After much deliberation and soul-searching, it is with great pleasure that I reveal the new covers for The Clay Lion Series. In honor of the book's third 'birth' day, it was decided that the brand could survive (and benefit from) the change. The new covers honor the pencil sketches that are synonymous with the brand but give a gentle nod to the time travel element of the series as well as the young adult audience. We hope readers will love them as much as we do, but on the off-chance that you are still building your series collection from the original, traditional covers, rest assured, you will still be able to purchase them as well. Thanks to all of my fans who weighed in on this decision and I'm looking forward to sharing the new covers with the world!
The start of a new year is always a good time to reassess one's goals and priorities. The past several years I've been concentrating on marketing and award entries, but this year I'm making the conscious decision to shift my focus back to the actual writing I love. My goal is to have Gather the Sentient, book 2 of the Sevens Prophecy Series, published by summer, and the third and final installment completed for you by Christmas. This is a somewhat lofty goal as I also have plans to write a stand-alone young adult contemporary novel this year as well. Excited for what this year has in store and delighted to have all of you along for the ride! Now, back to the writing!
I just returned from a whirlwind trip to Miami where I attended the Miami Book Fair and received a gold medal from Readers' Favorite for The Clay Lion. Here's five things I learned:
1. Awards are cool. For real.
2. You're never too old to take a walk across a stage.
3. Or pose for a picture with Paddington.
4. For some unknown reason I immediately turn into a 13-year-old girl (squeeee!) when speaking with an author I admire.
And the most important thing of all?
5. At the end of the day the most important parts of any journey are the people you meet along the way. It was a thrill to finally come face to face with many of the authors I've supported online as well those who have mentored me over the years. Not to mention the joy of bringing new friends into the fold can not be beat.
I'm convinced that the most amazing experiences in life aren't planned. There have been times I've just been stumbling my way from day to day and have had opportunities present themselves that I simply can't pass up. Being invited to Maastricht to speak at their 2015 TED Conference was one of those times, and it was an absolute honor to be a part of this event Not only did I get to speak about a topic I am extremely passionate about, but I also got to share the stage with some of the most amazing people. Getting to know them was the highlight of the trip.
So here it is, my time on the big red dot. Thanks for listening and I hope you are inspired to find ways to incorporate kindness into your daily life.
In celebration of Friday's audio release of The Clay Lion, I sat down with the book's narrator, the AMAZING Lorelei King, to pick her brain about her career, my books, and travelling through time:
AMALIE: Six months ago I’d never listened to an audiobook. When I asked the librarian at my local library who the best audiobook narrator in the business was she replied “Lorelei King” without a moment’s hesitation. How’d you get started in the industry, and what do you think makes you one of the best?
LORELEI: Oh dear, I'm blushing that you call me 'one of the best' - there are so many talented narrators out there - but thank you! :)
Librarians are the best - I think more people should take advantage of their expertise. And of course I'm thrilled that your librarian recommended me. Such a lovely compliment!
In the same way that I kind of fell into my acting career, I fell into audio book narration. It was all about being in the right place at the right time with the right accent – but once I recorded that first book (which was a collection of short stories), I knew it was for me. It just felt right.
AMALIE: Well, since you popped up on my radar, I've listened to over a dozen of your narrations. Of all the characters I’ve heard you voice, Lula from the Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series is my favorite. Who’s been your favorite character to bring to life?
LORELEI: I think Lula is my favorite too! There is just something about that girl...
AMALIE: There is something about her, that's true!!! I can see how easy it would be to get into character for someone as ostentatious as Lulu, but you’ve done so many different characters over the years. How do you keep all the voices straight?
LORELEI: In a long-running series, it's surprisingly easy - the characters become like family. I also keep running cast lists with notes about the voices I've chosen for each character. Books that have (literally) a hundred or more characters can be a problem though - and I often find myself cheering when a character dies. 'Hurray! I can recycle that voice....'
AMALIE: So is there a character from a book or series you haven’t recorded that you’d like to try your hand at if given the opportunity?
LORELEI: The book I most regret not having had the chance to narrate is Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. Loved it - and it had an extraordinary cast of characters!
As for a series, I would love to record the Oz books - I think my favorite book in the series is The Patchwork Girl of Oz. In fact one of the (many!) things I love about The Clay Lion series is its homage to Oz.
AMALIE: Baum's characters and messages obviously hold a special place in my heart as well as you can tell from The Clay Lion Series. What was your favorite part about recording The Clay Lion?
