Author Chat with Gwenda Bond, (Girl In The Shadows), Excerpt + Plus Giveaway!
Today we're excited to chat with Gwenda Bond,
author ofGirl In The Shadows!
Below you'll find our interview, an excerpt from Girl In The Shadows,
plus a giveaway!
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I’ve always loved stage magic and magicians. And I’ve always been perplexed (and okay, sometimes straight-up put-off) by how male-dominated magic is as a field. When I was thinking about telling another story set in the Cirque American world, I knew almost immediately I wanted it to be about a girl who wants to be a well-known magician. Moira emerged almost fully formed in my mind from the start, and I knew that she’d discover she could do real magic, which would make her dream both easier and harder to attain. I also knew I wanted there to be family secrets for her to discover, just as there were for Jules’ in Girl on a Wire. While this isn’t a direct sequel, there are some overlapping characters and plot. But this is very much a story that can stand on its own too, and which gives us a new midway part of the Cirque’s world. I jokingly refer to this as my “ambitious girls” series, because that’s something Jules and Moira have in common.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel. By a great distance! This is one of the harder books to title that I’ve written. The working title was Abracadabra Girl and my editor and I bounced around a jillion other possibilities and then I canvassed Facebook and Twitter for a zillion more. In the end, after exhausting a great number of possibilities, I went back to the manuscript and we settled on Girl in the Shadows after a line in the prologue.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
Oh, that’s a tough one—I think the finale, because the mental staging for it was so difficult to work out (diagrams!). Also, pretty much all the magic performance scenes. I hope they work, because it’s very difficult to make a magic trick gripping when the character knows all the precise mechanisms that allow them to be done. Thank goodness Moira’s an escape artist.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
To trust the process, and that the book is the only thing truly in my control.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I LOVE this cover. I’ve been so lucky with all my covers, and this one is no exception. The cover artist M.S. Corley just did a genius job with it—it goes beautifully with the Girl on a Wire cover, and it also incorporates all these little pieces of the book into the art. The heart (which is a copper heart in the book) is probably my favorite. Or the ferris wheel!
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2016?
Argh! So hard. One I can’t wait to see people start reading is Megan Miranda’s All the Missing Girls; it’s her adult debut and one of the most gripping, insanely good crime novels I’ve read in ages. Everyone, seriously, read it.
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
Dez! He’s such a little trickster. He never wants to show the emotions below the layer he’s comfortable showing.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
REVISING! Drafting is so far from where I want the story to end up that I find it pretty painful.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
In tandem with Girl in the Shadows, there’s going to be a comic book miniseries that starts releasing July 6 called Girl Over Paris. You can read all three Cirque stories independently or together. There won’t be any spoilers for Girl in the Shadows in it, but it takes place between the two novels. I got to work with some of my comics heroes on it, Kate Leth and Ming Doyle, and it’s just been such a pleasure and gift. The four issues will be collected into a graphic novel this fall too. So anyone who’s disappointed not to be getting another Jules story, fear not! Girl Over Paris is all about Jules and Remy (and Dita) (who you’ll see in GitS too!).
Thanks so much for hosting me!
Meet Girl In The Shadows!
Eighteen-year-old Moira Mitchell grew up in the shadows of Vegas’s stage lights while her father’s career as a magician soared. More than anything, Moira wants to be a magician too, but her father is dead set against her pursuing magic.
When an invitation to join the Cirque American mistakenly falls into Moira’s possession, she takes action. Instead of giving the highly coveted invitation to its intended recipient, Raleigh, her father’s handsome and worldly former apprentice, Moira takes off to join the Cirque. If she can perform alongside its world-famous acts, she knows she’ll be able to convince her dad that magic is her future.
But when Moira arrives, things take on an intensity she can’t control as her stage magic suddenly feels like…real magic. To further distract her, Raleigh shows up none too pleased at Moira’s presence, all while the Cirque’s cocky and intriguing knife thrower, Dez, seems to have it out for her. As tensions mount and Moira’s abilities come into question, she must decide what’s real and what’s an illusion. If she doesn’t sort it out in time, she may forever remain a girl in the shadows.
