Jane Yolen on FOILED: “As for the illustrations by Mike Cavallero, he put his heart and soul into them”

yolen foiledFOILED is a graphic novel, first of two, about a New York City high school fencer who finds out she is the Last Defender of Faerie, illustrated by Mike Cavallero.

About the work, Jane Yolen wrote:

FOILED began when my then eleven-year-old granddaughter Maddison became an avid fencer. But the story was also about my days as a college fencer and the time that I lost my foil on a date in Grand Central Station.  Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction or sometimes a true story becomes even bigger in the remaking of it.

I planned to send the story to an anthology I’d signed up for. As I read the opening few pages to Maddison, who wanted to hear more, I ran into trouble. The story kept threatening to become bigger than the anthology’s word limit. It wanted to be—gulp!—a novel.  I stopped writing, and thought Maddison would never forgive me. Until, that is, I sold the story as a graphic novel.

“As for the illustrations by Mike Cavallero, he put his heart and soul into them, and I adore this, my first graphic novel,” Yolen said

Here is the book trailer:

According to School Library Journal:

The chapters in this clever graphic novel follow the terms of a fencing match, from “Engagement” to “Disengagement,” with successive stages in between. Most of the illustrations are done in two tones as Aliera Carstairs makes it through her humdrum days in high school, where she doesn’t fit in. Color begins to appear when she puts on her fencing mask at Grand Central Station and the fantasy begins. Illustrations complement the text well, with larger pictures reflecting the character’s situation and feelings. After meeting her date and admitting to seeing ogres and dragons when wearing her mask, he thinks she is crazy, but a wild adventure ensues. She loses her weapon but it is returned by a fairylike creature who tells her that the foil her mother purchased at a tag sale is the source of her powers, and she is the defender and now part of a world called Helfdon. The ending will leave readers anxiously awaiting the second installment in the series.

In classic Jane Yolen style, a square peg heroine finds out that while she always knew she was different, she never knew just how different. Even readers who were not previously fans of Yolen’s work will enjoy her first venture into the world of graphic novels. There is a heroine you can respect, strong and likable, and thankfully, no vampires. The book feels very much like the first  volume of a manga series.  The story moves right into making her ready to deal with the challenges that any manga reader knows are coming.

It’s Shojo manga with an American / European fantasy twist.

Check out the sequel, Foiled Again!

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