Jasper Penzey International Boy Detective
The Ruby Brooch of Atlantis
5 out of 5 Stars-“I literally could not put this book down from beginning to end. This may be the author’s first book, but she writes like an old pro! I especially liked that she wrote from a 9 – 13 year old’s perspective. I got lost in this adventure and that is pretty good for a woman in her 50s reading a children’s book. Greece came alive in my imagination, and the history and geography weaved into the plot was excellent. Kids will be learning without knowing it. Can’t wait to read the next book in the series.”-Amazon
5 out of 5 Stars-“Read this book with my daughter to help her with her reading- such success! We loved it and read it in a weekend! This is a fun exciting read. A BIG thumbs up. Can’t wait to read more and go on more exciting adventures with Jasper!! A must have book, we will have to own this book”-Amazon
“better than Harry Potter”-Pinterest
I like to interview Authors. I think that’s a given considering I created a site for that purpose. Having a 10 year old son of my own, today’s guest has me excited because it’s right up his alley and I am looking forward to reading it and reviewing it. I may even throw in some opinions here on the LitWorldInterview book review from my son, who I call ‘B’ on the internet. If the cover and title of the book today doesn’t tell you why I am so enthusiastic then let me get out of the way so you can meet . . .
RW: Where are you from?
MONICA: I am originally from Houston, TX, but have lived in Colorado for the past 21 years. More specifically, I live in a very rural area, beside a creek, on the side of a mountain. It’s lovely!
RW: Who are your favorite authors?
MONICA: My favorite authors are… wow! This is a tough question. I love authors who make me think (e.g., Dan Brown), make me feel (e.g., Amy Tan, A.S. Byatt) who make me fondly recall reading their works (e.g., Diana Gabaldon, L.M. Montogmery). As a children’s author, I take great inspiration from “Lemony Snicket” (pen name for Daniel Handler) and Donald J. Sobol’s Encyclopedia Brown, boy detective. Probably my all time favorites authors though are Daphne du Maurier (best known for her novel Rebecca), a master of suspense, and M.F.K. Fisher, a culinary genius when it comes to weaving fiction and history around food.
RW: What is your favorite beverage to drink, any kind?
MONICA: My husband tells me I need to drink more water and less coffee, to which I always reply, “Coffee has water in it, doesn’t it?” I drink coffee constantly. It’s my biggest regret in life.
RW: What is your escape from writing when you are at that about to explode point?
MONICA: I’m not the exploding type, actually. I’m pretty calm most of the time. I do find great relief personally in managing stress and angst through Reiki energy therapy and enjoying nature. I have a long dirt-road driveway and often will take a walk to clear my head and get some fresh air. I used to run quite a bit and have completed a couple of marathons, but can’t say that I run a whole lot in the more recent years. Still, it’s something I’ve enjoyed in the past.
RW: What is your favorite word?
MONICA: “Persnickety” It makes me giggle. And, it reminds me of Lemony Snicket, whose books are amongst my favorite in children’s literature, which is always a happy thought.
RW: What is your background in writing, what makes you a writer?
MONICA: I spent 13 years working in the field of transfusion medicine and clinical laboratory science (translation: I wore a lab coat and geeked out on test tubes and biology) and one day decided it wasn’t what made me happy anymore. When I considered what did make me happy, I could only conclude one thing: I love words, I love books and I love writing things that people enjoy reading. My background in writing really is pretty minimal: I wrote as a student, grade school up through graduate school, and in my past career I wrote quite a bit in the peer-reviewed scientific journal realm. Now I write fiction as an author, and fiction and non-fiction as a ghostwriter. It comes so naturally to me and so I must conclude I’ve always been a writer, who simply would be unhappy if I stopped being one.
RW: How did you come up with the name for your book?
