An #EnterTheFantastic Author Interview | feat. “Lost and Waiting” by Amanda Read which has a heart of the natural world set within a Magical Realism world!

Posted Sunday, 25 October, 2020 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

As I previously disclosed on my spotlight about “Tree Magic” – I have a soul connection to the natural world. I am a nature and wildlife photographer as well – as being out in nature is soul lifting as much as it is inspiring. You have to stand still in order to see the natural world as it is living in harmony with our world but is slightly removed from our time scales as well. If you’ve ever caught a squirrel eating a nut and realised the trance they were in without ‘seeing’ you until they were finished you see the veil between the natural world’s rhythm and our own synchronicity with nature.

I have regularly spoken about the natural world on Jorie Loves A Story – from the stories I am reading to the context of the stories which seek to bring an ecological mindset and heart for conservation onto my blog because I believe strongly those stories are necessary for today’s world. Not just due to the climatic changes we’re all experiencing but to help re-connect readers with the knowledge about the natural ecosystems they might overlook and not be as familiar with as I have become myself. Knowledge is the first step towards change and to remain connected to the connectivity of how the natural world and our world intersect is one step closer to finding better balance in how to keep Earth a healthier place.

Today, I am wicked thankful I can bring you this conversation I had with the author of “Lost and Waiting” – especially on the fringes of experiencing the loss of trees in my neighbourhood due to the nausating ways in which city planners due not consider the natural world in their plans for progress. I shared a *thread about this on my social feeds on Twitter in case anyone is curious. However, I regularly seek out literature which has a soulful connection to the natural world as I readily love to champion those stories and to help carry a torch for others to seek out similar stories for themselves.

If you love fantastical stories featuring Magical Realism plots and the curious connections between nature and humans, I think this might be a good fit for you as a reader as I feel it is for myself. Likewise, I recently spotlighted “Tree Magic” and am in the process of reading it ahead of sharing an interview with the author on the “Tree Slayer” blog tour. One of my favourite stories I’ve read involving the natural world was when I reviewed The Kinship of Clover. As much as I loved The Walking Fish for Middle Grade readers who are just discovering the natural world round them.

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An #EnterTheFantastic Author Interview | feat. “Lost and Waiting” by Amanda Read which has a heart of the natural world set within a Magical Realism world!Lost and Waiting
by Amanda Read
Source: Chapter Sampler

When Evangeline comes across a Victorian plant hunter’s journal at Kew, it is the sign she’s been waiting for. Its author, Edwin ‘Chile’ Morgan, claims to have discovered a living myth: the World Tree. Morgan’s words share life lessons and reflections on the natural world, offering Evangeline a way to overcome the grief of a stillbirth.

With journal in hand, Evangeline sets off to Chile on a journey in search of the tree at the centre of all: heaven, life and the afterlife. In her way are an unprincipled pharmaceutical multinational, an oil company set on deforestation, and an enigmatic art aficionado whose interest in her takes an unsettling turn.

A genre-bending adventure.

Genres: Biological Diversity, Botany, Ecology, Epistolary | Diaries and Journals, Horticulture, Magical Realism, Sci-Fantasy


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1838534110

on 26th June, 2020

Format: Chapter Sampler | Online

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This is a Self-Published novel.
I love celebrating Self-Pub stories on Jorie Loves A Story!

Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #MagicalRealism, #Nature and #Genrebender
as well as #LoveBooksTours & #LostAndWaiting

About Amanda Read

Amanda Read

Amanda Read is a novelist and short story writer. She was awarded the MA in Creative Writing, with distinction, from Bath Spa University.

In an earlier life, she received a Royal Horticultural Society Fellowship through which she trained as a plant taxonomist/systematist at the University of Reading, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Natural History Museum, London.

Amanda lives with her husband in rural Wiltshire, UK, where she can be spotted hot on the heels of Carlos and Carmen, the border terriers. She works as an agricultural research programme manager for international development.

