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Interview with Meredith McCardle, author of The Eighth Guardian

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Meredith McCardle

Meredith McCardle

I am SO EXCITED because today is the release day for The Eighth Guardian by Meredith McCardle.

Guys. GUYS. This book is SO good. It’s packed with suspense and mystery and AWESOME characters, and I could just gush and gush and gush. I seriously cannot recommend this book enough for fans of YA or thrillers.

Ahem, anyway. To celebrate the book’s launch, I’ve invited Meredith over to answer a few questions–AND we’re having a giveaway!! (Scroll down for that. ;))

So a bit about Meredith to start: she’s a recovered lawyer who lives in South Florida with her husband and two young daughters. Like her main character, she has a fondness for strong coffee, comfortable pants, and jumping to the wrong conclusions. Unlike her main character, she cannot travel through time. Sadly.

The Eighth Guardian

The Eighth Guardian

Amanda Obermann. Code name Iris.

It’s Testing Day. The day that comes without warning, the day when all juniors and seniors at The Peel Academy undergo a series of intense physical and psychological tests to see if they’re ready to graduate and become government operatives. Amanda and her boyfriend Abe are top students, and they’ve just endured thirty-six hours of testing. But they’re juniors and don’t expect to graduate. That’ll happen next year, when they plan to join the CIA—together.

But when the graduates are announced, the results are shocking. Amanda has been chosen—the first junior in decades. And she receives the opportunity of a lifetime: to join a secret government organization called the Annum Guard and travel through time to change the course of history. But in order to become the Eighth Guardian in this exclusive group, Amanda must say good-bye to everything—her name, her family, and even Abe—forever.

Who is really behind the Annum Guard? And can she trust them with her life?

Doesn’t that make you want to read? It SHOULD! You will devour this book in a few hours–it’s a real page-turner.

1. So clearly I am obsessed with this book, Meredith, and though I’m sure you’ve answered this question a million times, I don’t think I know the answer: where did the idea for THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN come from?

It came from a song title. I was listening to the Chill station on Sirius/XM in my car, and “Iris Was a Pupil” by Autechre came on. I just kept staring at the song title and asking myself questions—Who’s Iris? What’s she a pupil of? Why isn’t she one anymore? By the end of the drive, I’d crafted a story in my head about a girl who’s at a top-secret government training school, and the plot centered around a rebellion against the institution. Then a few days later, the idea for time travel popped into my head, seemingly out of nowhere, and I realized the school storyline was only the beginning and that I was on to something much, much bigger (and better)! So now Iris spends the first two chapters at school and then she’s tossed into a covert government agency with a lot of secrets…

2. It’s those “seemingly out of nowhere” ideas that are always the best. Now, your leading lady, Iris–she’s certified badass. Oh wait! That’s not a question. Erm…Because Iris is a certified badass, did she steer the story where she wanted it to go? Or did you have an outline that you stuck to as you drafted? (Or neither…?)

So, confession time: The badass Iris who exists in the final version is nothing at all like first draft Iris, who was kind of whiny and bumbling and—dare I say it—incompetent. I got about six chapters in before I realized This is crap, trashed everything, and went back to the drawing board.

I used to start with plot and work the characters out after the fact, but for this (and everything else I’ve written since then), I knew I had to get the characters under control first. So I spent weeks really thinking about Iris. Giving her a backstory, finding her strengths and weaknesses, all of that. She emerged from that several week period the badass we all know and love today!

And now to actually answer your question, it was actually a secondary character who helped steer the story. When I sat down to start writing (er, rewriting, at this point), I knew what Iris’s beginning and middle was going to be. I had no idea about the end. But I did know the beginning-middle-end for a secondary character, Yellow. Yellow’s story arc had always been clear in my mind, so as I was writing, I let that be the guide for everything. The rest of the story fell into place from there.

3. Omg, Yellow!!! She’s my favorite non-Iris character!! ;) I love-love-love what you do with her. Now, moving onto research. I assume there you had to do a lot since we traipse through so many different eras and settings. What’s your go-to, first stop for research?

Oh, I’m Wikipedia…for specific things. Like, when I knew I was going to set a scene during the Boston Massacre, Wikipedia was my first stop. But for broader, more general questions, I start with a simple Google search. Like, I legit Googled “historical events in Boston,” and that’s pretty much the only reason the 1990 burglary of the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum is in the book. I didn’t come up with that one on my own. :)

4. THE MUSEUM BURGLARY!!! My favorite part of the book!! Which leads me to this very important question: Can I join the Annum Guard? Actually, scratch that. I’m too much of a wuss. Do you think YOU could survive in the Annum Guard? I mean, all that time travel and danger stuff seems pretty intense…

Had you asked me ten years ago, I would have signed up for sure! Getting to check out history in person? Heck yes! But now I’d much rather sit on my couch in PJs and explore the past via the History Channel. Besides, like Iris, I’d probably have serious questions about whether changing the past is the right thing to do.

5. Ah, deep question that. And I like how Iris really grapples with it in the series. Last question...Pub brawl!! What weapon would Iris wield?? 

I’m working on revisions for the second book in the series now, and there’s a scene where Iris is meeting with someone who doesn’t take her seriously. There’s a line in there where she’s like, “This guy clearly doesn’t get that I can think of at least seven ways to kill him with my bare hands.” So yeah, Iris doesn’t need a weapon. She can take care of it by herself!

