"Rylee has an unusual gift. It brings good luck to those who are kind to her and misfortune to those who are not-at least, that's what the crazy woman in the woods tells her. But Rylee doesn't believe it until strange coincidences start happening to her classmates and friends. Her gift may not be a matter of luck but of life and death."
The Echoing perfectly captures the tone of an imaginative teenager who can't quite grasp the cosmic significance of the burden she just took on. Rylee treats her encounter with the hag in the woods as incidental, not giving any thought to the consequences or listening to the hag's explanations. Typical teenager. It was frustrating, but true to life. I found the plot to be quite compelling as Rylee figured out how to use her new powers and how to defeat the villain that comes with them. As she simultaneously dealt with her mother's health issues and the unexpected turn in her relationship with her childhood buddy, Rylee didn't descend into insipid woe-is-me moments, but used her smarts and her native confidence to get her through. I really do love a confident teenage character. The romance here was sweet and slow-burning and the ending had a twist that I didn't quite see coming, but that worked out beautifully. This was a great debut novel!
Gentle Reader Alert: I found nothing of concern.
I was fortunate enough to get an interview with author Jessica Blackburn. Enjoy!
1. When you hit a block in writing your book, what did you do to get yourself unstuck?
There were some funny ways I would get inspired… Taking hot showers with the lights off, surrounding myself in nature, the rain, or going to the beach would always help. Pretty much anything involving water. I genuinely believe water has some sort of energy that helps us unlock our creativity.
2. What's the silliest/most embarrassing thing you've ever written?
I remember in 3rd grade writing a “goosebumps” kind of story about some kids who believed their dad was secretly a giant rat. And I think there was an important detail involving the father insisting on being called Papa Squeeker? … Creepy? Yes.
3. What inspired you to write this book?
Ha! Oh boy! I probably shouldn’t share this story. When I was younger I worked at a sandwich shop and I remember one customer coming in who was just… Grumpy McGrumperson! He was extra rude and belittling and all I could do was stand there with a smile on my face as a customer service representative. As I handed him his sandwich I remember thinking, “Oh, what I would do if I could control your karma at this very moment.” In my book, you may notice my character experiencing a similar situation. Her reaction was my daydream from that moment in the sandwich shop years ago.
4. You're stuck on a fabulous luxury tropical island with electricity but no internet. How do you keep yourself entertained?
Probably just make out with my husband all day. I guess I’m picturing an island similar to the honeymoon from the last Twilight book. Can that be my island? I want that island please.
5. What's the best piece of advice--on life, on writing, on being a human being--that you've received so far?
As far as writing goes, if you have dreamed of publishing a book, DON’T GIVE UP! Be ready for the rejections and people who tear you down! Your day will come! Persevere!
Best advice I’ve received on life was actually marriage advice where I was told, “Whenever you’re frustrated and your needs aren’t being met, stop pouting and get up and serve the other person.” I think that can apply to anything in life. Whenever you’re down, get lost in service and you will always feel better by helping someone around you.
Great interview. Thanks for stopping by, Jessica!