MONICA: My first published fictional work is entitled, The Ruby Brooch of Atlantis and it is Volume 1 in the series called Jasper Penzey, International Boy Detective. The series is a color-coded one, covering each color of the rainbow + a pot of “gold” at the end, so red was the theme color I wanted to incorporate into the first book of this eight-book series. I wanted a touch point for kids that was color-centered (red in the case of the first book) and that immediately caused them to be intrigued (“What about the Ruby Brooch? What is that?”) As for Jasper Penzey, the main character, his name came to me while I was running a marathon on the Great Wall of China in May of 2013. I had met a fellow runner from Canada who had a son named Jasper and I immediately loved the name. Penzey seemed like a good fit for a last name.
RW: The book is about a boy detective but genre and reading age does your book fall into?
MONICA: This is a middle-reader (ages 6-11) book, in the mystery/detective genre.
RW: Why did you pick the mystery/detective genre for young people to write about?
MONICA: Kids love mysteries. In fact to them, at the young ages of 6-11, the whole world is a mystery. They’re trying to figure out things, which people to trust, what things mean and how they work. I love that inquisitiveness. In fact, in many ways, I’m still a child…always asking why and wondering why things are the way they are. My overarching desire in writing a book for children was to make it re-aloud friendly (so many kids’ books aren’t, unfortunately!) and write it in a way that would teach children about the diversity of cultures, other countries and history in a way that entertained them and wet their appetite to want to explore the world. I chose a mystery format for that, since I think that’s what kids enjoy the most.
RW: Tell us a little about Jasper and his story.
MONICA: Jasper Penzey is 9 and he’s never known his mother. His history professor father never wants to speak of her. One summer, Jasper moves from Louisiana to Greece with his father and on the eve of his move, he finds a note from his mom and an amulet. His move to Greece no longer is just about tagging along with his dad, it’s suddenly about finding his mom and solving a mystery that will change the course of history. He has never traveled before and, like many children, assumes the world is full of people just like him. His eyes are opened to a different way of life in Greece and he cleverly makes observations about the lives and cultures of people different than his norm, all the while being pulled further and further into a mystery involving the location of his mom and the lost civilization of Atlantis. It’s a lot of fun. And it has cookie recipes.
RW: What inspired the story concept and setting?
MONICA: I was able to travel to Santorini, Greece several years ago, to the exact place where this story is set. I remember being so impressed on so many levels with the geography and people of Greece and though it’s been several years since I traveled there, the landscapes and textures of the country have never left me. I wanted to write a story set in a far away land, especially since Jasper is an international detective, and knew I wanted it to take place in an area I fondly recalled. Greece was a sure fit.
RW: Tell us about Jasper and what you think will help readers connect to him.
MONICA: Jasper is precocious, like most 9-year olds. He asks big questions and is observant all the time. I think this is how most children are, at least it’s how my children are. I also think it is good as an adult to aspire to be young at heart and regain the childhood curiosity we lost along the way. Young readers will relate to Jasper because he’s fun loving, adventurous and curious; adult readers will relate to him because they remember being the same way, and perhaps wish to be the same way again.
RW: Who do you see when you think of Jasper in a movie?
MONICA: I picture Jasper looking a bit like a younger version of Dylan Sprayberry, with his spiky brown hair and big eyes. But at the same time, I love leaving the mental picture of my main character up to the reader’s imagination. I’ll never forget how I felt after reading the Twilight series and feeling like the air knocked out of me when Robert Pattinson was cast as Edward, because that’s not at all how I pictured him. And never again could I recall my own imagination’s image of Edward after that.
RW: What message do you think The Ruby Brooch of Atlantis delivers to the reader?
MONICA: There is a universality amongst humans, regardless of what country you are from, and that diversity in cultures and people and history is what keeps life interesting. I hope my book will create in young readers an early understanding of that fact, and spark in them a lifelong curiosity that can only be satisfied by travel and experiencing history through their own eyes in far away lands across the globe.
RW: What did you learn about yourself from writing this book?
