Sparked is out now! So be sure to check out my Q&A with authors Helena Echlin and Malena Watrous below and don’t forget to enter the giveaway below!
About the Book
Author: Helena Echlin & Malena Watrous
Pub. Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: Geek & Sundry
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Fifteen-year-old Laurel Goodwin wakes up to find her older sister Ivy missing from their Airstream trailer in the Oregon redwoods. A recurring nightmare convinces her that Ivy was abducted, but no one takes her dream seriously, including her mom. Laurel, a loner, has to learn to ask for help, and Jasper Blake, a mysterious new kid who shares her love of old books, quickly becomes her ally. Together they find their quiet town holds a deep secret and is the epicenter of a dark prophecy.
Laurel soon learns that her worst enemies, mean girls Peyton Andersen and Mei Rosen, are developing powers that she needs to find and save Ivy. With time running out, Laurel realizes that power doesn’t always take the form that you expect. And once she learns to look beyond her snap judgments, she develops an unexpected gift of her own.
1- I love that this story is set in the Oregon redwoods. That’s such a beautiful and magical setting. What inspired you to include that location in the book?
Malena: I grew up in Oregon and, like Laurel, I lived on the edge of a huge park filled with towering redwoods that were prone to crashing down in storms. In high school, I went to many rain-soaked parties in the woods. We would sneak out into those same woods, through our bedroom windows. When I started thinking about Sparked, this seemed like the perfect setting. As a teenager, I feel like I had a lot of freedom (or took it), more than kids in the city where I live now, who are more supervised. The forest is also an irresistible source of menace. In our first chapter, Laurel worries about wild animals, a tree falling on her, and a sociopath lurking in the trees. Plus, the small-town Oregon setting appealed because when there’s only one high school in town, you get rich kids and poor ones, conservative Christians and hippie liberals, all in the same class, and that makes for interesting tension. Their difference in background is in part what causes the enmity between Laurel and mean girls Peyton and Mei.
Helena: I’ve actually never been to Oregon! I’m going there for the first time to do a reading soon and it feels like I’m going to Middle-earth or Narnia.
2- Sparked is so full of mystery, which is so much fun for readers. Do you have any favorite YA mystery novels you would recommend?
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart; Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer; When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead; I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan.
3- The main character, Laurel, has recurring nightmares in this story. Have you ever had any recurring nightmares yourself?
Malena: I haven’t had recurring nightmares, luckily, but when I was a kid, I had a recurring dream that I could move things with my eyes. The feeling was so real that I always woke up feeling disappointed I didn’t have a power after all. When I had the dream again as an adult, I started thinking about a teen character who wants to have a power but doesn’t. How would she feel if everyone around her was getting a power—including the mean girls who torment her at school? Laurel is a girl who feels that she’s always second best and I think many of us secretly feel this way.
4- Would you say that Sparked is a more character or plot-driven novel?
Helena: It started out as a plot-driven novel and became a character-driven one. We went out for a drink one rainy night—Friday the thirteenth, as it happens—and I told Malena I was tired of writing adult fiction and I wanted to write a YA novel. She told me about her idea: a girl wakes up to find her beloved older sister missing from their shared bedroom. Then she has a dream that she can move things with her eyes and wakes up wishing she had a power. I was hooked, and we started riffing. What if nobody believes Laurel when she says that Ivy’s been taken? Now she’s completely on her own and only she can save Ivy. I grabbed a pen and took furious notes as we dreamed up our plot. In the next five months, we dashed off our first draft in a white-hot frenzy of inspiration we called “the Vortex.”
Malena: Then we realized that although our plot was gripping, our characters were flat. Total YA clichés. Gorgeous but standoffish hero. Check. Doormat heroine. Check. Gratuitous love triangle. Check. So then we had to take the book apart and completely rewrite it. We had to turn Laurel and Jasper and Ivy and everyone else into those complicated, flawed characters we loved to read about ourselves. That only took about fifty or so drafts but we enjoyed every minute, because we were writing about characters we cared about.
5- If you had to describe Sparked in just five words, which ones would you choose?
Gripping, atmospheric, romantic, moving, and fun.
About the Authors
Hello! We are both novelists, but if you’ve ever tried to write anything, you know that writing can be a lonely, angst-filled business. So one night over a cocktail or two, we came up with a solution: write our next book together. Malena already had an idea: a girl’s sister is kidnapped and she has to rely on mean girls with superpowers to get her sister back. We couldn’t resist seeing where that story would take us – a wild ride that includes a loner girl who wants to be a writer and a gorgeous boy who can shoot fire from his eyes but also loves to talk about books. And an ancient Zoroastrian prophecy. And pie shakes. (OK, so maybe we got a little carried away.)
We’ve both published solo novels (check them out here and here) and had no idea how co-writing would work out, but we pounded out the first draft in a white-hot frenzy of inspiration we called “the Vortex.” One of us would write a scene and send it to the other with a note: “My apartment is a pigsty and I haven’t eaten all day. #inthevortex.” We wrote the book we wanted to read as teenagers: a supernatural thriller with healthy doses of horror and humor. Oh, and of course there’s romance. You have to wait a long time for the only kiss in the book, but isn’t that the case with all the best kisses in books?
Enter the Giveaway
3 winners will receive a finished copy of SPARKED, US Only.
Follow the Blog Tour
Thanks so much to Rockstar Book Tours for hosting this tour! Be sure to check out their website here as well as the other amazing posts on this tour!
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