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Enjoy the conversation I had with Ms Read:

What first inspired you to combine the natural world with Magical Realism? And, what do you feel the niche of Magical Realism can offer writers who want to combine fantastical elements into their stories?

Read responds: As a reader, I’ve always loved the carnivalesque aspect of magical realism. That infusion of humour and chaos which turns the world on its head, such that we see things in a different way. It makes the ordinary extraordinary and gives the outsider a voice.

When we talk about nature, what we often mean is animals, as though we haven’t noticed plants in the environment. This is the phenomenon called plant blindness, where we rank plants as being inferior to animals, and we fail to recognize the significance of plants in the world and in human affairs. In other words, plants are the outsiders of the living world.

When I came to write the book, magical realism seemed the most natural way to combat plant blindness. For writers looking for a way to tell their own unique story, I recommend magical realism for the freedom it allows to experiment and be creative.

I love the breadth of choices Magical Realism allows the writers to use in the crafting of their stories whilst as a reader I happily appreciate the wondrous journeys I am able to take through their vision for the their stories. I never understood how anyone can be blind to their natural environments round us – as wherever we live, there is the natural world just outside our windows and doors. For me, the plants, the flowers and the trees are just as intergal to the living ecosytems as the animals and birds themselves. Everything is meant to live in sync with each other and there is a harmonic symphony within nature which can readily be observed.

I grew up knowing about natural and alternative medicine as much as the healing properities and restorative nature of herbal teas, which is why perhaps I was more cognisant as both a child and now as an adult to the bounty of joy plants can provide for us. Also, as I saw “Medicine Man” as a ten year old fifth grader to say the film had a layering of impact on me would be putting it mildly. As it is quite a famous quote from the film about how he had found the cure for Cancer but with the mass destruction of the rain forest he was unable to re-produce it because they had to go deeper into the canopy in order to re-source the cure. The film hightlighted deforestation of the rain forest as much as the need for biomedical research in the field to seek out the recipes nature can provide us for medical breakthroughs – it was a very powerful film in that regard. However the reason I am broaching it now is because the cure he had found hinged on a particular plant and group of insects in the high boughs of the trees.

People might choose to overlook the importance of plants but those of us who are awaken to the resources they provide – both to ourselves and to the living environments round us are thankful each season they are thriving and able to live out their lives.

How did you first come across plant hunters and how are plant hunters helping us today?

Read responds: When I was a novice gardener, and I’m going back to the dawn of time here, it was a revelation to me that plants have specific growing conditions for them to thrive. Not only that, but these conditions relate to their natural habitat.

It fascinated me that a rhododendron, for instance, came from western China, and was introduced by the plant hunter George Forrest (1873-1932). I studied botany at university and was fortunate to do part of my training at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Today, botanists from Kew and research organisations elsewhere work in collaboration with their counterparts overseas to identify and conserve a country’s flora.

I noticed this early-on myself – because due to different climatic regions and the soil nutrients, plants are a bit fickle about where they want to grow and how where they grow is co-dependent on how well they can thrive. I hadn’t known about this bit of trivia about where rhododendron originated – I know they wrote a book about the ‘language of flowers’ but now I am even more curious to re-take up my torch to seek out books about Botany, Horticultural Studies and the origins of plants! Thank you for re-affirming this interest as I have long held an appreciation for plants and how important they are to our biodiversity.

I have a feeling ‘plant hunters’ are going to become my new fascination to seek after, too!

What do you appreciate most about the natural world and why is it important to remember our connection to the Earth’s natural environs in this high technological world?

Read responds: I’m always amazed by nature’s ability to regenerate. Just a year after the devastating wildfires in Australia, plant and animal life is recovering.

Our connection to the natural world is something we forget as we rush around in our busy lives. Since the pandemic, I get a sense that people are re-evaluating how they live. Estate agents claim houses with gardens are top of buyers’ wish lists. In a time of crisis, people have returned to a new-found appreciation of nature. This can only be a good thing.

My book was inspired by the myth of the world tree, a colossal tree that connects sky, earth and underworld. A tree which connects all life on earth seemed like an apt metaphor for environmental and conservation issues in the world: we are all part of the one system.

