Susan Dennard, featuring Meagan Spooner
So, Pub(lishing) Crawl has been given a very special, very unique chance. Last week, Meagan Spooner revealed her stunning cover for her debut novel, Skylark. And now WE get to share the first pages of it! We are so incredibly honored to share this snippet of Skylark with you–and NOT just because we feel Super Cool for getting to do this…but because we also ADORE the book.
And obviously we aren’t the only ones who love it–it sold at auction AND it’ll be one of the featured titles on the 2012 BEA Buzz Panel. Plus, just look at what people are saying about it:
“Intense and absorbing, Skylark transported me to a world of magic and danger unlike anything I’ve read before. Dark, original, and beautiful, this is a novel you don’t want to miss.”
– Veronica Rossi, author of Under The Never Sky
“Skylark’s rich narrative and plucky heroine will transport you into a mesmerizing and horrifying world.”
– New York Times Bestselling Author Carrie Jones
But guys–it gets better. Not ONLY do we get to reveal the first pages, but we also get to give away an ARC of Skylark!!!
Yet, before we get to those pages and that giveaway (eeeee!!), we figured you might want to know a bit about Meagan (or just Meg to her friends ;)) and her book.
Meg grew up reading and writing every spare moment of the day. She graduated from Hamilton College in New York with a degree in playwriting and spent several years living in Australia. She’s traveled with her family all over the world to places like Egypt, South Africa, the Arctic, Greece, Antarctica, and the Galapagos, and there’s a bit of every journey in the stories she writes. Meagan currently lives and writes in Northern Virginia, but the siren call of travel is hard to resist, and there’s no telling how long she’ll stay there. Visit her online at www.meaganspooner.com.
Vis in magia, in vita vi. In magic there is power, and in power, life.
For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley waited for the day when her Resource would be harvested and she would finally be an adult. After the harvest she expected a small role in the regular, orderly operation of the City within the Wall. She expected to do her part to maintain the refuge for the last survivors of the Wars. She expected to be a tiny cog in the larger clockwork of the city.
Lark did not expect to become the City’s power supply.
For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley believed in a lie. Now she must escape the only world she’s ever known…or face a fate more unimaginable than death.
In Meagan Spooner’s compelling debut, magic, technology, and human frailty collide in a brilliant new world.
1. Tell us, Meg: for Skylark, what came first? Plot or characters? Or both?
I’d say setting came first, actually. I was driving home, listening to a piece on NPR about the energy crisis, and the rather depressing thought came to me that even if we had it all to do again, if we discovered some brand new source of energy, we’d probably just mess it up again. I started thinking about new energy sources and, of course, being a fantasy geek, magic popped into my head. From there, an idea took shape about a world in which magic from human beings powered technology, not steam or coal or electricity. In this world, people abused that power as well, leading to their own little apocalypse. It was only after I’d had this thought about the world that I realized that the most interesting person in that city would be someone with the power, literally, to run all the machines.
By the time I got home, I already knew who Lark was and why her city wanted her, which for me, was enough to start writing. (I don’t really outline, though I wish I could!) The rest just sort of unfolded as I went.
2. What a cool start to a story. As an obsessive NPR listener, I shall now start mining the programs for story ideas. 😉 When it came to actually writing Skylark, was the biggest challenge?
The loneliness. No, I don’t mean my own loneliness, though yeah, writers do have to spend a lot of time barricaded in a room, typing away! I mean Lark. The very premise of the book dictates that she’s alone, or virtually alone, for a lot of the book. I think it creates a quieter, more dream-like story, because we see everything through her eyes and with only her reaction as reference. She’s never set foot outside her domed city, never even seen the sky–so everything she encounters, she sees through the lens of someone who doesn’t know what wind is. What sunburn is. What cold is. There’ll be whole pages where she’s encountering something new, but the reader has to figure out what it actually is in our world.
This was a huge challenge for me, because there were no other characters for her to interact with for long stretches of the novel. All of her thoughts and conclusions have to be evident in her actions while she’s alone, which was really tricky for me. In the past I’ve struggled with narrative distance and direct thought in my writing, so this really challenged me to get past that block. It all had to come out of her, which meant I had to pay a HUGE amount of attention to her as a character.
3. Very interesting–and very challenging, it sounds. But you pulled it off! So, if you were transported into your book, which scene would you most want to reenact?
Oh god, do I have to? So many terrible things happen to this girl!
Okay, okay. Actually, one of my favorite things about the book is that while Lark is terrified of all these things she’s never encountered before, she also slowly comes to see that they’re beautiful, as well. There’s a sort of awe and wonder there that we, as people who live in the world, will never quite experience on her own. There’s one scene shortly after she meets the wild boy, where he brings her to this meadow inside a pocket of dense magic. It’s a sort of haven, a spot in the world (and in the story of the book too, for that matter) where they can breathe, regain their balance. Lark sees flowers there for the first time. She gets to taste honey for the first time.
Not to mention falling asleep beside a total hottie (even if he does need a good scrubbing and some manners). *cough* Yeah, I think I’d trade places with her there…
4. Haha! Total hotties aside, I love the idea of that awe and wonder–it’s something we all need a dose of in our daily lives. Now, for the million dollar question: mix me a literary cocktail! What elements would you include in your ideal book?
Two parts fantasy and one part science fiction, a shot of homage to myths and fairy tales, and a twist of things you didn’t see coming. Garnish with a sprig of the worst thing that could possibly happen to your characters, and voila.
Ooooh, now that’s a book I would want to read! Oh wait…I CAN. IN SKYLARK. And in Meg’s other novel, These Broken Stars (Disney-Hyperion, 2013)–coauthored with Pub Crawl’s very own Amie Kaufman–I’d say that mixture worked pretty darn well too.
Here, just check out these opening pages for yourself! (You can click through to see the pages fill size.)
What did you think? Makes you want to read more, huh? Good thing you CAN! All you have to do is tweet about the ARC giveaway and then enter the form below! The contest is open internationally, and we’ll announce the winner next week! In the meantime, if you want to keep up to date with all things Skylark, make sure you check out the trilogy’s Facebook page!