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If you could sum up Spellbound in four words, what would they be?
It is a book. No I’m just kidding 🙂 Hmm… this is tough. How about: True love under attack.
In the beginning, what or who spoke to your first? The story or the characters?
The characters—definitely the characters. I’ve had versions of these characters for quite some time, but they were older and had different names. I used to write my friend Vanessa little stories with early versions of Brendan and Emma (then, named Alex and Claire), and with Spellbound, I took these characters back out and began playing with them again. Originally, they were seniors in college, but when I started having the idea of a cursed true love story, I knew it had to be set in high school, when that first rush of love is so intense.
Since the story has strong ties to legends & curses did you do any unique research for the story?
I’ve always been interested in magic and mystical tales. But my research was a little more about what would be realistic for different time periods. In the later dream Emma has, I researched the fashion of the time, so that’s why she’s wearing a cloche hat and a shirtwaist dress. I also had to research witchcraft so the elements of Angelique’s spells would ring true to the craft.
How do you come up with or decided on the names for your characters? Do they hold meaning?
Great question, and they do have meaning! Emma Connor is a nod to Conor Larkin, one of my all-time favorite heroes and the star of Leon Uris’s Trinity. Brendan Salinger is a nod to J.D. Salinger, since Catcher in the Rye is one of my favorite books. Their first names, well, those were a long road. Emma was first Claire, then Danielle, and then finally, I settled on Emma. Brendan, he was impossible to name. He was Alex for quite some time, but then I recalled that Kate Hudson movie, Alex & Emma, so I knew I couldn’t have my characters named that. So then I went with Jake. But it didn’t seen right either. Poor Brendan had an identity crisis. I changed his name a billion times. Then, when I was about to send the finished manuscript to my agent, I was on the phone with my mom, complaining about how the name just didn’t seem right. At this point, I think he was Zack. She is the one who suggested Brendan, which is honestly one of my all-time favorite names. It was right there in front of me all along and I never realized it! So I did a find-and-replace and changed it at the last minute. Most of the rest of the names (apart from the villains/characters shown in a less-than-flattering light) are nods to my family and friends. My grandmother’s maiden name is Considine. In fact, Hynes, Urbealis and Fernandez are all family names. Angelique’s mom, Evelyn Tedt, is a combo of my mom’s first name and my best friend Sandy’s last name. And Brendan’s dad is named after one of my best friends, Aaron. Basically, if you look through the people thanked in the back of the book, you’ll find the names sprinkled throughout. The villains, well, I just posted on Facebook: “Give me names of people who made your life hell in high school” and I picked the names that sounded most realistic to a teenager today. .
Was there any scene or part in Spellbound that was difficult to write? And if so how did you get through writing it?
The first time Emma goes to Brendan’s house was hard to write, because there’s a lot going on. She’s at his house, alone, for the first time. So there’s that very human, very teenage element at play. But they also confront what they are to each other—this whole magical side to their relationship. Originally, this scene was entirely different—in the first draft, Brendan tells her about the curse. If I feel like something’s not working, I have a few close friends who read early drafts and give me their honest opinions. When I’m having trouble with something, it’s usually cause I’m too close to it and need to step back and get another opinion. My friend Cyndi read it and said, “Yeah, this isn’t believable. Emma wouldn’t just buy what someone tells her.” And she was right. Sooooo it was back to the drawing board—I had to have Emma discover the curse on her own and come to terms with it. This would have been such a different book without Cyndi’s input to be honest. This was back in December of 2008, so I spent the beginning of 2009 revamping it.
Any parting words for your fabulous readers?
You’re right, they are fabulous and I appreciate them SO much. I guess for the writers out there, if you want to be a writer, just keep at it—start a blog, start a Twitter. Just keep writing. And I hope you enjoy Spellbound. 🙂
Thanks so much!