Behind the Book: CROAK, Chapter #1


I don’t know about you, but every time I read a book, my mind floods with questions for the author. Who are these characters modeled after? What kind of research went into this? How did the author decide on that character’s name? Why is there a talking donut? Where did the talking donut come from? Is there any nutritional info available on the talking donut? Does the talking donut come in other flavors? Where is the closest talking donut store in my area? Does it deliver?

You get the point. This is why I like reading interviews with authors, because I like learning all of the secret, behind-the-scenes tidbits and trivia about my favorite stories. And if my readers are anything like me, I thought it might be high time to give them a glimpse into the backstage world of Croak.

So today marks the first installment of a new series for this blog, one where I tackle a new chapter each week and give you the down n’ dirty on what sort of hallucinogenic visions went into crafting the hijinkery of the Grimsphere. You may even read along with the book each week, if you like. (If you need a snack while reading, might I recommend a certain loquacious baked good?) And if all goes well, heck, I might do Scorch next. We’ll see. WE SHALL SEE.

But for now, enjoy the very first behind-the-scenes look at Croak, Chapter One!

  • One of the most widely-espoused pieces of writing advice is to grab readers with the very first sentence. As a rookie, I thought that a good way to do this was with a vision of horrific violence. It worked!
  • I wrote the first draft of Croak when vampires were really getting their day in the sun (HA), and so I thought it might be fun to throw in a line about how Lex was decidedly not a vampire. Nothing against our bloodless friends, of course. They’re just vastly different from grim reapers. Because grim reapers are alive. Um. Obviously.
  • The Tyrannosaurus Lex nickname came to me fairly late in the writing of this book, and to this day I am mortified that it almost went to print without it.
  • Deleted scene alert: Originally, this chapter included a flashback to Lex in a meeting with her guidance counselor. This fateful appointment didn’t go well, as you might imagine; it ended with Lex hawking a loogie at her.
  • Lex lives in Queens because, well, I was living in Queens at the time. The houses in my neighborhood were all squished together as described in the book, though none of them were as ratty as the Bartleby abode.
  • We never had a swear jar in our house growing up, but I always liked the thought of one. (Or maybe I just liked the idea of a vat of money.) It fit perfectly with the characters of Lex and her mom, so I put it in.
  • I get asked a lot where I came up with the idea of Lex’s mom naming her twin girls after the first battles of the American Revolution, and my answer is always: I have no idea. I just thought it would be funny, especially since their mom is a history buff–for reasons that are explained much, much later in the series. And yes, I had that planned from the start.
  • I know the whole “teenager telling her parents she hates them” is a cliche (I overheard it at the mall just the other day), and for a while I wasn’t sure how I felt about leaving that in. But in the end I decided that Lex, totally furious and shocked into speechlessness, would default to it just to get the last word in, regardless of whether she means it. (I suspect she does not, not even at that moment.)
  • I have a sister. We are not twins, although sometimes we creepily text the exact same thoughts to each other at the exact same time. Lex and Cordy’s bedroom is somewhat modeled after the disaster area that was our childhood playroom. Especially the Happy Meal toys, which my sister collected and diligently paraded around the house like a lunatic.
  • Like Cordy, dealing with my unmanageable hair in my teens was a constant three-way battle between me, my frizzball hair, and my mom. The fights were endless. They somewhat continue to this day.
  • Captain Wiggles was not a real toy from my past, but rather a composite of all the stuffed animals I had when I was a kid, threadbare and obsessed over and loved well into my teens. There were a lot of them. I brought most to college.
  • Funnest fact: The first chapter of the first book of the trilogy ends with a Spark…and so does the last chapter of the last book.

And now it’s your turn to get in on the trivia goodness. Got any questions for me about Chapter 1? Leave them in the comments below!


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