Friday, June 27, 2014

Bad Luck Girl: Sarah Zettel

« “Callie and Zettel bring this stellar trilogy to a satisfyingly sentimental conclusion.”
Kirkus Reviews, Starred

“Zettel brings the street life, locales, and culture of jazz-age Chicago into the imagery of her fantasy, packing the story with incident, adventure, and even, on the sidelines, information.” —The Horn Book
By Sarah Zettel


The American Fairy Trilogy
Book Three

Historical fiction fans will be drawn into the rich blend of historical fiction and fantasy in Sarah Zettel’s BAD LUCK GIRL (Random House Books for Young Readers / On sale May 27, 2014 / Ages 12 up). Fans of Libba Bray’s The Diviners will love the blend of fantasy and twentieth-century history in the exciting conclusion to the stylish American Fairy Trilogy.

After rescuing her parents from the Seelie king at Hearst Castle, Callie is caught up in the war between the fairies of the Midnight Throne and the Sunlit Kingdoms. By accident, she discovers that fairies aren’t the only magical creatures in the world. There’s also Halfers, misfits that are half fairy and half other—half paper, half steel girder, half electric spark. As the war heats up, Callie’s world falls apart. And even though she’s the child of prophecy, she doubts she can save the Halfers, her people, her family, and Jack, let alone herself. Bad Luck Girl, they call Callie, and she’s starting to believe them.

Extraordinarily detailed research about 1930s America and Chicago’s crime-ridden cityscape shines through in BAD LUCK GIRL. Die-hard historical fiction fans will be drawn into the fantasy realm, and fantasy readers will find themselves caught up in the vivid history of this story.

SARAH ZETTEL is an award-winning science fiction and fantasy author. She has written eighteen novels and multiple short stories over the past seventeen years, in addition to practicing tai chi, learning to fiddle, marrying a rocket scientist, and raising a rapidly growing son. The American Fairy Trilogy is her first series for teens. You can visit her online at

BAD LUCK GIRL by Sarah Zettel
Random House Books for Young Readers On sale May 27, 2014 Ages 12 up

Hardcover: 978-0-375-86940-2 $17.99 US/$19.99 Can. 368 pages Ebook 978-0-375-98320-7 $10.99 US/$11.99 Can.

            First of all, thanks to Book Girl Knitting for letting me stop by today.
            When I started writing Callie’s story, I knew I was going to be writing a fairy tale in the most literal sense.  It is a story with fairies in it.  Every culture in the world has stories of magic, and magical creatures and the humans — heroes, fools, and villains — who encounter them.  They may get derided.  People say, “oh, that’s just a fairy tale.”  But the stories themselves never quite go away.  That’s because the elements of the classic fairy tale never stop being important.
            There’s a saying about fairy tales I dearly love.  This is a paraphrase, but it’s the gist of it:  fairy tales do not teach children monsters exist.  Children know monsters exist.  They teach children monsters can be defeated.
            And it’s not just for children, and the monster is not the only central point of a fairy tale.  In all fairy stories, there’s some sort of bargain made.  That bargain can be a quest or task with the promise of reward (or simple survival) at the end.  It can be a bet, or a granted wish that comes with a price or a condition to be met.  All these bargains are made with some figure power, a king or a goddess, an old woman in a hut or a small man who lives underneath a stone, it doesn’t matter.   Once the bargain is set, the story is in motion.  The power, the magic, will see that the bargain is kept.
            That’s when we’re really off to the races.  Because as soon as the heroine or hero has made the bargain (or had it forced on them), then they get to make the important choices.  Will they do right?  That is, will they keep their word, honor the bet, endure the hardship and respect the power?  Or will they try to cheat?  Will they ignore power and bargain and promise and take what they were given without paying for it.
            In fairy tales, this second choice generally does not go well.
           There’s a moment in BAD LUCK GIRL when Callie, who has just begun learning how powerful she really is, absolutely loses it.  Anger completely takes over and she lashes out with her power without thinking, and in that moment, without caring.  I wasn’t really planning this moment when I started the story, but when it showed up, I knew it was a necessary part of the story, because it was the moment that illustrated almost more than any other in the book the importance of that choice.  That what’s important in a fairy tale is not just about the discovery of power but how is that power ultimately used.
            I think this is the real reason why fairy tales never go away.  Because they are about this central choice of doing right or doing wrong.  Of remaining courageous enough to never forget you’re part of a larger, the human family, even when things are at their most difficult for you.  In fairy tales, it is remembering to be your best at your worst, that wins the day, because this is what brings the heroine or hero the help and advice she needs to defeat the monster and keep the bargain. 
            Does it always work that way in real life?  Of course not.  Fairy tales are not real life.  They are reminders to ourselves of the choices we face and of the fact that monsters are most surely defeated without losing ourselves to what makes them monsters — anger, isolation, greed, envy, power without control or consideration.   This fight is always at the heart of the fairy tale.

            Even the ones where there aren’t actual fairies.

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