Our biosphere is finely tuned. Take one species out of the equation, and a cascade of unforeseen consequences occurs resulting in loss of biodiversity. As an example, when wolves were eradicated from Yellowstone Park in the US, the elk population exploded, causing overgrazing to the extent that tree saplings didn’t grow to maturity. Without trees, the beavers couldn’t build dams, and riverbanks eroded. The ecosystem has been restored with the reintroduction of the wolves.

What grieves me on a heart and soul level are the natural disasters which take so much out of our natural environs – from Australia to the entire Western half of the United States – the forest fires are difficult to watch, hard to process and of course the gaping hole of loss which stems from their destructive paths is a hard pill for me to swallow. As much as on a local level – observing the murder and butchering of 7x thriving Cedar trees took a hit to my wellness and spirit this week. I know nature can heal itself but I had to wonder – how those trees felt as they tried to defend themselves from being destroyed that man still seek sto do what he will even if it goes against nature due to the inconvience of having to re-route plans or to go an alternative way to achieve the same end goals. This is a wound I shared on Twitter recently because it just affects me on such a deep level.

I have such a sensitivity about natural disasters and the wrecking ball effect nature must endure and yet, as you said – when you can see seeds of re-growth and a re-generation and genesis of those living environs wrecked by fire – it gives all of us a boost of hope for the future. I could never distance myself from the natural world as I have oft felt dearly connected to it since I was a young girl. It is hard not to notice when butterflies and dragonflies are fluttering round you or when animals stop their goings-on and take stock of your presence or even, the trees, plants and flowers which have a way of winking their smiles and giving us something to contemplate with a dash of serenity in a sea of alarming chaos in our ordinary lives.

I can readily understand and see what inspired you to write “Lost and Waiting” – to tap into a storyline which would give others a chance to see and understand what we know ourselves and to present how important plants are to the welfare of the environment. I love the concept of your tree in the story – as I have oft mentioned how inter-connected we all are – from the environment to our own journeys as humans – there is a circle of connection to us all.

My soul aches after the wolves – what grieves me even more than environmental conservation and protection issues is the fact we senselessly kill off species without realising their central worth to their living habitats which you so expertly expressed about Yellowstone. It guts me what they do with wolves and bears, etc and I hope one day they will reverse course on this callus culling.

What is most disheartening to you about how the living environment is not always as protected as it ought to be?

Read responds: Once a species has become extinct, that’s it: there is no return. All too often, economic factors take precedent in policy-making, and so woodland is cut down to make way for a new transport link, for instance. Despite this, I do see hope for the future, if each of us takes responsibility for doing our bit, in any way, big or small.

I truly find it gutting myself whenever a species moves from endangered to extinct; not just for the animals but for the plants themselves. It grieves me to new levels of grief just thinking about the loss from the missing rain forests and how long term the effect of that kind of loss will have on our environmental health worldwide. I, like you, have hope for the future too – despite the angsts and anguishes of the present, however, it is co-dependent on what you’ve said – everyone has to do their bit, big and small in order to effect change which can be sustainable.

Although this is an election here in the states and I had hoped natural and renewable energies would have found more traction knowing how determental the alternatives are to constantly be used – at some point, we will reach that line in the sand where we cannot reverse course nor positively evoke change in the environment and it is only then I think humanity will realise the cost of our choices.

Evangeline travels with a journal to sort out the secrets of the living tree at the centre of your story – how did you want to characterise how this singular tree has a unity of insight into humanity against the backdrop of your narrative?

Read responds: It’s funny, I had to design the tree down to the tiniest detail, just as I would a character, before I could write about it. The tree even went through a name change.

I see the tree as ancient and wise, and nurturing. Also, quite playful. You use the word ‘unity’ and that is exactly right. This tree is the whole of the cosmos in one. Without wanting to give anything away, the tree is at the heart of Evangeline’s discovery of herself. It calls to her from the moment she arrives in South America, in the imperative voice of Rudyard Kipling’s poem The Explorer, which is presented as the epigraph to the book.

