I loved Delaney Green’s “Jem: A Girl of London” and “Jem: A Fugitive from London” so much I decided I would like to ask the author some questions, and she agreed! Here we go…

 

Hello Delaney, how would you introduce yourself?

First of all, Bjørn, thank you for this invitation.

I write whatever story comes, which means I’m not married to any particular genre, although I lean toward speculative fiction. I worked as a newspaper reporter, a copy editor, a professional actress, a Broadway theater, concessions manager, a high school English teacher, an adjunct professor, and a farm laborer. I am the mother of a soon-to-graduate-from-college son majoring in computer programming. I am a good cook, and I am known for my home-baked cookies, cakes, bars, and pies. I really, really love visual art, especially sculpture, both looking at it and making it myself.

My ancestry is English, Norwegian, Swedish, and Swiss in equal measure. The farthest-back ancestor I can find is Aviet, who was born circa 1070 in England. One English ancestor in the late thirteenth century may have murdered a neighbor to acquire land for his sons; that’s a story I may write one day.

One thing you would learn about me if we started talking is that pretty much anything you say will prompt a story about something crazy that happened to me.

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I taught myself to read when I was four years old. This is neither an exaggeration nor a joke. I was one of those kids who wanted one out of three books (very short ones, but still) read every single evening over and over and over again. Eventually, my grandparents and mom had enough and told me “you memorised all those books by now”. They were correct. I was smart enough to notice there was a connection between the written words and the ones my mom said out loud. I became a minor sensation in the neighbourhood, but I had no interest in fame and fortune. I just wanted to read, and once I was done with my three kids’ books I found out that there were hundreds of books in our house.

I started plundering through the adult library without anybody really noticing – how would a 4-year-old manage to read science-fiction or blood-dripping thrillers? In the beginning, the answer was “slowly”. When I got to school and we had to learn each letter separately, then read sentences along the lines of “Anna has a cat” I couldn’t figure out what all that was about. I decided that probably we had to memorise the texts, because otherwise what was the point? Once I memorised the two lines that were our homework, I went back to my Kir Bulychov books.

I remember being seven or eight, reading a book that had a sex scene of some sort in it, and being bewildered as to why someone would want to do ewww-y things like this – or even write about them. Hello? SENTIENT ROBOTS! Stop the stupid thing and tell me more about the murderous robots! Nobody noticed I went through my stepfather’s entire collection of thrillers, horrors, crime stories before turning 10. But then what books were suitable for my age back in the 1980s? Dumb ones, I decided, then went back to Stephen King.

Around the age of 13, I discovered the local library had THOUSANDS of books available. It was free, and you could borrow six books per person, or per library card. I got three cards – for my mom, my brother, and myself. That gave us a total of 18 books. Every month I would borrow 15 books for myself, three for my mom, and, er, my brother liked football. I didn’t go by genre, I went alphabetically section per section without paying much attention to the genre. I ate those books. Once I discovered Julio Cortazár’s Hopscotch I went to the librarian and asked innocently what would happen if someone, theoretically, of course, lost a book. The librarian somehow guessed that someone would be me and told me the person would immediately lose their access to the library.

What kind of hateful monster! (The book was, of course, out of print.)

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Confession: I have a Scottish fetish. To be more precise, it’s Scottish accent/dialect fetish. I need subtitles to understand what, say, Sharleen Spiteri says in interviews, but damn, does she sound amazing! When I found out Outlander, the TV series, existed I just had to jump in. Scots! Kilts! Someone called Jamie that apparently is worth watching!

I managed three episodes. I think the first moment when I winced in second-hand embarrassment was when Claire consumed a mug of broth as her only meal for the day, then refused breakfast. In the next scene she brought Jamie a nice picnic basket. While I understand that Claire is magical, since she travelled back in time… oops… spoiler alert… I was not prepared to see her magicking a lunch basket out of thin air. Scottish accent or not, my writer’s mind kept screaming “this makes no sense!!!”.

The second and last bit that made me facepalm so hard I gave myself a bruise was Claire’s excellent plan to become the best doctor she possibly could in order to prove to the Scots they should get rid of her as soon as possible. I would compare this to a mouse going to hang out with a cat in order to prove that cats don’t eat mice. It actually made me yell at the screen the same way I used to when watching True Blood and yelled “y u so dumb Jason Stackhouse!!!” I couldn’t go on after that.

None of those things happen in the book. Claire is more or less forced to become a doctor, and she’s just doing her thing while waiting for a good moment to escape. The lunch basket is explained in one sentence – she goes to the kitchen and asks if she could get some lunch for Jamie. I don’t see how magical baskets and amazingly stupid plans improve the story, but hey, I only managed three episodes. There’s a good chance she hit herself on the head as I blinked, or something.

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