Wyatt Adams is excited and intrigued when his sister Melody assigns him to be Penny’s Lookout. Being the youngest, and hopelessly ordinary in the family that created the New Society, has left Wyatt feeling like he has a lot to prove — and Penny is a big deal. She’s got abilities that surpass any he’s seen before…and pretty much every quality he looks for in a girlfriend, but no one needs to know about that, especially Penny.
*The Penny Black trilogy is a companion to the Zellie Wells trilogy and not a continuation of the series. (PBT is set 18 years in the future with a new cast of characters.)
*Due to language and sexuality, FOUND is recommended for older teens (Most of the
characters are out of high school and preparing for college.)
Q: In the description for FOUND, you write that the Penny Black trilogy is a companion to the Zellie Wells trilogy (Glimpse, Glimmer, Glow) and not a continuation of that series. Can you tell us why you decided to write another trilogy instead of Zellie Wells #4?
A: I ran out of “G” titles that were appealing. Gastroenteritis? Gangrene? Gluten-free? Ha. You know, I did consider writing a Zellie #4. I have all sorts of starts…that I won’t rule out as good material for bonus short stories. They’re all episodic and not enough to base an entire novel on.
I felt like I’d got Zellie through the worst of it. She’d gotten the guy and he was safe. Her relationship with her parents was moving in the right direction. Melody came into her own and wasn’t just her annoying little sister. Ben and Christopher were on their path to open the Society School. Zellie’s gifts had gone from being a burden to a blessing. She’d owned it.
And, I’m not going to lie, I wanted a fresh love story, a new location, and a more evil villain.
Q: Several characters from the ZWT make an appearance in FOUND, though?
A: Yes! The main characters in FOUND are Penny Black (basically the new Zellie) and Wyatt Adams (Zellie and Avery’s baby brother in the ZWT). The kids from the Zellie books are now the adults and the supporting characters in the Penny books. I had the best time writing about them as adults! Ben is still hot and a gigantic pain in the ass.
Q: FOUND is set eighteen years in the future. Was that challenging?
A: It was challenging in that I’m kind of a techno-phobe. I just started texting last fall. Seriously, it was too much for me. That’s why Zellie didn’t have a cell phone. J
So, here I go and create a world where cars have autodrive and everyone walks around with micro computers strapped to their heads. It was especially interesting for me to write Phoebe. She’s the youngest of the group at 16 and therefore, the most savvy with tech. But, at the end of the day, I’m a writer. I looked at what was possible now and expanded on that. Hopefully, it comes off as plausible.
Q: You’ve also included some new slang in FOUND. How did that come about?
A: I wanted this new group of kids to have their own slang. Cool and OMG were done to death in the Zellie books (and the adults continue to say those things) so I looked to use words that meant the same thing, but were new. I looked to Spanish. It made sense to me that eighteen years in the future, people in the U.S. would speak spanglish even more than they do today.
Q: If you consider Penny to be the new Zellie, how are they alike and how are they different?
A: Penny’s life has been infinitely harder, obviously. She’s been abused and bounced around from foster home to foster home until she ran away to live on the streets. Penny’s more closed off, more skeptical, more afraid. But, she’s as funny as Zellie, as self-deprecating. Penny has no more of a chance against the draw of an Adams man than Zellie or Zellie’s mom, Grace, did.
Penny’s powers are not the same as Zellie’s, but they go through the same type of discovery. This is one aspect where Penny didn’t have to go it alone, while Zellie did. Penny has a whole school and group of peers to guide her.
Writing the scenes between Zellie and Penny was the best. I was really proud of Zel and the advice she gave. J
Q: What’s next?
A: I’m in the plotting stage for FRAYED, the next Penny book, while I finish up working on CROSSING, my first Contemporary NA Romance that should be out within the next month or so. Definitely by summer!
Stacey Wallace Benefiel
Thank you for helping me celebrate FOUND!