Eighteen-year-old Blanca has lived a sheltered life. Her entire childhood has been spent at Tabula Rasa School where she’s been protected from the Internet. Blanca has never been online and doesn’t even know how to text. Her lack of a virtual footprint has made her extremely valuable and upon graduation Blanca, and those like her, are sold to the highest bidders. Blanca is purchased by Cal McNeal, who uses her to achieve personal gain. But the McNeal’s are soon horrified by just how obedient and non-defiant Blanca is. All those mind-numbing years locked away from society have made her mind almost impenetrable. By the time Blanca is ready to think for herself, she is trapped. Her only chance of escape is to go online.
Jennifer Bardsley is the author of Genesis Girl, which debuted June 14, 2016 from Month9Books. She also writes the column “I Brake for Moms” for the Sunday edition of The Everett Daily Herald and blogs at Teaching My Baby to Read. Jennifer is a graduate of Stanford University and a member of SCBWI. She lives with her husband and two children in Edmonds, WA.
It’s another fabulous Friday, which means it’s time for another fabulous author interview! Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Jennifer Bardsley, the one and only The YA Gal (who you should totally be following right now). Her first novel, Genesis Girl, debuted June 14th, so don’t forget to add it to you ToBeRead List now! And stick around after the interview, because we’ve got a super fun giveaway going on for those of you who love book swag!
On to the interview!
These are a few of her favorite things:
L.M. Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables. I love how intense her characters were, especially Emily from Emily of New Moon.
Picking my favorite books is like choosing my favorite child—impossible! But in high school, I was really stunned by Sci-Fi classics like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm, as well as Kurt Vonnegut’s complete collection. Now I wonder why my teachers never encouraged me to read female authors as well, although I do remember reading Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly’s Frankenstein and thinking it was really boring.
I’m guilty of cranking up Taylor Swift’s song Mean whenever I get a negative comment or review!
Ooooh! That’s a toss-up between Battlestar Galactica and Game of Thrones.
The 1961 version of The Parent Trap with Hayley Mills.
Motivational Quote or Saying:
Think big. Dream bigger.
Ohmygoodness, I’m so with you on the Mean crankage. It’s the perfect song for venting! 🙂
Time for the interview! Tell us a little about yourself and what made you become a writer.
I’ve always told stories to myself before I fall asleep—which is probably why I suffer from insomnia. About ten years ago I finally wrote one of them down in a serious way. No agent wanted to represent me because that first manuscript was horrible, but several years later I wrote another book and that attracted the interest of my agent, Liza Fleissig. She helped sell Genesis Girl to Georgia McBride Media Group as a two-book deal.
And how did you get the idea for Genesis Girl?
Prepare to be disgusted. Genesis Girl was inspired by opera’s dirty secret. In the 1700s there were parents who would castrate their young sons in the hopes they would become famous singing superstars called castrati. Opera fans adored castrati because they could hit the highest notes.
In the futurist world of Genesis Girl, parents castrate the digital identities of their children in the hopes they will become famous members of the Vestal order. Vestals like my main character, Blanca, never go online and don’t even know who to text. They are blank slates, and their digital purity makes them valuable.
Awesome! What about the title and character names? How did you come up with those?
The original title of Genesis Girl was Blank Slate, which is now the series title. My publisher came up with the name Genesis Girl, which is perfect, because Blanca is a blank slate for the genesis of anything her purchaser wishes.
Tell us a bit more about Blanca and what makes her unique.
Blanca is a Vestal, which means she’s part of a quasi-religious order of people who never engage with modern technology. She wears all white as a symbol of her purity, as well as a platinum cuff on her left wrist, which marks her as a Vestal for life.
Who was the easiest character to write? The most difficult?
The easiest character for me to write was Blanca. Her belief in her cause is so intense that everything flows from there. Blanca believes that Vestals perform a sacred duty. They are examples for the whole world that people are more important than technology.
The most difficult character to write was Sophia McNeal. She never appears “on screen” and yet she has a big influence in the entire plot of the book.
Which actress/actor could you see playing Blanca? The bad guy? The love interest?
I always pictured Blanca as a young Sophia Bush, aka Brooke Davis from One Tree Hill. Cal McNeal is clearly Robert Carlyle, aka Rumpelstiltskin from Once Upon a Time, and Seth would be like a very, very, very young version of Adam Levine.
Oh, yummy. What about your favorite Genesis Girl quote?
Throughout the book Blanca clings to the Vestal Blessing, which goes like this: “You have a hard road. In so many ways it’s difficult being you. But I know that you can do it. You have everything you need to achieve happiness.”
When I created the Vestal Blessing, I tried to imagine everything I wanted to hear myself when I was having a bad day.
From conception of Genesis Girl to finished product, how long did it take to complete, and what was that process like for you?
I wrote the first draft of Genesis Girl in 2013. Twenty-two drafts later I gave it to my agent. It sold in fall of 2014, and came out on June 14, 2016.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, etc.) in bringing Genesis Girl to life?
The biggest challenge was time. I have two young children and a newspaper column to write every week. I often found myself working on Genesis Girl at 11 p.m. when the house was finally quiet.
What draws you to speculative fiction? Do you write in other genres?
I love how speculative fiction allows writers to bend the rules. But I also write what could be considered memoir. Every week The Everett Daily Herald publishes my column “I Brake for Moms” where I share funny or poignant things that have happened to my family.
What book/s are you currently reading?
I’m founder of a group of debut authors called Sixteen To Read. We all have books coming out in 2016. Some of our titles include Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor, The Girl Who Fell by Shannon M. Parker, Summer of Sloane by Erin. L. Schneider, and In the Shadow of the Dragon King by J. Keller Ford. I’m reading all sixteen books this year.
What are you working on now?
The editorial process for the sequel to Genesis Girl is underway. Right now the book is called Damaged Goods, but that title could still change.
Do you work on multiple projects at once or focus on one at a time?
I usually have a book I’m editing, a book I’m writing, and a book in my head that I really want to write!
So ambitious! What do you do when you get stuck? What keeps you going?
When I get stuck I wait it out. The answers usually come if I’m patient.
What do you think is the hardest thing about writing? The easiest?
The hardest thing about writing is striving for perfection. I’m a big believer in revising. The easiest thing is enjoying what you do.
Best piece of advice for aspiring writers?
Get as much feedback as possible for your writing and incorporate criticism without getting angry.
Best piece of advice for life?
Go for a walk!
Anything you’d like to add that I haven’t included?
If you enjoy talking about books but don’t have time for a book club, please join me every #TakeaLookTuesday when readers share book pictures and have an instant book club on The YA Gal Facebook.
Thanks Jennifer! We wish you the best, and we can’t wait to watch GENESIS GIRL burrow into the hearts of every single one of your readers!
Get your copy of Genesis Girl here:
Where to find Jennifer Bardsley:
And it’s officially time to win some book swag, people!
Leave a comment below with a valid email address where we can reach you, and you’re officially in.* We’ll select 2 winners at random at the close of the giveaway (July 29, 2016 at 12:00pm CST). We’ll post the list of winner’s the following Monday. Good luck!
* Terms & Conditions
- No purchase or sign-up necessary. Valid email required.
- Giveaway open to US residents only.
- Giveaway opens Friday, June 17, 2016 and closes on Friday, July 29, 2016 at 12:00pm CST.
- Winners selected at random.
- Number of prizes: 2
- The winner will be notified by email within 14 days of the closing date. If the winner does not claim the prize within 14 days of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize and pick a replacement winner.
- Winners will be announced on the blog Monday, August 1, 2016.