down the path of writing children’s books, it did spark the idea of writing children’s books.
She went on to produce and direct her first short film. Picked as one of the top five finalists in a film festival she was very happy with what she had accomplished. Shortly after, she began writing a series based on her short film. It was during this time that she realized that she didn’t like writing dramas that much, but preferred the fantasy adventure genre. And then she remembered all those movies she was able to escape into when she was a child. So like any storyteller she picked up some paper and a pen and began to outline her first trilogy. Six legal pads later she was hooked.
And now with two published books and one coloring book adventure she is on the path she had been on all her life. Writing fantasy adventures stories for children around the world to enjoy. http://WorldsToDiscover.com/
Interveiw with Jacquitta A McManus author of Anyia: Dream of a Warrior and Talee and the fallen Object.
I want to thank you for being my guest here on Mymcbooks Blog
What was the last book you read?
The last book I read was, The Septavalent Stone. I read it for my site InsideTheBooks.com. The last book I read just for fun was, Septimus Heap – Flyte. And now I’m currently switching between a couple of writing books.
What are your earliest memories of writing?
I didn’t write a lot as a child as far as I can remember. I preferred daydreaming. But I do remember writing a story in middle school and reading it out loud in class and later having my teacher tell me it moved him. That’s the earliest memory I have of having someone commenting on something I wrote in that way.
Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?
As I think back on it, I did have some teachers over the years tell me I had a way of bringing out stories. But I didn’t think much of it. What brought me to writing was my love of storytelling and my desire to one day create a series that I hopefully will have animated. Writing isn’t something that comes natural but storytelling does. So I’m encouraged to write by my desire to tell stories.
Are you working on a new book?
Yes, I’m working on a couple of books. I’m editing the second book in my Anyia series as well as editing a chapter book titled Ava Brooks. And in between those two books I’m working on my first novel, which I would love to have in a rough draft by the end of the year.
What inspired you to write Talee and the Fallen Object and how did you come up with each character?
I was inspired by the world. I wanted to create a story on a gas planet, which is what the concept of the planet Gala is based on. Once I had a rough idea of the world I had to create a character that would fit into it and that character came to be Talee. Talee is actually not the first character I created, but since the first character was much older and didn’t fit the age group, I created Talee. The inspiration for the Calpa’s came from the need to have a fantasy animal that could fly but still be friendly enough for a young age group. And since Talee was going to need a companion on her adventures I created Nola. And although Nola is Talee’s Calpa they are best friends and will go on a lot of amazing adventures together. I see them having lots of fun together.
Anyia: Dream of a Warrior is a great book about African Tradition, what inspired you to write it and have you visited any African country or plan to?
I have been to Africa. I did a study abroad course in Africa when I was in college and had a great time. And I’m sure that experience had some influence on me as a writer in general as well as specifically for the Anyia series. The story itself came to me in a very unusual way. I never set out to write a story with Anyia as the protagonist. Her series came about when I was working on my novel and Anyia, which is a character in the novel, wasn’t coming to me like I wanted her to. So I started writing a back story on her and from there grew her series. And I must say, Anyia and her story has greatly impacted the story of my novel … for the better.
What was your favorite children’s book?
The Secret of Nimh. I use to read a lot when I was a child and for some reason that book always stood out to me. I even drew the cover of the book when I was in middle school, which came out really good! I remember someone telling me that they thought I had traced it. I wish I had kept it.
What is the most difficult part of writing?
Turning the worlds in my head into words. When I write I visually see it happening in my head, good imagination! Which is why it’s easier for me to write screenplays. What is hard for me is to transform those images and scenes into words that flow into chapters and ultimately a book.
What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?
Creating the worlds. I love creating worlds and I love working with illustrators. I even like designing the clothing.
How do you react to a bad review and have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
I haven’t really had a bad review. I did have someone give me 3 stars on Labyrinth’s Door but the review itself wasn’t bad. From what I can tell of their review is that they thought the book was cumbersome for their 7-year-old niece at times do to names and characters, which I can understand. The book is targeted at ages 9 – 12. So … I don’t know if that’s a fair assessment.
What do you hope that readers will take away from your book?
Adventure! I would love for children to read my books and escape into an adventure that they would want to return to over and over again. To feel like they met new friends and, if only for a moment, be able to be part of their world. That’s what I hope to do when I read a book so I hope to be able to create that for others.
Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with?
If I could have a dinner party of authors, screenwriters and songwriters I would invite: Jane Austen, J.K. Rowling, James Cameron, Rebecca Keegan, Philip Pullman, Angie Sage, Joseph Campbell, Salif Keita, Regina Spektor, India Arie and Will Jennings just to name a few. Oh, and Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock and Eddie Murphy. I would love to know how he forms his jokes.
What author inspires you the most and why?
