Giveaways Inspirations and Influences

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin

“Inspirations and Influences” is a series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their…well, Inspirations and Influences. The cool thing is that the writers are given free reign so they can go wild and write about anything they want. It can be about their new book, series or about their career as a whole.

Today we are pleased to host the latest stop on Nancy Werlin’s Extraordinary Blog Tour! Thea loved Nancy’s first novel, Impossible, so of course we jumped at the possibility of having Nancy on The Book Smugglers for an Inspirations & Influences post to celebrate the release of Extraordinary.

Please give a warm welcome to Nancy Werlin!

Sometimes it’s hard for me to figure out where a book came from, but in the case of Extraordinary, it’s more clear to me than usual. I often like to comment that a single idea is not enough to make a book. But a single idea can sometimes get you started, and it did for me here. That first spark came in response to someone else’s art.

I was watching the musical Wicked (from the novel by Gregory Maguire — musical adaptation by Stephen Schwartz, with book by Winnie Holzman). For those that don’t know, the original book, Wicked, which I also loved but which is broader in scope than the musical, was inspired by The Wizard of Oz. So we’re looking here at a chain of influences.

Anyway, there came the next-to-last scene in the play, where the Glinda and Elphaba sing their goodbye duet. (You can watch a rehearsal HERE). They explain how much they’ve meant to each other; how they’ve affected each other; changed each other:

Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?

I was crying before they reached “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.” For me, the play had gone beyond entertainment and arrived at raw emotional truth.

And suddenly I wanted to try to write a novel that would be about an enormously important friendship between two teenage girls, one more pivotal than a romantic love affair. This friendship would test both girls to their limits, and would force them to grow, not just into maturity, but into better selves than they could ever have imagined becoming alone.

But as I said earlier, a single idea only gets you started. A novel requires dozens of ideas, of several levels of importance. One that I’ve talked about elsewhere was my choice to make Phoebe, the heroine, Jewish. (You can read about that HERE) And I also knew that I needed to make Mallory, Phoebe’s best friend, a faerie. Both of these choices came with baggage: intricate back-stories that also influenced the plot and their characters.

But perhaps even more pivotal a choice was to bring between Phoebe and Mallory the (inevitable?) complication of a man. In this case, it would be Mallory’s older brother, Ryland, who gets the yearning Phoebe all hot and bothered really, really fast.

The influence for the creation of Ryland — a very troubling character for some readers, especially those who were expecting a romance — is of course real life. The dangerous guy who does not have a heart of gold. Who cannot be saved by love and understanding. Who really and truly wants, for whatever reason, to destroy you.

Ryland landed in my book like a meteor crashing to earth. I knew he would do a great deal of damage to Phoebe, and indeed, he did. (Though I also hope readers will appreciate that he has his reasons, too — and good ones. And that Phoebe’s reactions reactions do not mean she’s weak, only trusting and inexperienced.)

Simultaneously, from helplessly watching her brother manipulate her friend, Mallory goes through her own crucible of fire — though the reader must infer much what’s going on emotionally with Mallory by reading between the lines.

All of this was in service of getting both girls to that impossible place, that terrible place, where each would need to put the other before herself. Where each would emerge from this damage much, much stronger than she had been. Indeed, stronger than she ever dreamed she could be. And . . . more loving.

I hope readers will judge for themselves how it all worked out.

Nancy Werlin was born and raised in Peabody, Massachusetts, USA and now lives near Boston. She received her bachelor’s degree in English from Yale.

Since then, she has worked as a technical writer and editor for several computer software and Internet companies, while also writing fiction.

You can read more about Nancy and her work on her website, over at her blog, or friend her on Facebook.

Giveaway Details:

As promised, we have ONE copy of Extraordinary up for grabs! The contest is open to residents of the US and Canada ONLY and will run until Saturday, October 9 at 11:59 PM (PST). In order to enter, leave a comment here letting us know what YOUR favorite friendship in a novel is. Only one entry per person, please! Multiple or duplicate entries from the same IP address will be disqualified. Good luck!

Make sure to check in later today for our review of Extraordinary.

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  • Susan Laura
    October 4, 2010 at 5:00 am

    The first friendship that popped into my mind was George and Lennie from “Of Mice and Men”. Often it’s not the happy endings that stick with you.

