People! I am so excited for this book to be out!
Middle Grade Fantasy
In this riveting fantasy adventure, thirteen-year-old Jax Aubrey discovers a secret eighth day with roots tracing back to Arthurian legend. Fans of Percy Jackson will devour this first book in a new series that combines exciting magic and pulse-pounding suspense.
When Jax wakes up to a world without any people in it, he assumes it's the zombie apocalypse. But when he runs into his eighteen-year-old guardian, Riley Pendare, he learns that he's really in the eighth day—an extra day sandwiched between Wednesday and Thursday. Some people—like Jax and Riley—are Transitioners, able to live in all eight days, while others, including Evangeline, the elusive teenage girl who's been hiding in the house next door, exist only on this special day.
And there's a reason Evangeline's hiding. She is a descendant of the powerful wizard Merlin, and there is a group of people who wish to use her in order to destroy the normal seven-day world and all who live in it. Torn between protecting his new friend and saving the entire human race from complete destruction, Jax is faced with an impossible choice. Even with an eighth day, time is running out.This amazingly awesome middle grade fantasy is the newest release from great friend and critique partner Dianne Salerni. Ever since she sent me a Tesla manuscript and said, "Hey, I hear you might like Tesla, would you be willing to crit this thing for me?" I've been in love: with her words, with her awesome writerly self, and with the great stories she weaves. When I critiqued that first version of 8th Day, I was pretty well beside myself at the awesomeness... and not at all surprised when she sold it to Harper Collins. I just finished critiquing the third book in the series, so I can assure you there is more awesome to come!
GO GRAB THIS BOOK! It's middle grade, but adult readers will LOVE IT. I'm not even joking.
After you get it, stop back and check out Dianne's mini-interview below and the awesome giveaway she's doing at the end!
SKQ: The idea of squeezing in an 8th day into the week is something I truly wish was real! Where did you come up with the idea of Grunsday, an extra day between Wednesday and Thursday?
DKS: It all started as a family joke. When my daughters pestered their father about “when” they were going to get to do something, he’d jokingly reply, “Grunsday. We’ll do it on Grunsday.” And they’d groan, because he wasn’t giving them a straight answer.
One night at dinner, I said, “What if there really was a Grunsday, but not everybody knew about it?” The family loved the idea and told me to write a book about that. It took me 18 months after that conversation to come up with a plot to go with the premise, but I did write the book!
SKQ: I was one of the lucky first critiquers of the first version of 8th Day (previously called Grunsday!). The first version was YA, with more blood magic, and a little more edginess, but when it sold, it was with the intent to publish as an MG novel. What sorts of changes did you have to make to MG-ify the story?
DKS: The story was darker before! I eliminated some of the edgier elements, took out bad language and references to alcohol. I softened the violence, and now the “honor blades” are only symbolic, and blood magic is used only by bad guys. My main character, Jax, dropped from 15 to 13. He’s still a little mouthy, but he has more innocence and childlike wonder than he did in the original version.
SKQ: MG authors are told to write their novels from the POV of the child character – and that’s certainly true in 8th day as well. But you also have a lot of “aspirational” characters that I love, including Riley, the Arthur Pendragon descendent and liege lord for many of the “good guy” characters. Was it challenging to write these essentially adult characters into your middle grade novel?
DKS: This is my favorite question, because NO, it was not! Industry professionals tell MG writers that the target audience is not interested in older characters. But you know what? Nobody told the target audience!
Jax’s guardian Riley is 18, and the alternate POV character, Evangeline, is 16. And my students (two years of students, in fact) LOVE Riley and Evangeline.
I think writing rules are merely guidelines, although you will always find some industry professionals who insist on working from rules and formulas. But I’m currently reading a MG book where ALL the characters are adults: The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christoper Healy. The main characters are four Prince Charmings (or Princes Charming?) from four fairy tales trying to earn the right to be known in the stories by their actual names: Liam, Gustav, Duncan, and Frederic. But the thing is, even though the princes are adults, they are very childlike, and perhaps this is the key.
I mentioned this to my class, and many of them agreed with me. They said that while Riley was “awesome” and “cool” with his tattoos and motorcycle, he also sometimes acted like a big kid. He forgets to pay the electric bill and argues with Jax about who ate all the food in the fridge. Maybe that’s his appeal.
SKQ: Your magic system is based on honor blades and magical tattoos that show bloodline allegiances – with all sorts of magical bonds, like the one between vassals and liege lords. What’s your favorite part of the magical system you created and how much of it is based on Arthurian or other legends?
DKS: Transplanting the feudal system of lieges and vassals into modern society (with a bit of magical compulsion added) was my favorite part of the world building in the Eighth Day series. I also enjoyed working out the family connections to legendary Arthurian figures – and especially selecting magic talents that connected somehow to their stories. As for the tattoos that go with each family, I am proud to say that my daughter designed them, and we sent away for actual tattoo swag to give away with the books!
DIANNE K. SALERNI is the author of The Eighth Day MG fantasy series (HarperCollins) and YA historical novels, The Caged Graves (Clarion/HMH) and We Hear the Dead (Sourcebooks). Dianne was a public school teacher for 25 years before leaving the profession to spend more time hanging around creepy cemeteries and climbing 2000 year-old pyramids in the name of book research.
Check out these awesome Arthurian Family tattoos!
Dianne's generously giving away a HARDBACK copy of 8th Day AND a set of tattoos!