Sparked by Helena Echlin and Malena Watrous
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: Geek & Sundry
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: Geek & Sundry
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.
If you could see your series come to life on the screen,
who do you see in any of the roles?
As Helena and I worked on Sparked, and showed different drafts to different readers, people often commented that it had a very cinematic feeling to it, and asked who we envisioned in the lead roles. I found this a hard question to answer, partly because I feel like most actors cast in teen roles are actually in their early twenties and look it. Also, there's a slickness to a lot of Hollywood stars--they tend to look rich and overly styled--and I always pictured these characters from Cascade Oregon looking more like the kids I went to high school with in Oregon: hair frizzy from the perpetual rain; skin pale for the same reason; clothes not quite in fashion, even on the rich kids, because there's just not a lot of great shopping in the area, so everyone wears the same so-so brands.
I was really excited when, watching Stephen King's It recently, Sophia Lillis appeared on screen playing the role of Beverly, victimized by her father, and the one girl to join the "Losers' Club" and try to take on the murderous clown.
"She could totally be Laurel," I whispered to my husband, seated next to me in the theater. Every detail matched the physical description of our main character. Frizzy red hair in a dated home haircut? Check. Cute but cheap looking thrift store clothes that she's on the verge of outgrowing? Check. Freckles everywhere, which drive her nuts but are objectively adorable? Check. But beyond the physical checklist of traits that she shares with Laurel, the protagonist of Sparked, she also looks like a 15-year-old… Because she IS a 15-year-old girl! Her body is still in the process of changing, and she's got the combination of awkwardness and grace that are the natural state of every girl on the verge of becoming a woman, still playful, just becoming aware of her new appeal to boys and men, not sure that she wants that power or knows what to do with it (if it is even a power and not a liability).
Physical resemblance aside, Sophia Lillis is a superb actress. I would give It a B grade at best, but her A+ performance blew me away. Pretty much any time she was on screen, I couldn't take my eyes off of her. I totally believed in every aspect of her character, and found her more fierce for her vulnerability. That's the same quality that I would love to see brought out in Laurel, who also starts our novel alone and ends up banding together with some unlikely new friends. Now that I've seen the amazing Sophia Lillis on the big screen, I can't stop fantasizing about seeing her embodying our main character.
Link to Tour Schedule:
- EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 3: FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH THE MEAN GIRLS
When the novel opens, Laurel wakes up to find her sister Ivy missing from her bed. Their mom is sure that she must have stayed out all night to try to teach her a lesson—because of a fight they had the night before—and that Laurel will see her at school. When Ivy isn’t there, Laurel becomes increasingly convinced that something terrible must have happened to her. At lunch, she isn’t sure who to sit with, because usually she eats with Ivy. Trying to avoid Peyton and Mei, two “mean girls” who’ve bullied her since grade school, she goes to the library, to see if Ivy has left any social media posts. But unfortunately, while she’s there, she gets cornered by the two girls she’d hoped to avoid.
The bell rang and I ducked out of my study pod, hoping I could slip past without them noticing. But no such luck. As I barreled toward the library exit, Peyton stepped directly in front of me. “Laurel! Ooh, I love your outfit. And what is that—yogurt?” She pointed at a smear on my sweater. “It adds a nice splash of beige.” When I didn’t answer, she shook her head at me disapprovingly. “How is it even possible that you’re Ivy’s sister?”
I opened my mouth, but as usual a snappy comeback failed me. This was one reason I liked writing: it gave me time to find the perfect words.
Mei took over the attack. “Where do you get your style inspiration—Mrs. Bennett? Since she’s, like, your best friend, do you get to raid her closet?”
Peyton squinted at me. “That sweater actually does look familiar. Wait—was that my mom’s? No, seriously—she always gives stuff she’s throwing out to the maid! She must have given it to your mom before she fired her!”
Suddenly it felt like my skin was crawling with fire ants. The worst part was, Peyton wasn’t imaginative enough to make this up. Mom did used to clean the Andersen house, and I had taken this particular sweater from her closet. I’d just assumed Mom had scored it at the Goodwill. I was dying to rip it off and throw it in the trash, but I couldn’t give Peyton the satisfaction of seeing how much she’d bothered me.
All I could do was march out of the library to the soundtrack of their laughter.
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?
- Two (2) winner will receive a copy of Sparked by Helena Echlin and Malena Watrous (INT)