Wordstock Spotlight: Jöelle Anthony’s Restoring Harmony

Novel Novice is super-excited to be heading to Portland, Oregon’s Wordstock Festival this coming October 9-10th. Besides a great line-up of authors in general (nearly 200 in all!), there’s an exceptionally superb line-up of Young Adult authors scheduled for the festival. (But then, I may be biased — I’m the YA/Children’s Author Coordinator for the festival, so I booked them all!)

Starting today here at Novel Novice, we’ll be featuring all of the Young Adult authors scheduled for Wordstock 2010. Look for Wordstock YA author features every Tuesday and Thursday now through October, when the festival begins.

You can also learn more at Wordstock Festival’s official website.


Jöelle Anthony – Restoring Harmony

The year is 2041, and sixteen-year-old Molly McClure has lived a relatively quiet life on an isolated farming island in Canada, but when her family fears the worst may have happened to her grandparents in the US, Molly must brave the dangerous, chaotic world left after global economic collapse—one of massive oil shortages, rampant crime, and abandoned cities.

Molly is relieved to find her grandparents alive in their Portland suburb, but they’re financially ruined and practically starving. What should’ve been a quick trip turns into a full-fledged rescue mission. And when Molly witnesses something the local crime bosses wishes she hadn’t, Molly’s only way home may be to beat them at their own game. Luckily, there’s a handsome stranger who’s willing to help.

Restoring Harmony is a riveting, fast-paced dystopian tale complete with adventure and romance that readers will devour.

Guys, this book is really exciting to read. It’s dystopian and set in the future — yet eerily realistic. You definitely see how this sort of future is possible. It was also fun for me, since it takes place largely where I live — in the Portland, Oregon area! If you need something to tide you over while waiting for Mockingjay, check out this book!


Today, we have an extra-special treat from Jöelle.

First, TEACHERS! Check out Jöelle’s Restoring Harmony Study Guide, which she graciously provided for us. Fair warning: the study guide DOES contain spoilers!

Next up, here’s our exclusive Q&A with Jöelle!

While Restoring Harmony is set in the future — it’s a very near future and not completely unrealistic. How much of the novel, do you feel, is a cautionary tale?

I wouldn’t say I think of it as a cautionary tale, but I do think that lots of it could happen. My husband and I are really aiming for both sustainability and self-sufficiency in our lives, and so in a way, I think the world of RH is kind of our, “What do we have to do now so we survive if this happens?” world. That said, we don’t worry about it happening. We’re not predicting it or anything.

I have heard from readers who tell me they’re going to start growing their own food because of the book, and honestly, I love that. The truth is, if people tasted food straight from the garden, they’d have a hard time buying all the old produce (organic or not) you get in the grocery stores. It tastes like totally different food.

Music is such an important part of the story. What role do you think it plays in the plot and the characters’ development?

My husband is a singer/songwriter/musician/photographer/actor so there’s a lot of art in our lives between all his talents and my writing and acting (which I don’t do much of anymore, but some). Music is part of my daily life, even though I’m not a musician myself. Truth be told, I think I originally gave Molly the fiddle because I wish I could play, but then it wound its way into the story and really became a living breathing part of the whole tale as well as part of the plot.

The musicians I know are fairly single minded and can really concentrate on things. That shows up in Molly, both in her music and her determination to get home. And it soothes her during the bad times, which I hope sort of soothes the reader too.

Restoring Harmony takes place in real places that you’re extremely familiar with. And for those of us who also know these areas, the descriptions of these locations is spot-on. What’s it like writing about real places in a fictional future world? How do you make them part of this future world you’ve created — while still keeping them recognizable and familiar to present day readers?

It’s true that you could map out Molly’s journey (almost, I took a few liberties) and travel it yourself. I know because I did it. I don’t think I ever had the goal of keeping it recognizable to the readers. I think the reason I mapped it out was more for myself so I could keep track of places and events. It’s fun for the readers who live in the area though, but that’s mostly just a bonus.

You’ll be talking about Restoring Harmony at Wordstock this October. What are you most looking forward to?

