ETERNAL by Cynthia Leitich Smith, published by Candlewick, 2009, paperback 2010.
From the jacket copy:
At last, Miranda is the life of the party: all she had to do was die.
Elevated and adopted by none other than the reigning King of the Mantle of Dracul, Miranda goes from high-school theater wannabe to glamorous royal fiend overnight.
Meanwhile, her reckless and adoring guardian angel, Zachary, demoted to human guise as the princess’s personal assistant, has his work cut out for him trying to save his girl’s soul and plan the Master’s fast-approaching Death Day gala.
In alternating points of view, Miranda and Zachary navigate a cut-throat eternal aristocracy as they play out a dangerous and darkly hilarious love story for the ages.
From July 2009 through January 2010, I had the honor and privilege to work with Cynthia Leitich Smith as my faculty advisor during my second semester at Vermont College in the Writing for Children and Young Adults program. I was a Cynthia fan before I ever started the program. You might think, "well, of course you would choose her as an advisor." But it's not that simple. Advisors are assigned through a type of lottery. Students put down a certain number of faculty - in that case I think it was four or five and somehow a committee of faculty plays matchmaker and assigns a faculty member for each student.
There is a Zen sort of saying associated with the process "you get the advisor you need when you need them." This was certainly true in my case. With Cynthia's encouragement and keen guidance, I was able to plow through an entire first draft of a young adult historical mystery. Both my confidence and my skills blossomed with Cynthia's enthusiastic tutelage.
(I didn't feel comfortable posting all that praise while she was still my advisor, but now that our semester together is over, I can gush freely.)
And, the paperback release of Eternal gives me a great opportunity to discuss my new favorite subject: alternating point of view.
Everyone loves a secret - whether it is something whispered on a playground or gossip passed on at the water color, we long to have private information. This human predilection for secrets is a key component of all fiction. Whether the secrets are global or personal, matters of state or the human heart. Readers pick up books to see what secrets the author has to share with them. When an author uses alternating point of view to tell a story, the secrets increase.
In Eternal, Mariah is unaware that Zachary is her guardian angel. Of course Zachary knows and Cynthia has shared this secret with her readers, but Mariah is kept deliciously in the dark, amping up the tension and suspense in this smart, witty novel. She does a fabulous job of maintaining point of view and when additional information is neccessary, it is creatively presented through blog entries, newspaper ads and letters. Short chapters and tight story make the pace move quickly.
Cynthia also beautifully pays homage to Bram Stoker - something I really loved because I've had a huge crush on Dracula ever since the Frank Langella movie back in the '70s. (yes, I was in elementary school, but I was still fascinated and when I was just a little bit older, I stayed up late and watched the "Creature Features" on Saturday night withe the black and white monster movies from the '50s. The vampire movies were always my favorites.)
So, here is a book trailer for Eternal.
OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS | MySpace Video