Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Children’s Author Jake Burnett. Jake grew up on four continents (Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America if you’re counting—seven countries in all) and now lives in North Carolina with his wife, a one-eyed cat, and a very wiggly dog. He’s written a lot of things, but The Chaos Court is his first published novel.
A Very Special Note: During this time of uncertainty with the COVID-19 virus, school closures threaten school lunch programs and the students who depend on those lunches. So Burnett decided to act. He and South Window Press released The Chaos Court early, so they could donate 100% of the novel’s proceeds through April 30th to the Food Bank of Eastern & Central North Carolina (https://foodbankcenc.org/).
When we asked Jake where people can find his work (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!) this was his response:
Well, obviously people should go to Annie’s Book Stop. But if Worcester is a bit too far of a hike, they can find my work at their local indie bookstore. My publisher keeps a constantly updating list on their website (https://southwindowpress.com/where-to-get-our-books/). And there are all the usual options as well.
Next Question: How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
For announcements and whatnot, I have a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jakeburnettwrites
During the quarantine, I’m doing daily readings from The Chaos Court on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDehEIAmQSyWoAh_VMo6jSQ
On my personal website, you’ll find more art than writing, but there are a few stories here and there, now and then: http://jakeburnett.com
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from The Chaos Court?
I write brand-new books that feel like they’ve always been around. You know that feeling when you find a dusty old used book from an author you’ve never heard of, all mysterious and curious? You take it home and read it. You start to notice pieces of that story, everywhere around you. You realize the book has been there, hiding in plain sight this whole time. And you know your world will never be the same…
That’s what I hope you’ll find in The Chaos Court. Something brand-new that’s somehow magically always been waiting just for you.
What was the inspiration for The Chaos Court? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
There have been too many inspirations to count. One book I’d like to give a shout-out to is Abbey Lubbers, Banshees, & Boggarts by Katharine Mary Briggs. It’s this great illustrated encyclopedia of fairies that I read when I was 8. It stuck with me, and I hope all the odd little creatures I invented for The Chaos Court could just as easily find a home in Briggs’ wonderful book.
Cover design by Rocío Martín Osuna, from a concept sketch by Elissa Phillips.
What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out The Chaos Court? How did you overcome that challenge?
The biggest challenge in putting The Chaos Court out was that the publisher released it much earlier than planned! I’ve never seen that happen, but we both really wanted to donate the first month’s proceeds to meet the urgent school lunch need created by the COVID-19 crisis. Waiting for the original release date wasn’t an option.
The challenge for me was learning all the things about releasing a book that I’d PLANNED on learning over six months in about six days. So far, it’s going great! The writing and bookselling community is truly a wonderful place to have your trial-by-fire. If you have to have one, that’s where I’d recommend doing it.
What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?
Love the most? Patience Fell. No question. She’s tough and brave and takes no nonsense. She has her flaws sure, but in the end, she’s who I wish I could be.
I don’t hate any of them—not even the villains. Somebody once said ‘every villain thinks they’re the hero of their own story’ and I really took that to heart.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
So much! There’s the sequel to The Chaos Court and a novel that’s The Wizard of Oz meets Ocean’s Eleven and another one about the last living boy in Manhattan who was raised by robots and… that should cover the next year or two.
What is/are your passions when you’re not writing? How do you make time for your non-writing hobbies/things you love?
I love painting. It’s a completely different kind of thinking and it feels wonderful on my brain. And running. And cleaning the house. I need lots of non-writing things to do while the tireless gnomes in my unconscious toil away on the writing. That way, when I sit back down at the keyboard, I’m refreshed and ready to work.
Are there any groups, clubs, or organizations that you would recommend to other writers that have helped you in your career?
The Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) has been a warm and supportive community. I look forward to the Carolinas Chapter events every year—such an encouraging and generous group of writers!
Thank you so much for answering our questions and for what you are doing to help your fellow hometown residents, Jake!