Interview with Jon and Pamela Voelkel, Authors of Middleworld

August 7th, 2010 by

Today, we’ve got a very special treat for you guys! Some of you have noticed that every so often, an author will leave a comment on the site. When that happens, we have heart attacks of joy, and then after we recover, we do little happy dances in our respective homes. Well, take that excitement and multiply it by roughly a bazillion — because today we have a full-fledged interview with TWO authors: Jon and Pamela Voelkel.

Their book, Middleworld, is a fast-paced supernatural adventure story about a regular old kid who ends up fighting to save the world from the Ancient Maya Lords of Death. You know, just your average children’s book. It’s actually the first installment in the Jaguar Stones trilogy, so hopefully there’s plenty more jungle exploring, butt kicking, and monkey conversing to come!

Middleworld was recently featured as an Al’s Book Club pick on The Today Show. In other words, Jon and Pamela Voelkel are big time — and they were nice enough to do a Q&A for us:

The mysterious housekeeper Zia is the one who gets Max on a plane to rescue his parents. Will she play a big role in the later books?

J&P: YES! Zia has a much bigger role in The Jaguar Stones, Book 2: The End of the World Club — which is out on 12/28/2010.

In the book, spirits of Lord 6-Rabbit and his mother Lady Kan Kakaw inhabit howler monkeys. If the two of you were to possess the body of an animal, which animals would you choose?

J&P: Jon chooses a jaguar because they rule the rainforest and they’re so sleek and handsome. Pamela would rather be a house cat and sleep all day.

An illustration by Pamela Voelkel from Middleworld, Page 33

The two of you write the series together — how does that work? Do you end up talking about The Jaguar Stones all day and night?

J&P: Yes we do — and it drives our children crazy. But the characters in the book are like our children too; we’ve lived with them for six years. When we first started writing the book, we used to pass the manuscript to and fro between us, each one writing a complete draft. Now that we have a better idea of where we’re going, Pamela does most of the writing and Jon does most of the illustrating. We still plot everything out together and the balance of male/female, action/emotion seems to work pretty well.

The two of you did a lot of traveling around the country, talking to kids at schools and book stores. What was the most surprising thing that happened to you on the road?

J&P: Neither of us were big fans of school as kids, so the biggest surprise has been discovering how much fun it is to go back there now and talk about the Maya. There have been so many favorite moments — like arriving at a little school in the wilds of Arkansas to find it decorated from top to bottom in paintings of Mayan glyphs and calendars and animal masks to welcome us… or the principal in New York who went out to direct school buses wearing our Maya king costume… or the party at Square Books Junior where they made the tamale recipe from our book.

What was the funniest thing that happened on tour?

J&P: The funniest thing happened at a school in Massachusetts. It was a Friday afternoon after a week of testing, and when the principal stood next to the Maya king, 300 kids stood up as one chanting “Sac-ri-fice! Sac-ri-fice!” Luckily for us, the principal thought it was hilarious!

The Voelkel kids in Uxmal and illustration by P. Voelkel from Middleworld, Page 130 ... looks familiar!

We just finished Middleworld, and loved it — what are some books you’d recommend to our kid readers at

J&P: We’re so glad you enjoyed Middleworld — and we promise that Book 2 is even faster and more fun! Recommended for kid readers are:

  • Before Columbus: the Americas of 1491 by Charles C. Mann
  • Motel of the Mysteries by David MacAuley
  • The Monster Blood Tattoo series by D.M. Cornish (for teens)
  • The Hungry City Chronicles by Philip Reeve (for teens)
  • The Roman Mysteries by Caroline Lawrence
  • The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer
  • The Owl Service by Alan Garner (for teens)
  • Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

So there you have it — 0ur Q&A with the authors of Middleworld, Jon “the Jaguar” Voelkel and Pamela “the House Cat” Voelkel! And now we’ve got the same question for you: If you were to possess the body of any animal, which one would you choose? Leave a comment with your answer!

And also leave a comment or submit a review if you’ve read the book! And if you haven’t, what are you waiting for? The Ancient Maya Lords of Death await you!

2 Responses

  • Hahaha me writes:
    August 7th, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    I would be some kind of bird, or maybe a cat. Maybe a shark. Or a dolphin. I wouldn’t be…a bat or a snake or a scorpion or a spider or any kind of bug.

    I don’t know!! 🙂

  • Patke writes:
    September 19th, 2016 at 9:59 am

    I loved your book series!! I was just wondering: what inspired you guys to write these books?

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