Ashley Neuhaus 19-APR-2012 What do Ada Byron and Mary Shelley have in common?  Besides being two very strong, historical females, they are the two main characters in Jordan Stratford’s newest novel, WOLLSTONECRAFT.  His Kickstarter campaign had a meager goal of $4,000 and since its start, it has greatly surpassed that number and is over $65,000!

Left: Ada Byron, Right: Mary Shelley

Stratford takes these two historical figures and tells a story of what they might have been like at the age of 11.  Ada is described as somewhat of a hermit who wants to spend her time “inventing things and solving math problems and ignoring people altogether.”  Mary is  “always going on about romance and exotic travels.”  The two girls find themselves forced together and Mary, with her adventurous spirit in full swing, wants to open a detective agency and gets Ada to play along.

The first book follows the beginning of their agency, WOLLSTONECRAFT.  Their first client is an heiress who needs a precious diamond to be found.  The girls take the case and start off on what is sure to be a fun-filled adventure in a steampunk world.  Along the way, they come across real figures of history such as Percy Shelley and Michael Faraday.

Jordan Stratford was gracious enough to answer a few questions I had for him.

AN: Why did you chose Mary Shelley and Ada Byron as the two main characters?

JS: It’s obvious to me that we inhabit a world conceived of by these two visionaries.  We owe them everything from Star Wars to the iPad.  And they made their contributions as young women, out of the power of their curiosity and education.  Not masses of capital, not from celebrity, but purely out of their ability to imagine, question, and communicate.

AN: Have you always been a fan of theirs?

JS: Always.

AN: You say that it’s an adventure novel “for and about girls” but will boys enjoy the story too?

JS: Of course.  Girls have always derived pleasure and interest from media designed for boys, adults have always enjoyed stuff designed for kids.  Just because a novel is crafted for one audience doesn’t exclude another.

AN: What sets this story apart from other adventure stories for children?

JS: This is Middle Grade fiction, specifically for kids 8-12.  It’s about the virtue of curiosity, of questioning, of not accepting the presented view of the world.  Most stories for kids stress other perfectly noble virtues of friendship, loyalty, bravery – but this series is a celebration of asking questions, about the power of “what if.”

AN: How far do you plan on taking the Wollstonecraft story?

JS: I’ve had inquiries from every major publisher you can name, film studios, animation studios, gaming studios, stage productions.  People understand that there’s a hunger for these characters, and this world.

AN: When you surpassed your goal of $4,000 and the number kept growing, were you surprised?

JS: Because I researched Kickstarter extensively, I did anticipate some overfunding.  But 50% overfunding, not 1500% Of course I’ve been overwhelmed by the support of this project, and my responsibility now is to be accountable for the project budget.  I’ve been able to commit to 4 books in the series, a free short story and a teacher’s guide that will be available for free on the website.

AN: Do you have any other works out there for people to read? If so, what are they?

JS: I’m known predominantly as a non-fiction writer. I write books on spirituality and the history of ideas from a Jungian perspective.  Fiction is definitely a departure from that, and my first novel, Mechanicals, is a not-for-kids steampunk take on the Crimean War.  It’s the Charge of the Light Brigade, only with giant robots.  Fun.

The campaign is already a success and will be funded on April 30, 2012.  But that shouldn’t stop you from becoming a backer of this great world that Jordan Stratford has created.  Additional funds will go to producing more books.  Some of the great rewards offered to backers are e-book copies, hard copies of the book, and a WOLLSTONECRAFT t-shirt (available in kids’ sizes).