Meet Gwenda Bond!
GWENDA BOND is the author of the young adult novels Lois Lane: Fallout, Lois Lane: Double Down, and Girl on a Wire, among others. Girl in the Shadows, a companion novel to Girl on a Wire set in the Cirque American, is next up in 2016. She's also hard at work on some secret projects you don't know about yet.
Her nonfiction writing has appeared in Publishers Weekly, Locus Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. She has an MFA in writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in a hundred-year-old house in Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband, author Christopher Rowe. There are rumors she escaped from a screwball comedy, and she might have a journalism degree because of her childhood love of Lois Lane. Visit her online at www.gwendabond.com or @gwenda on Twitter.
Check out this excerpt from Girl In The Shadows!!
before your very eyes
Four days later, I turned the triple-cherry-red convertible that I’d inher- ited from Dad when I got my license onto the bumpy, unpaved road to the Cirque American’s winter quarters. The intensity of the everglade- green foliage hurt my eyes. Not surprising, since they were gritty from a thirty-six-hour drive with as few stops to rest as possible. I had pulled over at a gas station to do a quick primp and put on my simple cos- tume, and now was so full of nerves I thought I might vibrate right out of my skin.
Could I do this? Dad didn’t think so. I almost understood his objection—it was true that no female magician had ever become as famous as the top male ones. Magic was still a man’s world, a boys’ club. But that only made me more determined to be the first: the first woman as well-known for her magic as Houdini or David Blaine or, well, Dad.
It hadn’t felt good to abandon him to come here. But he’d forced me into this.
I had trundled contritely into his office the day after our fight with a made-up story about how I’d seen the light and would be practical from that moment on—starting with a precollege program across the country at Cornell over the summer. I handed him a forged letter about it and told him I’d neglected to mention it because I thought he’d make
me go. He hadn’t been happy about my imminent departure, but what could he say? Stay here with me and learn magic? Nope.
So here I was.
The Cirque grounds came into view ahead, swarming with people. The uneven rows of RVs and trailers, many having seen better days despite being painted with murals or the Cirque’s swirling logo, didn’t match up with what I’d conjured in my head.
You expected Las Vegas hotels and neon and flashing lights and the sound of the next jackpot always nearby.
I found a dusty parking spot beside a few other cars and trucks, some with campers hitched to the back. Red buildings were clustered in the distance like bright gemstones around a crown jewel—in this case, the enormous red-and-white-striped tent at the top of the slope.
After I got out of the car, I stood looking at it for a long moment.
My destination and, I hoped, my destiny.
I tugged a short tailored tuxedo jacket over my simple black pants and fitted white shirt, and felt face powder begin to settle into my pores with a sting as the Florida humidity summoned forth sweat. In the jacket pockets, I stashed two custom decks of the slightly smaller, bridge-sized cards many magicians preferred, and a pair of handcuffs, just in case. I’d brought the equipment for my daring coffin escape, broken down into component pieces in the trunk. But I wanted to survey the scene first.
A spaghetti-thin blond boy with a duffel bag draped over one knobby elbow breezed past me and asked, “You run off from a gay wedding?” He laughed at my feminine tux.
His laugh wasn’t mean per se, but my eyes narrowed. Several of the women who worked at Dad’s show were lesbians or bi, and I’d been in one couple’s wedding.
“What if I was?” I asked. “And it would just be a wedding, period.” Another boy drew up beside the first and punched him in the shoulder—hard enough that he took a step back. Then the new boy
turned to me. He must not have noticed me before his friend spoke, because his once-over went on way too long. Long enough to turn into staring.
I ordered my makeup to stay put, sweat or no sweat, and tried to hide any reaction to the exam. Distressingly, I found it difficult to be offended.
