When a retired teacher unexpectedly bumped into one of her former students, an unlikely partnership began.
Graphic artist Dan Thiede and Eau Claire author Delaney Green, the pen name of Debra Peterson, first met at Memorial High School in 2006 in a class Green was teaching. However, they lost touch after Thiede graduated in 2007.
When they ran into each other almost a decade later at the gym, they reconnected.
“I recognized her and it was like, ‘What in the world are you up to these days?’ and we caught up quick,” Thiede said.
Thiede had recently returned to Eau Claire from Boston to start Kaze Studios, a creative agency focused on design, videography and motion graphics located on Grand Avenue. When Green mentioned her most recent book, he immediately latched on to the project.
The result of the collaboration was “Jem, a Fugitive from London,” the second in Green’s historical fantasy series centered around a young girl with magical powers named Jem. Green authored the book, and Thiede served as the book’s cover artist and designer.
The idea for the book cover came to Green in a dream, which she spent time describing in detail to Thiede.
“After the gym, she ended up going into my office and exploded with all of these details from her dream,” said Thiede, who also studied art at UW-Stout. “I sat and I sketched it out, and we talked.”
The “Jem” series will be about six books in total, Green said. Both she and Thiede said they hope to continue working together on the future books, and Green also added she hopes to have Theide redesign the original book cover.
The series follows Jem who, disguised as a boy, works for a physician and makes medicine on the side in 1758. Jem has magical powers, including an ability to hear what animals are thinking and know, by touch, what illnesses the physician’s patients have. “Jem, A Fugitive from London,” picks up as Jem leaves London in an effort to learn how to control her powers.
The idea for the series came to Green while she was still working at Memorial following a discussion with students about King George III and the Revolutionary War.
“That night I dreamed about a girl who was assisting a physician to care for King George III,” Green said. “… I thought, well, who is that and why would a girl be in the king’s bedchamber because girls didn’t get to do anything back then except get married and have babies and be maids and what not.”
The girl kept coming up, so Green decided to “sit down and let her talk,” and Jem was born. The first book in the series, “Jem, A Girl From London,” won Green a 2015 North Street Book Prize.
Green, who retired from the Eau Claire school district in 2012, said she hopes the book leaves readers with an open mind and sense of hope.
“Our culture is very good at dismissing something that doesn’t have an scientific proof, and we’re very good at dismissing other people’s religions and myths and everything else if it doesn’t fit into the mainstream,” she said. “I hope the books make people go, ‘Well, maybe I don’t have to be so rigid. Maybe I can believe what I believe and look at this other thing and it won’t destroy me to just learn something different.’ ”
Green leaves on Tuesday to visit England and see some of the places she wrote about and donate copies of the book to local libraries.
Both books in the “Jem” series are available on Amazon and at The Local Store, 205 N. Dewey St. Green currently is working on the third book, “Jem, A Novice in Philadelphia,” which she expects to be released next summer.
Contact: 715-833-9214, [email protected], @EmilyMiels on Twitter
• For more information about author Delaney Green visit delaneygreenwriter.com. For more information about artist Dan Thiede and Kaze Studios, visit kazefilms.com.