In addition to writing novels (like my very first one, Blackwood *plants subliminal message* out soooon, please to consider purchasing *end subliminal message*), I also occasionally dispense advice in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet as Dear Aunt Gwenda. So, when the fabulous Carmel invited me to represent Team Stomp with a guest post in this epic tournament of action vs. romance (I love them both, in truth, but TEAM STOMP), I decided to don the ancient tiara of knowledge–origin: mysterious–and share the:
(::cue sinister music…no, wait, cue The A-Team soundtrack::)
|1||No big breakfasts. Now, wait, you say, surviving an action sequence sounds like hungry work. Surely if you’re doing it right, you work up a powerful appetite. Maybe so, but no one ever leapt from the top of one semi to another or fended off an attack of fast zombies or even got through their to-do list after eating a Grand Slam. Biscuits and gravy and steak and eggs are for naps, not the survival of the even-somewhat-fittest. There is an obvious exception to this rule. If you’re a werecreature, sure, indulge. I hear you burn more calories than the rest of us. The exception to this exception is if you’re a small-mass werecreature. Werekittens, weremice, and wereducks should also stick with coffee and toast.|
|2||Choose your sidekicks carefully. Being a loner isn’t much fun. Try not to brood. Brooding is the enemy of survival, whether infiltrating a royal court’s circle of intrigue to foil an assassin or just stumbling through a door into a land consumed in a centuries-old war between monsters and talking animals.|
|3||Never volunteer to go first. Survival comes to those who wait to see where the booby traps are. Try not to let your favorite sidekick go first either, actually, because–spoiler alert–they may be eaten by a dragon. Or a hungry wereduck.|
|4||Don’t be a villain. This one seems pretty self-explanatory. But if you do happen to be a villain (no judgment), go big. For the love of weremice, don’t be a henchperson. Henchmen and -women are the first to go. Dropped off a building, shot in the forehead, locked in tank of water with sharks, or, worst of all, sent on an errand that turns out not to be where the climactic action takes place. You train and train in your martial art, only to get your ass kicked by the first crusader for truth and justice you come across. No, if you have to be a villain, make it epic. Be the worst you possibly can–burn books of poetry, wear a false mustache and twirl it regularly, and remember the number one rule of villainous fashion (aka “Black is always the new black”)–and maybe, just maybe, you’ll get to survive two, three, maybe even a series’ worth of books. Think Voldemort, he who must not be named, the dark lord, etc., instead of that bad guy or gal whose name none of us would even recognize.|
|5||Make sure you’re a hero. I have some bad news: if this advice applies to you, you may already be a character in a story. I have some good news: if you’re the hero, the good guy (or the love interest, Team Romp gets a point on that one), then your odds are very good…of surviving horrible things. You will be chased by rattling skeletons through dark forests, forced to navigate a burnt-out wasteland with only Cormac McCarthy as your guide, the owner of many favorite pairs of jeans wrecked by fighting the latest nest of vampires to move to town, or have your plans totally hijacked when alchemists suddenly invade the tiny island you live upon (*whistles innocently*). But you’re made of strong stuff. Sure, your life will suck on a daily basis…until it doesn’t. Suddenly nothing is happening to you. You miss those action sequences of yore. You miss the villain. You miss your friends. Because nothing is happening…until the next reader picks up your book, and brings you back to life. The best advice I can give you is, be ready. You better give it everything you’ve got if you don’t want them to leave early, trapping you in fraying ropes on the top of that cliff or in the back of that deep, dark cave forever and ever and ever. The best way to survive an action sequence is if the story can’t go on without you and we want it to go on.|
If you agree with this advice, vote Team Stomp! Pretty please with a basket of venomous snakes you can totally survive now on top.
Gwenda Bond’s debut novel, Blackwood, is a September 2012 launch title for Strange Chemistry, the new YA imprint of Angry Robot Books. She is also a contributing writer for Publishers Weekly, regularly reviews for Locus, and guest-edited a special YA issue of Subterranean Online. Her nonfiction work has appeared in the Washington Post, Lightspeed, and Strange Horizons, among others, and she has an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in a hundred-year-old house in Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband author Christopher Rowe and their menagerie.
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On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. But when the island faces the sudden disappearance of 114 people now, an unlikely pair of 17-year-olds may be the only hope of bringing them back.
Miranda, a misfit girl from the island’s most infamous family, and Phillips, an exiled teen criminal who hears the voices of the dead, must dodge everyone from federal agents to long-dead alchemists as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony. The one thing they can’t dodge is each other.
Blackwood is a dark, witty coming of age story that combines America’s oldest mystery with a thoroughly contemporary romance.
Read HP Mallory’s ROMP post and then VOTE via the poll on my sidebar on who you think should win today’s showdown!