Interview: “The Black Opal” by Linda Jordan

Mira’s twin sister disappears. Taken to another world, possibly murdered.

With no other choice, Mira must act.

She can’t let her own failure at magic block the search for Amanda.

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Mira smelled the neighbor’s lilacs as she walked down the gravel road. Stray clumps of grass and weeds splashed dew into her crocs, and her feet squished around inside the shoes. She looked at the beautiful view of Puget Sound. It would be a gorgeous spring day, rare and sunny.

But it wasn’t enough to make Mira forget her miserable life. She’d screwed up again and this time Aunt Rita had sent her to Mom’s house. For good.

Mira had been crying for two days, now she just felt empty. Her life held no hope and no future.

She turned back towards the house, pausing to empty a piece of gravel from one shoe.

Then she realized that something felt very wrong. Half a block away, shadows barreled through the mist. A huge hand-shaped cloud appeared out of nowhere, passed over the sun and darkened the row of poplars beside Mom’s house. Shivering in the sudden cold and absence of all sound; she smelled the burnt air. It left a bitter taste in her mouth.

She began to run, slipping and sliding in her wet crocs.

The shadows closed in and the creatures took shape as two huge black dogs. They moved like one, legs and breathing synchronized, toward Mira’s identical twin, Amanda. And her son, Dylan.

Amanda had her back to the hounds, absorbed in Dylan’s play. Oblivious to the threat. Her three year old golden child ran circles around his mom. She sat on the front lawn. The long red hair tied up in a ponytail made her look younger than eighteen. She laughed, ducking the clumps of wet grass which Dylan threw up into the air.

“Amanda! Look out!” screamed Mira. She ran past the massive cedar stump towards them. “Get Dylan in the house!”

Amanda scrambled to her feet and turned towards the dogs. Dylan ran behind her. The hounds leapt at them. Saliva ran from their mouths. Amanda fell backwards on top of Dylan. He wriggled beneath her, trying to get out.

Mira gasped for breath as she ran, helplessly watching Amanda punch the creatures. Hollow thuds echoed as her sister’s fists landed. Amanda screamed, but the hounds were relentless in their assault. Their jaws snapped and slavered, easily avoiding her fists and feet.

Mira was there. As she bashed them the sounds of her foot hitting reverberated in the eerie silence.

“Get away! Go!” she screamed.

She looked around for something else to hit them with. There was nothing. When she kicked one in the head, it glared at her with icy-white eyes, then returned to the attack.

To Mira’s horror they ripped into Amanda’s belly. No blood flowed, but something came loose. A gold object pulsed, reaching tendrils back towards Amanda, as if trying to stay with her. The dogs strained and pulled. The thing, like a golden tropical flower, was severed from Amanda.

—from The Black Opal by Linda Jordan

The Interview

What inspired you to write The Black Opal?

I was inspired to write The Black Opal after having a dream. The entire first and part of the second chapter came from a dream I had. The book absolutely demanded to be written.

What are some of your favorite YA books as a reader, and what makes them stand out for you?

Some of my favorite YA books, hmm. Of course there’s all the Harry Potter books which are my comfort food. I’m going to list some older books you might not be familiar with because they were the first ones I read. His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman. I also loved The Book of Dust, but haven’t read any beyond that yet. Judith Marillier’s Wildwood Dancing and also Cybele’s Secret. I adore Laini Taylor’s writing. Lips Touch, Smoke & Bone, Dreamdark. I haven’t read everything of hers. I tend to leave books sitting on my TBR pile for when I need a big reward. Several of hers are there. Also Kristen Cashore’s wonderful series Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue. And Maggie Stiefvater’s Ballad & Lament. The last two books I’ll leave you with are: The Grand Tour and Sorcery & Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermermer. There are so many more than these and I could go on all day but I’ll stop so you can go pick these up and read them!

Why do you love writing about dragons?

I love writing about dragons because they’re amazing beings. And they’re individuals, just like humans. They have incredibly complex social networks, although some are solitary beings. They’re smart and magical and simply extraordinary.

What do you enjoy about weaving elements from mythology, legends, and folklore in your own writing?

I love writing about mythology. My brain works with archetypes and symbols and myths are full of them. I love reading a myth, which is really just a condensed story without the details, and trying to unravel what the original teller meant. What the myth said about their culture and world.

Is there something from a legend, fairy or folk tale, or myth that you haven’t yet used in your writing, but would like to?

There is so much more about mythology I haven’t used in stories. And because myths are so deep, I could use the same myth in several stories in completely different ways. The beings of myth are almost endless. I can’t think of anything I haven’t used that I’d like to in particular because I don’t plan out my stories that way anymore. Maybe another phoenix story. And I’d like to explore the myths of other cultures and see what comes up.

If you could be a fantasy creature for a day, which would you choose, and why?

If I could be any fantasy being it would probably be a dragon. Besides the flying thing, I’d love to breathe fire and plummet into the ocean. And hang out with other dragons of course.

What are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

Right now I’m working on a secondary world fantasy. One that has no connection with our world. I’m in the beginning stages so I won’t talk too much about it. There are several main characters and at least one dragon has shown up already. I have no idea who else might decide to be in the story.

I love improvising while writing so whoever wants to show up in my stories is always a surprise to me. That’s what keeps it fun. Plus a brand new world to explore. One that’s unlike any world I’ve written about ever!

About Linda

Linda Jordan writes fascinating characters, visionary worlds, and imaginative fiction. She creates both long and short fiction, serious and silly. She believes in the power of healing and transformation, and many of her stories follow those themes.

In a previous lifetime, Linda coordinated the Clarion West Writers’ Workshop. She’s also worked as a travel agent, a baker, and a pond plant/koi sales person, you know, the sort of things one does as a writer. Currently, she’s the Programming Director for the Writers Cooperative of the Pacific Northwest.

She lives in the rainy wilds of Washington state with her husband, daughter, four cats, a cluster of Koi and an infinite number of slugs and snails.

Find Linda

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads ~ BookBub

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