Welcome to the Last List Blog Hop, celebrating and promoting Egmont MG and YA authors! As many readers already know, Egmont Publishing is closing its doors, and this is sad news for its authors. Cuddlebuggery is hosting a blog hop to promote and showcase these Egmont authors, and here you find the stop for Middle Grade authors of The Jaguar Stones, J&P Voelkel. The Lost City is the conclusion to this epic series of adventure, travel, and intrigue!
(You’ll have the chance to enter to win ONE Signed set of the Jaguar Stones series!)
From Goodreads: The epic conclusion to the exciting Jaguar Stones series and a rip-roaring adventure into the heart of America!
With his parents in jail and the Maya Death Lords in possession of all five Jaguar Stones, fourteen-year-old Max Murphy is pretty sure that he’ll never get to leave the rainforest.
But the Lords of Death have a problem–a new king calling himself Great Sun claims to have the Jaguar Stones, too. And they want Max to prove the guy’s a fraud. Or else.
Now, Max, and Lola, the mysterious girl who befriends him, are off on another wild adventure that will take them from Central America to New Orleans and up the Mississippi to the lost city at the heart of America’s past.
But one thing Max should have learned after all of this dealings with the Death Lords — they never keep their promises.
Since their books are filled with adventures to exotic places, I asked J&P Voelkel to answer questions related to TRAVEL, bookish & otherwise!
The Jaguar Stones books are filled with thrilling adventures and journeys in amazing and exotic locations! Can you tell us about any books in your reading history that inspired your love of adventures and travel in books? Childhood reading or adult reading?
Actually, neither of us were big adventure fans when we were kids. Jon grew up in the wilds of South America and dreamed of living in a city and playing a rock n roll band. (An ambition he eventually achieved.) But reading James Michener’s The Drifters in college did inspire him to travel through Europe like the characters in the book. When Pamela was growing up, she preferred city books too – like the Ballet Shoes series or books set in boarding schools. The book that opened her eyes to the possibilities of adventure was The Wanderer (originally published in French as Le Grand Meaulnes) by Alain-Fournier.
What about your own real-life travel? How has that inspired the writing of your books?
When we first moved to the US from England, we took our kids on a road trip to show them around. We stopped at all the great landmarks such as Mount Rushmore, Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, and Graceland. That trip is replicated in The Lost City by the Maya Death Lords! One place we wished we’d included on our trip, had we known it existed, was the inspiration for The Lost City – the pre-Columbian settlement of Cahokia, just outside Saint Louis. Like the Maya, the Cahokians built monumental pyramids; over eighty mounds are still standing – the largest bigger than the Great Pyramid in Egypt. When we finally visited Cahokia a couple of years ago, we couldn’t believe our eyes. Closer to our new home in Vermont is another hallowed ground: Fenway Park. This is the site of the final showdown between the good guys and the Maya Death Lords, and we can promise you’ve never watched a game like it. We didn’t know anything about baseball before we researched The Lost City; now we’re huge Red Sox fans!
We always want to know how your writing is influenced by your travel, but are there any ways your travel has been influenced by your writing?
New Orleans plays an important role in The Lost City and, although we stopped by on that first road trip, we got to know it through visiting on book tours. Indeed, Judith Lafitte and Tom Lowenburg of a Octavia Books helped us scout locations for scenes. Of course, traveling for research is different to vacation travel.You have to be bolder, connect more with people, talk to strangers, go further off the beaten path, grab spontaneous opportunities.
It also sometimes involves eating things like fried grasshoppers and toasted wasp larvae.
What book projects are in the future for you? Anything you are working on now?
We’re excited about our new project, but it’s become a kind of superstition not to talk about work in progress until we have a decent first draft. Sometimes you can talk an idea out of existence.
What about future travels you have planned?
Starting next week, we begin a month of store events and school visits to promote The Lost City. We’ll start in our home town in Vermont, before heading for the Tucson Festival of Books and on to California, Texas and Iowa.
We’ll also be taking a week to follow the route of the voyage in The Lost City from New Orleans up the Mississippi River to Cahokia.
You can find a full list of bookstores and events en route on our website at www.jaguarstones.com
Are there any places you haven’t traveled yet that you want to visit?
Jon would like to see the ruins of Angkor Wat in Cambodia; Pamela would like to visit Alaska and Argentina.
What advice would you give to readers who are new to traveling, but want to start to “go” places?
With all the great fares and review sites on the internet, it’s never been easier. Just travel light and take an open mind. If anyone wants advice on visiting Maya regions, they can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
What are some of your favorite books that inspire a love of travel that you would recommend?
Some of our favorite travel books are actually fiction but have a strong sense of place – such as A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway or One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. One of the best travel books ever written is Venice by Jan Morris. It’s part memoir, part history, part tourist guide, and as beguiling as Venice herself.
Anything else you would like to share about this last book in the series or related to your past or future travels?
Central America, Spain, Venice, New Orleans, Mississippi, Cahokia, Boston – the places in the Jaguar Stones series are the places in our hearts. We’ve been incredibly lucky to visit them all and we hope we manage to convey what makes them special.
Above all, we hope our books span continents and centuries and cultures to show our young readers that people everywhere are very different and not so different at all.
What a fabulous peek into Egmont Authors, J&P Voelkel! And what wonderful travel advice they’ve given. If you aren’t familiar with the Jaguar Stones books, now is your time to seek them out. (Hint: Enter the giveaway below!) You might want to consider booking a flight to Central America or Egypt at the same time. And remember, you can email the authors for tips about visiting the Maya regions! Let’s continue to show these Egmont authors our support and encouragement!
Author Bio: Jon and Pamela (J&P) Voelkel are the author-illustrators of the Jaguar Stones series; Pamela does most of the writing and Jon does most of the illustrating. Their books tell the story of a city boy and a jungle girl – a mirror image of Jon’s wild childhood in Latin America and Pamela’s altogether tamer upbringing in an English seaside town. The Voelkels met in London, where they both worked at the same advertising agency, and now live in Vermont.
To research the Jaguar Stones, they and their three adventure-loving children have explored over forty Maya sites in Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico; canoed down underground rivers; tracked howler monkeys in the jungle; and learned to make tortillas on an open fire. Jon’s most frightening experience was being lost in a pitch-black labyrinth under a Maya pyramid. Pamela’s most frightening experience was being interviewed by Al Roker on Today.
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