LORELEI: Thinking myself into the mind of a young girl who loves her brother. As a not-so-young (cough) girl who is an only child, it was nice to be in that world for awhile.
AMALIE: Becoming someone else sounds a lot like acting and I'm sure it's true that a good audiobook narrator is also an actress of sorts. Do you think the time you’ve spent onscreen helps your audio work and vice versa?
LORELEI: Oh absolutely! I have a pretty solid background in radio drama and animation which has stood me in good stead, particularly if a book has a lot of dialogue. (It’s slightly different with non-fiction – you don’t ‘perform’ in quite the same way, but you still use an actor’s skills for pacing, intonation and so on.) And you can learn a lot from audio book narration about characterization - which in turn can help with in-vision and radio acting. But in the end, it's ALL acting. Audio book narration is just one part of the job – but it’s one of my favorite parts.
AMALIE: You asked me in your interview about travelling to the past. Now it's your turn… if you could go back in time to change one thing about your past, what would it be and why?
LORELEI: You know when someone insults you and you think of the perfect riposte three hours later? I would love to go back to one of those moments in my life, deliver my deliciously scathing retort IMMEDIATELY, then turn on my heel, flick my hair, and sashay back to the present.
AMALIE: That actually sounds like an amazing use for a trip! There have definitely been some times in my life when I thought of just the right thing to say... a week too late. But since we are both stuck right here in the present, what new, exciting projects do you have coming up?
LORELEI: I'm continuing to record the series of wonderful authors like Janet Evanovich, Darynda Jones (in fact I'm just about to go into studio to record a novella of hers written from Reyes' POV), Patricia Briggs - and now Amalie Jahn! - and I am also working on a couple of projects unrelated to audio books that have to stay secret for now. More news as we have it! :)
I recently recorded a video clip for a television website about my books. Here's the transcript as well as the video:
Hi. My name is Amalie Jahn and I’m so glad to have this opportunity to speak to you about my young adult time travel trilogy The Clay Lion series.
The first book in the series, The Clay Lion, is about a teenage girl, Brooke, whose brother dies of pulmonary fibrosis. She lives in an age when time travel has already been invented, and despite laws against it, she decides to break the cardinal rule of time travel… which is of course, never change the past, in order to try and save her brother’s life. Along the way she uncovers truths about love, loss, second chances, and ultimately the power each of us have in shaping our destinies.
The idea for writing a novel about time travel came to me in a dream, as have many of my best ideas over the years! My sister and I were superheros, capes and all, and we were traveling back and forth in time to prevent people from dying. When I woke up, I wrote down as much of the dream as I could remember and while I was jotting down notes, I started thinking about Lauren, a little girl in my daughter’s class, battling leukemia. I got to thinking how it would be for her sister Hailey if she should die and the seed for The Clay Lion was planted.
It gives me so much joy knowing that readers feel a sense of connection to Brooke’s journey. I think all of us have loved and lost, in our own lives, in our own ways. I’ve received many messages from people over the years sharing how the story has touched them in some way. The power of the written word can be so humbling.
Television too can be a powerful storytelling medium and I do enjoy watching my favorites in the evening with my family. We do have a bit of a battle sometimes - my husband enjoys a good hour long drama and I tend to enjoy half hour comedies!
What can I say, I love to laugh!
While I do enjoy The Walking Dead and American Horror Story, my favorites are shows like The Middle, The Goldbergs, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. A recent guilty pleasure happened to be Wayward Pines, which was of course adopted from the novels by Blake Crouch: Pines, Wayward, and The Last Town.
Perhaps one day The Clay Lion series will be adapted into film or screen. Until then readers can enjoy the novels in print or in audio, as the fabulous Lorelei King has recently recorded The Clay Lion for the world.
Sometimes the best things in life just sort of fall into your lap. That was the case when Creative Content acquired the audio rights for The Clay Lion Series. The best part about this partnership is that I haven't just gained business partners, I've made two amazing friends as well.
Here's the press release from the production company who will be producing all three books in the series:
"Creative Content, the specialist digital publishing company founded in 2008 by Ali Muirden and Lorelei King, has signed a 3-book deal with Amalie Jahn, author of the acclaimed YA "Clay Lion" trilogy, to publish audio editions of the series over the next 3 years.Published in 2013 and voted one of the "50 Best Self-Published Books of 2013" by IndieAuthorland, The Clay Lion was followed by Tin Men, the second time travel book in the Clay Lion series, which was released in July of 2014. The final instalment of the series, A Straw Man, will publish in June 2015.
