By Blood by Tracy E. Banghart
Series: By Blood #1
Publication date: February 18th 2013
Genre: YA Paranormal
For 17-year-old Emma Wong, spending a summer in England should be a dream come true. Gorgeous scenery? Check. Lots of hot guys with accents? Yes, please.
Throw in an estranged mom, annoying new stepdad, and drooling baby half-brother, and it’s a disaster even her favorite cherry red leather jacket can’t fix. Even worse, there’s (hot) live-in research assistant Josh to contend with. The only thing more embarrassing than drunk-kissing him hours after they meet? Knowing he’ll be witness to her family’s dysfunction all. summer. long.
But when Emma meets a mysterious girl who happens to be a Druid, her vacation suddenly promises to be far more intriguing than she anticipated. Powerful rituals, new friends, an intoxicating sense of freedom...and Simon, the sexy foreign stranger she was hoping for. It’s all a perfect distraction from dirty diapers and awkward family dinners.
Trouble is, intriguing doesn’t often mean simple. And Emma is about to discover just how not simple her life really is.
By Blood is a novel about the ways that blood can bind us to others – or tear us apart.
Author Bio:Tracy E. Banghart is a cheesy movie–loving, fantasy football–playing (go Ravens!), globe-trotting Army wife who began “practicing” her craft at the age of five, when she wrote her first story. She loves visiting the international friends she met while pursuing her MA in Publishing and spends a portion of every summer at her family’s cabin in Canada, where she finds inspiration and lots of time to relax on the dock. She lives with her husband, son, two lazy dogs and one ornery cat. When not writing or spending time with her family, she is on a mission to bake the perfect cupcake.
1. What inspired you to write By Blood?
Emma's character first appeared as a supporting player in Moon Child, and as soon as she appeared, I just knew she needed her own story. She's feisty, dramatic, tough…but also really vulnerable. At the time, I was also feeling homesick for England (I went to grad school there) so I thought - wham! How about I ship Emma off to Oxford with her estranged Mom? Bet that'd be fun! ;-)
2. What books have influenced your life most?
The Blue Sword, by Robin McKinley; On Fortune's Wheel, by Cynthia Voigt. For Writers Only, by Sophie Burham. Also, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. As a young adult, I read A LOT…and frequently re-read my favorites. I think that's one reason I prefer to write young adult…I remember those books having such an impact on me. It might sound weird, but I think I figured out the kind of person I wanted to be through the strong, adventurous heroines of my favorite books, like those of Robin McKinley and Cynthia Voigt.
3. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Because I couldn't travel to England while I was writing, I had to rely on my memories, as well as Google Maps! Sometimes that would sap my writing momentum a little, trying to get all the geographical details right.
4. If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?
Ooh…interesting question. I'd say probably the second line of the book. Emma has a thought about trying to keep her little brother quiet…it's a sentence I wrote a number of years ago now, before I had my son (who's 10 months, about the age of Fermin)…and now that I AM a mom, it seems so violent! I wondered if I should change it, but I ultimately decided not to. It's a split-second thought Emma has, one that she has NO intention of acting on, and I think it really speaks to both her mindset/inexperience with children as well as her frustration with this fussy, screaming baby on a plane. I mean - we've all felt that frustration, right? Still…every time I read it now I think of my adorable little son and it really bothers me. Emma would NOT be my choice for a babysitter! ;)
5. Can you give us an interesting fun fact or a few about By Blood?
The house Emma lives in for the summer is the same I stayed in when I lived there - and yes, I had the same closet-sized room (seriously, it was REALLY small).
All the pubs, museums, cookie shops, etc., are all real places with their real names except for the Wisteria Cafe. It's a real place, but I couldn't remember the name or find it online, so I made one up!
And, here's a juicy one….Simon looks exactly like a guy I had a crush on in grad school. But don't tell him I said that! ;-) (this was pre-hubby and baby, of course!)
6. And now, before you go, how about a snippet from By Blood that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:
Here you go! :-)
Caught up in the moment, I ran my hands down his chest, over the smooth, slightly damp cotton of his shirt, and pulled him closer. I felt him resist, just for a second, and then his hands slid to my back and suddenly we were pressed tight against each other.
The heat, the sweat, the pounding music throbbing in my veins—I felt about thirty seconds away from bursting into flame.
The music changed to a swing number all technoed out. Josh’s hands dropped to his sides and he stepped away. Oh come on. What had I done this time?
But instead of running off, he grabbed my hand and spun me out, laughing. I twirled, skirt fanning, and bumped into another warm body.
Somehow, suddenly, his arms were locked around me, and I was no longer holding Josh’s hand. We were almost the same height so he didn’t have to lean down to bring his lips to my ear. “Meet us Wednesday night,” he said, his breath cool against my hot skin. He held me but didn’t move to the music; it felt strange, like we were hugging in the middle of the dance floor. But I didn’t pull away.
“Meet you where? For what?” I asked, a little breathlessly.
“Come to the Wisteria. Eight o’clock. And wear white.”
“A Druid ritual?” I thought of the girls dancing in a circle, arms entwined. The freedom in Ash’s eyes.
“Do you want to see what we’re all about?”
I stared into his shadowed eyes, his face close enough to kiss. I could feel his body from my knees to my breasts. His arms tightened, like he wanted me there, close to him.
“Definitely,” I replied, heart pounding.