By: Jodie Lynn Zdrok
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: February 12th, 2019
A YA murder mystery in which a young reporter must use her supernatural visions to help track down a killer targeting the young women of Paris.
Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes the daily morgue column for Le Petit Journal. Her job is to summarize each day’s new arrivals, a task she finds both fascinating and routine. That is, until the day she has a vision of the newest body, a young woman, being murdered–from the perspective of the murderer himself.
When the body of another woman is retrieved from the Seine days later, Paris begins to buzz with rumors that this victim may not be the last. Nathalie’s search for answers sends her down a long, twisty road involving her mentally ill aunt, a brilliant but deluded scientist, and eventually into the Parisian Catacombs. As the killer continues to haunt the streets of Paris, it becomes clear that Nathalie’s strange new ability may make her the only one who can discover the killer’s identity–and she’ll have to do it before she becomes a target herself.
- Describe your book in 5 words or less:
Atmospheric. Dark. Creepy. Twisty. Magical.
- A book goes through a lot of different versions and rounds of editing before it’s 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?
I love chatting about the behind-the-scenes stuff! Here are a few tidbits:
- The Catacombs scene in the original had a completely different purpose (with a different character!) and was slated for deletion during the revisions I did for my agent. That’s the spoiler-free version. For those who have read Spectacle (SPOILER ALERT: it was initially M. Gloves, who was an Insightful trying to help Nathalie, instead of the Dark Artist.)
- My beloved white cat, Stasiu Kitty, died while I was revising Spectacle for my agent. To pay tribute to him, I wrote in Stanley (Stasiu is Polish for Stanley). Nathalie didn’t have a cat before that draft. I love that he’s on page forever now.
- The Agnès-in-Bayeux storyline was inspired by a trip I’d taken to Normandy in between drafts. I stayed in Bayeux for a few days and was charmed by it.
- The first-first draft of Spectacle was more about coming of age and Nathalie learning about her magical ability. She was far more removed from the Dark Artist, and I actually considered leaving it unsolved (like the real-life Jack the Ripper) because I thought it would be more unsettling that way. I didn’t end up writing it that way, though. Instead I wrote a variation of the way the final version of Spectacle plays out.
- What about Paris, morgues, and murder inspired you to write SPECTACLE? Do you have a special story, a discovery you made while doing research, or an innocuous thought that grew into something bigger that is behind your inspiration?
I studied European history in graduate school, and one of my fields of study was modern cultural and intellectual history. That’s where I learned that people went to the Paris Morgue as an attraction as much as for its intended purpose (identifying bodies found in the public domain). I thought hmm…what would it have been like if the Jack the Ripper murders had taken place in an environment like that? That was the spark for the idea. Once I pulled the magic into it, I tapped into my interest in the late 19th-century European view of pseudoscience and the occult.
- Who was your favorite character to write and who gave you the most trouble? If you could ask a character of your choice from SPECTACLE one question what would it be?
Nathalie is the heart and soul, of the novel, of course, but Aunt Brigitte was the most fun to write. Her thinking isn’t as linear as most characters; it was intriguing, and in some ways liberating, to write a character who has necessary things to convey but doesn’t communicate them in a way to which we’re accustomed.
M. Gloves is a minor character but gave me the most trouble because he was a changeling—his role changed several times across multiple drafts.
The one question I’d ask would be of Nathalie, at the end of the novel: If you could choose to keep or give up your gift, what would you do?
- What scene from the book are you most proud of (because of how you handled the atmosphere, characters, dialogue, etc)?
I’d say the Catacombs scene because it had to be repurposed from the original draft and almost ended up on the cutting room floor (as hard as that is to believe), and because it’s the one scene people have referenced again and again. I’m also proud of the hypnotist scene because it was there from the first draft and needed very little tweaking throughout all the revisions. I feel like it should get an I Survived All the Drafts t-shirt.
- What is next for you? What are your currently working on?
I’ll be getting revision notes for Spectacle’s sequel this week, so that will keep me busy for a while! It takes place two years later at the Exposition Universelle and is just as murder-y as Spectacle. After that I’ll be working on a ghost story set in a 1920s boarding school. So you know, the usual light and fluffy fare. 😊
Jodie Lynn Zdrok holds two MAs in European History (Providence College, Brown University) and an MBA (Clark University). In addition to being an author, she’s a marketing professional, a freelancer, and an unapologetic Boston sports fan. She enjoys traveling, being a foodie, doing sprint triathlons, and enabling cats. She is represented by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown, Ltd.
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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us. The author image, info, giveaway, and more were provided by Jean Book Nerd Tours.