The Plus Side listed The Clay Lion as One of the Best Kids' Books for Blossoming Bibliophiles. Bustle listed The Clay Lion as one of 13 New Books That'll Make You Feel Like a Kid Again and Tin Men was named One of the 50 Best Indie Books of 2014 by Readfreely.
Lorelei King said: "This project is wonderful example of the power of social media to bring content creators together. I was so please to have struck up a relationship with Amalie on Twitter and to have discovered her moving, inspiring series. I can't wait to get into the studio!"
Amalie Jahn said: "I'm thrilled to have Creative Content producing the series and am excited to share The Clay Lion with audio listeners in the coming months. As seasoned veterans of the industry, I know Ali and Lorelei are a perfect match for my series, and I'm looking forward to working closely with them to produce an amazing product."
The audio edition of "The Clay Lion" read by Lorelei King will be published this summer and will be available from all major online retailers.
For more information, contact Ali Muirden at email@example.com"
Many authors model their characters after people they know. And most authors who would tell you they don't are lying to you. My children were, quite indirectly, the inspiration for Brooke and Branson personalities. They are the children I am most familiar with so suffice it to say that more than a few of their character traits make an appearance in the book. There are others as well. I like to think that Charlie is a conglomeration of the best characteristics of a few of the boys I dated at Brooke’s age. His name, Charlie Johnson, I realized long after the book’s publication, was the name of my father’s barber when I was growing up. It’s funny what your brain stores away. If I’m being honest there’s also a lot of myself in the book – my beliefs and philosophies on life. You can’t take yourself out of your work. I don’t know that I would want to even if I could.Many authors model their characters after people they know. And most authors who would tell you they don't are lying to you. My children were, quite indirectly, the inspiration for Brooke and Branson personalities. They are the children I am most familiar with so suffice it to say that more than a few of their character traits make an appearance in the book. There are others as well. I like to think that Charlie is a conglomeration of the best characteristics of a few of the boys I dated at Brooke’s age. His name, Charlie Johnson, I realized long after the book’s publication, was the name of my father’s barber when I was growing up. It’s funny what your brain stores away. If I’m being honest there’s also a lot of myself in the book – my beliefs and philosophies on life. You can’t take yourself out of your work. I don’t know that I would want to even if I could.
When I began writing The Clay Lion I had an outline of the plot but didn’t know how I was going to end the story. It was as if I was going on vacation, map in hand, knowing only where I was starting out and a few places to stop off along the way. What I didn’t know, however, was where the ultimate destination was going to be. After the first few chapters I thought I knew where I was headed, but the more I got to know Brooke, the more she began taking over the direction of the story. Places I wanted to go were not necessarily the places Brooke wanted to take me, so instead of fighting her, I surrendered to her. At one point in the story, I was writing at the kitchen counter and my husband was baking brownies. I started crying and he asked me what in the world had set me off. I told him I was upset because I didn’t know that what I had just written was going to happen, which of course made me sound as though I’d officially gone off the deep end. “If you’re the one writing the book, how do you not know what’s about to happen?” he asked. “I didn’t do it,” I replied. “Brooke did.” And that’s how it was for the remainder of the manuscript. Brooke was in control. I just wrote what she told me.
I spend a lot of time here talking about my own books, but I thought today I'd spend some time talking about some of the books I love to read. Here's a list of some of my recent favorites:
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
These books are constantly at the top of the YA time travel chart with The Clay Lion so I decided to read them to find out why. All I can say is leave your sensibilities at the door and just dive in head first to this crazy world. So very good. Looking forward to book 3 next year!
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
I'm a huge fan of her YA stuff, but Landline is about an adult marriage and as a middle aged woman I could totally relate to so much of this book. Again, the supernatural "landline" connection to the past definitely spoke to me.
Matched by Ally Condie
Fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent Series will enjoy this book, with its own twist on the love triangle / dystopian world. Definitely worth a read.
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
I'm a huge John Green fan and I cried along with everyone else (and Hazel Grace) at the end of The Fault in Our Stars, but I especially enjoyed the male POV and that the main character grew by the end of the book.
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
This is a long-time favorite and every time I reread it I love it even more. A perfect homage to what it means to be a teenager.
Writing is my passion. So is eating baked goods. I'll keep you posted on what I'm up to next with the writing, not the cookies.