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Friday, October 28, 2016

Authors To Watch: Jenny Jaeckel, author of 'For the Love of Meat'





Jenny Jaeckel grew up in Berkeley and Ukiah of Northern California, has lived in Mexico, Spain and currently lives in British Columbia with her husband and daughter.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from The Evergreen State College, a Master of Arts in Hispanic Literatures from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She is a certified interpreter and translator, and has taught Spanish at three universities. She is the author and illustrator of three graphic memoirs. For the Love of Meat is her first book of fiction.

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Title: For the Love of Meat
Author: Jenny Jaekel
Publisher: Raincloud Press
Pages: 162
Genre: Short Stories/Light Romance/Historical

For the Love of Meat combines whimsical and surreal illustrations with engaging, intimate encounters that explore the depths of human experience. Unique and diverse in setting, and with touches of magical-realism, these nine stories will tug at the strings of the wandering, romantic heart, setting it delightfully ablaze.

In Wander the Desert, Sister Aurelia, a nun from the early 20th century, finds herself stranded in the Mexican desert with nothing but a few cobs of corn and a stray horse who becomes her faithful companion. In Stumble and Fall, we meet Dara, a young Londoner hungry for adventure who, unwilling to settle for the safety and comfort of home, travels to Vancouver, city of immigrants, where a handsome stranger entices her to take a leap into the unknown. The Two explores the tender bond between two young growing up in 1940s Philadelphia, who are as inseparable as light and shadow. As one of the girls tragically becomes ill, the impact on the other shows how true connections of heart and spirit are not bound to time and place. And Mémé, set in Haiti in the 1800s, is told from the stunning perspective of a slave who, as a child, witnesses the brutal murder of her mother, and survives through her connection to her brother and the natural world.

Jenny Jaeckel’s compelling storytelling takes us across the world and through the ages, with remarkable insight and soul-moving moments, when paths cross and time unfolds. Her language, imagery and attention to detail plunge the reader into these memorable lives, soaking us in tales of adventure, courage, love, loss, longing and all the hope in between. 

Purchase Information:

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Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a writer and illustrator from (the hippie communes of) Northern California, currently living in Victoria BC with my partner Chris and our 11 year old child Asa. I really love books, both reading and creating them, and my biggest creative heroes are writers and graphic novelists. My comics colleague Josue Menjivar once said, as we sat at a table at a comics arts festival in Vancouver, “I want to go around to every artist here and ask them: why do you do this?” Seriously, why do we do this? I don’t have an answer, but I ponder the question a lot.  


When did you begin writing?

I suppose I began writing with some seriousness when I was 25, and as a craft it’s been evolving since. I’m 45 now and it took me a long time to feel like I had some maturity as a writer, and it also took me a pretty long time before I felt like I had something of substance to say. I was a book-oriented person from very young, but I was definitely no early bloomer as a writer.

Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write?

My stories generally begin with some kind of seed, an idea or an image, a character in some kind of setting. I go in with an inner flashlight and try to see what else is there, and from there another clue emerges, or an event. I try to get to know my characters by feeling around. As I get to know them and their world a plot emerges. Then usually the plot shoots ahead and I go stumbling along behind, trying to catch up until I get to the end, and, boom! The story is written. Then I go over it from start to finish (since I often write scenes out of order) and fix it up. Then, just before I send it to one of my editors or my publisher, I wonder: Does this suck? Because at that point, even though I have believed the story was good all along, I have no idea!

Can you tell us about your most recent release?

My newest book is a collection of nine short stories with random illustrations called For the Love of Meat. It’s a bit of a trip around the world and through time, since the stories take place in seven different countries and three different centuries. Each story is unique, but they all share elements of theme, sometimes magic, sometimes humor, and all reflect turning points in the lives of the characters.


How did you get the idea for the book?

I always think in terms of whole books, so when I started writing the stories for For the Love of Meat, I wanted to play with some similar themes. Readers might notice references to the Mediterranean in several stories, bits of magic showing up in odd places, and pivotal moments in the lives of the characters. Each story, though, began with a different idea, such as something I once saw when travelling, a snippet of a dream, or just a random image that floated up in my mind.


Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?

It’s funny how characters become like intimate friends. Perhaps my favorite in this book is Nelie (short for Cornelia) Hubbard, a young African American girl living in Philadelphia in 1949. Nelie is gifted with something like the second sight, and in the story she is possibly about to lose the one person she is closest to in all the world. She has an exceptionally loving family, though, which carries her through the experience. She is a very special person and she plays a very special role in her family and community.


Which authors have inspired your writing?

Edith Wharton, Merce Rodoreda, Toni Morrison, Eduardo Galeano, and J.D. Salinger, to name a few. They are (or were) absolute masters of their craft, geniuses of imagination, and incredible social observers/commentators. I bow at their feet, and just try to learn from their work.


What projects are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a novel, House of Rougeaux, about members of one family in generations that range from the late 1700's to 1964, and takes place in the Caribbean, Montreal, New York and Philadelphia. It is historical fiction, which has required a lot of research, but magical too, and the individual stories tie into the larger familial story.

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

Go for it! Also, seek out other writers to talk to and trade feedback with. It’s really helpful to have peers who also want to do this strange thing called writing, whether that’s a class, a group, or just one other person. Writing buddies unite!


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