What was the inspiration behind this book?
I would have to say it’s two-fold: the desire for a strong female character and Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone.Which character spoke to you the most during the writing process?
I had been reading quite a bit of paranormal fiction and came away with the feeling that as much as I love the genre and can get sucked into a book so easily, often I came away desiring more from the female leads. I wanted to meet a girl who was badass from day one, knew she was badass and rather reveled in her badassery (not a word, but I’m using it anyway). So I created Dev, this hard core girl with her own agenda, who is incredibly capable, but also a little vulnerable and in need of a friend or two.
What actually inspired me to start writing was Laini Taylor’s “Daughter of Smoke and Bone”. Ms. Taylor created such a beautiful novel, one that was so interesting and full of characters you love, and I wanted to see if I could do the same. So one day I finally stopped taking notes on my characters and the world of The Sanctum and just started writing.
I would have to say Dev. She’s the reason the trilogy came about, she inspired me to write and she’s just so very vivid to me.What kind of research did you have to do?
I love her determination, her single-mindedness, her ferocity and the fact that underneath all of that, she has a few vulnerabilities. Wyatt sums her up rather perfectly when he says to her, “[y]ou say no one can hurt you and you might be right, physically no one can, but mentally is a whole other ballgame and you’re just as vulnerable as the rest of us.”
Those little imperfections, or nicks in Dev’s armour, make me love her even more and no matter what, I’m always rooting for her.
Not that much. A lot of THE GIRL is just my own imagination. I took a lot of notes on my ideas for The Sanctum, how it functions and governs and the internal conflicts destroying it. I also took extensive notes on each of my main characters, creating their family trees and personalities.What is one of your favorite things about this book?
But actual research, in the literal sense of the word, was minimal. I did a bit on trolls because I felt like I didn’t really know enough about them and as strange as this might sound, knives. All kinds of knives, and sometimes getting quite detailed about my research as I wanted to design the proper weapons for my characters and have a decent understanding of the art of weaponry. The various blades my characters use are almost an extension of their personalities, so it was important to have a good understanding of the knives and how they are made.
I’ve tried answering this question several times, attempting to come up with something deep and profound to say about one of the themes in THE GIRL, but if I’m being really honest with you, one of my absolute favorite aspects of THE GIRL is Wyatt.In one sentence, tell us why we need to read your book.
I simply love him, even his flaws, and always have tremendous hope for him.
You need to read this book because everyone needs a tatted up, blade-wielding, kickass girl in their life.Please tell us about your other books.
Before coming up with the idea for The Sanctum trilogy, I developed a series for young adults of color called Ayesha’s Teenage Survival Files and wrote and published two books in the series, Crossing Paths and Tough Times.On what other projects are you currently working?
As a woman of color, I felt that there was a dearth of literature for kids of color where they were the main characters rather than marginalized in stereotypical, one-dimensional roles. I wanted to create something for young adults of color with characters they could relate to on a very personal level.
Right now I’m pretty much up to my neck in the world of The Sanctum. I’m currently writing Book II and outlining Book III. It’s awesome and exhausting and I love it. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I have to say goodbye to Dev, Wyatt and the crew. But that’s not going to happen any time soon, so for now I’m just trying to write, write and write some more.What drives you as a writer?
Telling a good story. You know when you’ve got a good one, the words just flow from you and all you want to do, every free moment of your day, is write. It’s an amazing feeling, and can be fleeting at times, but when you hit your stride, there’s nothing quite like it.You spent a summer studying in Paris at the Sorbonne. What is one of your favorite memories from that experience?
The cafe I would go to every morning before class to have an espresso. There were always two old men, sitting at the end of the bar, drinking their morning coffee, chatting away with one another and whoever was working behind the bar. I would take my espresso, standing on the other end of the bar all by myself until one morning they started speaking French to me. I did my best to answer them and I think they appreciated my effort because every morning after that, I was greeted warmly and invited to take my espresso with them.Tequila is your poison before 5 PM. What's in your glass after 5?
For a few months, I felt so very French.
Scotch. Glenlivet to be precise, with an ice cube. One cube.I'm a sucker for a nice, strong margarita. I like to taste the tequila in it. How do you prefer your tequila?
There’s nothing quite like a good tequila, no? I like mine with a splash of Goya mango nectar. The flavors meld perfectly. Just add a squeeze of lime and you’re set.What is something readers may be surprised to learn about you?
