Kat Baldwin debuts her Fairy Godmother
Posted by Suzanne Ferrell May 3 2013, 12:35 am
I have a confession to make, Banditas and Bandit Buddies. Today I am indulging myself. Yep. Because today, I am bringing one of my most favorite people in the entire world into the Lair. (Sending an evil eye at Sven, Pablo and all the half dressed males lulling about…you guys better behave!) See, my friend Kat Baldwin is one of the funniest, kindest and most talented humans in the entire world. And I am sharing her and her newest book with y’all!!
*Me doing a happy little dance on my bar stool*
So please help me welcome Kat Baldwin to the Lair!!
Suz: Kat, I’m not sure I ever told you this, but I don’t read a lot of YA. But I loved your book DIARY OF A TEENAGE FAIRY GODMOTHER. This is no simple wave-your-wand-and-make-the-girl-glamorous-to-solve-her-problems story, is it?
Kat: No. Life is never that simple. We all know that a beautiful dress doesn’t make a girl beautiful on the inside. In this case, Jess has some seriously prickly edges to smooth off. I don’t think she would put a dress on much less let it soften her personality. She’d be more likely to rip it to shreds and toss it out the nearest window.
Suz: DIARY OF A TEENAGE FAIRY GODMOTHER, what a great title and great concept. How did you come upon this idea?
Kat: Originally the story was a contemporary romance/coming of age story focused on the very intelligent but wounded Jess, and her friendships with Cai and Maggie. My agent at the time thought the story should include a paranormal element. Andrea has a soft spot for fairies, so… we wove in a teenage fairy godmother. Before we knew it she’d taken over the story.
Suz: You have two heroines Lilliana, the fairy godmother, and Cinderella’s descendant, Jess. What are their similarities and what makes them so different?
Kat: Lilliana is extremely feminine. The fairy race being predominantly female, she grew up surrounded by women. Whereas Jess grew up with two brothers and rejected anything that even remotely smacked of softness.
Both girls have had to cope with death up close and personal. But they handled it in radically different ways.
Lilliana lost her mother as a child and carries a quiet sadness with her that has kept her from realizing her potential. Whereas Jess’s grief fuels her anger. She’s brimming over with potential but hasn’t allowed herself to mourn – a powder keg.
Both girls must face their grief, and except who and what they are, or they won’t survive.
Suz: Was it hard having two strong female protagonists in one book?
Kat: Oh yes! Writing two protagonists was like walking across a high wire. Keeping both heroines in the forefront of the reader’s mind is tricky. In the end I know Lilliana took over, but I adore Jess. She’s such a kick-ass-take-no-prisoners girl.
Suz: Jess has two best friends, Cai and Maggie. I love how you use them to help both Jess and Lilliana. Maggie, in particular, has a unique ability in that she’s dyslexic. How does that help her in this book?
Kat: It isn’t uncommon for a person who has a ‘disability’ like dyslexia to develop some really cool compensating quality.
I love Maggie’s ability to read people, to know instantly whether they’re telling the truth or not. Because her dyslexia makes it a constant struggle to know what’s real or true. Think what it would be like if the letters on a page played tricks on your mind, if a d turns into a b, or if the letters all swam together and become nonsensical. Frustrating? Sure. And that frustration is why Maggie has to know the “truth” of things, so she’s become an expert at determining when someone is telling the truth, or not.
Suz: Unlike the usual Cinderella story, in DIARY OF A TEENAGE FAIRY GODMOTHER you’ve complicated Lilliana’s job by giving her a love interest. Who is it and how does this affect the mission?
Kat: Jake – sigh. I love that moment when they meet and her inner music starts harmonizing with his. Falling in love with a human is forbidden, against the rules, not to mention it’s deadly. Lilliana knows first hand what happens. Her mother fell in love with a human. Consequently Lilliana was raised by her mentor at the school for Fairy Godmothers.
To make matters worse, Jake is Jess’s brother. Jess is fiercely protective of the only family she really has left. Her parents fell apart after the death of their oldest son. So there is no way she’s going to let some lunatic who thinks she’s a fairy mess up his life.
Suz: Some of your secondary characters, Cai and Maggs, as well as Jess’ brother Jake seem to have some unusual abilities. Is there the idea for more stories from this group?
Kat: Sadly, Andrea, my writing partner has a serious type of cancer, so we won’t be able to do it together. She needs to rest and recuperate. But I love the characters and dream of a second book for them. Yes, there are definitely secrets about all them, especially Jake and Jess that are begging to come out.
Suz: Speaking of Andrea, you’re a writing team. How does that work for you? Do you each have specific duties in the story or is it completely collaborative?
Kat: Andrea writes mystery, but she is also a flamboyant actress. When Andi walks in a room everyone knows she’s arrived. I wouldn’t be writing YA if it weren’t for her. At the time she was also a well known book reviewer on both internet and TV. She reviewed my Regencies and tried to persuade me that they were YA material.
