The Real: L. Jagi Lamplighter

Posted: 26th September 2011 by onyxhawke in Uncategorized
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Jagi Lamplighter was one of the first pro writers I met, she’s still one of my fave people to run into at cons.



Where are you from?
I was born in Manhattan. I grew up in North Salem, NY, which is about an hour from New York City. Every day, on my way to school, I passed through Salem Center, which is where Professor X’s mansion is. I even took lessons in the only school in Salem Center! When my father objected to me reading comic books, I explained that X-Men was local news.


Nowadays, I am from Virginia, near Washington, DC. No superheroes live near us, but the place is filled with Revolutionary and Civil War ghosts. We met some at a local mansion at Christmas time. They looked so real! My kids kept claiming they were people in costumes, but really! Who would believe in something like that?



Where in all of the multiverse would you curse the worst of humanity?


I don’t believe in the worst of humanity. Curse? What is this curse of which you speak?



Where in the multiverse do you wish you could retire or at least vacation to?


Friends and I once had a long conversation on this topic. What story would we actually like to live in?  Not visit briefly, mind you, actually live in.


I’d like to visit a myriad of places: walk the golden bricks of Oz, see the shining seas from Caer Paravel, smell the dust of the road to Bree, feel the heat of Arrakis, the icy cold of the long winters among the Starks, taste the delicacies of the lands near Hed (near Head, mind you. The people of Hed themselves eat stuff like cabbage) and the strange, unfamiliar foods of Barsoom


But live there? Raise my kids there? Most of those places are dangerous, Man!


After many many days of discussion, we picked Star Trek Next Generation’s Federation Earth…during any time when the Space Whales or the Borg are not attacking. There are vineyards, replicator machines, holodecks for entertainment. Strange aliens who visit, like Vulcans. It is safe and pleasant and intriguing.


Who could ask for more?




Who :

Who was the first objective person to tell you your writing/art was good?


I do not know the answer to that question…but I can give an answer that is somewhat in keeping with the spirit of it.


When I was five, I fell in love with my best friend’s older brother, a perfect specimen of a boy with the lovely name of Peter. I remained in love with Peter for many many years.(He went on to become a Born Again Christian, a missionary to Africa, a computer programmer, an inventor and programmer of language translation technology, and, recently, he took his entire family—wife and five children—to China for a year or so to work at New Day Orphanage, a place where orphans who need medical attention could stay during their surgery, etc. So, quite an interesting fellow and worthy, I feel, of my youthful admiration.)


When I got out of school, I wanted to be a writer, but I knew EVERYONE wanted to be a writer. I also knew that most people who wanted to be writers did not succeed (often because they gave up). I was so embarrassed by this—that I wanted to do something so many people failed at, but I had no proof that I would be any good at it—that I could not tell anyone my secret goal. The few times that I did, they reacted as I expected—with disbelieve—making me feel small and terrible.


Then, one day, I told Peter.


Not sure how I got the courage to do it, but he asked me what I was up to, and it just came out of my mouth. Peter considered this for a moment and nodded, replying thoughtfully, “Yes, I can see how you’d be good at that.”


Peter lived in such a different world from mine that the problems of becoming a writer were entirely unknown to him. But he knew I was very imaginative. His calm acceptance of my secret goals, his complete lack of disbelief or derision, were such a breath of fresh air to me. I never felt quite as embarrassed about my hopes and dreams again.



Who gave you the weirdest compliment ever?


Weirdest. I don’t know. But unusual? When I was a Counselor-In-Training at a camp in Colorado as a teenager, one of the other CITs cried out, “You’re like someone from Narnia!” I thought this was the best thing anyone had ever said to me.




Made Up:


Which made up element is the silliest?


Easy. Hands down: Unobtainium.



What yet to be realized invention do you want the most?


Teleportation. I’d love to be able to travel more and to visit friends more.


Travel is always slightly painful for me, because I wish I could live nearly everywhere I go. If I could teleport, I could have a house with rooms in all those places. The kitchen could be in Virginia. Then, I walk through the teleportation doorway and spend some time in the dining room in Guangzhou, China with my daughter’s girlfriends. The library could be in Seattle, which not only houses friends but boasts of more bookstores than any other city. The playroom could be in New York, near relatives that, otherwise, the children seldom get to see.
It would be great!



Which One:

Professor X or Dumbledore?

Oh! That is a hard one! I LOVE Harry Potter, so I’d have to say Dumbledore. But, as related elsewhere, Professor X was a neighbor in my childhood.


Rudyard Kipling or Stephen King

Definitely Kipling. My favorite poem of all poems is his The Fairies’ Siege. In fact, the title of the first chapter of the novel I just finished writing comes from that poem. If you don’t know it, you’ll love it! Here’s a link:


Reading Shakespeare: Wrong or Very Wrong

Having just finished a three volume series that is a sequel to Shakespeare’s Tempest, I don’t feel qualified to answer this one.



Is your favorite time of year?

All times, really, but I especially love spring and fall. But I think best of all, I love this time of the year, early fall. For some reason, I am always convinced that the world is full of promise at this time of the year…maybe it’s left over from that back-to-school anticipation as a child. Creativity seems to abound, plans seem obtainable, and falling leaves smell good.



Do you see a movie?


Hmm. When I can snag a babysitter?


Also, on Sunday nights. My husband and I try to do “date night” every week—just to do something together. Often we are too tired for anything ambitious, so we watch a movie together. Recently, we’ve been watching Humphrey Bogart movies.


