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.
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- OPENING PAGE OF SPARKED
The knocking woke me up from a dead sleep.
I sat up, blinking myself awake. The sky outside our porthole-shaped window was still dark, the silhouettes of the redwoods just a shade blacker. Rain lashed at the glass. Wind rocked the Airstream back and forth.
There was that knocking again. I leaned over to wake Ivy. Our beds were so close, they practically touched—
But Ivy wasn’t in her bed.
She must have snuck out and forgotten her key. I needed to let her in fast. Our mom was a heavy sleeper—especially if she’d smoked a “medicinal” joint before bed—but there was a limit to what she could tune out.
When I eased open the accordion door to the bedroomette, a river of cold air whooshed over me. I hurried to the front of the trailer, where the door was wide open, banging in the wind.
I stepped out onto the top cinder-block stair, straining to see through the rain. “Ivy?” I called into the darkness, but no one answered. The icy wind cut through my pajamas and I shuddered, wrapping my arms around myself. Ivy must have left the door unlocked, and the storm had blown it open.
Still, it creeped me out.
I wasn’t used to living in a tin can on the edge of civilization. Our new property bumped up against the state park. We had no neighbors for miles, but hikers, poachers, and the occasional homeless person liked to use our land as their playground. Mom said that we were safer out here than if we lived in some apartment in town. Statistically, there were fewer weirdos in the vicinity.
But all it takes is one.
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?
A TYPICAL WRITING DAY!
Malena: I wake up at 6:45 a.m. to get my ten-year-old son ready for school and drop him off at eight. Then I go to a coffee shop and write until late morning. From 11 to 12 I do a dance class or swim at the gym. After that, once a week I get to meet with Helena to talk about our current writing project—that’s always an especially good day. At the moment, we’re brainstorming the plot for the sequel to Sparked.
If we’re not meeting, I go back home for lunch and then work on my teaching or freelance assignments until about four when I pick my son up from school. In the evening we work on his homework and I cook something nice for dinner, get him in bed by nine. Then I either do another hour or two of work or I watch a show and work on sewing project—I make most of my own clothes, like the character of Ivy in our book. I love sewing because gives me a chance to work with my hands, rather than my brain. I always read for an hour before going to bed with my husband and two cats.
Helena: I get up at 7 a.m. and quickly make breakfast and packed lunches for three-year-old daughter and six-year-old son. My husband is in charge of getting them to school. Then I go straight to my office, ignoring the full, clean dishwasher, the blob of oatmeal under the table and the suspicious line of ants coming from under the sink. If you write at home, being able to ignore the chaos around you is a vital skill. I settle down with my second cup of milky black tea—as a Brit, I need tea like I need oxygen. Then I write, always first thing, even if I only have 20 minutes. I believe in putting writing on the schedule, otherwise it’s too easy to push it down the list and not do it at all. Writing is like running for me—even though I love it, I still have to psych myself up every time. But if it’s on the schedule, it’s much easier to maintain the habit.
Then I teach fiction writing online for Stanford for a couple of hours. I always try to sneak in a quick run before picking up the kids at three, partly because I get some of my best ideas then, spewed up by my subconscious. I think some of writing happens when you’re not at your desk, while your conscious mind is focused on other things. If not while running, I might figure out a vital plot point while watching the kids in swim class or folding laundry. My favorite part of the day is reading to both kids before bedtime. I love seeing how stories entrance children and my son is old enough to enjoy my old favorites like The Hobbit and Harriet the Spy. One of the reasons I decided to write YA was because I wanted to captivate a reader the way books captivated me when I was a kid and teen. Then I have dinner and catch up with my husband before a precious few minutes of reading in bed, and passing out.
- Two (2) winner will receive a copy of Sparked by Helena Echlin and Malena Watrous (INT)