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Author Tracy Deonn Uncovers the Origin Story Behind the Book ‘Bloodmarked’

Author Tracy Deonn Uncovers the Origin Story Behind the Book ‘Bloodmarked’

Written by Tracy Deonn

I was in my early twenties when my mother passed away. Humans are storytelling creatures, so I think we all go through a similar phase when we lose someone close to us. We ask: Why did this happen to me? In my search for answers, I learned that my mother had lost her own mother around my age, and that the same had happened to my grandmother and her mother. I was the most recent link in a pattern, which was oddly comforting. But I didn’t know what this pattern meant, and it felt like it had to mean something, even if the “why?” question is itself an impossible one.

Well, I’m a writer, so when I couldn’t find an answer to my very real story, I wrote one. That was the beginning of Legendborn — an angry, grieving girl who could go on a quest to find the meaning of her mother’s death.A journey to find the fantastic answer to an impossible question. But Legendborn isn’t just about finding the answer to my mystery.

As I wrote it, I realized I had other, bigger questions to ask: In a society, whose deaths get celebrated? What does it mean to leave a legacy? To carry one? I learned that the difference between a myth and a legend is that a legend has some roots in a story we accept as history, and it often features a real person. Well, who becomes legendary — and why? The legend of King Arthur has always been a favorite of mine — because of magic, swords, love triangles, and wizards, obviously!

But also because there are so many stories to choose from. I knew I wanted to contribute my own reimagining. I wanted the lore and the Round Table, but I also wanted to write about a group of kids fighting evil while navigating their own legacies. And I knew Legendborn had to take place in the South, where the question of whose lives and losses get to be revered has never really gone away. Bree finds her answers in Legendborn, but like all good stories, those answers only lead her to a new set of questions and mysteries.

In Bloodmarked, the second book in the Legendborn Cycle, the dedication is to every Black girl (and woman) who was once “the first.” In this book, Bree is “the first” in many ways — and often “the only.” She must grapple with external pressures and expectations from a judgmental world as well as with the confusion of her own internal desires, all while doing right by her family history. It is a struggle that many readers know well, but especially Black girls and women. I see this struggle sometimes depicted as if forced resilience is “strength” and harrowing solitude is “empowerment,” but these images come with very high costs. I didn’t want Bree to be seen as “strong” to the point of not being cherished.

She is allowed to be a teen girl. I chose to write a sequel that follows through on the consequences from the events of its predecessor, but also surrounds Bree with people who can help her navigate those pressures. I wrote a story that lets Bree be vulnerable, shows her at her magical mightiest, and deepens all her relationships.

Bloodmarked, expands on all the best parts of Legendborn — new characters, bigger magic, more romance, and a deeper mystery. We will spend more time with reader favorites like William Sitterson the healer, Alice Chen the indomitable best friend, Nick Davis the former exile, and Selwyn Kane the moody Merlin sorcerer. There are more battles! Magical weapons! And more demons (and Merlins) than you’ve seen before. Hold on tight for this ride, trust me.As a young, geeky Black girl, I never read about or saw fantasy heroes that looked like me. And I certainly never saw a teenage Black girl who could be sad and angry, powerful and beautiful all at once. The Legendborn Cycle is about a Black girl with a grieving heart who is all of those things, but it’s also a book about fighting to heal and standing tall in both pain and love.

I hope that when you read Bree’s story, you’ll see something of yourself reflected back —whether that’s your own journey with loss, your love for legends and sorcerers, or your secret wish to use magic against the forces of evil in the world. I think now is a great time for a roundtable, don’t you?

Bloodmarked is currently available where books are sold.

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