Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Sense of Magic and Wonder--L. Jagi Lamplighter with The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin

Please Welcome 
L. Jagi Lamplighter
to the blog today as she shares her novel, The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin.

I recently got to see this beautiful cover up close and personal at a sci-fi/fantasy panel in which I participated.  It is GORGEOUS!

Jagi was kind enough to answer a few questions for the blog and to give all the awesome details on her latest release.  I'm also giving away a $5 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky commentor today.

Without further ado, let's get right to it:

    What aspect of writing comes easy to you?  What is difficult?

Dialogue comes easiest—I love the fun banter between the characters. Also the general flow of the scene, the basic things characters say and do comes pretty easily.

The hardest part for me is showing the character’s emotions through action and writing description. I often just write ‘description here’ and come back and fill it in later.

What inspires you?

I pray before I write. So, I would say what inspires me is the Divine Muse. I also enjoy listening to foreign music , or any music that does not have words. And I enjoy talking to my husband, SF and fantasy writer, John C. Wright, about the ideas. We both find it very helpful to bounce our ideas off the other person.

In the case of The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin, the story is based on ideas created by my friend Mark A. Whipple. So, I would count him as part of my inspiration.

Also, I enjoy taking a long walk, preferably in the woods.

But the main thing I do to get inspiration is go rollerblading. I skate a couple hours a week and use the time of going around and around the rink to review my project to date and work out the next few scenes.

    Where in the world would you want to visit (all in the name of research, of course) and why?

My books are filled with old houses. I’m not sure why, but all my characters seem to live in really huge fancy old houses filled with odd magic. I always enjoy visiting castles and mansions and looking at the rooms and smelling the smells.

I’d like to visit Dartmoor National Park in Devon, England, as that is where the family of my main character, little British sorceress Rachel Griffin, lives.

    What does it take to be a successful author in today’s publishing world?

It used to be that all an author had to do was write.  Advertising money made little difference to sales. Tours made little differences to sales, except for the very elite. Even being on Oprah is said not to matter, unless Oprah cries over your book.

Nowadays, all of that has changed. Having an active online presence sells books. Perhaps because people know if they like a blog that they might like the person’s writing? I’m not sure. But the result is that an author has to do much more than they once did.
This makes the task much more difficult!

    What obstacles have you overcome to get where you are, and what advice do you have for anyone in a similar situation?

I did not start out as a good writer. I couldn’t spell. My grammar was so-so. And my writing was terrible. My descriptions were flat and uninteresting. 

But I wanted to write!

So, I set out to improve. When I got out of college, I studied grammar for two hours a day, doing things like writing out passages from authors I liked and studying how they structured their sentences.

Once I got that down, I began to work on each section of writing I was bad at. I learned to write descriptions and add sense impressions to make them more vivid. I practiced sentence structure. I took classes in how to express emotion through descriptions of action.

I just kept plugging away.

Nowadays, I still have weaknesses in my writing, and I still struggle to improve them. But my writing has improved a thousand fold.

Which just goes to show…if you want to do something badly enough, you can! If I can write books people enjoy reading, anyone can.

    What did you enjoy most about writing your latest work?

What I enjoy most about writing the Unexpected Enlightenment series—starting with volume one, The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin – is the sense of magic and wonder. It’s a delightfully fun series to write. I love the characters. I love the romance. I love developing the world. But the thing I like most is putting across a sense of wonder that makes the story seem like something beyond the norm. It is very easy when writing about magic, to make it seem humdrum. The character gets used to it. It’s not any different than technology.
Some of my magic is that way, but other things—such as the world around the students—maintain a sense of mystery and awe that adds a great sense of fun to the work.

    What emotional reaction are you going for when your readers read your work?

Wonder. Awe. At times, romance and angsty sadness. At times, rather frightening things happen—so fear. At other times, a rousing cheer.

But most of all, I would like the reader to walk away having had at least some moment when the world seemed greater, more astonishing, than they had expected.

Rachel Griffin wants to know everything. As a freshman at Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts, she has been granted the opportunity to study both mundane and magical subjects.

But even her perfect recollection of every book she has ever read does not help her when she finds a strange statue in the forest—a statue of a woman with wings. Nowhere—neither in the arcane tomes of the Wise, nor in the dictionary and encyclopedia of the non-magic-using Unwary—can she find mention of such a creature.

What could it be? And why are the statue’s wings missing when she returns?

