Welcome to March’s version of - First Friday - Five Favorite Things - Debut Novel Day. In this monthly series, we ask five simple questions about a debut novel that will hopefully entice anyone reading this post to pick up the novel and read it themselves, and/or give them at a glance some insight into the author's writing style and voice as well as how some of the characters might think or act. We do this by presenting, first, answers to our Five Favorite Things, followed by the author's answers in a follow-up post.
This month we're pleased to highlight debut novelists, Maggie Hall and her novel, The Conspiracy of Us. Avery’s world is turned upside down when she discovers she and her family are part of the Circle of Twelve, a group of families who control the world.
1) What is your favorite line or paragraph from the novel as it relates to the main character's development and/or growth?
Dave – Avery wanted nothing more than to find her father and to discover what it was like to not be alone until she did and realized the world he belonged to wasn’t the stuff of dreams.
I stared at the dress hanging on the wall. It was ivory, with a V-neck and a delicate lace overlay. It was beautiful. It made me want to throw up.
Out in the regular world, some girls might see this place, think of the clothes and the balls and the fact that they would be literally in charge of what went on in the world, and sign on the dotted line.
I glanced up at the iron work across the windows. The Circle might be a beautiful, gilded cage, but it was still a cage. Even before I knew about them, my whole life had been about running from them. They’d taken my past, and now they wanted my future.
Marcy – Avery always wanted to find her father. She has never given up. At this point in the story, Avery realizes her wish may be fulfilled.
I looked up at the sky. “I used to have a star wish,” I said.
Jack looked up.
“My father. I wanted him to come back more than I wanted anything else in the world. My mom told me he left us when I was a baby, but still, he was every wish when I was little.”
2) What is your favorite chapter ending or cliffhanger?
Dave - I picked this particular chapter ending from later in the novel because Avery had just become somewhat comfortable in her new world with Jack, a Keeper, a bodyguard and servant-of sorts, to the ruling families of the Circle of Twelve. I practically ripped the page to see what happened next.
And then, I heard the most frightening thing I’d ever heard.
A key, turning the lock on my bedroom door.
Marcy – Wow, I actually picked the same, chapter ending as Dave, so I’ll go with my next favorite.
He pulled out something that, for a moment, didn’t register. It was too discordant with the marble floors, the dresses, the Bach chiming from the speakers. He stepped toward me, and the overhead light glinted off the object.
Then I knew, but still didn’t understand.
It was a knife.
3) Who is your favorite secondary character and why?
Dave – Jack is most definitely my favorite secondary character. Because he is a Keeper for the Circle of Twelve, he knows he risks severe punishment by getting involved with Avery. Still, he says the following during a discussion with Avery even though he is drawn to her.
“I’m aware of the consequences of everything I do.”
Marcy – I also fell in love with Jack from the very beginning of the story when we just think he’s the new kid in school. The one asking her to the prom.
“It’s just that – I was wondering –“ Jack rubbed the compass tattoo on his forearm with his opposite thumb, like a nervous habit. Then he looked up at me from under his lashes, his gray eyes unbearably hopeful, and I melted into a puddle on the dirty hallway floor. “I wanted to see if you’d like to go. With me.”
4) What is your favorite line or paragraph of description?
Dave - I picked this section from early in the novel. I think it highlights well Avery’s feelings and why she is hesitant to get close to anyone.
The thing is, being lonely is like walking into the cold without a coat. It’s uncomfortable, eventually you go numb. Once you get used to not being lonely, though, the shock of going back is like having your down comforter yanked off at six o’clock on the Minnesota December morning.
Marcy – Avery has arrived at Prada – in Paris. The store has been shut down so she can shop. This is an amazing scene. The descriptions of the dresses she tries on makes me feel like I’m watching Avery spin in front of the dressing room mirrors.
The dress was nothing like the silver one. If that one had been storms, this was sunlight. It glowed against my dark hair, and hugged my body all the way down, from the plunging halter neckline to the flouncy mermaid hem. I ran my hands over my hips, and my reflection glittered.
5) What is your favorite line of dialogue?
Dave - I picked this line because I think it gives a little more insight into Avery’s character. She’s explaining to Jack why she doesn’t make wishes.
“Because it’s worse to wish for something that’s never going to happen and then be disappointed than to never wish for anything at all,” I said, studying my chipped toenail polish.
Marcy – Stellan is an intricate and complex character. He and Avery are talking, and she asks why he carries both a gun and a knife. His reply shows the readers a lot about his character.
“It takes more effort to kill with a dagger.” He rebuttoned his jacket. “You have to do it on purpose. Guns make it too easy.”