by Ava Morgyn
Genre: YA Magical Realism
Release date: October 1st 2019
Olivia Foster hasn’t felt alive since her little brother drowned in the backyard pool three years ago. Then Kara Hallas moves in across the street with her mother and grandmother, and Olivia is immediately drawn to these three generations of women. Kara is particularly intoxicating, so much so that Olivia not only comes to accept Kara’s morbid habit of writing to men on death row, she helps her do it. They sign their letters as the Resurrection Girls.
But as Kara’s friendship pulls Olivia out of the dark fog she’s been living in, Olivia realizes that a different kind of darkness taints the otherwise lively Hallas women—an impulse that is strange, magical, and possibly deadly.
“Ava Morgyn’s passion and tenderness shine like a candle, guiding readers through the darkness of Olivia’s story. Her compelling characters are made all the more real by the eerie undertow of myth. A beautiful, deeply emotional debut!”
–Sarah Porter, author of VASSA IN THE NIGHT and NEVER-CONTENTED THINGS
“Resurrection Girls is a powerful examination of grief and loss, captivatingly woven with magic and ultimately hope. A compassionately rendered debut.”
–Emily Duncan, NYT Bestselling author of WICKED SAINTS
“RESURRECTION GIRLS is a heartbreak of a book, where love and loss writes letters to the strange things that lurk in the darkness. It’s a stunning story that blends the inexplicable and the beautiful with the bittersweet.”
–Rin Chupeco, author of THE BONE WITCH and THE NEVER TILTING WORLD
“A raw, poignant, unflinching examination of grief and healing wrapped up in a compelling story. Resurrection Girls is a brilliant debut.”
–CJ Redwine, NYT Bestselling author of THE SHADOW QUEEN and the RAVENSPIRE series
“The lovely, assured prose draws on ancient archetypes and a lingering sense of dread to pave the way for a strange but satisfying conclusion … Morgyn’s supernaturally tinged debut is a heartbreaking but hopeful exploration of death and grief.”
About the Author
Edward’s University in Austin, TX, and now lives in Houston—city with the most rain, best food, and worst traffic—with her family. When she isn’t at her laptop spinning darkly hypnotic tales, she can be found making fairy houses, talking to her crystals and plants, hunting for delicious new vegan recipes, or bothering her dog. She also blogs regularly about the devastating journey of child loss at ForLoveofEvelyn.com.
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Resurrection Girls Excerpts:
In the beginning, the dead are always with you. It’s almost as if they aren’t even gone, as though you could round any given corner and see them there, waiting. For months after Robby died, I heard his voice, his laughter catching in his throat, the sound of his footfalls down the long hall upstairs. I could feel his towheaded locks soft against the pads of my fingers still, and imagine his quiet breathing in the night. It was all there, floating around me, able to be summoned forward at any given moment. Like a balloon, I had Robby’s memory, his soul, on a string.
But that only lasts as long as the pain is fresh. You bleed memories for a while. And then one day you find you’ve bled them all out. And the sharp sting of loss has waned into a dull ache.
It’s the little things that go first. The way light would play across his face at a certain angle. The expression he made when he pouted. The smell of him in the morning. You go to summon some detail up from the depths and it’s no longer there. The dead drift away.
And then even the dull ache disappears, and only numbness holds in its place. You stop trying to recall details because the futility of it is worse than the grief. It’s no longer the loss of the person you mourn, but the loss of the haunt. And the absence is all that is left when you reach for your pain.
“I’m Kara,” she said after a few moments. “My mom said you’re the same age as me.”
I didn’t remember telling Rhea Hallas how old I was, but maybe I had. Kara and I were two opposite poles of the teen spectrum. I seemed to be developing a little behind the curve, and she seemed to be developing a little ahead of it. I found it hard to believe we would be in the same grade. “I guess. I’m sixteen.”
“Do you have your license yet?”
“Just last month.” I took an after-school driver’s education course that met in the tech class in the back of our school. I drove myself to get my license when it was over, my dad dozing in the passenger seat. I hadn’t driven much since then though. “You?”
“Nope. Just a learner’s permit. Moving kind of threw everything off.”
“So what does everyone do around here? For fun?”
I crossed my arms over my chest. I didn’t know. Fun wasn’t in my repertoire anymore. I had friends once. Maybe not like Kara, but girls who cared about things like nail polish and what movies were playing at the mall. Girls who giggled and shrieked and whispered behind backs. Girls who knew how to have fun. Those girls left me in the dust after Robby died when fun moved beyond my reach. They whispered about me now and giggled when they thought I couldn’t hear. I shrugged and made a noncommittal noise.
Kara seemed unhindered. She reached into a pocket of her nonexistent shorts and pulled out a sucker, like the kind they give you at the doctor’s office after getting your shots. She held it out to me but I shook my head. Within a heartbeat she’d unwrapped it and popped it into her mouth. “You know some guy hung himself in our house?” she said around the lollipop.
