Swanky Seventeener Amanda Searcy spoke with Wendy Spinale about her debut novel, a YA Fantasy titled EVERLAND, published on May 10, 2016 by Scholastic.
About the Book:
London has been destroyed in a blitz of bombs and disease. The only ones who have survived the destruction and the outbreak of a deadly virus are children, among them sixteen-year-old Gwen Darling and her younger siblings, Joanna and Mikey. They spend their nights scavenging and their days avoiding the deadly Marauders—the German army led by the cutthroat Captain Hanz Otto Oswald Kretschmer.
Unsure if the virus has spread past England s borders but desperate to leave, Captain Hook is on the hunt for a cure, which he thinks can be found in one of the surviving children. He and his Marauders stalk the streets snatching children for experimentation. None ever return. Until one day when they grab Joanna. Gwen will stop at nothing to get her sister back, but as she sets out, she crosses paths with a mysterious and charismatic boy named Pete. Pete offers the assistance of his gang of Lost Boys and the fierce sharpshooter Bella, who have all been living in a city hidden underground. But in a place where help has a steep price and every promise is bound by blood, it might cost Gwen more than she bargained for. And are Gwen, Pete, the Lost Boys, and Bella enough to outsmart the ruthless Captain Hook?
About the Author:
Wendy Spinale is a former character actor for the Disneyland theme park (so she’s very familiar with the world of make believe). Everland is her debut novel. Wendy lives with her family in the California Bay Area.
Amanda: What inspired you to write a retelling of Peter Pan that’s set in a war-ravaged, post-apocalyptic London?
Wendy: I have forever loved fairytales, so much so that when I grew up I became a Disneyland actress. As a writer you often hear “write what you know, write what you’re passionate about” and I knew fairly quickly that a fairytale would be my next project. The EVERLAND series is an entire fairytale cast set in a steampunk world. As I began to plot of the stories, it felt necessary to make this darker and grittier than your average “happily ever after” story. Thus the war-ravaged, post-apocalyptic world suited the needs that I felt these characters were calling for.
Amanda: I loved all the clever ways in which you took the Peter Pan characters and recast them in this dark world. Which character did you have the most fun writing?
Wendy: Although he’s a secondary character, Gabs was by far the best character to write. There were some scenes taken out in the early drafts with his crazy antics that just cracked me up. Gabs is based off of my ten-year-old son with Asperger’s. He’s funny, he rambles on about seemingly disjointed subjects, and often times a single thought might take ten minutes to convey. I adore the quirky traits about him and just knew that he’d make a fabulous Lost Boy that readers would love.
Amanda: How many novels did you write before EVERLAND? Did you know that it was “the one”?
Wendy: EVERLAND was the second novel that I wrote. My first got quite a bit of agent attention but most weren’t taking dystopic at the time. I was told to put it away for five years and come back with it. So I started working on EVERLAND. How did I know that it was “the one”? I think with most writers, we keep writing until an agent shows interest in it.
Amanda: How did you find your agent?
Wendy: I had participated in a contest with Brenda Drake called Pitchwars. It’s a contest where mentors, authors with agents and/or book deals, pick one mentee to mentor on a completed manuscript. Although I didn’t get chosen, one mentor mentioned that her agent was looking for stories like mine and I should query her when I was ready. I jumped at the opportunity. Thao Le from the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency got back to me quickly. She requested an R&R (rewrite and resubmit). Within a few months she offered me representation and I seriously am in love with that lady. She’s an incredible agent and I’m honored to be one of her authors.
Favorite writing snack?
Chips and guacamole. Or French fries and ranch dressing. Oh and M&Ms…and Reese’s Pieces. Who am I kidding? Just put food in front of me and I’ll eat it.
Do you write longhand or type?
Type. Agents and publishers don’t like it when you send them manuscripts in longhand. Especially from people who have crazy handwriting like me.
What were you reading when you were 16?
I was a huge Ray Bradbury fan and had the opportunity to meet him once when I was in elementary school. After that I was hooked and knew I wanted to write a book someday.
Music to write by?
For the grittier, dark scenes I love Hinder and Evanescence. For the kissy face scenes, I am a Colbie Caillat fan.
Two dogs. Odie is a lemon basset hound and cranky as hell. Alex is some sort of white dog mix that was picked up by the animal control guy in Oakland, California. I have no idea what kind of dog he is, but he’s my best writing buddy. I also have three little two-legged beasties that keep calling me mommy.
Oddest job you ever had?
Disneyland actress….and mostly because I met the oddest people.
About the Interviewer:
Amanda Searcy works in collection development at a public library system, and loves chocolate, cats, and curling up with a good book. She lives in New Mexico.
Her debut novel, TRUTH IS, will be published by Random House/Delacorte in Fall 2017.
A psychological thriller following two teen girls, one in a Texas border town hoping to outrun her past and another who fears for her future in a Washington public housing complex; when their worlds collide, only one girl will make it out alive.