I truly cannot wait to ‘see’ this story in full once I’ve been able to secure a print copy of it to read as I love your instincts for telling the story but also what you put in behind the story – the care and time you took to put down the fusion of your vision into the world-building. I had a feeling this tree was centermost of importance to the story but also with a larger lens towards the internal message of your story as well.

What was the most challenging part of writing “Lost and Waiting” and what was your favourite scene?

Read responds: The most challenging part of writing was the first chapter. I must have written at least seven distinct drafts of the first chapter. The version I ended up with isn’t necessarily my favourite, but it is the one which best helps position the reader within to the novel.

My favourite scene had to be when Evangeline is in the garden at La Menagerie. The garden is inspired by Las Pozas, a fantastical garden designed by a British eccentric who lived in a remote corner of Mexico. The setting guided the action and it is at this point, I think, that the reader starts to realise that Evangeline’s journey has gone beyond the ordinary.

I was thankful I was able to read a chapter sampler of your novel online – wherein I read portions of Chapter One. As a writer I know the long hard road we all take to articulate what we want to say and how we desire to say it – even as a book blogger, I’ve honed those skills and have sorted out how best to present my thoughts on behalf of the stories I am reading as much as the topics I choose to blog about outside of them. Each of us has to find our written voice and do our best to speak to our audience even if we do not readily know whom our audience will be at the time we are creating what we’re going to share with them.

I loved how in the first paragraph of the novel you’ve centred us into Evangeline’s awareness of the plants and flowers in her most immediate environment where we first take a glimpse of her – as it speaks to what is important to her and how her mind processes her experiences.

I cannot wait to see the garden you’ve referenced when I go to read “Lost and Waiting” – as I look for those key moments in a Magical Realism story wherein I notice we’ve left our regular space of expectations and have transported ourselves somewhere quite wondrously illuminating!

When you’re not researching or writing your stories what renews your spirit the most?

Read responds: It will come as no surprise, I’m sure, that I draw a huge amount of well-being from the outdoors. I live in a rural village, so I only have to step outside to be in the countryside. I usually get my best ideas when I’m out walking with Carlos and Carmen, my cheeky border terriers.

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Amanda Read's dog Carlos; photograph provided by Amanda Read and is used with permission. Photo Credit: Amanda ReadAmanda Read's dog Carmen; photography provided by Amanda Read and is used with permission. Photo Credit: Amanda Read

(left) Carlos, (Right) Carmen) | Photo Credit: Amanda Read

Oh, and if the names of Carlos and Carmen sound familiar,
they are named in the dedication of my book.

OOh I love how we both share a mutual love and admiration for the natural world and how closely we cherish the moments we have outside to explore, to ruminate and to appreciate the wonders which are just a farthing of a step outside our living environs! Many blessings to you!

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Thank you for such thoughtful and thought-provoking questions. I love hearing from readers, and I’m always happy to answer questions on my website, www.amandaread.net.

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What gave me such a hearty bit of joy is realising this was a story rooted out of a woman’s search to find out the truth after having discovered a journal! I love Epistolary storylines – letters, correspondences, diaries, journals – whichever way the writer is inspired to tell their story using this technique is a fascinating one for me as a reader to entreat inside as each of them are wholly original in their own right. Some take us deep into the heart of the letters or the journals themselves whilst others refer to those source materials but do not offset the narrative with entries directly inside the novels.

I have had a very environmental soul and conscience since I was in fifth grade and ten years old – marked by two remarkable events though at the time they seemed quite ordinary: a) I met my first environmentalist during take your parent to school day and b) Mum surprised me and took me to see “Medicine Man” which had a lifelong impact on my world-view and how I look at environmental concerns and the taxing ways in which mankind continues to choose wrong when it comes to conservation, protection and innovative design in cityscapes in order to do what is best for the environment rather than for man.

