Sunday, 25 January 2015

Jodie Wells-Slowgrove and the Wilderness Fairies series

 Today I welcome Jodie Wells-Slowgrove and her Wilderness Fairies to Promote Me Please. I was lucky enough to share a studio with Jodie during the Book an Adventure Children's Literature Festival on Bruny Island. It was great fun:-)

Jodie is the author of the Wilderness Fairies series, a set of six books that combine adventure, magic, beguiling characters and a well-realised setting with a subtle environmental message. I asked Jodie five questions and here's what she had to say.

1.      Were you always intrigued with fairies, or was this a marketing decision to write a fairy series?

Writing a fairy series was most definitely a love decision, not a marketing one. I've always been fascinated with the mythology of European fairies and faerie folk and wanted to believe that a little bit of that magic could be also be a part of the land where I grew up. I figured that if fairies did exist they must surely be found in all parts of the world and I wanted to create something for Aussie kids to help them feel the magic that I always feel when out in the Australian bush.

2.     Six books is a great number for a series. Was Daisy’s story arc planned from the start?

Originally, I only planned one story for Daisy. It was my agent who encouraged me to write a sequel and think about ideas for more stories after that. While those original  ideas may have led to getting a contract for the Daisy books many of them did not end up getting used. Some really interesting discussions with my editor at Penguin during the early days of planning the series led to the idea of Daisy searching for her Calling in life. Once this became the overall story arc of the series new story ideas flowed naturally from there. 

3.     Tell us about THAT CHITTER!

Daisy's best friend Vu was not in the original draft of the story which had Daisy spending much of her quest alone. When my editor suggested that Daisy have a companion I didn't want it to be another fairy. It was much more appealing to me for her to have an animal friend. I researched small mammals and birds but none of them were small enough for my purposes so I started researching insects. When I discovered a very rare beetle living just across the river from where I had set the stories, the exact size to fit in the palm of Daisy's hand, I knew I had found the perfect companion. 

For this character to work and be a well-rounded character and helpful participant in Daisy's adventures they needed to be able to communicate. For the sake of realism I didn't want Vu or the other animals in the series to actually speak Daisy's language. I wanted them to make their own animal sounds that Daisy could understand and for Daisy to speak in her own language and have them understand her too. As Vu was a very special character I wanted him to have his own unique sound that wouldn't be associated with any other creature. Chitter, for me, seemed like the perfect word.

4.     How did you come to choose Daisy’s name? What other names are in the series?

Daisy's name was also something that changed very early in the planning as did many of the other main characters. In early drafts she had been called Lily but the more feisty and adventurous she became the less that name seemed to suit her. I researched flowers found in the area where the story was set and came across these yellow paper daisies. They were bold, bright and hardy and so much more representative of the character I was creating. 

From that point on all the characters were named either for plants or animals that are found in that type of forest or to match their Calling or personalities. Daisy's sister Maggie is a singer so was named after the magpie. Her mother Nen is a tribute to my own mother. Her real name is Anne which was my mother's middle name and also conveniently can be found in 'Flannel Flower'. The character of Grevillea who was the first real antagonist of the series was given her name because not only do grevilleas have spiky leaves but their name also includes the word 'evil'. Choosing names was one of the most fun parts of writing the Daisy books, especially for the ones who were written for some of my family and friends who asked to be characters in the series.

5.     How long, in fictional terms, does Daisy’s story last? 

Each of the stories in the Wilderness Fairies series take place over a relatively short period of time, usually just a few days. They are sequential with some books picking up the story the day after the last book ended, some a few weeks and one a few months. Overall the series chronicles the major events during approximately nine months of Daisy's life.

and Twitter @jwellsslowgrove

Thanks, Jodie! By the way, I wrote a review of the first book in the series. You can read that here.

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