  • Lisa
    October 4, 2010 at 5:49 am

    One of my favorite friendships is Maerad and Cadvan from The Naming by Alison Croggon 🙂

  • Amanda Isabel
    October 4, 2010 at 6:35 am

    My favourite friendship is probably the unlikely one – like the Romeo and Juliets of the friendship world. Like Tori and Hope from “Carolina Moon” (Nora Roberts) or Temeraire and Laurence in The Temeraire series of books (Naomi Novik). I just like the idea that a friendship does not have to be predicated on similarities, but can also be based on mutual respect and enjoyment of the other’s company.

    Thanks! 😀

  • Lauren Smith
    October 4, 2010 at 7:06 am

    The best friendship in a book I’ve read recently would have to be Will and Jack from The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima.

  • Sandy G
    October 4, 2010 at 7:07 am

    My favorite friendship novel is A Year On Ladybug Farm by Donna Ball.

  • Em
    October 4, 2010 at 7:20 am

    Jess Aarons and Leslie Burke from Bridge to Terabithia are my favorite friend duo. They break my heart.

  • Marie
    October 4, 2010 at 7:27 am

    I loved the friendship between Beauty and Ger (her brother-in-law) from Robin McKinley’s ‘Beauty’.

  • Inspired Kathy
    October 4, 2010 at 7:38 am

    Artemis Fowl & Holly Short is my current favorite because that’s what I’m reading.

  • Lindsay Elizabeth
    October 4, 2010 at 8:25 am

    I think my favorite would not be just one friendship, but a group of friends. I love the group in Saving Francesca, by Melina Marchetta. They are sort of thrown together, but they become very close and help keep each other together. I particularly love Justine and Francesca’s relationship.

  • Debra
    October 4, 2010 at 8:49 am

    I really love Paper Towns by John Green. The road trip sequence is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read, and nothing says friendship like a road trip.

  • Jen
    October 4, 2010 at 9:02 am

    My favourite friendship is probably Joe and Wayne in The Book of Joe. It’s a friendship that lasts through some pretty serious trials. But if I were to list those events, I’d be spoiling the book.

  • Kaethe
    October 4, 2010 at 9:10 am

    Benny and Eve from Circle of Friends. I love how they support and encourage each other over the years.

  • Su
    October 4, 2010 at 9:25 am

    I’d have to go with the friendship between Anne Shirley and Diana Barry.

  • Sarah Olson
    October 4, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Harry, Ron & Hermione. They grew up together, they made it through enormous difficulties but they were always there for each other. They had their different strenghts and weaknesses, but together they pulled it all together to defy the odds. Great stuff.

  • Kirstin
    October 4, 2010 at 10:56 am

    I have two favorite friendships from a book: Harry, Ron, and Hermione from the Harry Potter books and Anne and Diana from Anne of Green Gables.

  • Lillian
    October 4, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    My favorite friendship is the one between Huckleberry Finn and Jim in Huckleberry Finn. The moment when Huckleberry decides to go against everything he’s been taught to rescue his friend was so touching. I definitely shed a few tears over the strength of their remarkable friendship.

  • willaful
    October 4, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Emily and Kate in Look Through My Window by Jean Little.

  • Melissa
    October 4, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Of Mice and Men

    I had to read it over the summer for school.
    Great friendship, sad ending.

  • jpetroroy
    October 4, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Between Will and Lyra in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.

  • Shiloh S.
    October 4, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    hmm, two of my favorites are Red and John and Ben, in Daughter of the Forest, or possibly Cimorone and Morwen in the Enchanted Forest chronicles.

  • Ashley Van Ette
    October 4, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    My favorite friendship in a novel(s) has to be the ladies of the Wallflower series by Lisa Klepas. Annabelle, Lillian, Evie, and Daisy are always there for one another and its refreshing to see a strong female relationships in a historical romance.

  • Grace
    October 4, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    My favorite friendship would have to be between Vee and Nora in Hush, Hush. They complete each other, one is crazy the other is soft and gentle. haha.

  • Raquel Vega-Grieder
    October 4, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    My favorite friendship in a novel is Aden Stone and Mary Ann Gray from Gena Showalter’s novel Intertwined. It is just nice to see a guy and a girl being able to be friends without the usual will they won’t they hook-up. They have their own relatiionships so it never factor’s into their friendship.

  • Victoria Zumbrum
    October 4, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    My favorite friendship would be Nick and Tom from the Stand. Please enter me in contest.

  • Moridin
    October 4, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    George Milton & Lennie Small (Of Mice and Men)

  • SaraC
    October 4, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    Sherlock Holmes and Watson!