This is why I have a very keen attachment to finding environmental, ecological and biosphere stories in both Fiction and Non-Fiction alike – every so many moons I come across another story I deeply desire to be reading as a book blogger and this is the next one in queue for me to gather a copy of – first though, I will be seeking it as a purchase request at my library to see if they can purchase it before I would be able to myself. I am thankful for each writer who is writing provocative stories like this one which seek to change the narrative and to provide glimpses into what is most important about protecting our natural habitats and the ecosystems therein.

As a side note – as I have mentioned this on different posts over the past seven years I’ve been blogging – I am constantly surprised by how others can move through their lives without seeing the birds, the plants, the flowers and the trees – without even acknowledging the natural environs round our bustling cities, townes and rural agricultural counties. The natural world isn’t so far removed from our living spheres to engage with regularly and if more took even a scant stock of interest in the environment, I think better progress could be made where more ethical choices could be promoted to leave kinder footprints in our urban and rural developments. 

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I found the opening chapter (the bits I’ve read) to be quite a stirring account of how quickly news is dispersed online and how fast you can become ‘out of the loop’ with updates whilst you’re living your life. I also enjoyed seeing the pickle Evangeline was in whilst she was travelling to Chile – stranded without funding and a bit of a loss as to where to point her compass! It must have felt maddening to her to have all your places evaporating before you can even begin the tasks you set out to accomplish. And, the curious irony of what was revealled in her emails was a stark contrast to how she personally felt having the project pulled just as she journeyed to the country she was meant to be exploring for the answers she was seeking.

It also hearkened back to an age where technology did not push forward the agendas of funding for such projects and where the explorer and the adventurer only had their wits and their courage to guide them as they didn’t have handheld phones and devices to push information at them upon arriving at their destinations. The pace of discovery was just a tad bit slower and in some ways, free of the entanglements that come with technology and though, I am sure it was through technology Evangeline was first able to secure funding; so it becomes a bit of a double-bladed sword.

It was here the title and the meaning behind the title is first revealled – although for me, I intuited that this was only the beginning of our understanding why Evangeline needed to become lost and why waiting was important at this fork in the road. I cannot wait to invest myself into the fuller story and soak into the world in which Ms Read has created for us! I hope this conversation and notes about the story might inspire others who visit with me this weekend to seek out the novel for themselves.

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This blog Tour is courtesy of:

Be sure to follow the route
on #bookstagram & #bookTwitter:

Lost and Waiting blog tour banner provided by Love Books Tours and is used with permission.

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 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Be sure to leave notes, takeaways and commentary to let me know if this has been a story on your bookish radar and/or if it is one you’re going to be adding to your own TBR! I’d love to hear your thoughts about this kind of story and others you might have already read on similar themes.

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NOTE: Similar to blog tours wherein I feature book reviews, book spotlights (with or without extracts), book announcements (or Cover Reveals) – I may elect to feature an author, editor, narrator, publisher or other creative person connected to the book, audiobook, Indie film project or otherwise creative publishing medium being featured wherein the supplemental content on my blog is never compensated monetarily nor am I ever obligated to feature this kind of content. I provide (98.5%) of all questions and guest topics regularly featured on Jorie Loves A Story. I receive direct responses back to those enquiries by publicists, literary agents, authors, blog tour companies, etc of whom I am working with to bring these supplemental features and showcases to my blog. I am naturally curious about the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of stories and the writers who pen them: I have a heap of joy bringing this content to my readers. Whenever there is a conflict of connection I do disclose those connections per post and disclose the connection as it applies.

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{SOURCES: Book cover for “Lost and Waiting”, book synopsis, author biography and photograph as well as photographs of the author’s dogs and the tour badge were all provided by Love Books Tours and are used with permission. Post dividers and My Thoughts badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Conversations with the Bookish banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2020.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Sunday, 25 October, 2020 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Book Spotlight, Botany, Conservation, Ecology, Environmental Activism, Environmental Advocacy, Environmental Conscience, Environmental Science, Horticulture, Indie Author, Love Books Tours, Magical Realism, Preservation, Science, Self-Published Author




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