I looked up to see her smiling, a bulge in one cheek, her face awash with dark fascination.
“Yeah. I know. It was a long time ago.” I tried to focus back on the street.
Her eyes went far away, like she was considering something. We walked for a few long moments like that—me, Kara, the lollipop, and her thinking so loud it was practically audible. My sneakers thudded against the pavement. Kara’s feet were black underneath when she’d lift them to take another step. Everything about her was the opposite of subtle.
Finally, she plucked the candy from her mouth and held a hand out to stop me. Already, her tongue was turning a vulgar crimson. “What was it like?”
“When Mr. Dearing hung himself?” Was she serious? “I don’t know. Tragic?”
Kara’s face was sharp in the afternoon sun, her long lashes glinting in the golden light, her eyes boring into mine without reprieve. “No. When your brother died.”
I wanted to be angry—should have been. It was rude, too personal, sensational. But it was also the most honest, most direct thing anyone had said to me since Robby’s funeral. It was the only real conversation I was capable of having. Everything else was a script.
“You know when you’re awake really early in the morning and it’s just before dawn? And for a few moments, everything gets really, really still and really, really quiet, like the whole world is holding its breath for the sunrise?”
“It was like that. Only, the sun never rose.”
She took a step toward me on the street, overwhelming my senses. Suddenly, I was aware of her knock-off perfume and the cherry smell of her sucker, the red stain forming between her lips where it had been moments before—the devastating presence of her filled up the spaces around and inside me.
“Are you still doing it?” she asked.
I was paralyzed by her gaze, the heat emanating from her skin, her fascination with me. “What?”
“Holding your breath?”
In that moment, I exhaled.
I didn’t eat. It was impossible when crammed in a tiny booth, cornered between Prescott’s dimples and golden biceps, Kara’s cinnamon lip gloss, and my grandmother’s stolen ring. The aquamarine kept winking at me from her finger, a cold, accusing eye in its band of icy gold. It was the color of the Aegean Sea as I would have imagined it. That color belonged in Kara’s world, not mine.
“What kind of name is Prescott anyway?” Kara asked as she placed a pepperoni on her tongue.
I didn’t imagine anyone had ever dared to ask such a question of him before. I watched him from over the bubbles of my fountain drink, watched the way his eyelids dipped and his biceps tightened. Watched one corner of his mouth rise in a pleased way. Watched his weight shift on his elbows. He was a penny she set spinning on the table. He was circling for a place to land.
“A Republican one,” he said finally with a laugh.
Kara made a pout. “Are you as stuffy as it makes you sound?”
He looked at Kara. He looked at me. “I don’t know. Ask Olivia. She’s known me a long time.”
Kara cut her blue-gray eyes in my direction. This was a game for her, putting us all on the cusp of some social precipice, watching us dangle.
I tensed. Bit my straw. Released. “He’s alright.”
Prescott burst out laughing. “Thanks for the winning endorsement.”
Kara grinned proudly at me. I’d told a joke I wasn’t in on. But I half-smiled back, feigning intention.
I caught him looking at me four times after that.
Lunch was followed by the mall. I had no money for either. Mostly I followed Kara around. Watched her shoplift a set of bracelets and a hair band. Talked to Prescott while she tried on clothes she had no intention of buying.
I’d meant what I said at lunch. Prescott wasn’t like other guys with marble statue faces. He played basketball but wasn’t a total jock. He read books. He didn’t cheat in class or sleep around. He wasn’t a complete asshole. You couldn’t hate him for winning the genetic lottery, even if you wanted to. But he was still unreachable in so many ways. It’s not like he wasn’t aware of how he looked. It showed in the way he carried himself. The confidence born to those who haven’t suffered, who know they’ll never have to.
Kara, though, wasn’t like anyone else. She wasn’t a cheerleader or a beauty pageant wannabe. She didn’t act like the popular girls in my, or any other, grade. She didn’t look like them either, though she could have. It was more like she didn’t care to, didn’t have to. And she was all the more irresistible for it. She had one of the hottest guys in school sitting outside her dressing room after meeting her once. She stole things she probably could have bought just as easily. She poured magnetism into every gesture without breaking a sweat. She was the epitome of effortless. But not grace. There was nothing graceful about her. She was raw. She was salt in the wound.
She could cure. She could kill.
Interview with the author
Ava Morgyn Interview Questions:
Q: Tell us about RESURRECTION GIRLS in your words.
A: Resurrection Girls takes place at the point where loss and grief intersect with love and magic. It’s a story about friendship, romance, and how much we need connection to survive our traumas. It addresses the transformative power of loss, as well as the transformative power of love.
Q: Who inspired the characters of Olivia and Kara?