I almost died in second grade. I had my tonsils removed that year and suffered post-op complications. One moment I was going to the bathroom, the next, my stitches had opened and before I knew it, the bathroom walls were covered in my blood. My parents hopped into my dad’s convertible Fiat Spider (which also wound up covered in blood) and rushed me to the hospital where they closed me up on the emergency room table. My dad is a surgeon and his friend was working on me and I just remember hearing my dad yell at everyone that I was “not to be transfused!”Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’d like to say thank you so, so much for letting me stop by and talk about The Girl. Many of you have either emailed me or messaged me or written a review on Amazon or Goodreads that is so full of excitement and enthusiasm for the trilogy and Book One that I’m rather speechless. It’s been quite a ride. Of course, there will always be folks who don’t like something I’ve done or don’t like the story or my writing, but for the most part, the feedback has been incredibly positive and encouraging and for that I am so thankful. It makes me excited to keep working at this and I look forward to meeting more of you as this journey continues.Thank you so much for your time!
Please feel free to reach out to me about The Sanctum trilogy or writing or our shared love of all things tequila or lyric suggestions for me to use on a blog post or your favorite four inch heels or how hot Coach is (if you have to ask “who is Coach?”, I am so sad for you). Seriously, hit me up; I’m always down for a good chat.
You can find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/thesanctumtrilogy or on Twiiter at @madhuriblaylock or my blog at http://madhuriblaylock.wordpress.com.
About THE GIRL (THE SANCTUM)
Date Published: 11/11/2013
The Sanctum, an all-powerful governing body founded by ten families, entrusted to maintain the peace amongst Magicals and ensure the ignorance of humans, has been corrupted by greed and savagery for generations, but is all Wyatt Clayworth has ever known.
A descendant of one of the Founding Families and Class A Warrior, Wyatt has always believed in the ways of The Sanctum, having grown up in the system and thrived under their leadership. A golden boy, renowned for his prowess and skill in battle, Wyatt has never questioned a mission or kill order until the night he crosses paths with a brutally injured and mysterious girl.
Scouring Central Park with his best friend and fellow Class A Warrior, Ryker Morrison, for the hybrid demon prophesied to bring an end to The Sanctum and destroy the world for Magicals and humans alike, Wyatt instead finds Dev and his whole life turns upside down. Told he was hunting a killing machine, hellbent on wreaking havoc and destruction upon all it encounters, Wyatt instead sees nothing more than a broken girl with haunted eyes and a bit of a death wish.
All Dev wants is for Wyatt to either kill her or leave her alone. When he refuses to do either, she finds herself being pulled into his life while being hunted by warriors everywhere she turns. Drawn to one another for reasons they cannot begin to explain to themselves, much less anyone else, Wyatt is determined to protect Dev and help her realize her mission to avenge the deaths of her family at the hands of The Sanctum. His abdication of his duties and his outright rejection of his responsibilities to The Sanctum create a maelstrom of events beyond anyone’s imagination.
Read an excerpt:
Without making a sound, Wyatt quickly found the exact place he was seeking. Ducking under some low-hanging tree branches, he ventured into the dark, partially-hidden lair only to be met with a less-than-welcoming blade at his throat. Dev had moved slightly from the hiding place Wyatt left her and although the lower half of her body remained immobile, her arms were functioning just fine, as evidenced by the blade drawing a thin trickle of blood from Wyatt’s neck. One wrong move and she would certainly kill him.
Wyatt slowly brought his hands up to Dev’s, wrapped his fingers around hers and painstakingly maneuvered the blade away from his neck. Only then did he dare make eye contact with her.
“You didn’t really think I was just going to leave you here, did you?” Wyatt asked as he moved to retrieve his blade from Dev.
She wasn’t quite ready to give it up and slashed at Wyatt’s outstretched hand, managing to nick his wrist.
“Crap!” Wyatt sat back on his heels, holding his wrist, and laughed, “fair enough. I deserved that. I should have told you I was coming back, but I couldn’t risk Ryker overhearing or suspecting anything. Trust me, if he thought I was coming back for you he would have spent all night watching me like a hawk. So I left you and walked away and it worked. Now get over it and give me back my blade.”
Despite the laughter in his voice, Wyatt wasn’t playing. He wanted his blade. Her name was Odara and she had been handed down the Clayworth line since the witnessing of The Code of Ten. She was sharper than any Raven blade and fit his hand like a glove. Many had fought and died at his hand thanks to Odara. She was his protector and he wanted her back where she belonged, safely strapped to his hip.
"Kill me," Dev offered the blade at a price.
Wyatt stood up tall and glared down at Dev, clenching his jaw in irritation.
"Kill me," Dev challenged him again, taunting him with her smug stare and grim request.