Thanks so much for having me, Sooz and Pub Crawl! <3 you guys!!

Hell yeah Iris can handle herself! And thank YOU for stopping by, Meredith!! Congratulations and happy book birthday!!

To celebrate the release of The Eighth Guardian, we’re giving away a signed copy! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below and let us know in the comments what era YOU would time travel to (given the chance!).
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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22 Comments

  1. Posted May 6, 2014 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    The fifties because I think the whole post-war gender dynamics and the peaceful life is so intriguing!!

    Thank you :)

    The book sounds amazing!!

    Lovely interview :)

  2. Posted May 6, 2014 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    I liked the sound of the book and I was going onto the raffle site – but itwas taking so long to load I gave up.

  3. Posted May 6, 2014 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    The Revolutionary War era for sure! That’d be so awesome. Second choice would be the Civil War era, when Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address- now that’d be epic! =) And sad, of course. =(

  4. Chris Bailey
    Posted May 6, 2014 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    This sounds like a story I’ll really enjoy! If I were time traveling, I’d want to have control. No surprise. I would be cool to go hear Jesus preach, and take part in the all-you-can-eat bread and fish event. Then, I want to leap ahead to a time like now, with the comfort and convenience of running water.

  5. Terry Walsh
    Posted May 6, 2014 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Time travel destination? Elizabethan England. I want to score a few of Shakespeare’s scripts that were later lost. Or if I was feeling really antiquarian, maybe the ancient, fabled library at Alexandria, Egypt, shortly before the fire. Nobody will miss these ten scrolls, right??
    The new book sounds great. Looking forward to reading it.
    I appreciated the comment about taking weeks to develop a main character. I’m doing that now for a novel. I feel guilty, like I’m not really “writing” anything. But some characters are mute without their milieu. Michelangelo said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” Also, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”
    Chipping away at a rock takes a lot of time. Working on character development feels more like groping for details in a particularly opaque fog. I know the character is there. I hear echoes. I will get to “Aha!” One of these days.
    Fortunately, a pen is cheaper than a chisel.

  6. Megan
    Posted May 6, 2014 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    I would travel back to see the Library of Alexandria in Egypt!

    Congratulations Meredith, the book looks fabulous!

  7. Posted May 6, 2014 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    There are so many eras to choose from, but right now I’d want to go back to ancient Rome. Can’t wait to read this book! It looks like a lot of fun.

  8. Rosie Pova
    Posted May 6, 2014 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Sounds interesting, would love to check it out.
    Thanks.

  9. Posted May 6, 2014 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Sounds intriguing! What era would I visit? Which one Wouldn’t I is more the question, lol! I guess the early 1900 s…the women’s suffergate movement and WWI era.

  10. Posted May 6, 2014 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    You convinced me! I just bought it. Sounds so fascinating!

    I’d go 100 years in the future. We already know what the past was like– I want to know what’s going to happen next. :D

  11. Vivien
    Posted May 6, 2014 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    The French Revolution

  12. Posted May 6, 2014 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Oh, this book sounds really fascinating! I love time travel of any kind, so it’s hard to just pick one time. Ancient Rome would probably be my first stop though!

  13. Posted May 6, 2014 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations and happy book birthday, Meredith! I can’t wait to read The Eighth Guardian.

    Like Peggy, I think it’d be fun to travel to the future and see what’s in store. :)

  14. Vanessa Plummer
    Posted May 6, 2014 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    ANCIENT Egypt for sure. thanks so much for the opportunity to win!

  15. Danielle
    Posted May 7, 2014 at 1:18 am | Permalink

    I would go back to the turn of the century or the 80’s. For purely shallow reasons, of course…there my favorite fashion eras! :)

  16. Danielle
    Posted May 7, 2014 at 1:19 am | Permalink

    I would go back to the turn of the century or the 80’s. For purely shallow reasons, of course…they’re my favorite fashion eras! :)

  17. Renate
    Posted May 7, 2014 at 3:09 am | Permalink

    I would LOVE to see the Regency/Federal period for myself! Dolley Madison and Jane Austen…some truly great ladies!

  18. Posted May 7, 2014 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Provided we could only go to the past and not the future… Hmmm. Probably Biblical times. I think that would be pretty cool.

  19. Posted May 7, 2014 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Oh man, love a good spy book! I’ve always wanted to be a badass! :) I’m terrible at making decisions, but I think it’d be interesting to go back to the Renaissance.

  20. Hamed
    Posted May 7, 2014 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think seeing Jesus or Jane Austen or Renaissance would change anything in MY life, as long as I’m not able to change the history. If the time comes and they give me a chance to travel through time I would go way way back and I’ll find that female chimpanzee. The mother of us all. I want to watch her give birth to human and humanity. I want to see how she nurtures a freak of nature which is not her own kind but simply hers. I want see, I need to see how mother earth accepts the outcast we were and made us kings.

  21. Posted May 11, 2014 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    This book sounds AMAZING!
    I would travel to Elizabethan England to see a Shakespeare play at the Globe first-hand, but it would be a brief visit ’cause, come on… plumbing.

  22. Posted May 11, 2014 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    I’ve got to say, I’d never heard of The Eighth Guardian but it seriously sounds amazing! If I could time travel to any era, it’d be to the 1920s in New York. That’s a fairly new obsession for me, in terms of historical periods, and I would just love to visit and join all the revelry!

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