Meredith McCardle: THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN

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Today we’re talking to Meredith McCardle, author of the YA time travel thriller THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN, which will be published by Skyscape/Amazon Children’s in Spring 2014.

Hey, you’re getting published! How’d that happen? (aka, what was your path to publication)

Dude, I have no idea.

Ok, I have some idea. About two years ago, I went to a writing conference hosted by SCBWI and was matched up with an agent for a critique of the first ten pages of a book called FOUR STONES. I was seriously dreading the critique because my first page had been ripped to shreds in a novel intensive earlier that day (no lie, it was brutal), but the agent loved it. He requested the full, then offered me representation about a month later.

While I was on submission with FOUR STONES, I got an idea for a story about a girl who joins a secret time traveling government agency, and I quickly banged out a draft of what would become THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN to keep myself busy. When I was done, I knew it was infinitely better than anything I’d written to date, so my agent and I made the decision to pull FOUR STONES and focus on THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN.

After a few rounds of edits, we went on submission with it. I was walking around a Buy Buy Baby one morning (I was about three months pregnant at the time) when my agent called me to tell me we had an offer. I cried right there in the stroller section after I hung up the phone. I’d blame hormones, but yeah. I don’t think it was hormones.

What’s your debut book about? Can you share any cool details with us?

THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN is a quick-paced thriller that was pitched as Jason Bourne meets The Gallagher Girls. It’s about a girl named Iris who’s plucked out of her top-secret government training school and dropped into an organization she’s never heard of: the Annum Guard. It’s a team of highly trained operatives who have the ability to travel back in time and tweak the past to improve the present. Enhancement, not alteration—or so they claim. But the deeper she gets into the organization, the more she learns that the Annum Guard is keeping some very dangerous secrets.

So now, on top of having to jump back in time for her missions—missions she’s questioning more and more, and missions that wreak havoc on her body (humans weren’t meant to time travel, after all)—she has to start digging for answers without getting caught. Because if she doesn’t—if she leaves the Annum Guard to its own devices—it won’t just be her life on the line. It’ll be an entire history’s worth of lives.

A few fun facts about THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN:

  • The inspiration for this story came from a song title: Iris Was a Pupil by Autechre. I became obsessed with the title: Who is Iris? What is she a pupil of? Why is she no longer a pupil? The whole story formed in my mind from those few simple questions. IRIS WAS A PUPIL was the first title of this book, until everyone and their mother decided they hated it. (Not much of an exaggeration).
  • It takes me at least three tries to type the word EIGHTH. Every. Time.
  • I had to write the book three times before I got it right. That’s kind of the story of every book I write (and what I’m trying to remind myself as I write the sequel).
  • I spent waaaaaaay more time trying to puzzle through quantum physics and time travel theories than I needed to.

What do you do in your daily life outside of writing?

I used to be a lawyer. I worked in litigation, which was really high stress and very time-intensive, and for years my dream of being a writer was just that—a far-off pipe dream. Then I had a baby a couple years back (and then another one just a few weeks ago), and I decided to stay home with my girls and give fulltime writing a try. Luckily it’s paid off!

So basically I chase a three-year-old around all day while trying to keep my house from looking like a nuclear toy bomb went off, while also trying to write by standing at my kitchen counter with a newborn strapped to my chest.

I’m not exaggerating.

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What cool facts might readers not know about you?

  • I wrote my first book at the tender age of six. It was called The Hungry, Hungry Hippos (this was back before I knew anything about copyright infringement) and was a rousing adventure involving a gang of kidnappers and a colony of hippos who, despite the title, were not malnourished in any way. It placed 4th in a school-wide writing competition, but it was painfully obvious that the books that had taken 1st, 2nd, and 3rd had been written and illustrated by parents. This sense of injustice stayed with me for years.
  • I had a fairly nomadic childhood. At last count, I think I’ve moved 26 times in my life? People always ask if my dad was in the military, but the fact of it is that my parents just liked to move. This week marks the four-year anniversary that my husband and I bought our house, which also means this is the longest I’ve ever stayed in one place, and I’m not going to lie—it’s freaking weird. I stalk realtor.com like it’s my job.
  • I have a real passion for fitness and nutrition. I am ALL OVER the real food/local farming/avoiding anything processed movement, but, that said, I have a weakness and its name is Nutella. I cannot keep that stuff in my house because I strongly suspect I could wake up one morning on the floor of my pantry with chocolate hazelnutty goodness smeared all over my face and caked underneath my fingernails, and with no memory of how I got there. I’ve been known to polish off a jar in a 24-hour period. It’s not something I’m proud of.
  • I was 7 months pregnant in my author photos. Three cheers for the magic of Photoshop!
Meredith McCardle is a recovered lawyer who lives in South Florida with her husband and two young daughters. Like her main character, she has a fondness for strong coffee, comfortable pants, and jumping to the wrong conclusions. Unlike her main character, she cannot travel through time. Sadly. Her debut, THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN, will be published by Skyscape/Amazon Children’s in Spring 2014. You can find her on Twitter.
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15 thoughts on “Meredith McCardle: THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN

    • Oh yes, rhythm gets me too. I have to spell it out loud as I type it. 😀 I don’t know what it is about eighth that always trips me up. Like, my brain knows it’s -hth, but my fingers always type -tht. One of those weird mental things!

  1. Wow. I don’t think I was EVER able to write with a kid strapped to my chest. I tried. And failed.

    Also, I ❤ your hippo story. But not as much as the premise of THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN.

    (And apparently, I cannot spell eighth either.)

  2. Congratulations on your newborn and the book deal 🙂 I loved the picture of you and the baby by the kitchen counter. My youngest just turned two years old and she is still our little baby(although there is nothing babyish about her anymore).

    The Eighth Guardian sounds like a great story and I do LOVE me some time traveling(and YA) so that would equal a guaranteed spot on my 2014 wishlist 🙂 I wish you the best of luck on your way towards being published.

    • Thanks! And I know what you mean–as much as my back absolutely kills me by the end of the day, I’m definitely going to miss holding her this way. They grow up way too fast, don’t they? (Even though, yes, they will always stay babies in some way)!

  3. I’m ok with eighth, but like Jaye I can never spell rhythm right–I always end up Googling to spell check!

    Your book sounds awesome! Time travel seems like it would be a beast to write. Can’t wait to read it!

    • I’m with you on the Googling thing. Although really, I get so annoyed when whatever program I’m in doesn’t have an automatic spell check and I have to resort to Google words to make sure they’re right. Just me? Laziness FTW.

  4. Eee! You time-travel writers knock my socks off. I have enough trouble keeping the calendar straight for my plain old contemporary story. 🙂 Looking forward to reading this, Meredith!

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