Sensational Sophomores is a periodic blog series highlighting authors who are releasing their second book. Today, I am honored to be welcoming Jodie Lynn Zdrok, author of Spectacle and the upcoming Sensational (2/11/2020), for an interview!
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Jodie Lynn Zdrok holds two MAs in European History (Providence College, Brown University) and an MBA (Clark University). In addition to being an author, she’s a marketing professional, a freelancer, and an unapologetic Boston sports fan. She enjoys traveling, being a foodie, doing sprint triathlons, and enabling cats. She is represented by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown, Ltd.
Hi, Jodie! Thank you so much for participating in the Sensational Sophomores feature! What new challenges did you face while writing your second book, Sensational, as opposed to when writing Spectacle?
I had the plot in mind, as well as the new characters I planned to introduce, before I started writing. So that went smoothly. But researching the details was much harder this time around. Because Sensational is tied to the 1889 Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair), I really had to dig deep on exhibit details, the layout of the grounds, timelines, etc. For example, the fair ran May through November because at the last minute they extended it a few weeks, but the book takes place during the summer, so they say it ends in October, because at that time, it was slated to end in October. Overall it was a very well-documented event with many photographs, and I spent many painstaking hours combing through written and visual materials and taking notes to get the details just right.
I know you studied European history a great deal in college. Is this a subject you’ve always been interested in or did something specific happen to pique your interest?
I have a BA and two MAs in European History. I was interested in World War II as a teen, having had plenty of family members who remembered if not took part in it, and that spurned an interest in history in general. Once I started exploring various time periods and cultures, I was hooked. History gives context to the humanities, so it’s fascinating for me.
How did you make sure that your second novel was fresh and had its own voice while still sticking with the tone you set at the beginning of the series?
This was an interesting challenge as I first mapped out the book. I wanted the familiarity of characters and places without revisiting the plot of Spectacle, the way the mystery unfolded, or the character arcs in that book. Setting it in 1889 and being able to have an added two years of backstory to draw upon helped. Adding several characters with Insightful gifts, all of whom are tied to the main plot or subplots, kept things fresh. And for me, given that this is a duology, Sensational is really about the conclusion of Nathalie’s story—who she became in summer 1887 and who she is at the end of our time with her.
Obviously, the music Nathalie listened to during her time period was quite different from ours. If she were around today, though, what song would she be completely obsessed with?
I think Nathalie would listen to classical and indie music, but if I had to pick a song that really spoke to her as she’s experiencing summer 1889 and the consequences of her gift, it would be Mandy Moore’s “When I Wasn’t Watching.”
You get to choose any character from a book or movie to pull into your own work – who would Nathalie’s new best friend be?
Nathalie and Jo March from Little Women would hit it off very well. I think she’d have a soft spot for Eleven from Stranger Things, too, maybe in an El-as-the-little-sister-she-never-had kind of way.
Rapid fire! Pancakes or waffles?
Read the book or watch the movie?
Read the book!
Coffee or tea?
Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon.
Last tv show you binged?
Good Omens was a recent favorite binge, but in the midst of Peaky Blinders right now and a rewatch binge of The Office.
Who has the biggest cattitude – Minnie or Paris Poe?
Toward people, Paris Poe. Toward Paris Poe, Minnie.
Anything else you want to share with us?
I wrote a boarding school ghost story mystery set in the 1920s (working title: Past and Presence) as my option novel. If it sells, I will be shouting from the rooftops. Stay tuned!
Jodie Lynn Zdrok’s Sensational is the thrilling follow-up to Spectacle in which a killer haunts the Paris World’s Fair of 1889.
The 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris is full of innovations, cultural displays, and inventions. Millions of visitors attend over the course of several months…so no one would notice if a few were missing, right? Maybe—but someone is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the guillotine with a display of their own: beheaded victims in some of the Exposition’s most popular exhibits.
Nathalie Baudin’s ability to see murder scenes should help, but she’s suffering the effects of her magic more than ever before. Fortunately she has other Insightfuls to team up with—if they can be trusted.
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