The Girl Who Never Was Tour Stop: Interview with author Skylar Dorset & Review

Romantic, suspenseful, and witty all at once–Alice in Wonderland meets Neverwhere.” –Claudia Gray, New York Times bestselling author of the Evernight series

Otherworld, Book One
Available Now!
ISBN-13: 978-1402292538
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire // Pages: 304
Find it on AmazonB&NGoodreads
THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS is the story of Selkie Stewart, who thinks she’s a totally normal teenager growing up in Boston. Sure, her father is in an insane asylum, her mother left her on his doorstep—literally—when she was a baby, and she’s being raised by two ancient aunts who spend their time hunting gnomes in their Beacon Hill townhouse. But other than that her life is totally normal! She’s got an adventurous best friend who’s always got her back and an unrequited crush on an older boy named Ben. Just like any other teenager, right?

When Selkie goes in search of the mother she’s never known, she gets more than she bargained for. It turns out that her mother is faerie royalty, which would make Selkie a faerie princess—except for the part where her father is an ogre, which makes her only half of anything. Even more confusing, there’s a prophecy that Selkie is going to destroy the tyrannical Seelie Court, which is why her mother actually wants to kill her. Selkie has been kept hidden all her life by her adoring aunts, with the help of a Salem wizard named Will. And Ben. Because the boy she thinks she’s in love with turns out to be a faerie whose enchantment has kept her alive, but also kept her in the dark about her own life.

Now, with enchantments dissolved and prophecies swinging into action, Selkie finds herself on a series of mad quests to save the people she’s always loved and a life she’s learning to love. But in a supernatural world of increasingly complex alliances and distressingly complicated deceptions, it’s so hard to know who to trust. Does her mother really wish to kill her? Would Will sacrifice her for the sake of the prophecy? And does Ben really love her or is it all an elaborate ruse? In order to survive, Selkie realizes that the key is learning—and accepting—who she really is.

Get to know Skylar Dorset:

Skylar’s first story was a tale of romantic intrigue involving two feuding factions of squirrels. Think “Romeo & Juliet” but with bushy tails and added espionage. She was seven.

Since that time, Skylar’s head has been filled with lots of characters and lots of drama. She is delighted to be able to share some of it with all of you now, because, honestly, it was getting pretty loud and crowded in there.

Skylar is a born-and-bred New Englander, which is why Boston was a natural setting for her debut novel, THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS. Skylar shares her home with a cardboard cutout of the Tenth Doctor, lots of Mardi Gras beads from the time she spent living in New Orleans, and a harp she’s supposed to be teaching herself to play. She’d like to get a dog.

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IB Teen chats with The Girl Who Never Was author Skylar Dorset: *In which I reveal my obsession with a particular Goblin...

*This question contains SPOILERS-
IBT: In Selkie’s mind Ben was her unspoken quasi-boyfriend, or at least her imaginary unrequited true love. Can you tell us did Ben consider Selkie his girl from the very start?

SD: No. That crept up on him. He considered her his responsibility from the very start. He didn’t expect to feel as affectionately toward her as he ended up doing. It caught him completely by surprise when he realized it. (In fact, he was in denial about it for a very long time. It was Will who really had to point it out to him.)

IBT: Mothers are a huge theme in Girl Who Never Was- specifically absentee mothers and the children who will go to any length to reconnect with them. What was it about Selkie and Ben that make them look for who they are by seeking their mothers out?

SD: I think for both of them the search for their mothers is part of a larger search for who they are in general. Where Selkie is concerned, no one ever talks to her about her mother, she knows almost nothing about her, she is an enormous black hole of non-information. And Selkie feels like she doesn’t have much of an idea of who she is, and thinks that’s because she doesn’t know her mother. It becomes almost a matter of convenience for her: I’ll know what to do with my life if I can just find my mother; she’ll have all the answers. Selkie turns out to be right about that in one way but very wrong about that in another way. I like to think that what Selkie has to learn is that she already knows who she is, she always did, that knowing who you are does NOT mean having all the answers and in fact really means accepting that you never will. 

