Friday, March 21, 2014

LIVE from…Kilbirnie, Wellington!

KILBIRNIE, WELLINGTON—When she was just eight years old, Juliet Jacka knew what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. She wanted to be a writer. "Reading was magical," she explained to the crowd gathered earlier this week to celebrate the launch of her new book. As a kid, every time Juliet tucked into one of Margaret Mahy's novels, she was inspired to pursue her dream to one day publish a book of her own.
Author Juliet Jacka at her book launch

But somewhere along the way, adult sensibilities kicked in. As Juliet put it, she "got distracted by all the wrong things." She went to university, she traveled, she got married and had a family. Deep down, although Juliet still harbored that old dream to be a writer, she had three things on her mind that felt, at the time, like insurmountable obstacles: For one, she said, "Writing stories is hard, let alone a whole book." Second, she wasn't sure her imagination was up to the task of creating what she needed to create. And finally, she knew the publishing industry had fallen on hard times. "Nobody gets published," Juliet reminded herself over the years. How would she ever make it, Juliet wondered.

Still though, a voice in her mind kept telling her to go ahead and just do it: "Whenever I sat down and read a book…I'd feel the whisper and pull of all those beautiful words. And this insistent tap on my shoulder. This voice saying I want to do that. I want to be that."

One day, shortly after the birth of her first daughter, Juliet spoke by phone to her aunt Fleur Beale, one of New Zealand's most famous authors of children's literature.

"I'm bored," Juliet admitted to her aunt.

"Then it's time to start writing," Fleur told Juliet.

So that's just what Juliet did. She began writing. And she didn't exactly stop, either. Juliet's first daughter was born in April of 2010. By September, she'd begun writing. By October (yes, the same October), she'd entered her first children's novel into the annual Tom Fitzgibbon Award. The novel was called "The Keeper of Spirit Hill" and it was shortlisted for the 2011 award. In December of 2011, her second daughter was born, and once again, Juliet started writing. By that October, she'd submitted her new novel to the same contest. That novel is called "Night of the Perigee Moon" and it was the winning title for the 2013 Tom Fitzgibbon Award. And if that wasn't enough, her first novel was shortlisted once again too!

"Dreams really do come true!" 
Juliet took advantage of 'stolen moments' to follow her dream to write and publish. She wrote in cars, on park benches, and in bed at night. Like Tilly, the main character in "Night of the Perigee Moon," Juliet said she had to figure out "that you have to push past the distractions and when you do, you can transform yourself into anything you want to be."

On Wednesday night, after four years of working toward her dream, Juliet Jacka launched "Night of the Perigee Moon" at The Children's Bookshop in Kilbirnie, Wellington, New Zealand. She was flanked by an "army of supporters" as she put it—her literati family, her incredibly talented illustrator, Scholastic who published her, representatives from Tom Fitzgibbon, and those of us who'd gathered, by this point in her speech, to hang on every word she spoke about following dreams.

"If you’re like me," Juliet said in closing, "and you’ve been feeling an itch or a tap on your shoulder to do or try something, but you’ve been ignoring it—try a Tilly on for size, and push past the distractions. Turn around and give that itch or nudge a good shove back. It’s amazing where it can lead."

"Night of the Perigee Moon," Juliet Jacka's first published book, was launched last night at The Children's Bookshop in Kilbirnie, Wellington. It's available for purchase at The Children's BookshopFishpond, and Wheelers. For international delivery of the book, shop at Mighty Ape.

"LIVE from Mongolia" is the true story of what can happen when you pursue a lifelong dream. It's available on Amazon (hardcover and Kindle), Barnes & Noble, and in international bookstores. Join us here at "LIVE from Mongolia" for our weekly series about people around the world who are following their wildest dreams. 

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