With blinding speed, Wyatt landed on Dev, knocking her to the ground. Before she even realized what was happening, he locked down her arms and liberated his blade from her grasp. Wyatt hovered above Dev, inches from her face, momentarily tempted to slice her throat and end all of this drama. She couldn’t move a muscle.
"You are in no position to bargain with me," Wyatt angrily whispered, never taking his eyes off of hers. "I am faster and stronger than you. So don’t even think about toying with me like that again.”
Wyatt pushed himself off of her, replaced Odara at his hip and grinned mischievously. “For the record, my blade isn’t worth your life. I just want it back. And I asked nicely the first time.”
Dev remained in her prone position, staring up at Wyatt, uncertain of her next move. She didn’t have the strength necessary to pull herself into a seated position and she definitely was not going to ask for help.
“What?” Wyatt stared down at Dev, knowing she needed help to get up but determined to make her ask for it.
Even in the darkness, Dev could see Wyatt’s eyes sparkling with amusement. He was thoroughly enjoying this little moment between the two of them. His pleasure made her wish she had slit his throat when she had the chance. Rather than requesting his assistance, Dev focused every ounce of her energy on rolling over onto her stomach. If she could do that, she could easily pull herself into a sitting position, Wyatt be damned. She closed her eyes and focused every fiber of her being on the task at hand but nothing happened. Her body failed to react. It didn't even twitch. The body that had so beautifully saved her from certain death at the hands of those Sanctum fools just hours earlier now couldn't even roll over. She shook with frustration, wanting to scream to the heavens in rage, knowing such action was futile and beneath her. So she took a calming breath, opened her eyes and glared at Wyatt.
"Ahhhh, you're back. I was starting to miss your charming scowl," Wyatt bent low and absentmindedly pushed some of Dev’s hair out of her eyes, “was getting worried there for a second."
Dev grabbed his hand in her vice-like grip. She hated him and his snarky comments.
"I realize you don’t like me," Wyatt pulled his hand out of her grasp and gently placed his arms around Dev, helping her to sit, unable to look at her lying helplessly on the ground for another second, "but I'm all you've got so by all means, continue simmering in your hatred for me but do so with the understanding that I'm on your side.
"All this stabbing and cutting nonsense has got to end. If you want to hurt me, just imagine it, okay? Pretend. Don't actually do it. I heal quickly but it still hurts like hell."
"Now we've got to get out of here fast," Wyatt checked his watch, alarmed at how much time had passed since he jumped out of his window, "and you still can’t walk, which means I’m going to have to pick you up again. Whether you’re okay with it or not.”
He leaned back on his heels and waited, for some reason hoping Dev would respond, all the while knowing she would not. Dev listened with keen interest to every word coming out of Wyatt’s mouth. She most certainly didn’t like him, but she had to respect his determination. He fully intended to get her out of this park and to somewhere safe and against her better judgment, a tiny part of her was relieved. It was the same, small part of her that was fiercely drawn to him, like a sickness almost. And it was the part of her she most wanted to destroy.
Dev hardened her resolve, focused on her intense hatred for all things Sanctum and shut down.
For an instant, Wyatt thought he saw a spark in Dev’s eyes and just as quickly, it was gone. At that moment, for reasons unknown to himself, Wyatt resigned himself to a one-sided relationship with her, one completely based upon his will to help her. He stood up and reached for her, praying she didn’t have a blade hidden somewhere, knowing that if she did, this time she would definitely kill him. To his surprise, Dev wrapped her arms around his neck and allowed Wyatt to scoop her up and into his arms, but he thought nothing more of it, knowing full well she was merely using him to further her agenda.
And that was all right.
Madhuri Blaylock is a lawyer by day, writer and avid shoe and dress buyer at all other times. She lives in Jersey City, but her heart remains firmly planted in Brooklyn via Snellville, Georgia. Her husband, Henry, is also a lawyer, and only a lawyer because he actually likes being a lawyer (go figure), probably always wanted to be a lawyer and is really, really good at all things lawyerly. He's also pretty hot.
She’s got a big kid, Miss Sydney, and a little kid, the one and only Dash. They're awesome and fierce and supremely cool and able to make her laugh at the strangest things. She would love to add a dog, some chickens, a goat and a burro to this crew. Everyone needs a burro.
Some of her favorites, in no particular order: ice cream, Kill Bill, four-inch heels, Matt Damon, tattoos, Laini Taylor, scotch on the rocks, The Sanctum trilogy, random office supplies, Martha's Vineyard, "The Girl" aka my Mini, Rihanna, Doc Martens, tulips, photo booths and dancing like a fool.
One day she plans to grow up. Right now, she’s enjoying the adventure.
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