If you follow some bookstagram accounts, booktube channels or literary blogs, you certainly know that Wunderkids Blog Tour is on from October 1st to October 25th. Today, the tour stops on Alyttérature, so it’s time to discover Jacqueline Silvester, the author of the series. To do so, I thought that it would be great to organize an interview so we can learn more about the author, her writing and her book. But first of all, here is the synopsis of the book so you can discover its genre and what the story is about :
15-year-old Nikka is invited to attend Wildwood Academy, a prestigious but secret boarding school for talented youth located deep in the Californian mountains. Once there, Nikka quickly falls in love with her bizarre classes, the jaw-dropping scenery and… two very different boys.
However, Wildwood Academy has a dark and twisted secret, one that could cost Nikka the one thing she had never imagined she could lose, the one thing that money can’t buy. It is this very thing that Wildwood Academy was created to steal.
Nikka can stay and lose everything, or she can risk death and run.
Can you tell us more about where you find your inspiration?
I find inspiration in all sorts of places, but mainly from my own life. I moved around a lot growing up and I amassed a large mental library of people and places, therefore ideas for characters and locations come easily to me (knock on wood.) For plot ideas I get very inspired by folklore, mythology, current events (especially with all the recent madness,) people watching, documentaries, movies, TV shows, books, and strange science facts.
Displacement is a big theme in your book, as well as not having a home and not feeling safe. Did it help you personally to write about these themes?
Yes it did help! There is a lot of catharsis in basing your plot on events that occurred in your own life. It did help me to write some of it down and to weave in some themes from my own life and childhood into the story. Currently, I’m writing another YA novel that is inspired by a difficult year I had in my teens, where I lived alone in Los Angeles at 15. I’m finding writing this novel to be very therapeutic, and writing all of those thoughts and experiences down has helped me to let go of some of the lingering hurt.
Another big theme in your book is mental health. Why is it so important for you to write about it?
I did a whole post on this tour with Enchantedlittleme about why I think mental health matters in YA. And I’ve also opened up on this tour on Charlottesomewhere about my own PTSD and mental health issues. I think it’s really important to normalize mental health issues in books so that readers can see characters going through some of the same issues that they are facing. It’s also important to highlight the importance of mental health to teens in general.
We know that each part of your series takes place in a different country. Did your own experience of immigration influence this choice?
It most definitely did! I wanted my heroine Nikka to have those same feelings of displacement that I struggled with throughout immigration. And I wanted to explore how the notion of ‘home’ shapes our identity. However, the countries used in the books are not tied with my life (aside from Wildwood/U.S.) The second book takes place partially in Mexico, and the third in Iceland. Mexico was a logical choice because of the way the plot progressed. Iceland was chosen for various reasons but also just because I love it and dream of visiting there someday.
Is there a character in your book to whom you can relate because you gave him/her some of your own personality characteristics?
I relate a little bit to all of them (probably more to Nikka and Sums than the rest) but I hear time and time again from my readers that they think Nikka is based on me. Even though there are some small similarities, I like to think that Nikka is a much better version of myself, and her biggest attributes (loyalty, bravery, honesty) are very to different to my biggest attributes. I wouldn’t really venture as far as to say that she is based on me, maybe her life is, but not her personality or appearance.
Nonetheless, readers compare us a lot and some are even convinced that I’m the one on the cover, which is hilarious because I’ve only met the artist via email and there is no way she could have based the illustration on me.
A huge thank you to Jacqueline for answering my questions and giving me the opportunity to be a part of this blog tour. It was a great pleasure to know more about you and your series. This is definitely one which deserves to be read! If you want to read Wunderkids, you can find it on Amazon! And if you want to follow the blog tour, here are the bloggers who take part in and their dates.