MONICA: I learned a very valuable lesson, actually. It’s interesting because, when I first started writing this book, I was an adult, a responsible mom, trying very hard to write a great kids’ book. Along the way, I learned that the only way I could do that was by putting myself into the mindset of a child. Now, though the book is written and published, I’ve yet to let go of the sheer joy I experience living as an adult who tries always to see the world as a child would. I laugh a lot more, I don’t over complicate things, I enjoy the wonder of each new day and get excited about goofy things right alongside my kids. It’s been an amazing, unforeseen fountain of youth for me, writing this book.
RW: Describe your book in one word.
RW: Where can we Jasper Penzey International Boy Detective The Ruby Brooch of Atlantis now?
MONICA: It’s available on Amazon in paperback, and for Kindle including Kindle Unlimited. It will also be available through Ingram, catalogued for order by any other online and brick-and-mortar bookstore.
RW: I imagine you are working on book 2 if not already completed it, what about your ghostwriting, anything you can share?
MONICA: At the moment, I’m all about Jasper Penzey, working very hard on his next book in the series, volume 2. I have many exciting books I could share with you that I have ghostwritten for clients around the world, but then I’d be breaking confidentiality. Suffice it to say, there are some really excellent memoirs and fictional works on the publishing horizon that I’ve ghostwritten for others. Shhhh….
RW: How do people connect with you through all forms of social media?
MONICA: I use Twitter and Facebook most, but also Instagram and LinkedIn. I also respond to all messages left for me through my website and via email. On Facebook, I give away a paperback children’s book every single day to those who follow my page and Like/Share my posts. The Book-A-Day-Giveaway is a big draw for my fans to my Facebook page. Parents, teachers, librarians love it. It’s my way of giving back and increasing the reach of quality children’s literature in the world.
RW: Do you currently have agent representation?
MONICA: I actually agented for myself in seeking a publisher for my work. It never occurred to me to look for an agent, and as luck would have it, I never needed one. Had I looked for one, I would definitely have wanted someone who believed in my book as much as I did. Thankfully, I found that person in my wonderful publisher, Dr. Kitty Bickford of Chalfant Eckert Publishing. A mother, grandmother, educator and advocate for quality children’s literature, she and I see eye-to-eye on how important it is to share Jasper’s story with children of all ages (young and old).
RW: What are your plans for Jasper in the future?
MONICA: I’m working on Volume 2 of the Jasper Penzey series and with 8 books in the series, I have my work cut out for me. When I’m not writing Jasper Penzey’s books, I’m daydreaming about what I want to write next and I’m working very hard on ghostwriting projects for clients (one non-fiction, one fiction, currently).
RW: What book are you reading at this time?
MONICA: I’m reading a book called Mary Anne, by Daphne du Maurier, which I found in a used book store recently and realized I’d never read it. Over the weekend, I devoured Gone Girl in a 36 hour reading marathon. It was THAT GOOD. With my children, I’m happily re-reading a beloved classic, Charlotte’s Web.
RW: What is your biggest tip for someone to getting published?
MONICA: Write a great query letter by doing this: believe in your book because if you don’t, no one else will either; the rest of the query letter is just semantics.
RW: If you could have written any book that exists, other than your own, what would it be and why?
MONICA: I wish I had written The Game of Thrones series, or Outlander. Epic fiction, the way George R. R. Martin and Diana Gabladon do it, is so beautiful to me. It’s my pie in the sky, the type of work I aspire to be capable of when my writing career is said and done.
List links to all websites you have and social networks such as Twitter.
First of all, follow Monica LaSarre everywhere you can. Then really first of all, go buy her book! Now after reading about her and her book, do you see why I was excited to share this Author with you? I know not to judge a book by its cover but when I get my hands on the book, I don’t think I will be disappointed considering the creative mind behind it and the publishing behind it. When I do review it, trust me that I will be honest. If I’m not honest then there is no point to having this site.
Now I want to thank Monica for the interview and sharing so much of herself with us. I look forward to continuing a working relationship with her as I do with all Authors who come through LWI. Again, get her book now! You will be in on the beginning of something great!
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