The boy was tall, wearing a black tank top that showed off a tan and a strong build. Long brown hair brushed his chin, and his eyes flashed like pennies tossed into the air. I had a trick where I threw a handful of pennies and caught them on the return trip only to reveal an empty palm. He should have been as easy to dismiss as those coins were to make vanish, given that being cute didn’t make up for having bad taste in friends. But he wasn’t. There was something about the cut of his jawline as he angled it when he saw me neutrally returning his examination that made me wonder what his story was.
“Ignore him. He’s an idiot,” he said, finally.
“I can believe he’s an idiot. What’s your excuse?” When he looked amused but didn’t say anything, I added, “For staring.”
“Sorry. There’s something . . . about you,” he said. “Your eyes. It was almost like I recognized you. But I don’t think we’ve met.”
My eyes were a perfectly ordinary green. I rolled them. “We haven’t.” No way I’d have forgotten.
“What are you?” he asked. There was a vague lilt to his voice, not quite an accent. “Here for, I mean.”
In answer, I slipped my hand into my pocket and whipped out a deck of cards. This was no time to be flashy and put on the cuffs for a trick of my own design, so I executed a perfect circle fan with the cards instead, thrusting them to one side and forming them into a complete circle. The backs were red and black and white, patterned to make a round roulette wheel.
The circle fan looked easy, done right. This was.
The other boy cackled in response and nudged the brown-haired boy’s shoulder. To his credit, he stepped away from his howler monkey of a friend.
“Name’s Desmond, but you can call me Dez,” he said, tipping his chin down to me before starting to walk away. “And that’s not magic,” he added, pointing at my cards.
Yes, it was. It wasn’t what I was most proud of, but the hours of practice that single technique had required to master scrolled through my brain, the endless time spent training my fingers to find the right position automatically. I could count on one hand the number of magi- cians who could do it as well as me.
“It’s impressive anyway,” he tossed over his shoulder.
I stood in offended silence. He stopped and called back, “Auditions are this way, Girl Who Hasn’t Told Me Her Name Yet.”
I could have introduced myself then, but I decided it was smarter to keep something up my sleeve. Still, I trailed them through the grass and vehicles, arrogant Dez and his cackling sidekick. Dez had one of the black envelopes in his left hand. I was curious what his act was.
We reached a table set up outside the giant tent, where a few busi- ness-suited women were collecting invites and checking names off a list. I waited until Dez was done signing in before I approached. The petite woman taking names and dispensing numbers barely even glanced at the much-labored-over fake ID that provided me with a dif- ferent last name. I hadn’t been able to resist giving it a showy flair, so
my new handle was Moira Miracle.
Mostly I didn’t want Dad to know I was here, which would be inevitable if people found out I was his daughter. I also worried my real identity would set expectations I couldn’t live up to.
I handed her the black invitation.
She squinted at it, then at her list, before frowning up at me. “This wasn’t yours,” she said. “We’ve already given this spot to its rightful owner.”
Crap. This was something I hadn’t prepared for.
“But it, um, found its way to me. So you might as well give me a chance?” I hated that it sounded like a question. That it was a question.
The woman cleared her throat.
And Raleigh stepped into view, dressed in his full stage suit and a top hat embroidered with a spooky skeletal head. “There was a lot of confusion when I showed up without my invite, Pixie. But now everything is clear to me,” he said, drawl more pronounced than usual. Raleigh never showed annoyance in an out-of-control way. “You picked my pocket.”
I couldn’t believe this. “I thought you dropped it on purpose.” “I didn’t drop it.”
“I’m not lying. I—”
“Regardless,” the suited woman said, “you can only audition with an invite. There were a limited number distributed, and this one’s taken. He’s already been seen and hired. Sorry.”
I felt like I’d been sucker punched. “Raleigh?” I had to stoop to pleading with him to help me.
“Does he even know you’re here?” he asked. He meant Dad, of course.