  • Autumn
    October 4, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    My favorite friendship is between Harry and Hermione. Ron’s good, but I’ve always enjoyed the Harry Hermione dynamic.

  • Stephanie K.
    October 4, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    My favorite friendship is between Claire, Shane, Michael, and Eve in the Morganville Vampire series.

  • Judi - Sidhe Vicious
    October 5, 2010 at 5:12 am

    For me, Wilson Rawls’ Where The Red Fern Grows, is a book/story that has stuck with me for life. Billy Coleman’s relationship & adventures with his two prized coonhounds in the Ozark mountains was the first book I cried my eyes out reading. I still have my copy from when I first read it approx 29 years ago.

    That kind of friendship is the kind that never leaves you, even long after your beloved pets are gone.

  • Etta
    October 5, 2010 at 5:41 am

    I love the Harry/Hermione friendship in the HP series. Hermione is the friend everyone should have in their life. A new favorite friendship is Elizabeth and Christina in Feeling Sorry for Celia. I liked how their friendship grew out of being penpals, and how they came into each others’ lives at a pivotal time for both of them.

  • Audra Holtwick
    October 5, 2010 at 7:02 am

    Harry, Hermione, and Ron in the Harry Potter series.

  • heather
    October 5, 2010 at 9:08 am

    it’s so old-school, but i always loved the best friendiness between anne and diana in the “anne of green gables” series. those two were always there for one another!

  • Jennifer
    October 5, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Sandry, Tris, Briar, and Daja from the Circle of Magic.
    I’m not sure why, but it’s probably because I’m rereading Sandry’s book right now…

  • Ashleigh
    October 5, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    My favorite friendship is that of Rose and Lissa from the Vampire Academy series. These girls have known each other almost their entire lives and they share almost everything. When Lissa’s powers make her act strangely or dangerously, Rose is there to take away the shadows and when Rose has nasty rumors spread about her in the first book, Lissa steps in to help. Lissa is a pretty dependent on Rose and there are still some things they hide from each other (like Rose’s relationship with Dimitri), but few friendships are perfect. These two are great best friends, in my opinion.

  • Mary Catherine
    October 5, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Lyra and Will in the Amber Spyglass. One of my favorite series and by far an amazing friendship throughout the books.

  • Adrienne
    October 5, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Elizabeth and Jane, Pride and Prejudice; though sisters they were each others best friend as well

  • Jennifer R
    October 5, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    My favorite friendship includes 3 characters: Harry, Ron, and Hermione from the Harry Potter books.

  • morgannee
    October 6, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Harry ron and hermione! they are the perfect trio

  • Priya
    October 6, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    My favorite friendship is between Daniel Sempere and Tomas Aguilar in “Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafron- it’s so fresh and true and real. It’s absolutely stunning, from it’s apex to it’s downfall to the way they tip-toe around each other for the rest of their lives.

    This book looks fantastic- I would love to win it! =]


  • Elizabeth
    October 6, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    My favorite friendship in a novel is between Wanderer and Melanie in Stephanie Meyer’s The Host. Although they should be enemies they sort their their differences and and give way to a new beginning in life…..absolutely loved it!!!

  • Jasmine A S
    October 7, 2010 at 5:41 am

    One of my favourite friendships in a book has to be Lizzie and Jane in Pride and Prejudice. Their trust in each other and willingness to sacrifice for each other is something I’m striving for in my friendships. 😛

  • Bookworm134
    October 7, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Friendship is important to living life to the fullest. I have always treasured my friendships, even the ones I have with imaginary/literary characters. One of my favorite friendships in a novel is between Ella and Areida from Ella Enchanted. Ella leaves so she does not have to hurt Areida and Areida sticks up for Ella at every turn even to the prince!

  • Tatiana
    October 7, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    Alanna and George from the Song of the Lioness series. The cutest friendship ever!

  • Jill
    October 9, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    I don’t know if it counts as a friendship, but I love the friendship between Winn Dixie and Opal in Because of Winn Dixie.

  • Jennelle S
    October 9, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    Ok, I know there are tons more out there, but I really like the friendship in Harry Potter. Even though Harry gets most of the attention and is constantly getting them in danger Ron and Hermione stick by him in the end.

    jlynettes @ hotmail . com

  • Linz
    October 9, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Ron and Harry and Hermione. That is the best friendship ever.



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