The Eighth Day by Dianne K. Salerni (April 22, 2014, HarperCollins, for ages 9 to 13)
Source: ARC courtesy of the author
Source: ARC courtesy of the author
Synopsis (from Dianne's website): 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.
Why I loved it: Are you kidding? It's got everything! The most exciting premise ever. Action, adventure, fantasy, Arthurian legends, and both boy-appeal and girl-appeal. Plus it's fast-paced and grabs you right from the start. Bonus: it will be a series.
And now for Part One of my interview with Dianne Salerni, Pennsylvania resident and the author of The Eighth Day:
Welcome to the blog, Dianne! Even before I read The Eighth Day, I loved the premise. Can you tell us how you came up with the idea of an extra day between Wednesday and Thursday?
Thanks for having me here, Joanne! The idea came out of a family joke. My daughters would ask when they would get to do something, and my husband would respond, “Grunsday. We’ll do that on Grunsday.” One day, I said, “What if there really was a Grunsday in the middle of the week, but not everybody knew about it?”
The premise of a secret day hung around for a long time without a plot to go with it, although my family never let me forget the idea. It took maybe 18 months from the original inspiration to get a sense of what the story would be about. Even then, I pantstered the whole first draft. It ended up as a 98,000 word monstrosity that needed major taming and focusing and word slashing in the second draft.
Wow! That’s a lot of words. Good for you for taming that monster. Jax is a great character, so real and so likable. And I love his name, which is short for Jaxon. Do you choose names for their meanings or because they seem to fit the character?
I don’t choose the names, really. The characters choose them. They tell me what they want to be called. Jax, for instance, told me his name even before I had the plot nailed down.
I told him he couldn't have the name Jax. What kind of name was that for a boy? I wanted to set this story in contemporary America, and who names their kid Jax? I threw different names at him; he rejected them all. In the end, I did a little internet searching and discovered Jaxon as an alternative spelling for Jackson. So I let him have his name.
Since then, I’ve come across the name Jax, for a boy, twice on the internet. (So I guess people really do name their kid that! I grew to like it more and more as I used it.)
I love the way you incorporated Arthurian legends. Tell us a little about your research and how extensive it was. Did you do most of it on the internet or in the library?
First of all, I never intended to incorporate Arthurian legends into this story. That developed in the rambly first draft when I stumbled across stories about Merlin being imprisoned by his apprentice Niviane in “an eternal forest.” The description of where Merlin was trapped had some eerie similarities to the way I was describing Grunsday, or “the eighth day” in my draft. Once the idea took hold, it wouldn’t let go.
I did most of my research over the internet. However when my family started planning a vacation in the U.K. this past summer, my husband hired a private tour guide to spend one day taking us to Arthur-related sites around Cardiff, Wales. (Our original reason for visiting Cardiff was to see the Doctor Who Museum. An Arthur-related tour was a happy bonus!)
Tune in next Monday for Part Two and the Giveaway!