Amazon Exclusive: Behind the Scenes with Author Gwenda Bond
The Lost Colony of Roanoke—even having written a novel inspired by this piece of history, which happened hundreds of years ago, typing the words still gives me a shiver. And why not? It's shivery stuff. In the 1580s, Sir Walter Raleigh got Queen Elizabeth I's permission to found a permanent colony in the New World. After an initial failed attempt, more than 100 men, women, and children signed on to a 1587 voyage—only to find themselves in dire conditions before long. Their leader, Governor John White, was sent back to England for help. He returned three years later to find no trace of the colonists, save the legendary CROATOAN carved into the bark of a tree.
There are few stories in American history that hold more allure than this one. So it's no wonder that it's a mystery people are still trying to definitively solve. In fact, just this year a new potential clue was found embedded in one of White's painted maps. And I wanted to solve the mystery, too. As I did research, I came across the name John Dee, a famed alchemist and advisor to the Queen, who it turns out was involved in planning the colonists' voyage… My story clicked into place. But my solution didn't involve going into the past. Instead I decided to bring the past to us. In Blackwood, when a mass disappearance occurs on modern day Roanoke Island it turns out two very smart—and very modern—17-year-olds are tied to the original mystery, and that they're the only ones who can uncover the truth, at last.
"This haunting, romantic mystery intrigues, chills, and captivates."
-New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith
"With whip-smart, instantly likable characters and a gothic small-town setting, Bond weaves a dark and gorgeous tapestry from America's oldest mystery."
- Scott Westerfeld, New York Times bestselling author of the Leviathan series
"A deft and clever debut! Bond takes some reliably great elements -- a family curse, the mark of Cain, the old and endlessly fascinating mystery of the Roanoke Colony -- and makes them into something delightfully, surprisingly new. How does she do that? I suspect witchcraft."
- Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club
"Weird, wise and witty, Blackwood is great fun."
- Marcus Sedgwick (shortlisted on 4 occasions for the Carnegie Medal, shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Award and won the Booktrust Teen Award)
"Miranda Blackwood's battle against her own history is utterly modern -- and utterly marvelous. She's truly a heroine all readers can rally behind."
- Micol Ostow, author of family and So Punk Rock
"Blackwood is an excellent choice for anyone looking for paranormal YA, mystery, or just something a little bit different. Unlike a number of other recent YA titles, the romantic elements are fairly low-key. I think this makes Blackwood particularly boy-friendly, and also a good crossover title for adult readers."
- Jen Robinson's Book Page
"It's definitely a wistful sort of novel about being different and dealing with scary stuff like losing your family and falling in love, as much as it is about ancient evils and terrible curses and supernatural menaces. It's nice to see a gentler, more personal sort of coming-of-age-and-battling evil novel, although of course Blackwood does deliver the required showdown with the forces of evil with the fate of the world at stake."
- Charlie Jane Anders, io9.com
"This book was an excellent mystery, full of romance, ghosts, ancient curses, historical figures, betrayal, and so much more."
- Delaney (age 12), Sacramento Book Review
"There’s quality writing here and Bond has some amazingly original idea. For fans of history, the supernatural, romance, pop culture references, and alternating POVs."
- Gillyb, Writer of Wrongs