Dez appeared beside us. “Problem?” he asked, giving the woman at the table a smile I would’ve had to admit, if pressed by some instrument of medieval torture, was charming. And practically irresistible based on her eye-batting reaction to it. “I can vouch that she’s an incredible magician,” he said.
Raleigh was giving Dez a who’s this guy? look.
“He’s right,” I said. “And I’m guessing if Raleigh’s hired, then your main magic act is covered, though he might let me open?”
Raleigh shook his head, and I rushed on. “But even if I can’t do that, I’d still like to audition to work the midway crowd. You’ll need people to keep them lingering instead of going to the main tent before it’s time. Close-up is what I’m most experienced at.” While I had my
bigger illusion ready to go, I’d never performed it for a crowd. Getting a spot was my main goal, and I was sure I could convince Raleigh, given time.
The woman glanced between Raleigh and me, and then at Dez, still smiling and charming her pants off for some reason.
Please, please give me a chance. I considered holding my breath. Maybe if I went for four minutes, she’d be impressed enough to cave.
“I’ll have to make a note,” the woman finally said. “But I’ll allow you inside, Miss Miracle. Without an invitation, you’d better be a mir- acle.”
I resisted the urge to leap into the air. A magician needs to cultivate a certain mystery.
“I will be entirely miraculous,” I said, smiling. “And thank you.” I wanted to thank Dez, but he grinned at me and disappeared back inside the tent. Leaving me to face Raleigh, who took my elbow after I accepted my audition number.
“You’ll be last,” the woman said.
I awkwardly pinned it on my lapel one-handed as Raleigh steered me through the people gathered outside the tent: a tattoo-covered contortion- ist bent backward in wheel pose, one leg pawing the air; a man with bulg- ing muscles twirling a thin woman over his head; a guy playing music on a theremin for what could only be some kind of modern freak show. Most of them would have been right at home at an audition for Cirque du Soleil.
“Moira,” Raleigh said, releasing me, “what are you doing here?” “Auditioning. Dad’s going to force me into college this fall. I can’t
convince him—you saw that—so I have to prove he’s wrong. I have to go after this another way.”
“Moira,” he said again, “you shouldn’t be here. I have to call him.” “Please. Don’t do this to me.”
“I never had family who wanted to protect me, Pixie,” Raleigh said, giving the impression of lightening up, even though I was sure he hadn’t.
“Or to hold you back. You risked everything. You know my mom’s never been in the picture and so Dad is overprotective. He’s going to overprotect me right out of what I want to do.” I put a hand on Raleigh’s arm. “I won’t be any trouble, I promise. Besides, I’m eighteen now. Technically I can do whatever I want.”
“Playing the motherless-child card is low.” Raleigh sighed. “You still have to audition, and it’s a tough crowd. And if you do make it, the minute you’re in trouble, I’m calling him.”
I gave a little leap in the air. So much for my air of mystery. “You won’t regret this. There won’t be any trouble.”
“Wrong, but I seem to be doing it anyway,” he said. “Let’s go in.”
The stands inside the tent were half-full, and a panel of four judges occupied a table between the audience and the center ring. One of them was the Cirque’s owner, the famously wealthy Thurston Meyer. I recognized another as Jules Maroni, the wire walker who’d become a huge star almost overnight, but then botched the last show of the season. I’d seen playbills for a competition featuring her when I was in Paris with Dad over the summer. And here she was back for the new season, which I respected. The other judges were an older woman with a polka-dot scarf knotted at her neck and a girl with short hair wearing a man’s suit and bow tie.
I scanned the stands to find a place to sit and pretended not to see Dez wave from where he sat near the middle. He patted the bleacher beside him.
Raleigh nudged me toward the end of the second row, then ticked his chin up in Dez’s direction. “You know that guy?” he asked.
“No, but I owe him one.”
“Be careful how he collects,” Raleigh said.
“Ew,” I said. “But thanks for the Cro-Magnon response and the fake-big-brother act.”
