My Favorite Bit: Gwenda Bond talks about Blackwood

This week, we have Gwenda Bond talking about her YA novel, Blackwood. It’s a September 2012 launch title for Strange Chemistry, the brand-new YA imprint from Angry Robot Books.

On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. But when the island faces the sudden disappearance of 114 people now, an unlikely pair of 17-year-olds may be the only hope of bringing them back.

Miranda Blackwood, a misfit girl from the island’s most infamous family, and Phillips Rawlings, an exiled teen criminal who hears the voices of the dead, must dodge everyone from federal agents to long-dead alchemists as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony. The one thing they can’t dodge is each other.

Let’s see what her Favorite Bit is.


So ‘my favorite bit’ was hard to decide on, because Blackwood is a mash up of so many of my favorite things—creepy islands, the Lost Colony story, alchemy, small town culture and people who don’t quite fit into it, smart teenagers… There’s even a golden retriever.

But I think my absolute favorite thing to write, the thing that made me happiest, were the scenes between my main characters, Miranda Blackwood and Phillips Rawling.

Often, I find what I miss most in YA romantic threads that don’t quite work for me as a reader is the conversations. Those talks where you watch two characters develop a relationship—where they become friends, too. Where they make each other laugh, even while dealing with serious situations. The book ended up as much a thriller/mystery as a romance, but I always held on to the developing relationship between the two main characters while I was writing the book. It provided some light to balance out the darker elements, though it’s not without its own stumbling blocks, of course.

Here’s a bit of one of those conversations between Miranda and Phillips I picked out to share, which I don’t think is spoilery. It begins with Miranda’s dialogue, and is in Phillips’ point-of-view:


“The voices you hear—they’re the voices of dead people?” She gave him a suspicious look. “How did you know about the funeral home stuff? About Marlon’s TV?”

“You think that was…” He squinted at her. “Not a bad guess. But no, the spirits aren’t helpful at crime that I can tell. Don’t you remember the Bela prank?”

She shook her head, curious instead of looking so lost, which made him feel better. He released her hand to put his over his heart as if she’d mortally wounded him. “You weren’t a fan? Not even a little bit?”

“Of what?” A slight smile edged her lips up on one side.

“My masterpieces—the things that got me sent away? During my brief Bauhaus-wannabe goth phase at thirteen I broke in here and then lettered the sign with the viewing times for Bela Lugosi.”

“You are the weirdest person I’ve ever met.”

He made a little bow. “Finally, you’re beginning to appreciate my genius.”

Swoon, right? I hope so, anyway.
And, that said, I hope other people who read and enjoy the book have different favorite bits entirely —though I’ll admit it makes me happy when people talk about the relationship between Miranda and Phillips. I do so love a nerdy romance.

Relevant Book Links:

Bio: Gwenda Bond’s debut novel, Blackwood, is a September 2012 launch title for Strange Chemistry, the new YA imprint of Angry Robot Books. She is also a contributing writer for Publishers Weekly, regularly reviews for Locus, and guest-edited a special YA issue of Subterranean Online. She lives in a hundred-year-old house in Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband, author Christopher Rowe, and their menagerie. Find her online at or on twitter (@gwenda).

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