Verlaine fulfills the role of the “best friend” — at least, she does in SPELLCASTER. As the trilogy develops, you’re going to see Verlaine develop as well, and ultimately she becomes a kind of second lead in the series. This is partly because I wanted to write a series that was more ensemble-driven than my previous books, and partly because the more I worked on the concept, the more I realized that Verlaine has her own story to tell. While her friendship with Nadia opens Verlaine’s eyes to the world of magic, Verlaine faces her own challenges, must stand up to her own enemies, and (starting in book 2, STEADFAST) will have her own romance.
(Personally, I think Verlaine’s romance with Character-To-Be-Named-Later is at least as epic as Nadia and Mateo’s. I can’t wait for you guys to see STEADFAST, too! But that’s in spring 2014 — )
Just looking at Verlaine, you know she’s different. Yes, she’s the third-tallest person at Rodman High (including the members of the varsity basketball team). Yes, she indulges in her love for fabulous vintage clothing, dressing in outlandish and colorful outfits every day (though she does wear Converse, as period shoes are hard to find in a woman’s size 11.) But the first thing that would strike you about Verlaine is her hair, which — even though she’s just 17 – has already turned completely gray. In fact, it began turning gray when she was a small child. Now Verlaine wears it long and silver down her back. Lots of people think this is really weird, but privately Verlaine thinks it’s actually beautiful. Her name? Also weird. One of her grandmothers was named Elaine, the other Vera, and her parents namesmushed it; she likes to think that if they’d known “Verlaine” was also the name of a famous poet who died of syphilis, her parents might have made another choice. But what does it matter? She thinks it sounds pretty, and besides, nobody else even remembers her name.
Because, after a while, you might see that Verlaine is also incredibly lonely. She’s set apart from everyone else — at school, at her newspaper internship, really from just about everyone in the world besides her family. No matter how hard she tries, Verlaine remains the Girl Everybody Forgot.
Nadia’s arrival in town promises to change everything for Verlaine. At last it seems like she’s a part of something, and Mateo & Nadia are the first people to include her in what seems like forever. Yeah, it turns out they have to fight a vast and powerful evil — but at least it’s exciting, for a change. However, what starts as an adventure for Verlaine quickly turns scarier, as she learns that the dark magic at work has done unspeakable damage to countless lives … maybe including her own.
Verlaine is a character I care about deeply – and so far, early readers of SPELLCASTER have made a point of saying how much they connected with her. I think we can all relate to the pain of being left-out, the fear of being forgotten. Verlaine is profoundly lonely, but she refuses to let that define her. One of the things I’m most looking forward to with SPELLCASTER’s release is seeing what you guys make of her, and whether you’ll be as eager to see her role expand in later books as I’ve been to write it.
What are some of your favorite “best friends” in YA novels? Have you ever wished for some of them to get leading storylines and/or books of their own?
Also! I've started doing some video blogging. Still learning the ropes, but if you want to check out my channel, you can see one of the first two vlogs and let me know what you think ...