More than books, I’m inspired by storytelling. And for me, that mostly comes through the visual media. So I really find a lot of inspiration in the Star Trek series as well as series like Rome. I really don’t have a favorite author. I do have authors I will always read like J.K. Rowling and what I love about her writing is her ability to immerse me into her fictional worlds without distraction. I don’t like it when the author distracts me when I’m reading.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
Okay, I’m laughing because I wish I were more disciplined. My goals are to keep writing and creating worlds and the only discipline I have right now is to write when the muse hits me, regardless if that means I’m writing at 3:00 am or 3:00 pm.
What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?
As long as the language and content is appropriate I don’t think there is a wrong selection. What we as parents might like our kids to read might not be what our kids like to read. So my advice is to just let them read what inspires them. As long as they’re reading they are learning/practicing reading comprehension, which will be a great asset to them. And as they grow they will also find other books that will interest them and know they can read them and not be intimidated by them.
What advice you would give to new writers?
I would tell them to make sure they get their books line-edited before they publish. It’s part of the final polish and well worth the time and money.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Yes, If they would like to know more about my books they can visit my website, http://WorldsToDiscover.com/ or the can find me on Blog, Facebook, Twitter and GoodReads.
Thank you for taking the time to get to know a little more about me.
Labyrinth’s Door – Anyia “Dream of a Warrior”
Review by: Kristi Bernard (Kristi’s Book Nook)
What kid doesn’t challenge traditions? Without really understanding how traditions come to pass, most kids think they are cumbersome and old school. Kids feel there are too many rules and beliefs which just adds extra pressure to their existing growing pains. Anyia is no different.
Anyia is left with the burden of becoming the next Yora, just like her mother. This exciting adventure begins in the village of Nagoran. Anyia is the daughter of the Chief. She will take over her mother’s responsibilities as Yora. For Anyia this is mindless work, cooking and cleaning for the rest of her life with the other woman of the village.
The village needs warriors. The Empress Zarina and her magic will jeopardize all that they have known and loved in regards to traditions. Anyia wants to have the choice to fight and preserve the lands that belong to her people.
“I do believe in most of the traditions. And my father is to be respected…he is a man of gravitas. I just don’t know how I can be the daughter he expects while still following my own heart. My own dreams,” she said. “He only wishes me to become a Yora like my mother.”
She closed her eyes and whispered, “I am a warrior. I am a warrior. I am a warrior.”
Anyia is on a quest to find Amoonda. She is a warrior and can teach her everything she knows. With her help Anyia will be able to fight the war with her father and protect the lands and the traditions. You have to finish reading the story to see if Anyia completes her quest.
Note: Parents and Teachers
This is a wonderful adventure for girls and boys. This is a good book to bring about dialogue for family, traditions, growing up and following your heart. There are drawing instructions and puzzles in the back of the book which just add even more fun to this book.
Labyrinth’s Door – Anyia “Dream of a Warrior”
Author: Jacquitta A McManus
Illustrator: Toujour Byrd
Concept Illustrations by: Maurice Novembre
Age Range: 9+
Format: Paper Digest
Publisher: Worlds To Discover, LLC.
The first edition of Labyrinth’s Door is a story of a young girl, Anyia, whose dream of becoming a Nagoran Warrior is infused with adventure and danger. Running from her duties as a Yora, she dares to break tradition to follow her own dream, during a time when Empress Zarina threatens the magic treaty that protects her village.
Labyrinth’s Door is a place where enchantment reigns and boredom knows no friend. Conceptualized as an unforgettable adventure from start to finish, each issue of the tween fantasy/adventure MagBook will contain:
* a fantasy/adventure story
* how to draw fantasy art
For more information visit: WorldsToDiscover.com
Hours passed before Anyia was able to move her body even slightly. Wiping the sweat off her face, she turned over and looked out between the bars. They were moving through the forest on a worn path heading toward a blue dome tent where an elderly lady sat at a table full of fruits, breads and gourds of water. The smell of the bread floated through the air. Anyia’s mouth watered as she closed her eyes, thinking how great it would be if they gave her a piece.
Moments later, the Thor warriors stopped and set the crate down roughly, banging Anyia against the metal bars. She watched as they rushed the table and began drinking and eating.
“Do you have means to pay for my food?” asked the elderly lady. She had the presence of strength; she sat on a wooden stool in her green dress; at first Anyia thought the lady was bald. A grown woman in Nagoran Village would have been forbidden to wear her hair so short.
Kuru and Runo just looked at each other and kept eating. Then Anyia saw a tall muscular man with gray hair walk past the crate.
“Yes,” said Som.
She watched as he pulled out a few coins, dropping them on the table.
He picked up a gourd of water and took a long drink before setting it back down. Then he turned around and, for the first time, Anyia could see his eyes; she shuddered. Som’s eyes were pale gray; when he looked at her, chills ran up her spine, but she couldn’t look away. She scanned his face; he had three red marks above his left brow.