It was my pleasure to interview A. J. York, author of the trio of delightful middle-grade fantasy stories “The Adventures of Delilah Dusticle” and “Eliza Bluebell”. Definitely a fun read that I recommend to readers of any age. For the full review, click here.
Below are my questions in italics and A.J.’s full, unaltered answers following.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My friends call me Jen. I grew up in the UK with my English father and Swedish mother. I have worked mainly in the arts and education. I now live in Sweden. I love the Scandinavian landscape and Swedish summers. I am the happiest when hanging out in cafes and drinking tea. I also really enjoy yoga and road trips.
What do you do when you are not writing? Do you have a day job as well?
I am a trained drama teacher and currently work as an art teacher at an international school in Sweden. I studied theatre with art at university, so I feel very much at home with this subject.
When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I am not one of those people who has always wanted to write. To be honest, I am very shocked that I have written stories and published them. The urge to write struck me as I was about to move out of an apartment my partner and I had been renting. It was a beautiful place from the turn of the century, with a back entrance that would have been used by the maid. I was making a feeble attempt at cleaning some bookshelves and managed to get more dust on me than on the duster or in the vacuum cleaner. Cleaning is also very dull, so I started to daydream about the maid who would have once worked there. I started to think of the special skills she would have had. Delilah Dusticle started to form in my mind and I then felt I had to write it down or lose it forever. I published the first story in 2013.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
When I finished writing the story I realised it was best suited under the categories ‘Fantasy’ and ‘Middle Grade’. However, I think there should also be a category called ‘Young at Heart’, for all those adults who love children’s stories.
Your stories all have lovely little lessons for young readers. Do you work with an outline to integrate these, or just write?
No, I do not work with an outline and I never set out with the plan of teaching a lesson. If I did, I would worry the story would come across as preaching or lecturing. When I am writing or plotting the storyline, I am much more concerned with the narrative, the magic and feeling the writing gives. I really want the reader to enjoy and be uplifted by the characters and the story. My hope is that the reader will at the end feel entertained and optimistic.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Because of my Swedish background I have always loved Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren. However, I think my big influences are Mary Poppins and Charlotte’s Web.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your books or getting them published that you would change?
It is a lot work publishing your own work and it takes time to make something of value. My biggest error was publishing and not getting a professional proof-reader. I knew I shouldn’t proofread my own work, so I enlisted kind and talented friends. Still, things were missed and this ruined the reading experience. I still haven’t made back what I spent on professional services, but I will never publish a story without going through a qualified proof-reader first.
Is there or will there be the option to order a print version of any of your books?
Yes, you can buy paperbacks at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
I tend to shy away from this type of question. I am still very much a novice and would feel unqualified giving advice. I do always offer encouragement though. If you enjoy writing, then go for it.
What project are you working on now? Will you have a new book coming out soon?
I have Delilah Dusticle and the Cursed Tempest ready to go to the proof-reader. So far, four illustrations have been done and another ten are on the way. I hope to publish this in September. I have also written a short story called Tallulah the Christmas fairy. This tale needs some revisions, but I hope to have this ready by December. In the New Year, I am planning Delilah Dusticle’s Mission Impossible and a compilation of all the stories I have written so far.
Thanks for hosting me on your blog, Anela!
Many thanks to A. J. York for taking the time to be interviewed on Amid the Imaginary!
A.J. York is the author of the middle grade fantasy series called The Delilah Dusticle Adventures. Born in Gothenburg, Sweden and raised in the UK, A.J. York’s first love was telling stories through drama.
“I have always enjoyed making up characters and their life stories, therefore I jumped at the chance to study theatre at the University of Brighton. I later trained as a drama teacher and I have a Master’s degree from Goldsmiths. I have gone back to my roots and I now live in Gothenburg. People have told me they love reading my stories and I hope you have fun reading them too!” A.J. York
To learn more about the author and her work, explore her website here