Today we're excited to chat with Veronica Rossi author of
Read on for more about Veronica and her book, an excerpt, plus an giveaway.
Meet Veronica Rossi!
VERONICA ROSSI is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the UNDER THE NEVER SKY series. She was born in Rio de Janeiro, grew up in California, and graduated from UCLA. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two sons, one of whom just surpassed her in height. Find her online at veronicarossi.com or on Twitter at @rossibooks.
Meet Rebel Spy!
A reimagining of the story behind Agent 355--a New York society girl and spy for George Washington during the Revolutionary War--perfect for fans of Tatiana de Rosnay's Sarah's Key and the novels of Julie Berry.
Rebellious Frannie Tasker knows little about the war between England and its thirteen colonies in 1776, until a shipwreck off her home in Grand Bahama Island presents an unthinkable opportunity. The body of a young woman floating in the sea gives Frannie the chance to escape her brutal stepfather--and she takes it.
Assuming the identity of the drowned Emmeline Coates, Frannie is rescued by a British merchant ship and sails with the crew to New York. For the next three years, Frannie lives a lie as Miss Coates, swept up in a courtship by a dashing British lieutenant. But after witnessing the darker side of the war, she realizes that her position gives her power. Soon she finds herself eavesdropping on British officers, risking everything to pass information on to George Washington's Culper spy ring as agent 355. Frannie believes in the fight for American liberty--but what will it cost her? Inspired by the true "355" and rich in historical detail and intrigue, this is the story of an unlikely New York society girl turned an even unlikelier spy.
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
A few years ago, I was on a mission to improve my breadth of knowledge in women’s history. I came across “355,” the code number used to identify a woman who spied during the America Revolution, but who has been unidentified, my interest was sparked. Actually, it was stronger than that—my interest became a blazing inferno! I couldn’t get her out of my mind. Who was she? Why had she risked everything for the revolution? What had she been up against? I had to answer those questions. The only way to do that was to take a leap into my imagination. When I did, I found Frannie and I was on my way. She quickly became a character I just had to follow.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
Frannie, hands down. I enjoyed her humor and bravery immensely. In certain parts of the novel, she reminds me of Scout Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird. That wasn’t intentional. Frannie shares some of Scout’s toughness and moxie.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel! We circled for a while on the title, debating whether to include “355,” at the end. In the intelligence community (FBI and CIA in particular), that number is often used to refer to an unknown female agent even today. In addition, there’s a female spy film coming up that uses the number as the movie title so, to me, it feels like it’s emerging in our popular awareness. But in the end, REBEL SPY without 355 tacked on just felt sharper. I’m glad that’s where we landed.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
Two stand out, so I’m going to cheat and mention both briefly. First, you can’t please everyone. It’s a common adage, but it took me a while to really embrace it. I write my novels for myself, my team, and for the readers out there who will love them. For the readers who don’t love them? Well, there are plenty of other books out there. The second thing I’ve learned is that you really have to love writing just for the sake of writing. You can’t be in it for money, recognition, or any other reason. At times it’s very hard work, and it can be disappointing and frustrating. The love of writing is what always carries me through. That, and deadlines!
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I love it all! It’s romantic and mysterious and beautiful. I think it depicts the book well. But my favorite-favorite thing is probably softness that’s suggested in the wisps of her hair at her nape. It just feels like such a real detail. I mean, I personally can totally relate to flyaways!
YABC: What’s on your TBR pile?
Up next is THE NINTH HOUSE. I am probably the only person in the world who hasn’t read it yet. I also have Elana K. Arnold’s RED HOOD and Neal Shusterman’s THUNDERHEAD waiting for me on my Kindle.
YABC: What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved?
CIRCE by Madeline Miller. Line by line, it seduced me. And the story’s just devastatingly good. Just thinking about it, my heart starts to beat faster. I love her writing.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more?
I love draft three to four-ish. That’s when things start to really come together, I usually feel comfortable that I’ve got plot and character arcs established, and I can just relax play around with language and details. There are also wonderful surprises in this stage, like characters asserting themselves and taking the story in some exciting directions.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
I can speak telepathically to my dogs. Most dogs, in fact. Cesar Millan—look out! I’m comin’ for ya.
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
There is! I am a volunteer puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independence, a non-profit that provides registered service dogs free of charge to people with disabilities and veterans with PTSD. It’s an absolutely wonderful organization. The dogs I help raise and prepare for professional training are amazing—truly life-changing and sometimes even lifesaving for their humans.
Thank you so much for hosting me on YABC!
We stumbled up the beach, clearing the reach of the waves. “In heaven’s name, what happened?” She took me by the shoulders, the fear plain in her bright eyes.
I opened my mouth to tell her. A sob left me instead.
