Author Interview - JAN ELDREDGE
Today on the Witch Haunt, please welcome middle grade author, JAN ELDREDGE! *wild applause* I’ve known Jan for several years through SCBWI (Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators), a non-profit organization for kid lit writers for which I served as co-Regional Advisor in Florida for several years. Jan is an amazing talent! Her new book, EVANGELINE OF THE BAYOU, a middle grade fantasy set in the Louisiana bayou, stars a Swamp Witch apprentice studying the ways of folk magic and superstition until she and her grandmother encounter a monster that's been after her family for generations.
WH: Hey, Jan! Please give us a brief introduction of your fabulous self:
Hi, Gaby. Hi, Witch Haunt readers.
I’m Jan Eldredge. I was born in New Orleans and grew up in Louisiana where belief in the supernatural runs deep, and where strange occurrences are a natural phenomenon. I now live in sunny Central Florida. As the saying goes, you can take the girl out of the south, but you can’t take the south out of the girl. This probably explains why the stories I write always involve witches, ghosts, demons, werewolves, or some other such eldritch creature.
WH: We are kindred spirits, Jan. And I love your use of the word “eldritch,” which matches your last name. What other career would you have if not writing/publishing?
If I weren’t spending my days toiling away as a writer of spooky fiction, I’d probably be employed in some sort of photography-related job. I actually worked as a Disney World photographer for a short while, and I’ve done other freelance photo work over the years.
WH: Jan photographs the SCBWI conference held twice a year in Miami and Orlando, so I can attest to her photog talents as well. What is your writing process like?
My writing process always starts out as a hot mess. I hope to get better organized one of these days, but for now, my stories begin as a series of notes and ideas scattered throughout spiral notebooks, index cards, my laptop, and across the whiteboard in my home office. From the chaos, I create an outline, and then I get down to wrestling a rough draft out of my brain and onto the pages. I go into the writing, accepting that the outline is a flexible thing, and if the story and characters begin heading in another direction, that’s okay. I follow along after them and then make adjustments to the outline as I go.
WH: It’s okay to be a hot mess. It has worked for many a bestselling author. You know dessert is big in my heart, especially these days, since I can’t have any. So, what’s your favorite dessert?
Chocolate doberge cake from Gambino’s bakery in New Orleans is my dream dessert. It is absolutely divine, the kind of cake you take a bite of and then close your eyes and savor the experience. But since I live in Florida, sadly it’s a rare treat.
WH: I feel a road trip coming up, Jan. When are we going to New Orleans? :) So, which of your written works are you most proud of?
I’m particularly proud of my newly-released middle grade novel, EVANGELINE OF THE BAYOU (HarperCollins Balzer + Bray). It’s not the first novel I’ve written, but it’s the first one to get traditionally published. It landed me offers of representation from seven agents and went on to sell at auction between six major publishers. It’s the kind of book I enjoy reading, filled with monsters, mystery, and adventure. It’s a story that I believe will not only appeal to kids, but to grownups too.
WH: That’s amazing. I can’t wait to get my autographed copy from you, Jan. If you could interview any horror author, gone or alive, who would it be?
I would interview Yrsa Sigurdardottir, the author of I REMEMBER YOU: A GHOST STORY, and I would ask her how she did it. How did she invoke such fear in me as I read this book? At one point during a late night reading, I actually had to put the book down because the tension and creepiness had grown so intense I needed to take a moment to de-stress.
WH: That’s what a good author does, invokes emotion from the reader. Sounds like Yrsa did her job. How do you like your coffee? Do you have a favorite libation?
I’m not a coffee drinker, but I do drink a lot of tea, particularly Starbucks green iced tea, no sugar, no water, and for “Jan,” though the cup often comes back with “Jane” written on the label, which is fine with me because I really like the name, Jane.
WH: LOL. I love how you’re good with whatever people want to call you. Jane? Sure. Eldritch? Why not, I’m easy. Alright, I know the answer to this question, but I’m going to ask anyway. What’s your favorite Halloween tradition?
Halloween night at my house! We have a party and invite friends to dress in scary costumes, come over, and essentially put on a show. We go all out, transforming our side yard into a creepy graveyard with spooky characters, tombstones, fog, blue and green lights, scary music, and a silent grim reaper (my six-foot-tall son) handing out candy to terrified children. We recently added an air canon which brought great joy to my heart every time I set it off and caused one of our adult visitors to scream and jump. Last year we had over a thousand trick-or-treaters. It’s my dream to see that number increase every year.
WH: I watch this spectacle on Facebook every year and hope I can make it to your house on Halloween one of these days. What is the witchiest thing about you (we’re all a little witchy)?
I love witchy things. I’m just drawn to them, and always have been. It’s the costume I’ve worn every Halloween (except for that one time my mom made me wear a dumb pirate costume). As a kid, I was mesmerized not by Disney princesses, but by Disney villainesses, particularly Snow White’s evil step-mother, as well as Maleficent. I think part of me wanted to be like them, to possess their confidence, independence, and power.
WH: You do possess it. You know you do. Because you’re witchy. ;) Who would be your favorite Addams Family character?
I adore Anjelica Huston’s Morticia Addams. She’s so tall and beautiful and mysterious, and she lives in the coolest house.
WH: And she has Raul Julia for a movie husband. I mean, hello. What was the biggest challenge writing EVANGELINE OF THE BAYOU?
I spent a lot of time researching spells, potions, superstitions, mythical creatures, and the obscure trivia that Julian often spouts. I wanted to make sure the details of the story were as accurate as they could be.
WH: Sounds like fun work to me. Don’t you just love your job? What is the most awesome thing happening in your life right now that you’d like to share with us?
Experiencing the wonder and excitement of having my first published novel launched into the world is totally awesome. It’s also a bit terrifying, but it’s an absolute dream come true. Other life-awesomeness includes having the audio book version of EVANGELINE narrated by voice actress Tara Sands, the voice of Pokemon’s Bulbasaur. I’m looking forward to the book being published in Turkey where it will be translated into Turkish. It will also be released in the UK by Scholastic UK this October under the title, WITCH GIRL. I’ve been told the cover will incorporate foil in the artwork, and that is definitely awesome.
WH: I’m so proud of you! What’s next for you? We can’t wait to see what you have coming up!
I’m currently working on two books for my fabulous editor, Alessandra Balzer. One is the sequel to EVANGELINE OF THE BAYOU; the other is a very spooky, gothic middle grade about four kids who get locked in a creepy, ghostly graveyard overnight. I’m very excited about both of them.
I wish I would’ve had an author like Jane Eldritch when I was growing up. :) I would’ve read all her books and begged for more. Thank you, Jan, for being with me today. Good luck on all your endeavors! To follow Jan, visit the links below:
* Latest release:
Jan Eldredge was born and raised in the swampy state of Louisiana where as a child she would often sneak into her older brother’s room to read through his numerous monster magazines and scary comic books, and where she would also gaze at his collection of classic movie monster models like the Wolfman, Frankenstein’s Monster, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. In addition to her interest in cats, magic, and assorted eldritch things that go bump in the night, she enjoys researching bizarre superstitions, exploring old cemeteries, and visiting assorted theme parks. Halloween is her favorite holiday, but that probably goes without saying. Jan now lives in the swampy state of Florida with her wonderful husband, three pleasant children, and four devious cats, in a house that just might be haunted.
Jan Eldredge writes spooky middle grade stories. Sometimes people mistakenly address her as Jan Eldritch, which is quite fine with her since eldritch is her favorite word. (Eldritch- adjective eerie; ghostly; supernatural; unearthly.)
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🔮 GABY TRIANA ☠️