The Literary Road Trip is a project in which bloggers are volunteering to showcase local authors. This showcase can be anything you want to make of it – book reviews, author interviews, giveaways – as long as you’re working with an author local to you.
Joni Sensel has been a writer pretty much all her life. She writes middle grade and YA fantasy, and has also written two picture books with environmental themes. Joni lives at the base of Mt. Rainier, and loves to hike and travel and ride her motorcycle.
Reality Leak: When 11-year-old Bryan starts to get mail through the toaster, he has to find — and fix! — a crack in reality that has started to leak.
This book is perfect for:
~ Kids who love secret codes and mysterious messages
~ Anyone who has ever taken a ride in a wooden crate
~ Lovers of weeds (especially dandelions)
~ Kids who live in small farm towns
~ Anyone who believes they’re really a dog
~ Lemonade-stand entrepreneurs
~ Anyone afraid of the dentist
The Farwalker’s Quest: Twelve-year-old Ariel knows that if a friendly tree gives you advice, you should take it. Unfortunately, unlike her best friend, Zeke, she hasn’t the talent for speaking with trees. So when she finds a mysterious relic in the woods, leafy warnings only confuse matters, and she assumes the telling dart is merely an artifact from a forgotten age. But when the dart gets Ariel kidnapped, she realizes her discovery was no accident. If she’s clever enough to escape, perhaps she can also unravel what the dart can reveal about a legendary treasure and her own startling calling.
The Humming of Numbers: A would-be monk in a 10th century Celtic abbey teams up with an alluring young wood-witch to escape raiders and plumb the divinity of supernatural experiences, including love.
This book is perfect for:
~ Fans of historical fiction and historical fantasies
~ Artists interested in illuminated manuscripts
~ Would-be witches and herbalists
~ Math lovers and synesthetes
~ Readers intrigued by early Ireland
For more information on her writing and an in-depth bio, visit Joni Sensel’s web site.
I have been having so much fun connecting with authors from Washington State – and my to-read list is just growing and growing! (Not to mention that I will definitely be buying Reality Leak for my sons.) Ms. Sensel was gracious and agreed to be interviewed for this post.
Your web site told me that your name was drawn out of a hat. Sounds like a fun story – want to share?
Joni: My mom wanted to name me Terri, and my Dad was adamant about Joni. (I don’t know where he got it from originally, except that he swears he did not want a boy. Given my mom’s choice, too, that seems somewhat questionable.) They put the two names into a hat. Dad drew a slip, read it, announced that “Joni” had won, and proceeded to crumple both slips so nobody could confirm or deny his proclamation. So I’m pretty sure I should probably be a Terri, but it’s hard for me to imagine! I like the idea that I started out with a deception, though. I should probably write darker stories.
Your middle grade and YA books are all fantasy. What drew you to this genre?
Joni: My favorite all-time quote is from Hamlet: “There is more in heaven and earth, Horatio, than is dreamt of in your philosophy.” For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had the sense that what we see is not all we get, and that conviction comes out again and again in stories that other people call fantasies of one sort or another. I’m just not convinced we’re looking at the whole picture, and I like to explore what might be outside our blinders. Most other people disagree with me, I guess, thus the fantasy label, ha ha!
How long have you lived in Washington State – and what do you like best about where you live?
Joni: All my life, with the exception of a year in second grade when my Air Force dad was stationed in the other Washington. I’ve traveled a fair bit for my day job in the past, as well as for fun, and there is almost nowhere else in the U.S. that I’ve been (so far) that I can imagine living. (We can talk about New Zealand some other time.) I love the still slightly wild beauty of our landscape, and the fact that I get elk in my yard and occasionally see bears. I like the fact that I can live in the foothills of Mt. Rainier and be at the ocean, in sage desert, in wheat fields, or the city in under three hours. I relate to the liberal and diverse and mostly tolerant socio-political attitudes of the west side (though I lived in Walla Walla during college, so I can at least understand more typical east side thinking as well, I think). I like West Coast casual and friendliness (and I don’t understand outsiders who think we’re unfriendly or fake, but I’ve heard that enough there must be something there). And I love my little former-ski-cabin in the woods, within a block of the river. Even though it can be a little scary at times, it’s wonderful to track the passing of time with the daily and seasonal changes in the river and its banks.
What writing projects are you working on now?
Joni: The sequel to THE FARWALKER’S QUEST, THE TIMEKEEPER’S MOON, comes in March, so I’m excited about that. I’ve also been working hard on a middle-grade novel revision that might be the most significant revamping of a story I’ve ever done. I started again from a blank file. I really despaired for a while that I could do it, and I know I’ll need at least one more substantial pass before I’m comfortable sending it to my agent (again), but I’m pretty excited about how it’s finally working. I think. It’s about a boy who has lost his father to an IED in Iraq and how a UFO hunt with an unlikely friend helps both find healing, solve a mystery, and identify a flying object they never expected. It draws on both my military brat and scuba diving experience, which has been fun.
Which writers have had the biggest impact on your life and your writing?
Joni: Dr. Seuss, Norton Juster, William Shakespeare, and the sci-fi gods of the 1960s and 70s, like Ray Bradbury and Ursula Le Guin. More recently, M.T. Anderson and Rosemary Sutcliffe. And a handful of names you wouldn’t recognize or who are unpublished so far, but who have been my writing pals and critique group partners, some of them for many years.
What is the best book you’ve read this year so far? (Oops – should have said last year!)
Joni: Wow, this year is early, and I generally don’t read much when I’m deep into a hard revision. And I’m usually a couple of years behind the new releases, anyway. Can I use 2009? A SUDDEN COUNTRY, though that’s an adult book. WHALES ON STILTS (M.T. Anderson) and HUNGER GAMES (Suzanne Collins). All pretty different!
If you could recommend one book that everyone should read, what would it be?
Joni: Ooh, another hard one. Everyone? Hmm. M.T. Anderson’s FEED.