Interview With Author Elle Jacklee

Hi Elle. Thank you for stopping by to talk to us about your middle-grade book The Tree of Mindala.

Wonderful to be here! Thanks for having me!

So why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself, and when did you started writing stories?

Well, my professional background includes software programmer and sales, but my favorite title (besides wife and mom of course) is author. I've been writing stories on and off ever since I was about seven years old. I loved reading so much, and I hoped that other people would love my stories as much as I loved other people's stories. And it's fun!

I love the cover of this book. Who created it and did you have any say in the design?

Thanks! Glendon Haddix at Streetlight Graphics created it. I gave him some basic conceptual story information and then he whipped something up. It took a few cycles of tweaking to get it just right, which is all just part of the process. I'm very pleased with the final version.

What is your story about?

Miranda Moon is an almost-twelve-year old girl whose vivid imagination has a way of getting her into trouble. She embarks (unexpectedly) on an adventure with her straight-laced, pessimistic younger brother, Marcus. They arrive in a place called Wunderwood, where magic flows through the trees and everyone already knows their family name. Coincidentally, an evil warlock, Thornton Crow, has just been freed from a long banishment, and resumes his agenda to find The Tree of Mindala, the source of all the magic in the realm, and seize it for his own. Miranda and Marcus discover branches of their own family tree that they hadn't even known existed. And that Thornton has a score to settle with anyone in their bloodline. Especially them.
When Miranda discovers just how Thornton came to be freed from his prison, she realizes its up to her to stop him. She must decide if she can carry out the task that will either save Wunderwood or doom it forever.
Ultimately, this is a story about the importance of overcoming your greatest fears, and the virtue of striving for balance in life.

How did you come up with this story?

I guess it's possible that I have a vivid imagination too. (Maybe it's a case of art imitating life? ;) One fall day around Halloween, I was home with a migraine, looking out the window at the leaves on my patio that were swirling in the brisk wind that just happened to be howling. It was a little spooky, but I thought it was beautiful at the same time. I've always loved Halloween, and by the end of that day (after a few doses of headache medicine), Miranda Moon was born and I had a rough outline of the story fleshed out.

Did you do an outline before you started writing it?

Yes, I learned pretty early on that I save myself a lot of rewrite time by having the story all planned out and documented before actually beginning the writing step.

How long did it take you to write?

About a year.

What is the hardest part about writing a book?

I think the planning stage is the hardest. The general idea of the story is easy. (I have no shortage of those!) But making sure all the details gel with each other and all the loose ends come together at the end is a painstaking process, at least for me, but when it's done, the actual writing goes much faster.

Who is your favorite character and why?

That's a tough one. That's almost like asking me which of my children I love more! But if I have to choose one, I guess I'd have to say Skye. His ability to morph into any creature that he's ever encountered gives him a unique perspective. Also, he's fiercely loyal. Though he's a good guy, there's little he would hesitate to do to protect those that he loves.

What is your favorite middle-grade book and why?

There are so many I love, new and old! My absolute favorite when I was a middle-grader myself has to be The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe from C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. As an adult, the Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud stands out, but I really can't choose which one out of the three. They're too good. I just can't!

Okay, now for some silly questions to shake things up a bit.

If you were given the choice to have one magical ability, what would it be?

Easy. Ever since I could remember, I've always wished I didn't need sleep. Now, I know the ability to stay up forever and function normally may not sound like magic, strictly speaking. But to me, what I could accomplish in those 6-8 hours everyday would be magical!

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three items would you want to have with you?

Do they have to be real? If not: my solar powered kindle, loaded to the limit; magic seeds that will thrive in sand and yield pizza, popcorn, and ice cream; and a bottomless bottle of ice cold ginger ale. If they have to be real: a really long and really good book, a net to catch fish with, and a desalination bottle for drinking water that has a handle with a swiss army knife tucked into it. (Those exist, right?)

If you were an animal, what animal would you be and why?

A gorilla. They're mainly vegetarian (if I had to kill my dinner, I would starve), they're highly intelligent, and very family-oriented.

If you could change anything in this world, what would you change?

Lack of empathy and compassion, and the inability of some people to keep their hurtful opinions to themselves. My mom taught me, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. I really try to live by those words. But these days, it seems like some people think it's their right to attack people who don't see things the way that they do. I see a lot of meanness, over the internet especially. Now, I'm all for free speech, but I think stating one's opinions does not necessarily need to come with the choice words and names some people have for anyone who doesn't see things exactly the way they do. The words can escalate to much more serious incidents, as we all know. I believe that everyone is a product of their circumstances and that their experiences shape their opinions. We should respect each other's differences, try to see things from each other's perspectives, and learn from each other. Not belittle or attack anyone with different opinions. The short answer: Just be nice. It feels good!

If you could ask a genuine psychic one question, what would it be?

I like surprises! I don't think I want to know anything in advance. But maybe, if the psychic could make me forget right after, I would ask for a glimpse of my kids' futures. It would be fun to see what's in store for them. But only for a minute. I'd really rather watch firsthand!

In 1990, a movie came out called Flatliners. It was about five medical students who conducted an experiment to produce a near-death experience so they could see what was on the other side. If you were one of those students and knew you would come back without any physical harm done to you, would you?

No. Again, I like surprises. The way I see it, I'll be there soon enough. No need to rush it ;) Besides, I saw that movie. I thought it was kinda scary!

Okay, let's get serious again.


When is your next book coming out, and do you have a title for it yet?

I don't want to jinx myself, but I'm aiming to have the next one out by fall. The working title is The Triad of the Tree.

Where can people find you and your book?

The Tree of Mindala: Wunderwood Book One is available at Amazon, Smashwords, B&, and most major online retailers. I would love for people to connect with me on Goodreads and/or on Facebook at

Is there anything you'd like to say before you go?

I just want to say thanks so much, Rebekkah, for having me! I've really enjoyed being here and answering your thought-provoking questions!

You're welcome and thanks again for stopping by. I enjoyed talking with you. :)


  1. Rebekkah, thank you once again from the bottom of my heart for your support of indie authors, and for the generous time and effort you take to help us out while pursuing your own writing career! You are awesome!

  2. You're welcome. It was my pleasure. Thanks for the kind words. You're sweet. :)