Jean Paetkau – Q&A

Jean Paetkau is the author of Rumpa and the Snufflewort, published on 3 July 2021.

Jean kindly answered a few of my questions.

1. Tell us a little about Rumpa and the Snufflewort.

Rumpa and the Snufflewort is a kids’ adventure book that I wrote with my two children (aged 9 and 12) during COVID isolation. It stars pint-sized Snufflewort who recruit a pair of precocious siblings for a daring rescue mission.  The story is meant for kids aged 6 to 12, but it is rumoured that much younger and older readers have been caught giggling at the wacky antics of these characters. 

2. What inspired the book?

About five years ago my two children and I visited the very fancy and formal gardens of the Lieutenant Governor’s house in Victoria, British Columbia (where we live). Afterwards, when we were driving home, my daughter said she had wanted to pick some of the bright and beautiful flowers but had been afraid garden gnomes would come chasing after her. The three of us then came up with the names of “Snufflewort” for the gnomes and “Rumpa” for the humans. 

3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?

The story of Rumpa and the Snufflewort percolated in my brain for many years until COVID finally gave me the time and space to write. I would read a chapter to my children and then spend three days writing the next chapter as a bedtime story. They gave me lots of amazing feedback on characters and plot twists. They also did all the illustrations in the book including the vibrant cover page. It only took about six weeks for the first draft that honestly felt pretty effortless. 

4. Was there anything about the process of publishing a book that surprised you?

I am self-published which can make it challenging to get attention for the book. However, when we had two stories in the media about Rumpa and the Snufflewort our book shot up into the top 100 category on Amazon. It was really surprising and exciting to get on a bestseller list. 

5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?

I like to bake pumpkin chocolate chip muffins with my children and collect sea glass on the beaches near our home in Victoria. I also read murder mysteries to relax! 

6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?

I would love to say a book full of poetic prose by British author Jeannette Winterson. However, I absolutely adore the Dr. Seuss book “The Places You’ll Go.” It has so many life lessons about learning to wait and dealing with the highs and lows of life. One of my favourite lines is “Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.” I love made-up words that make perfect sense. I make up lots of words for our book like the “terror of the green vugga.” 

7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?

Did you dream of being a children’s author? 

Absolutely not. I have spent my Iife reading crime novels by writers like Ian Rankin and Elizabeth George. I have plotted out complicated mystery novels with compelling characters. However, Rumpa and the Snufflewort spilled out of my brain with such ease and joy that I have come to realize I love the playfulness of language and story a children’s book allows. So now I am a convert and hope to write a sequel to Rumpa and the Snufflewort soon!

About the Book

Magic but possibly dangerous bubbles.

Heroes with pointy hats and even pointier beards.

If this wasn’t enough adventuring for the siblings Yacob and Baley, they must also plan an escape for pint-sized creatures trapped in a basement that might be a dungeon.

A rescue mission that holds the perils of the dumper and the green vugga awaits the reader in Rumpa and the Snufflewort.

Turn the action-packed pages to discover a story of extra peculiar and very unexplainable events.

About the authors

Jean, Haley and Jacob Paetkau created this adventure story during the time of COVID. Living in isolation from friends and family, they needed an adventure beyond the walls of their own home.

Jean and her two children make their home in Victoria, BC, located on the unceded Coast Salish Territory of the Lekungen and WSANEC nations.

Jean Paetkau is an award winning journalist and an Indigenous ally.

Haley and Jacob are members of the Penelakut Tribe and Orange Shirt Day advocates.

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