By: Lydia Albano
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: September 19th, 2017
Taken from home and family, all they have is each other.
Isla is kidnapped from a train platform in broad daylight, and thrust into a nightmare when she is sold to a sadistic aristocrat. Locked in a dungeon with a dozen other girls, Isla’s only comfort is a locket and the memory of the boy she loves. But as days pass and more girls disappear, she realizes that help is not coming… If they’re going to survive, they’ll have to escape on their own.
Swoon Reads is proud to present Lydia Albano’s debut novel, a powerful story of a teen girl finding strength and hope in even the worst circumstances.
A book goes through a lot of different versions and rounds of editing before its complete. What are some fun facts or behind the scenes info you can share about the characters from your book or the world you created for it that may or may not have made it to the final draft of the book?
Ooh, behind the scenes stuff, let’s see. For starters, the book used to be well over 100K words, which must have given my poor editor, Holly West, a heart attack. I tend to write very…prolifically? I think that’s the term; far too many words. Usually a lot of that is due to the fact that I struggle to choose adjectives because I love them so much, so I just include all two or three that seem fitting and it just makes a giant mess of things. No one needs three adjectives to describe something in one sentence.
The length of time over which the book takes place also shifted dramatically; in the original draft I was worried that I would be rushing things if there weren’t “time-lapse” moments, so to speak, where time passed for Isla and her friends and they were left waiting for news. Throughout the editing process, I came to see that it actually muddied up the action to have such long periods of time described between one big thing and the next, and so rather than span from mid-summer to sometime early-winter, the entire book now takes place over the course of a few weeks, maybe a month.
More exciting than all that, though, are the characters that were affected by the editing process. I don’t want to spoil things but one of the girls who makes it out alive originally died, rather last minute, just when she thought she had hope of escaping. On the other hand, one of the girls who made it out alive in the first draft actually dies in the finished version, in much the same way. The flip was the best idea ever (this is why editors are God’s gift to writers) and changed a lot of what ends up being possible later on.
There were a couple of characters that we straight up cut out of the book, too; the worst part was that they were two of my very favorite characters but – as my editor gently pointed out – they weren’t actually necessary to the plot. I hope someday you’ll all get to meet Oliver (originally Des’ cell mate, taken from the circus as a kid, unable to speak because his tongue had been cut out since he dealt in secrets for Curram) and Lucy (Curram’s manipulative and neglected wife who’s technically on their side but definitely not to be trusted). I’m sure they’ll find their way into a different book; they’re still alive and well in my head, so I doubt they’re going anywhere!
Honestly, even with all of those changes, I think it somehow managed to be the same book that I started with, in all the important ways- it makes more sense now, it’s shorter, the action stays clearer; but one of the great things about working with the Swoon Reads team is that for some reason they really believe in my little book, and only wanted to make it the best possible version of itself. It’s terrifying to think that so many people are going to read it now, but it’s also exhilarating. I hope you all love my characters like I do; I feel as if they’ve grown into such real people through this process and I can’t wait for the world to meet them!
Lydia Albano is a (self-proclaimed) Bunburyist living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she promotes Oxford commas, spends her money on musical theater, and demands the Myers-Briggs letters of everyone she meets. Her debut novel, Finding You, will be released in September, 2017, with SwoonReads/Macmillan.
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