Before the holidays I was contacted by Gia Volterra de Saulnier who asked if I would review her book. I am happy to introduce you all to Journey to Jazzland, and Gia was kind enough to answer a few questions so that we could get to know the person behind a really great story.
We’ll talk to Gia first, and then I will tell you a little about her book.
What is your background? What did you do/are you still doing in addition to writing a book?
I have been a musician since I was a young girl in Elementary school. I attended University of Lowell and it was there that I learned to love jazz. For the last 20 years, I have been performing music all around the New England area and for the past 8 years, my husband, Richard, and I have been promoting and producing Renaissance Festivals in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. We have a son named Charlie.
What inspired you to write Journey to Jazzland?
In 1999, I took a class at Bunker Hill Community College called “English Lit 102” where the final class project was to write and draw a picture book. This was my concept of where I drew all the original art and came up with the story. When I was at University of Lowell, the head of woodwinds thought that flutes didn’t play jazz and informed me that I had to take classical lessons and audition to get into the Jazz Studies program, which I did.
The book project came back with an A as a grade and friends of mine (at that time) told me I should try and get it published. In 2000, I did try to get it published, but the book got rejected so it sat on my shelf for over 12 years.
In 2012, while promoting the Renaissance Festivals in MA/NH area, I found Flying Turtle Publishing on Facebook and sent them an e mail to see if they would accept an unknown author submission.
The next thing I knew, they wanted to see more and then they said yes to publishing it on my birthday! (What a great birthday present that was!)
Can you tell us a little bit about how you wrote it?
While it was for the class project, I had to think about how I was going to explain basic music theory without getting too technical. I wanted to keep all the characters musically based, hence, they all have “musical” names. I also wanted to be sure there was a “bridge” scene, because in music (but especially in jazz) there is such a thing in the piece called “the bridge”.
I also wanted to tell my story to say really anything is possible if you put your mind to it, but with a music background.
Now that you have one book under your belt do you have any plans for more books?
I wanted to see how “Journey to Jazzland” was going to do first before I wrote another one. I have gotten so much positive feedback and have been encouraged to write a sequel. I already have a few ideas like “Journey to Dixieland” and “Boogie on down to Blues Town” (still working the kinks out.)
If you are planning a future book, could you tell us something about it?
I’ve been doing a little research on names for new characters if I do “Dixieland” – a trombone character by the name of “Ory” to honor “Kid Ory” a famous trombone player for Dixieland music. I also have been trying to come up with a clarinet name, but “Woody” is too familiar (“Toy Story” anyone?) so I’ve been trying to come up with another name. I also think the story needs to happen in New Orleans since that is the home of Dixieland music.
What books influenced you as a child?
Oh so many different books, but I really loved “Where the Wild Things Are” and “The Giving Tree”.
What do you think children, or adults, would be most surprised to learn about you?
I get really nervous before I do any performance – sometimes I get over excited and it shows. Once I start to play music then I usually forget about everything else.
In your free time what is your favorite thing to do?
I’m an avid knitter (although I still have yet to figure out how to make a sweater or socks) but the knitting does calm me down a lot and I feel accomplished that I made something with my own two hands.
Thanks so much, Gia for a little glimpse into your creative process!
Do you love music, do you want to introduce your children to different types of music and musical instruments? If the answer is yes, then Journey to Jazzland is just the ticket! I am all in favor of books with a lesson -but that convey that lesson or lessons, in this case, in such a way that the child who is reading or being read to, doesn’t overtly realize what is happpening. Best of all, in the case of Journey to Jazzland, we have a book that is more than just a cute children’s book about music, this story has underlying themes: what happens when you walk to the beat of a different drummer, teamwork and the importance of working together to achieve a common goal. If you are like me, these are concepts that you feel are important to teach our little ones.
Windy Flute plays in an orchestra, but she “hears” a different tune in her head and she would rather be playing that. The conductor is not exactly happy with her. He reminds her that she is NOT in Jazzland.
Jazzland? Windy wants to know more about it. But to get to Jazzland you need a lot of different sounds. You can’t “go” to Jazzland by yourself. So, one by one she gathers friends who want to go to Jazzland too. Together they can make beautiful music. Will they make it? Can they cross the Bridge together? Ohhh, you will have to get yourself a copy of the book.
And…at the end Gia has a wonderful surprise -seven pages to trace, copy, or cut out to create your own Jazz Band.
Thanks, Gia, for sending me a copy of your book and we’ll be looking forward to more musical journeys! I am so happy to share it with the readers of Cattail Chronicles!