July 21, 2010

Blog Tour: Jaguar Stones an Interview with Jon and Pam Voelkel

Today I have the honor of interviewing J&P Voelkel authors of The Jaguar Stones: Middleworld
 I reviewed the book about and month ago.  You should go read the review! In short - I liked it :) 
 Since then The Jaguar Stones was selected by The Today Show as it's children's book club pick.  A perfect choice I thought!

So without further ado - here's a bit of what they had to say.

1. My students hate revising what they've written. How many revisions, or how long did you spend, revising The Jaguar Stones?

Your students wouldn’t believe how many times we revised the manuscript – at least twenty times, maybe more. Some of it was due to our evolving knowledge of the Maya, but most of it was due to plot refinements. The story changed a lot and so did the characters. Some went from good to bad or vice versa, one even went from male to female. Whole episodes got cut to make the story flow faster. There’s a real satisfaction in editing: it’s like you’ve written the music and you’re a choreographer asking your characters to try out some new dance steps. Sometimes when you watch what they do or hear what they say in your head, the characters edit themselves. It’s also a good idea to read your work out loud to find any clunky bits. I know your students don’t want to hear this, but the first draft is never any good. Revisions make the book.

2. I really like that there is a strong girl character in the book, Lola. Did you set out to make sure she was great role model for girl readers?

Lola is not just a strong girl character – she’s something very rare in children’s literature, a strong Maya girl. But she’s no noble savage; she’s savvy about the modern world and she’s smarter than Max most of the time. We wanted to show that there are many different ways to live your life, and newer isn’t automatically better. Lola doesn’t have all the answers, but she understands the importance of being connected to the world around her. She has an intelligent and practical approach that sees her through. Because she’s not as reliant as Max on technology, she is able to cope better. But Lola has her own identity issues. And like many Maya today, she’s caught between the old and new.

3. Is Max based on anyone or complete fiction?

In many ways, Max is based on Jon as a child. Jon had a very adventurous childhood in Latin America, but he always wanted to live in a city and eat fast food and have all the latest gadgets. But he took a lot longer than Max to reassess his priorities!

4. I was excited to see The Jaguar Stones picked by the Today Show for their kids' reading series. How did you learn about this, and what was your first reaction?

The publisher’s PR company called us two days before Al Roker announced it, but we were sworn to secrecy. We were dancing round the office at home. When it sank in and we realized we’d have to go on The Today Show, my next reaction was sheer terror!

5. Who are your favorite authors?

Jon likes Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Pamela likes Harper Lee.

Thanks Jon and Pamela for taking time to answer my questions! Can't wait to hear more about The Jaguar Stones!


  1. Great interview. I loved that you were asking the questions from a teacher's point of view. Very cool! I think this sounds like something for the library. I wonder if it has a UK release date.

  2. Great interview. I've heard great things about this book. Congrats on catching Al Roker's attention. How awesome!

    As an author, I'm encouraged to hear that you weren't afraid to revise. I find I need to do it about 20 times too.

  3. Can't wait to read this one. Especially with such a strong female character!

    Teens Read & Write