SALT LAKE CITY UT June 17, 2016
In 2003, two Southern California high school girls, after seeing the Lord of the Rings movie, sat outside the theater, their emotions swept away by the film. Chelsea said she had always wanted to write a high epic fantasy in the Tolkien philosophy. Amanda admitted this had been a dream of hers as well.
Although the high school sophomores were busy with academics, sports and extracurricular activities, they decided to jump right in and together write a book. The next day they sketched out their main character, Gilaon. On the weekends they squeezed in collaborative writing sessions.
Starting this project when they were fifteen, the two friends are now in their late twenties. Those ten years have been punctuated with periods of submitting to agents and publishers, only to be rejected (or hear nothing at all), retreating back into the story to edit and rewrite, and then back to the market to submit again.
Despite the rejections, Amanda Matula and Chelsea Judy kept with the project because of their love for creative writing, for their characters and the world they inhabit.
“We are thrilled to have found a publishing house and look forward to seeing how our audience receives the book,” says Judy. She and Matula write under the pen name J.M. Cliff. Their book, The Dark Pilgrim, is the first in a projected quintet they call The Flight of the Lionheart series.
WiDo Publishing™ submission editor Allie Maldonado fell in love with the book. “I’ve not seen anything quite like it come across my desk,” she said. “It’s going to absolutely appeal to Tolkien fans. No wonder I loved it, I’m a huge Tolkien fan.”
Matula recalls that when she visited the WiDo website, “it felt like the perfect fit for our book and for us to grow as authors. We liked the fact that it was a smaller press with a close-knit feel. Chelsea and I would exchange emails weekly because she kept asking if I’d had any news on the WiDo submission.”
“Amanda and Chelsea have created a well-crafted story with interesting and diverse characters. I can hardly grasp that they started this as teenagers and kept at it for ten years,” Maldonado says. “And we still have a lot to learn about the Dark Pilgrim himself, a puzzle cloaked in mystery. I look forward to reading the next one in the series.”
Amanda Matula was born and raised in Orange County, California to a family who encouraged the pursuit of dreams and the growth of imagination. As a lover of nature and travel, Amanda has always looked to her surrounding environment for inspiration. Amanda graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Classical Studies. She currently resides in Denver, Colorado with her husband and two young sons. When not writing, Amanda enjoys cooking, hiking, and working with horses.
Chelsea Judy was born and raised in Orange County, CA with her parents and younger sister. Frequent backpacking trips in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains while growing up inspired Chelsea to begin writing the Flight of the Lionheart series with her best friend, Amanda Matula. After attending university, Chelsea moved to Australia for two years to complete her Master’s degree. She has since relocated to the east coast of the United States to begin her PhD at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. When not writing, she enjoys trekking, consuming inordinate amounts of coffee, and taking as many trips to New Zealand as she can manage.