NYAHG Author’s Note

I’ve always loved romantic comedies. They’re part of my DNA. This is one reason I’ve joked for years that I’m an escapee from a 1930s or ’40s screwball comedy. It’s why Cary Grant gets mentioned in so many of my books.

I also love romance in general. It’s a genre I discovered as an adult reader and–no pun intended–fell head over heels in love with. Certainly, romance books got me through the pandemic. But they’ve also just made my reading life that much more delicious. I also feel like science fiction and fantasy help provide constraints, which is one of the things that made those golden age rom-com movies work so well. And I’ve always loved books that riff on secret societies, on good vs. evil, and with angels and devils and supernatural stuff.

So that’s how the stage was set for Not Your Average Hot Guy to emerge. But where did this book actually come from? I was feeling a little burnt out and not sure what to write next. I was away from my desk at the Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival (SE-YA for short) with a bunch of writer friends dear and new. Our hotel happened to be next to Locked and I managed to convince a group of people to go do an escape room based on Sherlock Holmes.

It was a ton of fun, we escaped, and on the drive home, this idea occurred to me. What if you worked part-time at your family escape room business? What if you accidentally had a real magic item as part of it? And what if a cult showed up? What if the other person you had to team up with was from Hell? I’d always been slightly bugged by the weird dynamics of human young women dating age-old creatures (though I certainly read and enjoy many of the books featuring this! no judgement!), and so having the hero be the devil’s son seemed like a way to get around that.

I went out to dinner with my friend, the brilliant pastry chef and writer Stella Parks and told her about the idea and that the hero would be named Luke. Her enthusiasm and delight at Luke pushed me to sit down and start the book. It’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had writing, and I wanted it to feel like a safe, nerdy, funny, sexy hug. And that is the story of where NYAHG began. I had no idea if anyone would want the book, and I kept the fact I was writing it secret for some time. I had to stop and write other things, so it took me awhile to finish. But I’m very proud of this one (and its sequel) and I hope you enjoy it. If you do, leave some love somewhere online or recommend it to a friend or ten.

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Reviews for The Woken Gods

The A P Book Club: “I’m always looking for a book where ancient mythologies are blended with contemporary settings. Take the Percy Jackson series. I loved those books, and I was kind of really excited to see that this was a book for fans of them. But honestly, I think Bond does it so much better. So I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for something along the lines of Percy Jackson, but maybe a little more complex and a lot darker.”

Bibliotropic: “Between the diverse cast of interesting characters, the creative plot, and the engaging writing style, The Woken Gods has a guaranteed place on my shelves for a long time to come. YA fans who enjoy a departure from standard material, female protagonists who can stand on their own two feet, and a wild creative ride will do well to check this one out.”

Bookslut: “The Woken Gods is a fast-paced tonic for curious readers who seek multi-layered mysteries and a salute to smart under-appreciated kids everywhere. The cool part is when it all comes together at the end and some very delightful parents do step up to the plate because they trust their kids. Bond has her characters growing up in a strange new world, in a bold brave way. The Woken Gods is one mighty fun read, and thus a perfect respite from holiday madness. Smart equals good in any adventure, and this is a very good read.”

Bull Spec Magazine: “This is an exciting urban fantasy adventure which hopefully will get further volumes.  The characters are engaging and the setting familiar but with strange twists. One of the most enjoyable young adult contemporary tales set in the US that Your Humble Reviewers have read in a long while.”

The Founding Fields: “A great, fast paced and fun novel that puts a new spin on the ‘Gods Are Real’ storyline that fans of the Percy Jackson series and other similar titles will love. … Kyra’s character is strong and awesome, and when this book hits shelves next month, you should certainly pick it up if you can. Young Adult readers will love this one.”

Ink Scratchers: “I can’t recommend The Woken Gods enough, the world, the writing, the action and the characters are all so awesome. This is a unique concept that you have to try even if you aren’t a fan of the YA mythology genre. This book is political thriller mixed with mythology which doesn’t sound like it should work… yet strangely they go together like cookies and cream.”

Locus Magazine: “This YA fantasy opens five years after the ancient gods—from all sort of pantheons—have reappeared.  … Her stubborn search for her father becomes a surreal trip with some loyal friends through a chaotic city where gods and oracles all want something. It’s a fun adventure made particularly intriguing by encounters with some unusual deities…” Also: Locus 2013 Recommended Reading List.

Kate Ormand: “The Woken Gods is a captivating story of secrets, mysteries, lies and adventure, blending rich mythology with a contemporary setting. I’d recommend to fans of Neil Gaiman, Zoë Marriott and Cassandra Clare. I was already a fan of Gwenda Bond after reading her debut novel, Blackwood.”

Megan Likes Books: “The Woken Gods is a great book for any mythology buffs or fans of race-against-the-clock action stories. Or cute boys who know how the make the decision between following orders and following the truth.”

SFF World: “Bond does a lot of things well in her second novel. Her pacing is as brisk and frenetic as in her previous novel and her characters, particularly the protagonist Kyra, is far more than simply the ‘plucky, clever girl.’ Kyra’s emotions come across very well; her urge to help her father, the conflict she feels over Oz, and the fear she has for her friends. I empathized and believed in her as a character and felt for her plight.” Recommended.

SF Signal“In addition to Kyra as a character, the other feature of The Woken Gods that really stands out to the reader is its creative use of mythology. Before reading it, I had expected the usual suspects of Greco-Roman mythology, or perhaps, if I was fortunate, a Norse goddess or two thrown into the mix. … To my surprise and delight, the gods we see in The Woken Gods are none of the usual suspects.”

