I’ve been reading more and more middlegrade/children’s fiction novels by Aussie authors over the past few years – as my daughter grows our reading tastes seem to be coming closer to each other and this year it’s the category I’m judging for the Aurealis Awards. There are soooo many amazing Aussie kids books and authors – literally someone for every reader to love – and one of my favourite series for kids who love adventure books is Jeremy Lachlan’s Jane Doe Chronicles. Today I’m lucky enough to have Jeremy as a guest here on my blog, chatting about his books and reading and summer. Read on for our chat, and make sure you check out the info at the bottom of the post to learn a bit more about Jeremy and read the blurbs of his books.
Hey Jeremy! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me today! I love your Jane Doe Chronicles – there are two books published in the series so far, and another one on the way next year (I’m so excited – more about that one below!). Can you please tell us a bit about the series and what inspired you to write it?
First of all, thanks so much! The first duology (Cradle of All Worlds and Key of All Souls) is about a young carer, Jane Doe, who has to journey through a dangerous, infinite labyrinth between worlds called the Manor to rescue her dad, who has disappeared inside. And she has to find him quickly, because someone else has found their way into this place-between-places. Roth, an immortal villain from an Otherworld, is searching for the Cradle Sea, the mythical core of the Manor itself. If unleashed, the nefarious Sea has the power to destroy entire worlds, and – somehow – Jane’s father holds the key to finding it.
I came up with the idea for the series while lost in the Cairo Museum, waaaay back in 2007. I’ve always loved otherworldly tales, but the in-between places in these stories – the passage through which heroes journey to different worlds – are often a means to an end; skipped through in a chapter or less. I was immediately taken by the idea of setting an entire adventure – or a very large portion of one – inside a deadly, booby-trapped-filled labyrinth between worlds. My tiny brain exploded with possibilities, and I very quickly realised this was my chance to write a love letter to adventure, and fill it with all of my favourite things (like shifting rooms and booby traps, carnivorous forests, monsters and runaway trains).
Do you like to read seasonal books and do you have a favourite Christmas or summer book or story?
I’ve never been a seasonal reader, come to think of it. Should I be?? I absolutely ADORED Mog’s Christmas, by Judith Kerr, when I was a kid, but I’m not sure I’ve read a Christmas-themed book since. Okay, now I’m second-guessing all my life choices.
To be honest, I don’t read that much while I’m writing, drafting and editing. I become too consumed by my own story to really focus on someone else’s book. So, at the end of the year, I like to catch up on a few I’ve been meaning to read for a while – usually from author friends – but also dive into a good crime thriller or two. Something fast-paced and exciting.
Is there a particular book you’d love to find under your Christmas tree this year?
Cormac McCarthy’s latest book, The Passenger. It’s the first in a duology, and it’s been a while since I’ve read him.
Do you have a favourite book (or books!) you’ve read this year that you’ll be recommending (or giving as a Christmas present!) to everyone you know?
I’ve been championing Sarah Winman’s utterly magnificent book, Still Life, to anyone who’ll listen, ever since I finished it last summer. My god, it’s so beautiful *wipes tear*
I also recently started Nova Weetman’s latest middle-grade novel, The Jammer, which is a really touching, heartfelt exploration of grief and self-discovery.
Here in Australia at Christmas time summer is just getting started. Do you enjoy summer, and what is your favourite thing about it?
I loooove summer. Absolutely. I’m very much a warm-weather kinda guy. The heat, the mangoes, the fresh cherries and white peaches. The scent of coconut sunscreen. Heading out for a swim or lounging on the couch playing Nintendo with the balcony door wide open and a warm breeze flowing through. Thunderstorms and the electric smell of summer rain. HOOK IT ALL TO MY VEEEEEIIIIINNNSS. I even write better when it’s hot and sunny out.
Do you like to plan a summer reading list? I’d love if you could please share three (or more if you can’t cut it down!) books on your summer holiday tbr.
First up for me is Less is Lost, by Andrew Sean Greer, the sequel to his Pulitzer-prize winner, Less, which immediately became an all-time fave of mine in 2019. Coincidentally, Andrew ended up presenting me with my ABIA that year, and when I got on stage to accept the award I just started gushing about how much I loved his book. He had to stop me and remind me that I had to give a speech now, haha. I may re-read Less before diving into that one, too.
