Book 1: Leandra’s Enchanted Flute
Fourteen-year-old flutist Lee Ann Graves is a survivor–she has beaten cancer. But her greatest battle is yet to come. The Carolina wren who has sung outside her window during the long weeks of chemotherapy reveals himself as Songcatcher. He knows Lee Ann’s real name is Leandra, and he transports her and her flute to a magical world that is dying because of a growing world-wide “canker.”
Leandra is restored to health and her flute transformed by what magic is left in the world. But as she searches for the source of the canker, the malignant forces take their toll, not only on the land, but on Leandra’s physical and mental well-being. With the help of Songcatcher, other bird friends, and a very human prince, Leandra must find a way to heal the land she has come to love before it is too late.
“Beautiful imagery, thoughtful message.”
“Vivid scenes of the physical and emotional battle faced by all chemo patients, which can only be described by a cancer survivor.”
“The character of Leandra is so well drawn, I felt as if I were right there in the room with her.”
Book 2: Return to Finian Jahndra
Four years after saving the magical land of Finian Jahndra, Leandra’s cancer has returned and the prognosis is grim. At Songcatcher’s request, Leandra returns to help her bird friends and Prince Aspen repel an invading army. But something is terribly wrong–her flute has no magic and her health is not restored. Despite heartbreaking losses, a series of perplexing mysteries, and the exhaustion of her advancing illness, Leandra must find a way to rally the birds and humans of Finian Jahndra to meet a much greater and deadly force before the magic dies forever.
CIR: What inspired you to write a fantasy about a little girl with cancer?
JONES: A Carolina wren DID sing outside my window the spring I underwent chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2005. As a music teacher, I was trying to figure out how to write the story of Mozart’s Magic Flute opera to make it accessible for children when the Carolina wren suddenly became a character by the name of Songcatcher and needed an entirely different story.
CIR: What do you hope readers will get out of this book?
JONES: Since cancer touches almost everyone, either from personal experience or because a loved one has battled it, I hope readers will not only share an adventure with Leandra and Songcatcher but also understand a little bit better what a cancer patient experiences, especially the roller coaster of emotions. I also hope they will want to learn more about birds, as I tried to make the characters’ personalities match each bird species.
CIR: Since you are writing from the experience of your own fight with cancer, are any of the characters like you or someone you know?
JONES: Leandra has the fierce determination of one of my former flute students with cystic fibrosis, who came to me in seventh grade wanting to learn how to play the flute, even though her doctor told her she wouldn’t be able to blow (because of the excessive mucus CF produces in the lungs). She not only learned to play flute very well, she had a double lung transplant and is now thriving. Both these gritty young women are my heroes.
CIR: What makes your book unique?
JONES: There are other books about teens with cancer (notably John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars), but I don’t know of any others written as both a fantasy adventure and an allegory of the cancer experience.
CIR: Given the basis of the story, is there more coming?
JONES: I intended for Leandra’s Enchanted Flute to be a stand-alone title, but my original editor with Cool Well Press (now out of business) asked if I would write a sequel. After I wrote the sequel she said I needed another book to show what happens next. So I am currently incubating a third book which will be written from Prince Aspen’s point of view. If there is a demand for it, I’ll lay aside the series I’m currently writing and work on Aspen’s tale.
Learn more about Katy Huth Jones at her author website.