inspired by Old London, this paranormal tale has many sequels on the way
Many Chippewa Valley authors tackle the more poignant aspects of Midwestern living, but for Delaney Green, author of the recently self-published novel Jem: A Girl of London, things are a bit more … thrilling.
With 18th century London as the backdrop, the story follows a young orphan, Jenna Connolly, who tries to stay out of the workhouse, off the streets, and to shake the dark visions she’s been having since her father died.
The visions, which take the form of hearing animals’ thoughts, or being able to see what diseases lurk inside a stranger’s body. She disguises herself as a boy named Jem and soon realizes there’s more than these visions she needs to escape from.
Green, a retired Eau Claire Memorial High School teacher, knew that even though the story contains some fantasy and science fiction elements, she needed to make her depiction of 18th century London believable. To do this, she turned to research.
“I spent at least half my project time researching. I bought tons of books. Arguably, my most useful was a book of maps of Old London. I need to see where my characters walk,” she said. “In fact, I’ll be presenting a session on using maps at the Historical Novel Society’s national convention in June, complete with pictures of some of the pages I went back to time and again.”
The locations, characters, and events are described vividly: The smells of the apothecary shop and the dialects of the city’s inhabitants leap from the pages. It’s easy to get lost in Green’s story, leaving one to wonder just where exactly all these ideas came from.
“What sparked Jem’s story was a classroom discussion about the American War of Independence. I asked my students to discuss whether the war might have been averted if Britain and America had gotten along better. Out of that conversation Jem was born, although her story goes in a different direction from the one inspired by my students because Jem insisted I write her story the way she wanted it told,” Green said. “She’s not done talking yet.”
Jem: A Girl of London is a fast-paced and exciting read. It’s pretty dark at times and takes on some heavier subjects, but in a time where good stories are never too far out of reach, Green succeeds in providing fans of the genre with something new. And oh yeah, those who enjoy Jem’s first adventure can expect more – to the tune of several sequels – soon.
“I am wrapping Jem, a Fugitive from London, which I’ll hand over to my editor next month. There will be five more books in Jem’s story. Yes, I know how they will go, and I know where Jem ends up and with whom,” Green said. “As I said, this story came in loud and clear and strong. If I could write 20 hours a day, I would, but my eyes start to go buggy after I’ve been at it for 10.”
Jem, a Girl of London, is available online at Amazon.com and at The Local Store, 205 N. Dewey St., Eau Claire.