Author Elaine Bousfield grew up in a small town called Stanford-Le-Hope in Essex. She went to college and studied A levels and then moved on to the University of Sussex where she studied something incredibly boring called Social Administration (don’t ask, she says). She left Brighton to live in London for a while where she worked as a community worker, went off to pick coffee in Nicaragua (a very beautiful country in Central America) and then came back to train as a counselor. She has worked with young people as a counselor ever since. She now resides in Manchester and when she is not running around all over the country telling people about the online counseling service she helps to run, she write novels for young people. The Jewel Keepers is a YA Fantasy trilogy about the past and the present, Albion being the first in the series, with Mona and The Return soon to follow.
Thanks for being here Elaine. It’s a pleasure.
#1- Tell us a little about yourself outside of your writing career…
Well I live in Manchester with my husband, three children and a naughty beagle called Harvey. I work and write and when I have any time left over from those two activities, I like to do some gardening, although I am not very good at that! I have some good friends. I like Jazz and blues and go every year to the Upton- upon- Severn Jazz festival. This year they had lots of blues as well, which made it even better! I love live music. I am also interested in religion and history – the history of religion fascinates me. I am a qualified counsellor and have worked with young people for well over 15 years.
#2- Can you tell us a bit about the online counseling service you help run?
Yes, I founded Xenzone eight years ago with the intention of delivering counselling services online. It has worked out really well. We have some new projects coming on stream this year and next. Our major project is Kooth, an online counselling service for young people aged 11-25. Kooth is funded by local authorities and Primary Care trusts across the UK. So far we have 11 areas buying into Kooth with more to follow next year.
We have worked with thousands of young people over the last 6 years, far more than we would have done without the Internet.
#3- How do you handle the negative reviews and critiques you receive?
The first book has only been out since the middle of May 2009 and so far, fingers crossed, the reviews have been wonderfully positive. You can read them on my website www.thejewelkeepers.com as well as on amazon.co.uk
However a few writer friends of mine have made some criticisms and I guess my major instinct is to try and learn from those. ‘Negative’ reviews can be helpful to writers. I like Philip Pullmans attitude to this -once a writer has let go of their creation and sent it out into the world, the rest is just democracy -the relationship the reader has with your work is none of your business! Hopefully the reader will find a seed of meaning in it; hopefully he or she will enjoy it and grow from it.
#4- Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Paranormal are popular genres right now, including the Young Adult market. What prompted you to write in that genre and where do you get your ideas from?
I suppose my work has informed my writing. I am most interested in young minds and in the journeys that young people are taking. It is a turbulent and exciting time. It is the time when identities are formed, when you are deciding who you are and what you want. Writing for this age group feels like my natural home.
I do not particularly like ‘dark fantasy’ -I cannot see me ever writing about werewolves or vampires. But I like the ‘room’ that myth gives us to explore the bigger questions about life, death and destiny. The Jewel Keepers asks us to think about ecology and whether there are things we can learn from the past that might be helpful to us in the present. That was one of my intentions anyhow.
Assuming you get any time to read, what authors do you like to read, and were there any books that stand out from your childhood as favorites?
When I am writing I read less fiction, mainly because I am researching for my novel and most of what I read is nonfiction. I try and avoid fiction that is similar to my own – even if I am dying to read it. For example I would love to read Manda Scotts Boudica series, but I dare not! I guess I am worried that I will be discouraged by her brilliance and/or too influenced by her work.
I like to read magical stories – some of my favourite writers are Angela Carter (Heroes and Villains is fantastic), Barbara Kingsolver and Alice Hoffman are two others I love. I was swept away by Philip Pullmans Dark Materials, and then there was Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus series and Trudi Cavanan. There are too many to mention to be honest.
As a child I was an avid Enid Blyton fan. I loved adventure stories, stories where the heroes and heroines were children, free of adult prying eyes. Then as a young person I fell in love with Mary Stewarts The Crystal Cave. I discovered The Thorn Birds and realised my passion was for the epic fantasies.
#6- Are there any upcoming releases we would like to know about, and could you give us your web site so readers can check it out?
Yes please do! My website is www.thejewelkeepers.com
I am writing Mona, Book Two of The Jewel Keepers at the moment. You can follow my progress through my blog! I have other ideas too so do watch this space.
#7- This about concludes it. Thank you again for joining us. Is there anything else you would like to share?
No I can’t think of anything else. Except to remind people to read my book and keep sending me those reviews!