When someone tries to kill a fellow student, Rachel soon realizes that, in the same way her World of the Wise hides from mundane folk, there is another, more secret world hiding from everyone—which her perfect recall allows her to remember. Her desire to know everything drives her to investigate.

Rushing forward where others fear to tread, Rachel finds herself beset by wraiths, magical pranks, homework, a Raven said to bring the doom of worlds, love’s first blush, and at least one fire-breathing teacher.

Curiosity might kill a cat, but nothing stops Rachel Griffin!

Even among the Wise, animals did not talk.
These two were talking.
Rachel Griffin awoke in her bunk bed in prestigious Dare Hall. It was her first night at Roanoke Academy, her first night in America, her first night away from home. The other girls in her dormitory room were asleep. She could hear their rhythmic breathing. Yet she distinctly heard voices. She opened her eyes and sat up.
The tall, arched window was open. A chill blew in through it. On the windowsill sat an enormous raven, jet black with blood red eyes. The raven addressed the familiar that belonged to one of Rachel’s roommates. The girl must have been a fan of the new fad of shrinking wild animals and turning them into cute playthings. Her pet was a tiny lion the size of a house cat.
The raven croaked harshly, "You are not supposed to be here."
The lion sat regally beside his human, who lay sleeping across the room, on the other set of bunk beds. "I was called. Where I am called, I come.”
“None of my people called you.”
“You called one of my daughters. I am always in her heart."
“You need to depart.”
The lion yawned. It turned in a circle three times and settled down to sleep.
The raven cawed raucously and flew away.
Rachel replayed the conversation in her head. She did not know what the phrases meant, but she was certain she had just overhead something crucial, something not meant for her, something not meant for any human ears. It was like hearing a door swing open to another world. She would never forget a word of it.
But then, Rachel Griffin never forgot anything.

Are you hooked? Click HERE to read the entire first chapter.

Or even better, click the link to purchase the book:

Amazon BuyLink

A little more about L. Jagi Lamplighter:

L. Jagi Lamplighter is the author of  the YA fantasy: The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin. She is also the author of the Prospero’s Daughter series: Prospero Lost, Prospero In Hell, and Prospero Regained. She has published numerous articles on Japanese animation and appears in several short story anthologies, including Best Of Dreams Of Decadence, No Longer Dreams, Coliseum Morpheuon, Bad-Ass Faeries Anthologies (where she is also an assistant editor) and the Science Fiction Book Club’s Don’t Open This Book.

When not writing, she switches to her secret identity as wife and stay-home mom in Centreville, VA, where she lives with her dashing husband, author John C. Wright, and their four darling children, Orville, Ping-Ping Eve, Roland Wilbur, and Justinian Oberon.

On Twitter: @lampwright4

Be sure to leave a comment for Jagi before you go and be entered to win a $5 gift card to Amazon. Please leave an e-mail address where you can be contacted if you win.


  1. I know these characters rather well through correspondence with the author, and I urge readers to get to know them, too--particularly Miss Griffin who will enchant and flummox them!

  2. First, sorry, I had to. anyway nice interview, I love Jagi and her words:) she is such an inspiration! my e-mail: frankiedanceartz@earthlink.net

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. "It used to be that all an author had to do was write. "

    Well, and get a publisher to take them on. 0:)

  5. I look forward to reading Jagi's latest book! I used to know MW a VERY long time ago, so it's neat to hear that he inspired the ideas in the book! My master plan has been to get all of Jagi and John's books in hardcover for proper autographing. email: sweetsiren@outlook.com

  6. The sense of wonder is apparent even in the few excerpts highlighted. As I sit at dawn on the edge of the equator, I want to listen for the voices and call of the raven...

  7. Yes, I definitely would say she's successful with that sense of wonder. Having recently started writing my own book, I find it quite interesting to think about how her (and other authors') motivations may have a different focus or aim than my own. And depressing to think about how hard it is to be even a little bit financially successful with a published book. :)

  8. I loved this book! As well as the Prospero series.

  9. Sounds like you really had to slog to get to the point where you could write books! Good for you for trying hard!
    The sense of wonder you try to instill sounds like a great thing, and I think that is super important in any novel... no matter the genre.

  10. E. Kaiser Writes, your name was randomly drawn as the winner of the $5 Amazon gift card. Please e-mail me at authorcheriemarks (at) gmail (dot) com and let me know to which e-mail I should send your gift card.


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