I balked. But Andi persisted. To convince me that I should and could write YA she offered to plan this book together. She lives out of town. So she flew to Texas and we got together at her hotel. Andi is hysterically funny. She acted out scenes – hid behind curtains, jumped around, threw things, bounced on the bed and spoke in all kinds of voices, portraying all the characters at once. Amazing! She gave me tons of material and my job was to glean, smooth and polish it into a salient story.
The Music of the Mission
Lilliana Skye stood in the upper branches of a tall oak overlooking Lake Elm High and peered through the leaves. She listened closely to the strange music of human emotions as students shuffled through the front doors of the small Texas high school. Some of them emitted low, plodding oboe sounds with sad notes of doubt and aloneness. Others pulsated like wild offbeat snare drums.
Her first mission. She’d studied and prepared for this day her whole life. Soon, very soon, she would walk among the humans. Her own inner music soared up, whistling excitedly, flying out of harmony with the trees and wind. With a deep breath Lilliana calmed herself and tucked her training manual securely under her arm. Any minute now her orders would arrive.
She tugged down the short, uncomfortably tight skirt—a perfect disguise. A new dress may not solve any problems, but it sure was fun. Lilliana had duplicated the outfit, every last detail, from page thirty-eight of the latest Teen Vogue. She was totally prepared. Ready. Nothing to worry about. After all, these humans were just teenagers, like her. Well, except, none of them had a pair of five-foot-seven-inch wings sprouting out of their backs. Lilliana retracted hers.
Just then a bright red cardinal burst through the thick canopy of the old oak tree. He swooped down and dropped a small scroll into her hands.
“Thank you, Napoleon.”
The feathered messenger landed on Lilliana’s shoulder as she unrolled the parchment and read “School records altered. Proceed.” Gryndelyn’s official seal glowed on the bottom. As soon as Lilliana finished reading it, the message disintegrated into dandelion fluff and scattered on the breeze.
Suddenly, thunder shook the air. Except there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.
Lilliana’s attention snapped back to the school. The deep rumble blotted out the noise of the students. She searched for the source of the explosive roar. There! The loud, angry vibrations came from a girl in army boots and a camouflage T-shirt, the one who resembled a third world dictator stomping up the school steps.
Lilliana drew in a quick breath. She knew that girl. She’d memorized that profile, and she recognized the wild unruly hair, hair the color of deep red autumn leaves. It was Cinderella’s offspring, Lilliana’s C.O., the girl she was supposed to help. It was Jessica Harrison whose soul thundered as violent and black as a winter storm.
Yet, beneath Jess’s throbbing drums of rage, Lilliana heard the unmistakable strains of anguish—taut strings of grief. Grief that resonated so sharply it hurt to listen.
For the third time that week, Jessica Harrison sat in Principal Jamison’s office listening to him lecture about how he expected her to treat other students courteously and stop undermining his staff. Apparently, this time he thought Jess shouldn’t have told her history teacher to get her facts right or find another line of work.
“Unacceptable behavior,” Mr. Jamison complained. “Insensitive. You made poor Ms. Hargrove cry.” Blah, blah, blah…
Jess growled low in her throat. It wasn’t her fault Ms. Hargrove was menopausal and needed a refresher course on the events leading up to World War II.
Jamison sighed. “A little diplomacy, Jess, that’s all I’m asking.”
“Whatever,” she conceded.
“Most girls in your situation would be depressed. Depression would be perfectly normal, but you…”
Depression? Didn’t he know the black hole of depression yawned its mouth at her every morning, threatening to suck her into its dark abyss? Jess would never give in to it.
She would scratch everyone’s eyes out if she had to, but she would stand out here in the land of the living and fight. Right here, right now, where she could do something. Change things. Protect the family she had left from the rotten people in this rotten world. And if she couldn’t protect them, she’d—
Jamison interrupted her thoughts, saying something that made her want to punch a hole in the universe. “I’d like you to meet with the school psychologist to discuss your anger issues.”
“Issues?” Jess sputtered. What did he know about her issues? And what right did he have to bring them up?
He leaned forward with so much syrupy sympathy contorting his features that it made Jess want to puke. “After all—” He hesitated. “It’s been almost a year since, uh, since your brother’s unfortunate accident and—”
“Unfortunate accident!” It was all Jess could do not to hurl her backpack against the wall and shatter all of Jamison’s neatly framed diplomas. Instead, she jumped to her feet. “Is that what you call it? Are you referring to the night Ryan decided to show off for his stupid girlfriend? The night he accidentally blew through a red light going a hundred and twenty miles an hour? The one where he lost control and cremated himself and her? You mean the unfortunate accident that has my parents walking around like numbed-up robots? That one? Really? Because you know what I call it? I call it the night my world exploded!”
Jess slammed her palm against his desk so hard the oak should’ve split. She clamped her lips together, letting the pain in her hand fuel her. “And if you think I want to talk about that with some second-rate school shrink, then you’re the crazy one.”