I hope to connect with young readers, and not just readers of my book, but readers of lots of books and authors. I volunteer at the local school with another woman and we host a novel discussion group with about half a dozen Grade 7 kids. Each week we all bring in whatever we’re reading and talk about it. I just love to hear what kids are reading and why. They’re brutally honest, which is okay if they’re not talking about your book, but can take your ego down a notch if they are. I actually love that about kids. I read on twitter that a seventeen year old said about Restoring Harmony, “It wasn’t a masterpiece, but it was a nice way to spend a summer day.” I actually find that one of my favourite reviews. While I intend to write the best book I can, I want to be a storyteller, not aspire to masterpieces.

If you met someone in a bookstore, and they were thinking about buying your book, what would you say to convince them?

This is so embarrassing, but the first time I encountered both teens and my book in a bookstore, I said, “I wrote that book!” and pointed at it. They must’ve thought I was crazy. I still blush over that. They didn’t get to buy any books that day, but I gave them postcards and magnets and they actually seemed to think it was pretty cool. So, in answer to your question, I’m thinking maybe I wouldn’t say anything! If they asked, I’d say, “Well, it’s a story about adventure, music, family, hope and a touch or romance. Does that sound like your thing?” If it didn’t, I’d help them pick out something else.

At Novel Novice, one of our main goals is encouraging teens to read. What would you say to reluctant teen readers to convince them to pick up a book (any book)? Why do you think reading is so important?

This is a really hard question for me because I’m afraid my answer might cause all the reading advocates to hit me with a wet noodle for not necessarily agreeing with trying to find books for reluctant readers. However, I think there’s a big difference between ability to read and being a reluctant reader and while I think in a perfect world, everyone would ditch their TVs and read books, if a kid is able to read at grade level, then it might be best to just let them be. Not everyone likes books and if you try to make them, you might end up with someone who never picks up a book again in their whole life. But if they’re left alone, they might stumble across something that speaks to them, and it may not happen until college, or their first child goes to school, or they’re an old lady. I still see that as a victory though, not a tragedy. I know…that’s probably not a very popular answer, but that’s the way I feel.

Also, studies show, especially with boys, that even if they’re not reading books, they’re still reading – magazines, newspapers, comic books, online…why are books the only thing that count with so many people? I believe the most important thing is to make sure kids can read. After that, all you can really do is put books in their paths and hope for the best.

What question do you always wish someone would ask you during an interview?

What’s your shoe size so I can send you fabulous (free) shoes like Meg Cabot is always wearing?

Now answer that question.

Size ten.

If you could trade places with one person for a single day, who would it be & why?

I don’t know a specific person, but I’d love to spend a day on an island somewhere really warm, but not too warm. You know, on the beach…and the only other person around would be someone who didn’t speak English and brought me fabulous vegetarian food and fruity drinks at regular intervals.

What was the last movie you saw?

Don’t laugh…Harry Potter at the theatre. What was that? Two years ago?

Biggest TV addiction?

Our TV is not hooked up to any service, but we love the British Sit Com, As Time Goes By with Judi Dench and we watch it a lot on DVD.

Guilty pleasure?

Chips and guacamole.

Fruits or veggies?

Mmm…I really like fruit, but I eat more veggies

Karaoke song?

The only time I’ve ever been to Karaoke was so long ago I can’t really remember it very well. I went with a bunch of women from the cast of Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding and they could all sing except for me, so I don’t think I really participated!

Favorite childhood toy?

I had this thing called the magic penny bowl. It is a tiny wooden bowl with a silver nickel and a little wooden spoon. If I stirred it before bed, I’d often find a dime or quarter in the bowl with the nickel in the morning. Especially if I mentioned to my mum that I’d stirred it. I still have it, but it hasn’t produced any Canadian money so far.

Be sure to check out all the YA authors coming to Wordstock 2010!

2 thoughts on “Wordstock Spotlight: Jöelle Anthony’s Restoring Harmony

Add yours

  1. Can’t wait for Wordstock! Thanks for the interview…I haven’t checked out the teaching guide yet (because of the spoilers), but I will after I read this book!

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