I also want to finally read Dhonielle Clayton’s magical middle-grade book, The Marvellers, which has been sitting on my TBR pile for far too long now. I might also fit in a crime thriller by Dervla McTiernan
Finally, as we mentioned above, Jane Doe and the Quill of All Tales is coming in March 2023. Can you tell us a bit about this next instalment in the Jane Doe Chronicles, and maybe your favourite thing about it?
I can’t wait to share this book with everyone! Quill of All Tales takes place a year after Key of All Souls, and is the start of a brand-new adventure for Jane and her pals. An epic new duology. Jane’s back on Bluehaven, trying to lead a normal life, but not really succeeding. Everyone on Bluehaven treats her like a god now, a true hero. She hates it, though, and her connection to the Manor is starting to scare her. But when she learns she’s the rightful heir to a powerful, long-lost relic, she has to cast those fears aside and journey to the dangerous jungles of Vahru, a brand new Otherworld we haven’t seen before, to find it. The relic – called the Phantom Quill – is said to grant visions of the future. In the right hands, it’s a tool for good. In the wrong, it’s a weapon of chaos. And a power-hungry cult is already hot on its trail. There are more booby traps, more ancient cities, there are giant mushrooms, quicksand pits, sabre-tooth tigers and DINOSAURS, and I think it’s Jane’s best adventure yet.
My favourite thing about writing it (apart from the dinosaurs, of course) was getting to spend some quality time with these characters again – this rag-tag bunch of heroes and weirdos I adore so much. I really put ’em through their paces in this one, so I hope they forgive me someday. For now, it’s back to writing book 4 …
Gosh I love that cover – doesn’t it look stunning? I honestly can’t wait to read this one! Huge thanks to Jeremy for taking the time to answer my questions – I always love getting a peek into a writer’s process, and obviously I also love getting more book recommendations.
You can keep up with the latest from Jeremy on his website here, and I also recommend checking out his Instagram account here, where he regulary shares behind the scenes stuff and is just generally charming! If you haven’t read The Jane Doe Chronicles, or you have an adventure-loving book worm in your life, I absolutely recommend picking these up so that you’re ready for Quill of All Tales in March 2023!
About the author
Best-selling author Jeremy Lachlan was born and raised on Wiradjuri country, in Griffith, New South Wales. His debut novel, Jane Doe and the Cradle of All Worlds, has been published in over 15 countries around the world, translated into nine languages, and was the 2019 Australian Book Industry Award winner for Book of the Year for Older Children. Its second part, Jane Doe and the Key of All Souls, was shortlisted for the same award in 2021. His latest book, Jane Doe and the Quill of All Tales, hits shelves in March 2023. A former bookseller, he now calls Sydney home.
Jane Doe and the Cradle of All Worlds
When a quake strikes the island of Bluehaven and her father disappears, Jane Doe is thrown headfirst into an epic quest to bring him home.
But this is no ordinary rescue mission. Jane’s father is lost in a dangerous labyrinth between the worlds, and she isn’t the only one desperate to find him. A great evil has invaded this sacred realm: a man with an army, and a nefarious plan of his own …
DON’T LOOK BACK.
FORWARD IS THE ONLY WAY.
Jane Doe and the Key of All Souls
Jane Doe is in more danger than ever before. Stranded in a dying land, she’s discovered she’s the key to claiming the mythical Cradle Sea and saving the Otherworlds.
Now, with a little help from her pals, Violet and Hickory, Jane must find a way back to the Manor and face her darkest fears. Because her father is still missing. Roth’s army is closing in. And every soul in every world hangs in the balance …
A DYING WORLD.
A DANGEROUS QUEST.
A RACE TO SAVE ALL SOULS.
Jane Doe and the Quill of All Tales
Jane Doe is no ordinary girl. A child of three ancient gods, she can control the Manor, a sacred realm between worlds. Lately, though, it seems the Manor’s been controlling her – and she’s terrified of what that could mean.
But when Jane discovers she’s the rightful heir to a powerful, long-lost relic, she must cast her fears aside and journey through the Manor to find it. The relic – the Phantom Quill – is said to grant visions of every future in every world. In the right hands, a tool for good. In the wrong hands, a weapon of chaos. And a dangerous cult is already hot on its trail …
HEED THE CALL.
WALK THE PATH.
A NEW ADVENTURE DAWNS.