Tor.com“The concept of Woken Gods had me hooked from the start—I love mythology, and the idea of the gods “waking up” and returning to the world makes for a great premise. … If you like mythology and fast moving YA novels with decisive and strong female protagonists, The Woken Gods might just be for you.”

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Press for The Woken Gods

io9All the Essential Science Fiction and Fantasy Books That Are Coming in 2013 – “The author of Blackwood is back with a strange tale about an alternate United States populated by gods. Kyra is on her way home from school when she meets two trickster gods, one offering a threat and the other a warning. The entire fate of the world could be at stake.” Also: All the Most Essential Science Fiction and Fantasy Books in September

Kirkus Reviews Blog: Best Bets for Science Fiction & Fantasy Books in September – “Why you might like it (The Woken Gods): It transforms mythology from a boring school subject into a tangible, engaging story.”

WFPLWhat We Read in 2013, Books Edition – Erin Keane: “Bond’s D.C. is a world of powerful tricksters, ancient relics, and spooky rituals that feels both mysterious and familiar at once, and like her first novel “Blackwood,” (listen to an excerpt on Unbound)this whip-smart heroine-led adventure is equal parts creepy and fun.”

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Press for Blackwood

Atlantic Wire – Teen Reads Better Than ‘Fifty Shades’: “Kate Milford highly recommends Bond’s just released book, which she read “basically in one sitting,” and adored. … Milford tells us, “I think one of the things I’m drawn to with both Gwenda and Jeri’s books is that, while there’s certainly romance to them, the stories and the writing are awesome anyway. I can’t get excited about a love story if it’s all the book has to offer,” she adds.”

Deadline Hollywood – MTV Buys Mystery Drama Produced by Kelsey Grammer: “MTV has put in development Blackwood, a drama from Lionsgate Television and Kelsey Grammer’s Grammnet Prods. It is based on the young adult book of the same name by Gwenda Bond, which was published this past September on the Strange Chemistry YA imprint of UK-based science fiction publisher Angry Robot Books. DC Comic book and television writer Peter Calloway (Brothers & Sisters) will write the adaptation.” (Also:io9Los Angeles Times)

Kirkus blog – Sci-Fi/Fantasy Books to Read Along with Your Kids: “On Roanoke Island there is a centuries-old mystery about the sudden disappearance of 114 people. In the present day, the tragedy has devolved into tourist bait…until 114 more people disappear.”

WFPL News – Kentucky Author Revisits Lost Colony Mystery in Debut Novel: “Gwenda Bond’s debut young adult novel Blackwood (Strange Chemistry) revisits one of America’s most enduring mysteries.”

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Reviews for Blackwood

Bookslut: “Bond concocts her own gumbo of story here, with a blend of mystery, thriller, paranormal, and romance to create a densely packed adventure that sucks readers in with a blistering plot pace but then keeps them riveted with some truly dark and scary moments. … Thoughtful teens will eat this novel up, and honestly, who could blame them?”

Heroes and Heartbreakers: “The fantastical mystery of modern-day disappearances on the site of such a famous historical disappearance kept me turning the pages, but what I enjoyed most in this novel were the characters.”

io9 – What’s more thrilling than a fantasy about the Chosen One? How about the Cursed One?: “Her heroine, Miranda Blackwood, is the cursed one, who bears the mark of the betrayer, and she’s also the most hated person in her small town. Blackwood is a neat spin on all of those YA fantasies about being special — especially when it turns into a story about ‘freaks in love.’ ” (Also: Fall’s Must-Read Science Fiction and Fantasy Books and The Most Thrilling Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Coming in September)

Locus Magazine: “Offbeat and imaginative, Blackwood mingles past and present, dark forces with a hint of pulp SF, along with many kinds of drama — from Shakespearean revenge to an amphitheater show where the island’s legend is just an entertainment for passing tourists. Whether viewed as young adult, genre mix, or a first novel, it belongs with the year’s best.” Also: Locus 2012 Recommended Reading List.

Publishers Weekly: “Bond has created an engaging mythology and mystery involving alchemy, curses, and past lives.”

Sacramento Book Review: “Blackwood was an amazing book! … This book was an excellent mystery, full of romance, ghosts, ancient curses, historical figures, betrayal, and so much more. I loved how the already intriguing mystery of the Lost Colony was given some unexpected twists and turns. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves mystery and magic.” Reviewed by Delaney, Age 12

School Library Journal blog: “Other things I can say I love without being the spoiler queen… The historical/supernatural mash up. The romantic element between Miranda and Phillips that is organic to the story and never overpowers it. The examination of free will, of being cursed, of fate. Of whether something is a curse or a gift. The action adventure. All the TV shows and films that are referenced that I know (and, chances are, watching those programs and shows helped Miranda and Phillips!). A Favorite Book Read in 2012.”

SFF World: “Ms. Bond captured the awkwardness of late teen years, especially the unspoken instances of attraction between the two characters, very well in the novel.  She also did an excellent job of interweaving historical elements into the fantastical plot, something I suspect would make younger readers interested in finding out more about the historical mystery of the Roanoke Colony. Blackwood is an impressive debut novel for Ms. Bond and is hopefully just the first of many novels she plans to write.”

SFX: “Blending a real-life mystery with a supernatural romance lends credibility…with well-timed twists coming thick and fast. …sassy prose and characters you’ll miss when when the book closes.”

Tor.com: “It’s a brisk, entertaining read. A very promising debut: I look forward to seeing what Gwenda Bond does next.”

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Other Fun Extras: Interviews and Official Tumblr

Tumblr Extras

Visit the publisher’s Lois Lane: Fallout Tumblr for official quotes and images, as well as an exclusive essay from the book’s editor Beth Brezenoff titled “Of Loud Girls and Lois Lane.”

Anything there can be shared, and doing so is highly encouraged.

Some Interviews

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