Well, the day has finally arrived! My retelling of a very particular fairytale is now released into the wild.
Newly orphaned, increasingly isolated from her friends, and terrified of her violent stepmother, Ellen Sinder still believes she’ll be okay. She has a plan for surviving and getting through high school, which includes keeping her head down and saving any credits she can earn or steal. But when a train arrives from over the Waste beyond New Haven, carrying a golden boy and a new stepsister, all of Ellie’s plans begin to unravel, one by one.
Just when all hope is lost, Ellie meets an odd old woman with a warm hearth and a heavenly garden. Auntie’s kindness is intoxicating, and Ellie finally has a home again. Yet when the clock strikes twelve on the night of the annual Charmer’s Ball, Ellie realizes that no charm is strong enough to make her past disappear…
In a city where Twisted minotaurs and shifty fey live alongside diplomats, hustlers, and charmers, a teenage girl can disappear through the cracks into safety—or into something much more dangerous. So what happens when the only safety you can find wants to consume you as well?
Writing Ellie’s story was difficult, mostly because I was finishing the house-buying process, which was ALL SORTS OF STRESSFUL. It’s the one time in my career I’ve asked for extra time to finish books, though I did end up getting them turned in on time. (I still felt incredibly guilty for even asking.) WAYFARER had a rocky road afterwards too, for reasons related to me leaving YA (temporarily or permanently hasn’t been decided yet) after Ruby’s book–which is still on track to come out next year. (Hopefully. A lot hinges on the numbers for WAYFARER.)
It was also difficult to write because, like NAMELESS, it involved a lot of digging and remembering. Trauma is a funny thing–there are whole chunks of my early life I only remember hazily, and some huge blanks where I’ve blocked some things out to save my own sanity. But for Ellie, I had to remember a time when I was vulnerable and learning that not everyone who offers to help a teenage girl necessarily has said girl’s best interests at heart.
Even if they love her–or think they do.
WAYFARER started when I looked at Ellie and thought two things: boy, she tries so hard to cope, I know what that’s like, and, more interestingly, What if the fairy godmother was just as dangerous as the evil stepmother?
I think about that a lot, and part of the exploration of fairytales is seeing the doubling and mirror-images that go on. The structure of all three books–the publisher calls them Tales of Beauty & Madness, but to me they’ll always be part of my Human Tales cycle–is full of doubles, mirror images, reverses, and twins. Some of them I didn’t even catch while I was writing them.
Anyway, here’s a new story I made for you, dear Readers. Come in, sit down, and let me tell you about a girl whose father died, whose stepmother forced her to work, and how dangerous anything you think a refuge might be…