First things first: I ended up with more author copies than I expected, so I'm going to contact the people who - as of this post - have requested one and get their mailing addresses to send them out.
And now onto the day's post:
Sing Down the Stars goes live on Tuesday - YAY!!! And we've now made it to the final character introduction post, which features Penn, the main character.
Penn has grown up in a strange combination of an idyllic life, and a hard one. She loves her sisters and her extended Show family. She adores her father, and can't imagine any life other than the one she's had on the train. But it's a very sheltered existence. They're constantly on the move, traveling from one part of the country to another, yet she's never allowed to go beyond the boundaries of the camp set-up for the circus itself unless she's accompanied by her sisters.
Worse, she's not allowed to ever show her true face because she has to pretend to be a boy. Specifically, she must hide herself in the identity of her own fraternal twin - the brother she killed the night she was born, when it became clear that the power she'd been touched with was something terrifying. The only way to protect her was to claim that the girl twin had died that night and dress her up as the boy.
So while she's happy in the life she's lived, she's also grown with sorrow and regret for things that she can't control and didn't consciously cause. She can't stop mourning her brother because she steps into his shoes every day. She sees how her father created Klok to semi-replace him. She knows no one is allowed to speak the dead boy's name because it's bad luck - to the point that she's never ever heard it spoken.
She grieves for her mother, because her mother died of grief shortly after she was born. She grieves for herself because she wants desperately to be "Penelope" rather than "Penn," yet believes that suffering is her due penance for all these things she can't even remember doing.
And then suddenly, she's out on her own without her father and without her sisters to guide her actions. She's got her friends, but her identity is in flux because now it's Penn-the-boy who is a danger for them to be seen with. She has to find herself on the road, and she's not quite sure where to start looking.
Beyond that, all the certainties she'd built up about her life and her family begin to erode as she's exposed to outside influences. Her perspective changes, and as she learns more about the people she thought she knew, her image of herself begins to change as well. Her black and white world shades in with grey, giving it a new depth and new dark corners.
Her whole life, she thought she hated the Warden's Commission and the medusae and all of the factors that led to her being so different from the "mundane" people who frequent The Show, but the first, hardest lesson she has to deal with is the fact that she hates herself, more. She's terrified of herself and the destruction that follows her everywhere she goes, but the abilities she was
touched with at birth are now the key to her survival, and that of her friends. They're her only means of finding her scattered family. Only, how
is she supposed to wield a weapon she's never been allowed to use?
The book goes live next week, so we're getting down to the final characters. Today's character is a boy named Jermay (and no, that's not supposed to be Jeremy).
Jermay is a circus kid. He's grown up in The Show alongside Penn and the rest, but unlike most of the children of The Show he wasn't homeless or a runaway; he's there with his father, Zavel. Zavel and Jermay do a magic show to entertain guests before the main event, and they also have a spot in the big top.
He's Birdie's favorite target when she wants to cause some (harmless) trouble, and like many pairs of kids who grow up together, he's not quite sure if his feelings for Penn fall on the friend side of things, or if they go deeper. It's a dangerous distinction, as Penn must keep up the facade of being a boy for the safety of everyone in the circus. Her being openly amorous with another boy could draw attention that none of them want.
Feelings aside, Penn and Jermay are rock-solid friends. They know each other's secrets; they know each other's tells, and they know each other's triggers. They've got a language all their own that allows them to speak on more than one level, and each is the one the other looks to for honest answers - even when they don't really want to hear them. Their philosophy is "always together," because they know that there's no situation that the two of them can't find a way out of together.
But neither of them ever imagined finding themselves in the position of being on the road and on the run without support from the rest of their circus family. Their connection and strength are put to the ultimate test as they have to rely on each other to get from point to point with nothing but their wits to guide them. Jermay's nickname on the train is "Good luck on legs," and all they can do is hope he lives up to it.
YA and MG writer repped by Laura Rennert of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. I have a habit of doodling things that turn into actual pictures. I toss them up at random intervals for readers to point and laugh at.