A: Kara was influenced by several different characters for me, two of which are Madonna in the eighties and Cordelia from the novel Cat’s Eye, one of my favorite novels by Margaret Atwood. I knew that the Hallas women would embody the divine feminine archetypes of Maiden, Mother, and Crone when I started writing the novel. The Maiden represents new life, and I had this idea of a girl who is violently alive.
Olivia wasn’t inspired by anyone in particular as much as she was inspired by a kind of every-girl. I wanted the reader to be able to easily see herself in Olivia’s place. I wanted Olivia to read as quite average, so the extraordinary nature of her trauma and her experience with Kara would stand out all the more by contrast.
Q: What books or authors have influenced you the most?
A: I’m a giant fan of The Handmaid’s Tale and Margaret Atwood’s incredible voice as a writer. I also really love The Alchemist and Paulo Coelho. I love the way he weaves wisdom and spirit into story. He raises the art of storytelling to high magic. In general, I love books that explore dark subjects, are populated with conflicted characters, and/or are told in an exquisite voice. Some of my all-time favorite reads are Mists of Avalon, The Last Unicorn, Confederacy of Dunces, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Wuthering Heights, Chime, Born Wicked, All the Truth That’s In Me, Vita Nostra, Wild Beauty, and The Female of the Species.
Q: How long does it take you to write a book?
A: Typically, my novels take me several months to write. If I have ample time and the work is really flowing, maybe as few as three or four months. But usually it’s longer. And that’s just the first few drafts. Then my agent and I revise together more than once before it goes on submission. And when it gets picked up, there are more rounds of revisions to do with an editor.
Q: What is your writing routine?
A: I need space and quiet two write. It’s best if I’m alone or if everyone else in my house is in bed. I can write in public places—as long as they aren’t too noisy—because I’m not invested in the people around me so it’s less distracting. But I usually write at home. I prefer to write in the mornings, as that’s when I have the most energy. If I’m too tired, if I didn’t sleep or ran around doing a bunch of other work first, then I won’t be able to write as well or as much. Writing is really draining for me, even though I absolutely love it. So I have to protect my energy and my time in order to do it.
Q: Traditional or self-publishing? Tell us about your experience with publishing.
A: Resurrection Girls is technically being published by an independent publisher, but in a very traditional way. I have always been devoted to traditional publishing. I have experienced both indie publishing on a very small scale and self-publishing, but neither was fulfilling to me. I really love the experience of working with an agent and a team of editors and publicists at a publishing house. And I prefer to focus on the writing and allow someone else to tackle all the other aspects of publishing.
Q: What is your advice for aspiring authors?
A: You have to want this beyond all reason. You have to believe in yourself in a near-foolish sense. You have to be absolutely stubborn about your drive and desire to do it. And you have to protect the space, time, energy, and attitude you need to write and write well.
Have a way to take care of yourself outside of writing in every capacity. Have a means to pay your bills. Have something else in your life that feeds you or makes you feel good about yourself. Have other things to do that nurture your soul. Writing and publishing can be love/hate. It can be brutal. It can be very hard on a person in many ways. So fill yourself up elsewhere when the writing isn’t enough.
Q: Favorites? Food, drink, movie, TV show, animal, landscape, vacation destination.
A: My favorite food is basically anything vegan + spicy. I love vegan curry and korma. I love vegan chili and something called African Peanut Stew.
I don’t really have a favorite drink at the moment, though I prefer hot drinks like coffee, tea, and cocoa. And I would guzzle coconut milk if I thought I could get away with it.
I don’t have a single favorite movie, and I’ve kind of stopped watching movies, so most of my favorites are pretty old. I love The Last Unicorn, Spirited Away, The Dark Crystal, Lord of the Rings, and so on. I love fantasy movies in general.
My favorite TV Show is probably Game of Thrones, though I was severely disappointed in the writing of the final season. I also love The Handmaid’s Tale, Outlander, Mad Men, Dexter, and a whole bunch of others. I love fantasy and historical fiction shows. Mostly dramas. But I adore The Office.
My favorite animal would be my dogs. I have two Siberian Huskies and I love them so much. I was not a dog person before my daughter died, but these dogs have been a godsend to our family. I really love the breed and encourage anyone thinking of getting one to do your research and try to adopt first. There are a lot of huskies and husky mixes that end up in shelters. If you do buy from a breeder, go to a reputable one.
My favorite landscape is the woods or a forest anywhere. Just drop me in a ring of trees and leave me the hell alone. Mountains are a plus but not required at all. I don’t need to climb, but I love to hike. I’ll always take a walk in the woods over a trip to the beach any day.
My favorite vacation destination would be Ireland. I’ve only been once but desperately want to go back and take my family with me. I’d also really love to go to Japan someday. Those were the two places my daughter who passed wanted to see most in the world, and I will forever regret that I didn’t get to take her. I hope to take her sister and brother.