Ben has almost the opposite problem of Selkie: He’s talked to about his mother constantly. I think Will has a line about how Ben is “relentlessly compared” to his mother (and if Will doesn’t, he should, or he did, or something). So Ben never knew his mother but he *feels* like he knows her, and he feels like he knows he will never measure up to the myth of her. Ben defines himself by this unknown figure everyone keeps telling him about, and the idea of getting to *meet* this figure basically rocks his world. And it’s part of Ben’s journey to learn the same lesson Selkie learns, just from the opposite direction: Who you are isn’t a matter of who anyone else is. 

IBT: Fathers were also a significant theme. Selkie’s father is a loving parent, but they are kept apart- literally and figuratively- by his mental illness. Ben’s father resides in a different realm, and is currently “personifying a rat”. Both father figures are unconventional to say the least. Why did you put so many barriers between parent and child?

SD: This is one of those situations where you realize as an author that a lot of YOU is showing. I actually have a very large, very close family. So I wrote entirely about characters who *don’t* have that, mostly because I wanted to explore that. Who would I be without my family? Well, who are Selkie and Ben? The answer is: They’re themselves. In a way, I used this book to teach myself the same lesson I taught Selkie and Ben: who we are is who we are, whether your family is large or small, whether you have a few very close friends or you’re a social butterfly. 

*This question contains SPOILERS-
IBT: The prophecy regarding Ben- in which he is foretold to betray Selkie, and then die soon thereafter- has he set it in motion by leaving the group? Leaving Selkie? 

SDAh, you’ve hit upon the central conflict of THE BOY WITH THE HIDDEN NAME! Selkie certainly thinks so. But Ben would disagree. And what, after all, does the prophecy really say? STAY TUNED. 

*This question contains SPOILERS-
IBT: Isn’t it fair to say that Ben was betrayed by Selkie and Will when they kept news of Ben’s mother from him? They omitted the information to serve their own goals. At that point the trust was broken. Why is it then a “betrayal” for Ben to leave? Sure I don’t want him to separate from the group- that means I won’t see him on the page- but isn’t it understandable, even if it is selfish?

SD: The decisions people make on behalf of the people they love are always tricky and complicated and difficult to categorize (which is, incidentally, why prophecies are so maddeningly impossible to untangle: What does “betray” mean, after all?). I really wanted, with Ben’s decision at the end of the book, to leave the reader in exactly the position you’re in: You can understand why Selkie begs him not to leave, but you can also understand why Ben felt like he had to. I wanted you to be split. I didn’t want either one of them to be entirely *right* in how they were behaving (just as I didn’t want either one of them to be entirely *wrong*). Because they’re in a messy situation and there really is no right or wrong. Will and later Selkie keep the knowledge about Ben’s mother from him partly out of protectiveness, partly out of caution, partly out of helplessness. If they’d told him sooner, would Ben have left sooner? Would the prophecy have fallen apart sooner? All questions for THE BOY WITH THE HIDDEN NAME, but, honestly, all questions that are almost impossible to answer, because worlds with prophecies can actually be harder to navigate than worlds where you never have any idea what’s coming. 

IBT: I’m extremely curious about those gorgeous Goblins. Hello! Will we meet Tall-Dark-and-Smoldering-Handsome Crown wearing Goblin in the Library? He jumped off the page with a mere mention. (But also they were the tool the Seelie’s used in the genocide of the Travelers- so maybe I shouldn’t be so eager?) Help! Are Goblins good bad-boys or bad bad-boys?
Available December 2, 2014

SD: Goblins are, like all truly excellent characters, a little bit of both. You will indeed meet Tall-Dark-and-Smoldering-Handsome Crown wearing Goblin in the Library in THE BOY WITH THE HIDDEN NAME. In fact, you’ll be spending a lot of time with him. Hopefully you’ll continue to love him. Come back to me after THE BOY WITH THE HIDDEN NAME comes out, and we’ll chat a ton about him. ;-)

IBT: If Selkie’s “superpower” is for Naming things and people, could she Name someone back into existence after they’ve been named by a Seelie and drifted?

SD: Unfortunately, naming doesn’t work that way. She can name someone and improve their condition, but once they’ve been named out of existence, they’ve become irretrievable. 

As far as *naming* is concerned. 


IBT: Are gnomes really moving Aunt True & Aunt Virtue’s possessions by inches at a time?

SD: Hahaha! This is one of my favorite central unresolved questions of the books. I leave it up to the reader, but in my head: Yes. They are. They’re very pesky, those gnomes!

