Once I finished Spectacle I knew I had to reach out to Jodie for an interview. If you haven’t read my review, Spectacle is such a clever book with paranormal aspects, clever heroines, and complicated families.
Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes the daily morgue column for Le Petit Journal. Her job is to summarize each day’s new arrivals, a task she finds both fascinating and routine. That is, until the day she has a vision of the newest body, a young woman, being murdered–from the perspective of the murderer himself.
When the body of another woman is retrieved from the Seine days later, Paris begins to buzz with rumors that this victim may not be the last. Nathalie’s search for answers sends her down a long, twisty road involving her mentally ill aunt, a brilliant but deluded scientist, and eventually into the Parisian Catacombs. As the killer continues to haunt the streets of Paris, it becomes clear that Nathalie’s strange new ability may make her the only one who can discover the killer’s identity–and she’ll have to do it before she becomes a target herself.
Find Spectacle on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound & The Book Depository.
The premise for Spectacle immediately hooked me, can you talk about your inspiration writing it? How did this idea come into your head? And what were some sources of inspiration that were crucial to you?
It’s three things fused into one story: historical fiction, a murder mystery/thriller, and fantasy. The history aspect was influenced by my graduate school studies of European cultural and intellectual history. The mood of this era fascinated me, including unusual details like the Paris morgue. The mystery element was inspired by the real-life Jack the Ripper case (What if there’d been a serial killer in Paris, with it’s popular public morgue?). The fantasy component was to give the story yet another twist and inspired by 19th-century fads like pseudoscience and various old-school explorations of the occult.
A big theme in Spectacle was sacrifice. Can you talk about the meaning of this theme to you and to the story? Were the characters choices always laid out in this way as many of them struggle with figuring out their own sacrifices and if it’s worth it.
I think a lot of life is about tradeoffs. In order to achieve X, we must give up Y or do Y. In order to write a novel, I have to give up time spent on other non-writing activities I enjoy. In order to be a good student, I had to study. Those are straightforward examples, but the truth is, sacrifice is often much more complicated than that, with no easy answers.
And the answers in Spectacle aren’t straightforward, which is why I posed those challenges for the characters. It raises the stakes; the characters have to weigh the consequences and decide what’s most important to them. That’s always a fascinating trope to me. It also invites the reader to think: What would I do in that situation?
If you had to make a list of five pop culture references (like TV shows, movies, and music) which ones would you choose if you were trying to sum up Spectacle without using any pieces of the plot or summary?
FUN! Ok…I’d say Penny Dreadful, From Hell (Gretchen McNeil mentioned that in her blurb for my book), Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an episode of Black Mirror, and not pop culture but suitable: Dies Irae—a dark Latin hymn that means “Day of Wrath.”
Lili here, MORE PEOPLE NEED TO WATCH PENN DREADFUL, I plug it to everyone I know and no one has taken me up 🙁
Since there was some research that went into Spectacle was there some historical fact or piece of research you wanted to incorporate in the book that didn’t make it and, if so, what was it?
Hmm…a few things come to mind. I reference the killer Henri Pranzini in the novel; that was an interesting case that I would like to have gone into more detail on, but there was only so much that made sense to include in the story. Also, this isn’t so much research as an Easter egg: One of the suspects in the Jack the Ripper case, which took place the following year (1888), was Walter Sickert. He was in Paris during the summer of 1887 and was known to sketch music hall scenes. He makes a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance in one of the café scenes.
Did you always want to be a writer? Can you talk a little bit more about your journey to becoming a writer, a debut, and your upcoming projects? I saw something on Goodreads called Exposition? Is this a follow up to Spectacle? I basically just don’t want this world to be over.
I wrote a lot as a little kid (shoutout to 10yo Jodie’s first novel attempt, handwritten and called The Mousers, with animal protagonists and not really much else going on. I think that’s why I didn’t finish it.) I wrote here and there as a teen, but then I didn’t set my sights on writing again until my mid-twenties. My journey is a long one of three books: one that didn’t get me an agent, one that landed me an agent but didn’t sell, and one that landed me a new agent (the previous didn’t want to represent Spectacle) and a two-book deal.
You’ll be happy to hear that Spectacle has a sequel! Tentatively named Exposition (though that could change), it’s set at the 1889 world’s fair, the Exposition Universelle. There will be more murder (sorry Paris), more characters, more magic—and more consequences. Some of the events from Spectacle carry over into the sequel and affect subsequent events and character choices.
Lili here, YES this is what my heart needed, give me more!
I have read the five facts about yourself on your site where you talk about your love of Cadbury Mini Eggs and being a Ravenclaw, but if you had to sum up your life or personality in five books, which would they be?
Ok, this is all over the place, but in no order:
Cat in the Hat
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
The Divine Comedy
The short stories of Edgar Allan Poe
An instruction book for any Super Mario Brothers or The Legend of Zelda game
What do you like to do to de-stress as a practice of self-care and/or something you do when you’re blocked as a writer? What has your debut journey taught you about your own writing style or process?
I love to work out and nearly every day I run, bike, swim, take classes at the gym, or do weights. It’s important to me to make time for that. Some days it’s to de-stress, reset after my day job, or simply to be away from the phone and computer for an hour. Other days, especially when I’m drafting or revising, my muse is my workout buddy: I’ve thought through many, many scenes and plot elements while running or swimming.
My debut journey has made me a more efficient writer, because deadlines necessitate creativity whether you’re “feeling it” on a given day or not. I’ve learned to categorize my writing to match that so, for example, if the ideas are flowing but not finalized, I get them down and worry about cleanup later. If one scene is presenting itself clearly and cleanly, I focus on that. If the muse keeps hitting the snooze button and the creativity just isn’t there, I tend to copyediting-type tasks. That way there’s always some sort of measurable progress on a tight schedule.
Find Spectacle on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound & The Book Depository.
About the Author
Here’s the third-person, formal version:
Jodie Lynn Zdrok holds two MAs in European History (Providence College, Brown University) and an MBA (Clark University). In addition to being an author, she’s a marketing professional, a freelancer, and an unapologetic Boston sports fan. She enjoys traveling, being a foodie, doing sprint triathlons, and enabling cats. She is represented by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown, Ltd.
And here’s the first-person, informal, supplementary version:
5 Things I Like*
1. Being a Ravenclaw.
2. Cadbury Mini Eggs.
3. Animated shorts (the film medium, not the half-pants).
4. Roger Federer.
5. Tom Brady yelling “Let’s GO!”
*Hard to keep it at 5 so these will probably change from time to time.
5 Things I Don’t Like So Much
3. Jump scares.
4. Bike-run transitions in a triathlon.
5. Spiders. Also, cilantro.
2 thoughts on “Interview with Jodie Lynn Zdrok”
Thanks and thanks for visiting 🙂