Guest Post: Stefanie Gaither, Author of Into the Abyss

I am super excited to have Stefanie on the blog today, but before we get to the post, feast your eyes on this beautiful cover!

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Series: Fall the Shadows #2
Publication Date: August 30, 2016
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 352
Violet has lost her memory, and her sense of self—but can she decide who she wants to be in time to save the world? Find out in this sequel to Falls the Shadow, which Kirkus Reviews called perfect “for fans of Divergent and The Hunger Games.

Violet Benson used to know who she was: a dead girl’s clone, with a dead girl’s memories. But after Huxley’s attempt to take over the government left her memories and personality wiped, all she has left is a mission: help the CCA fight back against the rest of Huxley’s deadly clones that are still at large.

But when a group of clones infiltrate CCA headquarters, Violet is blamed. Already unsure of where her loyalties should lie, Violet finds herself running away with an unlikely ally: Seth, Jaxon’s unpredictable foster brother. With Seth at her side, Violet begins to learn about a whole new side of her city’s history—and her own.

But when she learns the shocking truth about cloning, Violet will have to make a choice—and it may be one that takes her away from everyone she ever loved.
~*~Stefanie's Thoughts About Characters~*~
There’s that old saying when it comes to writing: Write what you know. And in a lot of ways, I took that advice when writing my debut novel, Falls the Shadow. Catelyn (the protagonist of that story) and I have a lot in common; from small things, like our love of theatre, to the big things, like personality traits and how we handled losing part of our family at a young age, and then watching that family rearrange itself in the days that followed. In my case, the rearranging was the addition of a regular stepsister (not a clone, as far as I know!)—but still, I felt I could relate to Catelyn’s situation because I had dealt with major loss and change the way she had. So it was relatively easy to get into her head, to understand where she was coming from with her decisions and actions, and then it was just a matter of translating them to the page. There weren’t a whole lot of surprises for me when writing her. And then I decided that book two had to be from Violet’s—the cloned sister’s—perspective, and things got considerably trickier.

Not only is Violet a clone, but she’s a clone with a complicated history. A history of being unpredictable. A bit unstable. Then, to further complicate things, she wakes up at the beginning of Into the Abyss with no memory of that problematic history of hers still intact. She is essentially a blank slate. At first, all she has is her computer of a brain, which gives her facts and figures, but little else to help her fit in with all of the ‘normal’ humans she finds herself surrounded by.

This ‘newly-awake Violet’ was probably the most difficult part to write, because she was detached, cold, and calculating in nearly every sense. Keeping this part of her character consistent (and believable, given her background), while also making her someone that readers would connect with, was no simple task. Heck, I had a hard time completely understanding her during the first few drafts—because for a long time she was to me who she was to Catelyn in Falls the Shadow: an interesting character who I loved very much, of course I did, but who was also incredibly frustrating and who I kind of wanted to smack sometimes.

As the book progressed, though, a different side of Violet began to reveal itself. She had fears and needs and desires too, however deeply they might have been buried beneath her cold exterior, and digging them up was a process in and of itself—one I could almost feel her resisting, because that’s just the sort of character she is.

Even as I managed to understand her better, though, she still kept me guessing all the way until the end about a lot of things. In general, it was a much different process than writing Falls because I had to stop and think about nearly every decision Violet made and try to understand it. I was constantly asking myself: Did I get it right? Was it believable from a clone’s perspective? Was it believable from the perspective of someone who was essentially starting a completely new, blank-slate life at age eighteen? Was it believable from the perspective and personality of the ‘Old Violet’, parts of whom were slowly resurfacing as she learned bits and pieces of her lost past? Then, of course, there were the decisions she made that just sort of wrote themselves—things I didn’t see coming, even though I knew how unpredictable she could be. 

In the end, though, both protagonists were driven by those very human things I mentioned above. Fear, love, a desire to belong, that sort of thing—so, clone or human, I still found similar ways to connect to them, and hopefully readers will do the same!

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This post was so fascinating! Humans are obviously easy to relate to, but clones are a different arena. To build such a complex character that can be related to is an amazing feat! Thank you for stopping by, Stefanie!

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