IBTWill is quite the Lothario, is it that Wizard’s by nature are rather romantic, or is it specific to Will? He seems to leave a trail of broken hearts wherever he goes.

SD: Nope, that’s specific to Will. Most wizards are actually loners by nature, secretive and combative. They don’t make friends or build alliances easily. Will, however, craves friends. He’s prone to loneliness and is constantly trying to surround himself with people. He’s also a severe romantic, as you note. He falls in love easily and passionately and he means every minute of it. Although he also falls out of love just as easily. While it’s true that he leaves a trail of broken hearts, he doesn’t mean to do it in a malicious way; he just doesn’t understand why everyone else doesn’t fall in and out of love as easily as he does. 

IBT: Is redemption or reconciliation for Selkie and her Mother possible?

SD: I like to live in a world where redemption and reconciliation are always possible, and nothing is ever hopeless. But what does all that mean for the prophecy??

IBT: Thanks Skylar! I cannot wait for THE BOY WITH THE HIDDEN NAME! I have sooo many more questions about what happens next!

IB Teen reviews Girl Who Never Was and Girl Who Kissed a Lie:

Beautifully written, lushly detailed, fantastical first book to a wonderful new series!

The Girl Who Never was goes deep into the imagination to bring us an action packed tale full of quests, romance, and the search for identity. Selkie Stewart is determined to find the mother she never new, and in doing so completely unravels the fabric of her reality. Enter in Faeries, Goblins, Wizards and intricately woven new worlds. Fantasy and romance readers should run, not walk to get your hands on this delicious book.

I usually don't love faerie stories. Faeries tend to be scarily powerful, but with rules so convoluted and nonsensical- plus faeries keep too many secrets. And while GWNW has all of that, it is enriched by vividly realized storytelling. Colors, locations, characters are all brought to life with almost tangible detail. The quirkiness of the characters is terribly endearing with the added bonus of serving a purpose. There is a reason that Selkie is a bit of a magpie, she picks up the oddest bits and puts them in her pocket, "Just in case". And there always is. There's a reason why Ben is covered in odd layers at all times. There's  a reason why Aunt True & Aunt Virtue are constantly paranoid & complain about gnomes. There is a for Selkie Father's madness.

Within the pages of this book, and Girl Who Kissed a Lie, you'll find a human bestfriend in Kelsey. If you haven't yet read the FREE novella "Girl Who Kissed a Lie", then do so immediately. DO it so that you may:

A: feel the full power of Kelsey's AMAZINGNESS as a bestie. 
B: Feel the Ben love and tension between him and Selkie all the more acutely.
"...Ben is- I think- older than me in a way that always makes me feel very young, but I don't think he does it on purpose, the way college guys do when we cross paths on the T ...  Ben is effortlessly older than me."
"...I don't even remember having to tell Ben my name, why should I have to tell him that we're kind of dating, even if he doesn't know it and has never kissed me? He should just know." --Selkie about Ben.

Ben. He's weird, secretive, beyond mysterious, bossy, and loathes getting wet- but he is WONDERFUL. This lovely and trembling imaginary love affair Selkie has going on in her head with Ben, the older guy who is all hers (meaning she doesn't tell anyone about him) is EPIC- and seemingly unrequited. Seemingly. Yet Ben acts so peremptorily towards Selkie, not always overtly, but he is accustomed to a certain dynamic between them, and it throws him when Selkie deviates from their relationship pattern. It's confusing to her, and intoxicating, and completely 
empathetical because we have all at one time in our lives been the Queen of our own all consuming and completely imaginary love affair. Anyway, at least it begins all in her imagination.
" 'Selkie,' he bites out, "I am the only thing that has ever made your life make sense. Do you trust me?"..."But I need you now, just for a minute more, just the way you usually do, and come with me." --Ben to Selkie.
Adventure, romance, intrigue, quests, impossible tasks, terrible Mothers, torture, Kisses, sexy Goblins, player Wizards, paranoid ogres, lunatic fathers, time is not time, and reality which is not reality, evil Seelie Faeries, and more mythical creatures than I can list. What is not to love?

My reactions for Girl Who Never Was:

My reactions for Girl Who Kissed a Lie:

1 comment:

Maya Arora said...
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