“Hush now.” She drew me down. “Here, sit. Breathe a minute and calm down. Lord, you’re cold.” She scooted beside me, wrapping an arm over my shoulders.
I breathed and breathed, till I’d shored myself up. Then I told her that Sewel had struck me, and that I’d knocked him overboard. It seemed unreal as I said it, like something I’d imagined.
“About time,” Mercy said. “But you ought to have finished him. He’s at your house and he’s in a fury, Fran. A murderous fury.”
“I can’t go home,” I said numbly. The sand was falling away from beneath me. The whole word, sinking.
“Never again, Frannie. If he catches you, he’ll kill you.”
“Where am I to go?” Everyone I knew lived on this island. I looked at the wherry, so battered after such a rough night. “Even if I had anyplace else, how am I supposed get there?”
My eyes pulled to a splash of red floating beside it, the color bright even in the darkness. As a wave swept past, I saw a slender arm. The pale curve of a shoulder.
“Mercy, do you see that?”
“Hush.” She tensed beside me. “I hear something.”
More than anything, Mercy feared the runaway catchers that came to the island from time to time, but all I heard were the waves throwing themselves against the beach and the wind shaking the palmetto leaves. Finally, I heard someone calling in the distance.
“Is anybody out there?” called another voice.
They were around the bend, the sky around the point brighter with the glow of torches, but their voices carried clear to us on the wind.
“It’s only a search party,” I said. “Looking for survivors from the wreck.” And they wouldn’t find any. I looked toward the body floating in the shallows. A warm wave of hope swept over me. Suddenly I found myself walking over to it.
The woman looked younger than I expected. Much younger. Near in age to me. She swayed with the waves, her dark hair waving like a flag about her head. Her eyes were half closed and her mouth was slightly open, giving her dreamy look. A look like she’d just blown out a candle.
I turned to Mercy, who’d followed me. “Mercy, do you think she looks—?”
“Yes. Close enough.”
“Quick, then. Help me with her gown.”
“Thank the good Lord,” said the big man with the shining buttons as he shook his head in amazement. “Miss Emmeline—you’re alive!”
Miss Emmeline—that was the dead girl’s name. The name of the girl I’d just become.
He handed his torch to one of the men behind him and took a careful step toward me, opening his hands in the air. “Please . . . have no fear. My name is Ruben Jansen. I captain the Ambrosia for your father. Your humble servant, madam.”
He swept off his hat and bowed.
No man had ever bowed to me before.
Was it possible? Was my hastily thought-out disguise working?
Captain Jansen settled his hat and stared at me for long moments. “Miss Emmeline, can you hear me?”
Fresh panic fired through me. I could hear him fine—what I couldn’t do was speak. I knew how I sounded, gritty and coarse. Two words from my lips and I’d surely give myself away.
I nodded and dropped my gaze to the crimson silk that poured over me, my heart pounding crazily. The gown was made for a taller, rounder body—a body that now floated not far from where I stood. What if they saw her?
“Her skin’s blue as polar ice, Cap’n,” said one of the sailors. “She’s froze to death.” There were a dozen of them, all gawping at me, their torches flickering in the dawn.
“That’s a wicked crack on ’er head,” said another.
“Unnatural, a lass surviving such a trial. God’s had a hand in this.”
“Or the devil.”
That started them discussing whose hand it was that’d saved Miss Emmeline from a shipwreck no man had survived.
As they carried on, I glanced toward the beach trail. Where was Sewel? If he appeared, my life would truly be over.
The captain took a step closer and crouched on his heels. “Miss Emmeline, we must get you out of the rain,” he said gently. One of his eyes was clouded, like milk had been stirred into it. He held his head slightly askance to give the good eye a fuller view. “We must get you to a warm place.” He pointed. “Around that bend are boats that will take you to the Ambrosia. I shall be with you every step of the way and, on my life, miss, I promise you will be perfectly safe.”
This was exactly what I wanted. A way off this island.
I began to walk, my tired legs shuddering beneath the heavy, soaked petticoats. The cut above my eye kept bleeding, blinding me on that side and worsening my dizziness.
Halfway to the bend, my strength gave way. The captain swept me up before I hit the sand. I found myself in the basket of his arms, tensing as needles of fear sank in.
“Please, Miss Coates. Do not be afraid. Allow me to help you.”
There was no other way. I nodded.
As he began to walk again, the strangeness of the moment dawned on me. Not since Papa had I been borne up this way, and I felt childish and small. And scared, but less of what lay ahead of me than behind. So I allowed him to keep carrying me across the sand, toward a ship like ones I’d only ever swam through before.
By: Veronica Rossi
Publisher: Random House BYR/Delacorte Press
Release Date: June 23rd, 2020
Five winners will each receive a copy of Rebel Spy (Veronica Rossi) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*