Occasionally, we invite our nearly-16 year old daughter along and watch Chinese TV. They have some really good shows. There’s one series called Chinese Paladin Three, made from a video game, that is like a live action anime. It is really good without having the excess violence, horror, and sex that all American TV now seems to require.


Other than that, though, I don’t watch TV at all, movies or otherwise.



On your ice cream?

Everything known to man. I love ice cream. If a person could live on ice cream, it would be my food of choice.


I love toppings: but particularly fudge or the kind of chocolate that hardens. I particularly like ice cream with a bit of milk or soda added. The soda foams up, which makes it particularly delightful.


On your feet on your day off?

Lol. I only own two pairs of shoes…a pair of sandals for the summer and a pair of mocs for the winter. I wear the sandals everywhere all summer, even hiking and on the Great Wall of China—which, let me tell you, is not like in the pictures! The thing was straight up, vertical, and every stair was a different distance from the next one…some a few inches some almost two feet. That was a hike, I tell you!


I also own a pair of bright red winter boots.


Complete the sentence:

My working space is: very messy. Sigh.


Actually, at the moment, it is rather neat. My infinitely patient husband finally mentioned that it would be nice if we could find the dining table and even nicer if—ridiculous as this sounds—it were actually clean enough to eat off of. So, I cleaned and now I can see my desk.


Alas, I doubt it will last.


Cthulhu always told me: to call collect. (“Cthulhu calling, do you accept?”  “I do…argh!!!!”)


The most annoying job I’ve ever had:

The was selling Encyclopedia Britannica. I would work very, very hard for a week or two and sell a couple of sets, and the company would turn them all down for bad credit…so I never got paid. That took a lot of the enthusiasm out of my sales efforts.

Once, I went to a house where an old lady lived in a dog-pee soaked apartment. I made the mistake of putting my books down on her carpet before I realized this. I had to replace some of them (and the money for this came from my pocket.) I sat there, trying not to gag on the smell, and—to my great delight, she decided to buy a set. When she went to get her checkbook, the nurse came forward and told me that she was not allowed to buy anything.

Why she did not tell me this before I arrived and ruined my merchandise (or at least warn me about the dog pee, or clean up the dog pee) I don’t know.

I was so disturbed after that encounter that I parked wrong coming home and drove the edge of the dumpster behind the hovel in which my husband and I dwelt in our newlywed bliss into the back side window of my car. That window remained missing for years. I finally had it fixed right before my first son was born. The kind glass fixer guy came to where I was, at work, but I still had to stand in the sun, eight months pregnant and big as a house, to watch him do it.
Still, it was nice to put the last souvenir of that horrendous day behind me.


For fun:

When I take a break during the workday I: go rollerblading.

I used to do this outside, which was very conducive to thinking about writing or even to praying quietly…but I was constantly running into unbearably hot weather, unbearably cold weather (I could skate comfortably up to about 20 degrees, but below that…brrrr.) twigs, water, ice, bugs and snakes on the path etc.

Now I skate inside at the rink. Good points: no see above. Also, no hills. Bad points: only open set times that are not as convenient, and they play loud music. This is not as conducive to thinking about my novel and praying. It is much more conducive to thinking about rollplaying characters and other frivolous things.

I’ve spent so much time thinking about frivolous things of this kind while skating in the last year, that certain lines on the floor automatically remind me of these things.

Still…great fun. And I’m trying to get my kids to come occasionally.


The one thing you probably don’t know I’m good at is:

I’ve thought about it for quite a while, and I don’t think I’m good at anything. Sorry.

I am really easy to amuse, though. I believe this is a virtue. It means that I appreciate more types of humor than many other people do. Recently, a friend joked that he got his sense of humor on the cheap. I’m still trying to figure out if a cheap sense of humor is one like mine, where you are amused by everything, or if it means you can only afford to be amused by one or two types of humor…in which case, mine would be a very expensive sense of humor indeed!


Your Work:

The piece I’ve had the most trouble with:

My recent novel I just sent off to my editor. I wrote thirteen different openings before I got the current one and threw out over one thousand pages. (And that’s only the writing side. There is more—horrible, terrible more, but I will not describe it so as to spare our readers, who do not deserve such torture and agony. Quick! Go to your happy place!)

But, finally, it worked!


The piece I’ve had the most fun with:

The same novel mentioned above. After all those false starts, it was sooo much fun to see it finally come alive!

The next project to come out is :

Actually, it just came out. Prospero Regained, the third and final novel in the Prospero’s Daughter series hit the shelves. To my delight, it has received some really good reviews. But no review is as delightful as seeing the face of my neighbors light up when they hear the book is out and discovering that they are actually rushing out to get the book. Wow. Feel’s good.

(For more info on the Prospero series see my website:  or my blog:  In addition to general chatty nonsense, the website has background information about the series, characters, etc. )

I’m also an editor on the Bad Ass Fairies Anthology series, which is—like it sounds—a series of short story anthologies about fairies with attitude. There’s a page about that on my website, too.

After that, I am working on the above-mentioned news series, hopefully to be called Visions of Arhyalon. I would describe it, but it practically defies description. Short version: When modern day Earth is invaded from another dimension, several young writers discover that they are actually writing stories about things that are real in the greater multiverse. But it isn’t really about that. It is about saving the world, stopping Ragnarok, romance with wicked immortal guys, really cool magic items, and discovering you have the power to make new worlds!