“Don’t forget you owe me too,” he grumbled.
What I hadn’t thought about was that venturing inside meant watching the rest of the auditions before mine. They hadn’t been lying. It was a tough scene. Everyone was so good, and some of them still didn’t make it. The judges deliberated after each performance and made their decision on the spot. The tent slowly cleared out of people there to audition and filled with circus performers hanging out and watching. I tapped my fingers on the stands, getting more and more nervous. By the time the older woman turned and nodded to me, I was sprung as tight as a gun cocked to fire for a bullet catch.
I stood up, taking a few deep breaths on my way over.
Thurston Meyer smoothed back a swoop of brown hair. “It’s a good thing we’re not the same size or we’d always be wearing the same outfit,” he said.
It took me a few pounding heartbeats to understand what he meant: he was wearing a T-shirt now, but in the promo photos his ringmaster’s costume was similar to my modified tux. “Right,” I said, trying to sound like I was in on the joke. “That would be awkward.”
Not as awkward as this moment, but . . .
The older woman shook her head the tiniest fraction, her hand coming up to the scarf at her throat, and consulted a list in front of her. There was handwriting beside one of the names on it. She leaned over to exchange a whisper with the girls next to her. Jules Maroni looked me up and down, almost like she was trying to place me. The girl in the suit did a survey too, though she smiled apologetically at me. Jules said something back to the older woman. The woman handed Thurston the sheet of paper.
“Aha, the invitation thief,” he said. “I don’t think your behavior should be rewarded. We sent scouts all over the country to make that list. Those spots were earned.”
I swallowed. “Give me a chance to earn one now.” “We should,” Jules chimed in.
The owner didn’t react to that, other than to give me a hard assess- ing gaze, not unlike one of Dad’s when he was sizing up a girl new to his show. “Act name?” he asked.
“The Miraculous Moira. I want to do close-up magic for your crowds, with an escape twist.”
He crooked his head to where Raleigh sat. Raleigh, who didn’t bother to speak up in support. But it must not have mattered. “Since you seem to know the magician we’ve already hired, let’s see what you can do,” Thurston said.
The tent had grown silent, more than it had for the other auditions so far, and I scanned the stands. Dez grinned at me and leaned forward, elbows on his knees. It occurred to me that I hadn’t seen him audition yet, even though I was supposed to be last.
You came all this way. You can do this. “Miss Miraculous?” Thurston prompted.
I took the handcuffs out of my pocket and held them up, dangling. I removed a deck from my pocket with my other hand. My fingers trembled, which they never did.
I gave a stiff smile to the panel of judges. Thurston and the older woman already seemed bored, but the girl in the suit continued to smile and Jules seemed interested. I closed the cuffs around my wrists with an audible click, and that perked them up.
“Playing cards have existed since at least the ninth century, which we know from a record set down by the writer Su E, telling of Prin- cess Tongchang using them in imperial China. And yet the mysteries any ordinary deck of cards can present are still vast. The ability of simple cards to amaze is undimmed.” I walked toward them, shuf- fling the cards, handcuffs and shaky hands notwithstanding. It had taken an age to find cuffs that allowed enough movement for me to do this, and another age to learn how to work with the cards while wearing them.
“Pick a card,” I said, holding them out. “Each of you.”
Each of them did. I motioned for them to reinsert their cards back into the deck, looking away so I didn’t see where. Something was . . . off. The feeling could just be nerves, but I had the sensation that I was hovering outside my own body. And not only that, specifically hovering way up high in the top of the tent spire above us. Like some force was pulling me there. Was it stage fright? I could have all the skill in the world, but it wouldn’t matter if I sucked at performing.
“Good,” I said as I backed away, trying to ground myself. “Keep the card at the forefront of your mind. Let it be the only image there.” I shuffled several times, cutting the deck again for good measure,
but it was like a puppet was doing it for me. I controlled the move- ments, but I wasn’t in control of them. I almost dropped the cards when a shuffle went wide, and I had to pull against the cuffs.
