I gush about Gwenda because she’s Gwenda, and she’s awesome, and a helluva writer. Have you read Blackwood? Seriously? I’m eager to tear into her newest, and I imagine, so are you (and if you’re not, you will be). Happy to host her here, answering questions about her newest, The Woken Gods —
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF: WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?
I am Gwenda Bond, the author of now two, count ‘em two, young adult novels, with a third on the way next year. I also sometimes write other things like feature articles and reviews, and still cling to the honest old-fashioned art of maintaining a blog. I live in a hundred-year-old house that was originally a doctor’s office in Lexington, Kentucky, with my husband (Christopher Rowe, also an author), two unruly dogs (Puck and Emma, not authors), and one unruly cat (Hemingway, named after an author — he came with it).
GIVE US THE 140-CHARACTER STORY PITCH FOR THE WOKEN GODS:
The gods of mythology awoke five years ago. Now Kyra Locke has to navigate scary trickster intrigue in a transformed D.C. to save her dad.
WHERE DOES THIS STORY COME FROM?
The twisted innards of ma brain. But, more seriously, I’ve always loved mythology–especially its odder, dustier, less explored corners–and tricksters and urban fantasy. I like secret organizations that have to come out into the light, and I like stories where politics play a role, be they larger societal ones or smaller familial ones. So, this story comes from my own desire–as a reader and a writer–to have all those things at once, plus some monsters.
HOW IS THIS A STORY ONLY YOU COULD’VE WRITTEN?
I think The Woken Gods, over the course of a few drafts, really did become my specific brand of weird. Though I hope all the things I mentioned above also interest other people and so will the story. Lewis Hyde’s Trickster Makes This World is one of the most significant books in my mental landscape (and The Gift too), the time I’ve spent around politics, the character who keeps people at a distance to protect herself, the value of friendship in many of the kinds of stories I love–all those things went into this book, and the same ingredients would result in something completely different by another writer. I think that’s almost always true of any story. Ideas are easy and general. Execution is hard and specific. (Hopefully. If we’re doing it right.)
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT WRITING THE WOKEN GODS?
Do you have some whiskey and an hour or two? I kid. But it was a hard book. There are reasons you don’t see as many books mixing up a whole bunch of pantheons, rather than focusing on one or two, and that’s because it’s difficult to make work. Honestly, the hardest part about this book was getting to the above–the story only I could tell and the story I wanted to tell. It took several drafts, and it only came together near the end, deadline loooooming. I had written in third person past tense, and I realized I needed to scrap it and tell (most) of the story from the first person present in Kyra’s voice, with a few dips into third person present. But once I started over (from scratch! looooming deadline), it finally started to feel right.
WHAT DID YOU LEARN WRITING THE WOKEN GODS?
I learned a lot about pushing past fear and panic by tracking the story like a detective, with a singular focus, to shut out the consequences of failing to find it. It would have been easy to be paralyzed, had I stopped to realize the cliff I was about to step off.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THE WOKEN GODS?
I love my gutsy girl, Kyra Locke, going toe to toe with scary gods, even though it terrifies her and she’s no hero.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY NEXT TIME?
Probably ask for a slightly more generous deadline up front. Lesson learned. Although it worked out, I think/hope.
GIVE US YOUR FAVORITE PARAGRAPH FROM THE STORY:
Okay, favorite not-too-spoilery paragraph!
“Only a few gods can walk through all time,” Legba interrupts before she can answer. “I am one of them. I was tracing threads back–not with my feet, but with my essence–and I encountered your mother, trapped in a moment. Looking at a terrible thing that had been done, and seeing its ripples. The past is that butterfly halfway around the world, always flapping its wings and causing what happens in front of our faces, Kyra. The past and present are linked. When the link is strong, when it’s trouble, well, that’s what prophecy is.” Mom hasn’t taken her eyes off Legba. He says, “Tell her what you can. Give her a glimpse of why you left. She’ll never ask it.”
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU AS A STORYTELLER?
I have a book called Girl on a Wire due out next year from Skyscape, about a 16-year-old girl who’s a daredevil high wire walker from a legendary circus family, and who has to team up with her archrival when mysterious accidents begin plaguing her and the circus. I’m super-excited about it.