Eva's life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination—an echo. She was made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her "other," if she ever died. Eva spends every day studying that girl from far away, learning what Amarra does, what she eats, what it's like to kiss her boyfriend, Ray. So when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready.
But sixteen years of studying never prepared her for this.
Now she must abandon everything and everyone she's ever known—the guardians who raised her, the boy she's forbidden to love—to move to India and convince the world that Amarra is still alive.
What Eva finds is a grief-stricken family; parents unsure how to handle this echo they thought they wanted; and Ray, who knew every detail, every contour of Amarra. And when Eva is unexpectedly dealt a fatal blow that will change her existence forever, she is forced to choose: Stay and live out her years as a copy or leave and risk it all for the freedom to be an original. To be Eva.
From debut novelist Sangu Mandanna comes the dazzling story of a girl who was always told what she had to be—until she found the strength to decide for herself.
Hi Sangu, congratulations on the release of THE LOST GIRL (out yesterday from Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins) and welcome to the blog! I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance copy of THE LOST GIRL, and I absolutely loved it. It's so original – and scary! What inspired you to write it?
Thanks, Emma! Well, I reread FRANKENSTEIN in 2009 and found I really wanted to write a story from the monster’s point of view. It wasn’t until a few months later, though, that Eva began telling me her story. I guess the other thing that made me want to write this book was having had my own experiences with grief and loss. There are huge flaws in the Weavers’ system, but the possibility of getting a lost loved one back, for real, was (and still is, I suppose) very tempting.
What did you enjoy most about writing the book?
I loved the difficult, heartbreak-filled relationships. Eva and her guardians, Eva and Amarra’s family, Sean’s feelings, Ray’s feelings: I think the book, at its heart, is about fraught, complicated relationships between its characters. Exploring them and developing them was really fun (and emotional).
Was there anything about it that surprised you?
To be honest, Eva surprised me all the time. When I started writing her story, I knew only a few things about her. And she kept surprising me with how tough she was, how fierce, how loyal and loving. She’s also very frustrating! As a mother, I shudder to think of having a child like her. She’s always in some kind of trouble, always mere inches away from destroying herself.
What has your journey to publication been like?
Rocky! I was fifteen when I sent out my first manuscript. It was terrible, so I don’t blame the publisher in question for passing. The editor was very nice and encouraging, though, which helped me move on. About six or seven other projects followed, until, seven years later, I hit the right note with the right agent with THE LOST GIRL. It was horrible, getting all those rejections and swallowing disappointment for seven years, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think each ‘no’ helps you write better, learn better and it gets you one step closer to a ‘yes’.
What is a typical writing day like for you?
I really should have a ‘typical writing day’, but I’m not very disciplined and I let my creativity run amok. If I’m not ‘feeling’ it, I don’t write. Which is not a good way to treat your job, but it’s how I work. And with a young baby, it’s very much a case of doing things when I can. That said, I do try to write a few pages every day, and a typical day for me usually also involves a lot of Twitter, work on the blog, admin-y kinds of things (taxes! Fun).
What are you working on now?
A lot of things, actually, and none of them is ‘my next book’ (yet). There’s a Romeo and Juliet-type steampunk project, a reimagining of The Little Mermaid, a time travel romance I may or may not abandon altogether...
And finally, because we’re the Lucky 13s, we love to hear about other writers’ superstitions and good luck charms! Do you have any, and if so, what are they?
I have a lucky troll. My mother gave it to me and she (he?) sits on my desk and (I hope) brings me luck! I also knock on wood a lot. It’s my one superstitious compulsion.
Thank you, Sangu!
Thank you for having me!
Sangu Mandanna was four years old when she was chased by an elephant and wrote her first story about it and decided that this was what she wanted to do with her life. Seventeen years later, she read Frankenstein. It sent her into a writing frenzy that became The Lost Girl, a novel about death and love and the tie that binds the two together.
You can also find her on Twitter: @SanguMandanna
Sangu Mandanna was interviewed by Emma Pass, author of ACID, which is out from Corgi Children's Books/Random House Children's Publishing in May 2013.