Time to wrap this up.
I advanced a few steps closer, holding the deck flat on one palm, waving the shaky fingers of my other hand over it like a diviner. Some- one in the stands laughed, but I refused to look in that direction. I picked up the card on top of the deck. “Is this your card?”
I flipped the card to show its face and held it up at Thurston, and without waiting, flipped the next, showing it to the older lady. “And yours?” Then the third to the nice girl. “And yours?” And then to Jules.
There was dead silence.
Thurston exchanged a look with his fellow judges. “I’m afraid not.
Thank you for your—”
It was like I’d plunged from above back into my body. I gave a flourish and was out of the handcuffs, had them stashed back in my pocket.
“Not yet!” I raised my hands.
I’d come so far. Failing would mean Dad was right and I couldn’t be a magician.
I steeled myself, pretending it was only these four judges and me. But I didn’t believe it. I refused to look over and see Raleigh’s
no-doubt-disappointed face. What if he told my dad about this? He’d think I was an amateur, overpromising; no one did card tricks in handcuffs.
“One more chance?” I asked.
“Wow us,” Thurston said. “The cuff trick was good. The card trick was amateur hour. We’re here to be wowed, just like the patrons of our shows.”
I launched into some patter, feeling more on solid ground. I’d go simple and do the circle fan again, but double it for difficulty. “The circle is a familiar and comforting shape to us. It can represent a planet, a life. The circle is a whole, not unlike the ring I stand in.” I swapped my smaller deck for two slightly larger ones, which felt more substantial in my hands. Both had roulette-wheel backs.
I made an infinity symbol, a figure eight, swooping my arms through the air and ending with them straight out to each side. The fans began to form, my hands arranging the cards into their red, white, and black wheel pattern. I willed the judges to be impressed.
“A circle leaves nothing to chance,” I said.
Except . . . I couldn’t quite complete the circle on one side for some reason. My hands started to tremble again. And I started babbling. “A circle’s like, uh, a rainbow joined with another one, surrounded by gold . . . on all sides.”
A flood of heat burst through me like I was at the center of a fire, standing inside a flame so large it filled the entire tent. When it was gone, my hands could have been burning. I glanced over at my right hand and dropped the cards in both. They flew everywhere.
But not before I saw that the backs of the ones on the left side had changed. They were a rainbow of colors as they landed on the ground around me, a rainbow of colors edged in a thick band of gold. The others were the same as they’d been at the beginning, roulette pattern in place.
I stood there, gaping down at the transformed cards until Thurston said, not unkindly, “Thank you. That’s a wrap on—Oh, wait, somehow we have one more act to see.”
I didn’t move. My fingertips were still hot. I’d freaked out and failed miserably.
I was also either hallucinating or I’d just done actual magic.
Book: Girl In The Shadows
By: Gwenda Bond
Publisher: Skyscape Publishing
Release Date: July 5th, 2016
Five winners will receive copies of Girl In The Shadows (US only).
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*
This site crashed while I was trying to post my first comment here, so I don't know what will happen this time...
I just wanted to tell you that I enjoyed the excerpt from your book, Girl In The Shadows and I hope that I'm one of the lucky winners in the giveaway contest. However, if I'm not, I wish all the best to the fortunate ones.
Cynde (Bond) Hammond O:-)
Girl in the shadows sounds great, I would enjoy reading this book. I would like to recommend The Magician's Lie by Greer Macallister also a great read. Thank you
The excerpt took me in right away! I love this first person POV and the fact that she's trying to be the best ever girl magician. I really am excited to read this.
This sounds interesting and the excerpt is captivating. I love stories of women fighting to be treated on the same level of men in the professional (and yes, magician) world.
I love the cover, it is so eye catching! I enjoyed the excerpt and cannot wait to read more. I love the idea of a female magician. It is male dominated, you are right to write this book! I am excited to read the comic book mini-series also.