Interview with Meredith McCardle, author of The Eighth Guardian
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. ;))
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!).
MEREDITH MCCARDLE is 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.