I’m honored to have the author of Wilder Girls, Rory Power, here on my blog! Rory was kind enough to agree to talk about the inspiration behind Raxter, the school where the girls are quarantined because of the mysterious Tox. I absolutely adored Wilder Girls, so I’m thrilled to be able to share some love for it!
Before anything else, here’s a little bit about Wilder Girls, with some helpful links!
It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her. It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything. But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.
In the winter of 2015 the only thing I wanted was to get out of New York. I’d been there for about eight months by then, working my first job out of college, and it was the first time I’d ever lived in the city without an escape built in – the end of an internship, or the start of a new semester. No, this time it was my whole life, right in front of me.
So of course I had to get out.
With very little shame I practically invited myself to a friend’s family home in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I’d planned to visit her there during college but never made the trip. Now, with New York trying to clutch at my ankles, was the perfect time.
She picked me up at the airport and wisely didn’t comment on the playlist I chose for the drive to the island, which was full of moody folk and, near the end, “Into the West” from Lord of the Rings four times in a row. I’d loved New York before, and I knew I would again, but looking out the window and seeing something else – trees I didn’t recognize, a sky that felt wider the space between my apartment building and the next – made me feel sick. Because I knew I’d have to go leave here, and go back.
By the time we crossed the bridge onto Harkers Island, I was angry and on edge. Frustrated with myself for thinking this would trip would fix everything. Guilty, for hating the life that I knew I was intensely privileged to have. I was not ready to fall completely in love, which is what happened the second we hit Harkers earth.
My friend’s house is on the point of the island, through a gate and up a long, winding driveway. The grounds are covered with live oaks. Massive, ancient, buffeted by the wind. I’d never seen anything like it before.
I made us pull over so I could get out and just stand there. Salt in the air, and the trees pressing in, and that was Wilder Girls.
I didn’t start writing until I got back to New York. Notes on the subway on the ride back from JFK. A map of Harkers sketched in a notebook, over and over until it looked like something new. A handwritten snippet of one teenage girl ripping out another’s tongue piercing. All of it on an island, studded with trees and glazed in frost. I couldn’t call it Harkers; I knew that. But the whole book lived and died on that island, and when I wrote about a girl who loved it more than anything, I gave her its name.
And here’s a little bit more about Rory herself, with links to where you can find her! Trigger warnings are available on her website.
Rory Power grew up in New England, where she lives and works as a crime fiction editor and story consultant for TV adaptation. She received a Masters in Prose Fiction from the University of East Anglia, and thinks fondly of her time there, partially because she learned a lot but mostly because there were a ton of bunnies on campus.
Wilder Girls is her first novel, and will publish with Delacorte Press on July 9, 2019. She is represented by Daisy Parente at Lutyens & Rubinstein, and Kim Witherspoon at InkWell Management.
Wilder Girls comes out on July 9th, which is super, super soon! I can’t wait for everybody to read this book. I highly recommend it. I hope you enjoyed learning about the inspiration behind Raxter! And thank you again to Rory for stopping by my blog!
Thank you for reading!