Jess stormed out of the principal’s office. Let him suspend her. She didn’t care. High school was a gigantic waste of time anyway. She was only a sophomore, but she’d taken the SAT early and scored higher than anyone in the senior class. Jamison could expel her right now for all she cared. She wasn’t going to put up with him butting into her issues.
Jess shoved past a group of kids milling by the drinking fountain. Other students hustled out of the way as she stomped down the hallway.
Everyone at Lake Elm High knew her well enough to know they’d better move. Respectfully cautious. That’s what they were, and that was the way Jess wanted it.
But then she saw something that made the volcano churning inside her turn into an iceberg.
A ghost opening Ryan’s locker.
Memories of that night slammed into Jess—police pounding at the door at two in the morning, red and blue lights churning across the dark lawn. Once again, as in countless nightmares, Jess felt the searing heat of flames. Flames she’d never actually seen. Flames that had consumed her brother. And now, standing at Ryan’s locker was the girl who got him killed.
Except Cheryl was dead, and there’s no such thing as ghosts. There’s a scientific explanation for everything. Action. Reaction. Cause and effect. Physics, that’s what Jess believed in. Not ghosts.
So, why was one opening her dead brother’s locker? A ghost who looked exactly like his dead girlfriend? Same skinny body. Same dark hair, pinned up loose and messy, half of it falling over her ears in the same stupid attempt to look sexy. It was Cheryl. Only…
It couldn’t be. Jess marched over and yanked the interloper’s arm. “What are you doing in my brother’s locker?”
Just like Cheryl, the girl had dangerous green eyes. They widened. “Jess?” she gasped.
Jess jerked her hand back as if she’d been burned. “How do you know my name?”
Ghost girl caught the corner of her lip in her teeth and gnawed on it like someone hunting for a plausible lie. Jess closed the distance and bore down on her with all the diplomacy of an irate drill sergeant. “I said how do you know my name?”
The girl edged back and bumped into the locker. “I, um, I was sent…” Finally she blurted, “I’m here to help you.”
Jamison’s shrink? Jess stepped back and shook her head. No, it couldn’t be. She was way too young. A student counselor? No, this girl looked clueless. So who was she? And why had Jamison sent her?
It didn’t matter. “Tell Jamison to butt out.”
“Jamison?” The girl blinked, pretending she didn’t know the principal.
“Nice try,” Jess snapped. “I don’t care who you are or why you’re here.” She pushed the intruder aside and slammed Ryan’s locker shut. “Stay out of my brother’s locker!”
“But…” Cheryl’s clone held up a newly printed schedule and pointed to a number in the upper left corner. “This is the locker they assigned me.”
Jess scanned the schedule. Not only had the idiots in the office given away Ryan’s locker, but half of the new girl’s classes were the same as Jess’s. Worst of all she’d be in Biology with—
This was not good—not good at all. Red-alert sirens screamed in Jess’s head. “Go ask for a different locker,” Jess shouted. “And stay away from my brother.”
“Your brother? You mean his locker?”
Jess didn’t wait around to explain. She elbowed her way through the crowd. Her combat boots thudded against the tile as she double-timed it down the hall to recruit backup.
BACK COVER BLURB:
ISBN-13: 978-1484038918 Available as eBook or Print at Barnes & Noble or Amazon
Diary Of A Teenage Fairy Godmother
A Fairy Godmother is not some pixie in a pink tutu. She’s a guardian and a warrior. Lilliana Skye is sent undercover to a Texas high school to save one of Cinderella’s troubled descendants, but everything goes wrong.
Jessica Harrison hates Lilliana. She doesn’t believe in fairytale magic or happily-ever-afters. Jess is tough, angry, and so intelligent it’s scary. If she ever did see a mythical fairy she would probably stomp it into oblivion with her army boots. Matters go from bad to worse when Jess’s older brother meets Lilliana and falls hard for the new girl. And Lilliana can’t keep her wayward heart in check. Jake is, well, just plain dangerous.
Falling in love with a human is forbidden, not to mention… deadly.
Kathleen loves adventure! Her mom died when Kat was thirteen, but life rolled on. She roamed the Rockies skiing and rock-climbing, wandered the desert, enjoyed way too many classes in college, was stalked by a cougar, lost an argument with a rattlesnake, fell in love at least a dozen times, was proposed to eleven times, finally met and married her own personal hero. Still in love, they’ve raised four free-spirited adventurous children.
An award-winning author and illustrator – Kensington published four of Kathleen Baldwin’s Regency romantic comedies, including Mistaken Kiss, a Holt Medallion finalist. Her upcoming series for Tor/Forge Books, STRANJE HOUSE, A School for Unusual Girls, won the Marlene in 2012. And just last week Diary of a Teenage Fairy Godmother was chosen Pick of the Day by Fresh Fiction readers.
So dear readers, IF you had a Fairy Godmother, what would you want her to help you with? Would she have to deal with any special issues inside of you to help you find fulfillment?
Posted in Cinderella, Fairies, Fairy Godmothers, Kathleen Baldwin, paranormal romances, Suzanne Ferrell, YA romances