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Monday, March 30, 2015

(MMGM) The Second Guard by JD Vaughn {interview and giveaway}

Welcome to Day 30 of the 4th Annual March MG Madness! Today we are celebrating The Second Guard by writing duo J.D. Vaughn...

The Second Guard
(Second Guard #1)
by J.D. Vaughn
In the peaceful realm of Tequende, all second-born children at the age of fifteen must journey to the Alcazar to fulfill the mandate of the Oath of Guilds. There they train to earn a place among the queen’s legendary Second Guard, or work as indentured servants.

Talimendra has always wanted to join the Guard, but there are dark rumors in the queendom that she may not be ready for. Rumors that whisper of greed, traitors, and war.

There is very little time and too many unanswered questions, but one thing is for certain: if there is a traitor among the Second Guard, then everyone—including the queen—is in grave danger.

Praise for The Second Guard

A carefully crafted and empowering coming-of-age tale that adds welcome diversity to the fantasy shelves. Kirkus

Teens will cheer for Tali and her friends and appreciate the rich setting in this well-written and engaging fantasy. ~ School Library Journal

J.D. Vaughn is the pen name of Second Guard co-authors Julia Durango ( and Tracie Vaughn ( We’ve answered most of the questions together, but a few individually, as noted!

What three words best describe The Second Guard?

Diverse Epic Fantasy. (Tracie)
Girl with Sword! (Julia)

Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers, to give this book a try?
If you were forced to leave home on your fifteenth birthday to serve the Queen, would you choose to be her soldier or servant?

Grab a copy of The Second Guard and answer the following:
favorite chapter?
Chapter 9, when the main characters meet their mentor, Saavedra. (Tracie)
Chapter 28, when all may be won or lost. (Julia)

favorite page? 
The last one.

favorite place/setting? 
The salt mines in Chapter 14.

flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser: 
He’s dangerous now, Tali realized. He just got taken down by a girl and he’s furious about it.

What inspired The Second Guard? How did the story come to be?
Several years ago we had both finished writing individual novels (Julia’s Sea of the Dead, Tracie’s The Floating Circus) and we daydreamed about writing something together, combining what we each love most about story. Julia loves to plot and world build, while Tracie loves to flesh out characters. We brainstormed many times together via email, phone, and occasional writing retreats (we’ve never lived closer than 300 miles to each other) until the realm of Tequende slowly took shape.

Can you tell us a bit about your heroine, Talimendra? What makes her special and sets her apart from other middle-grade heroes?
Tali is impulsive, scrappy, and a bit stubborn to boot, which gets her into trouble pretty quickly! But she’s also fiercely loyal, brave to a fault, and willing to look objectively at her decisions. When she makes a mistake, she owns it and tries to make it right.

Can you tell us three fun, interesting facts about Tequende, the world in The Second Guard?
1. At the age of fifteen, all second-born children of the realm must leave home to serve in the Queen’s army for four years. Those not fit enough to be warriors must become servants for six years instead.

2. All Tequendians are born into one of three guilds – the Sun Guild, Moon Guild, or Earth Guild – which determines their occupations, their style of dress, and even the gods they worship.

3. The realm of Tequende was greatly inspired by Julia’s love of Latin American history, while the legends or “godtales” of Tequende were inspired by Tracie’s love of world mythology. And finally, the packhounds – the strong, loyal work dogs of Tequende – were a tribute to the many wonderful dogs we’ve known and loved over the years.

As a middle-grade author, why do think MG is so important and popular? What do you love about MG?

MG fiction is the last great chance for kids to become readers before they get swept up into the teen world of high school, jobs, driving, and romance. The best MG novels teach us how to be heroes in our own lives, how to stand up for what’s right, and to question what we know about ourselves. They also provide us with a healthy escape from real world drama and the internet…imagination still rules inside the pages of a book!

What are some of your favorite middle-grade reads?
Tracie loves Neil Gaiman’s off-kilter realities, Megan Whalen Turner’s alternative historical settings, Rick Riordan’s take on mythology, Emily Rodda’s fantasy worlds, Holly Black’s vision, just to name a few!

Julia concurs but would also like to shout out Madeleine L’Engle and Diana Wynne Jones, whose novels were hugely influential during her middle-grade years and beyond.

Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at daydreaming. I wish someone would pay me for it.
I’m really embarrassed to admit my first crush was on Han Solo and Chewie (it was a tie).
The last great book I read was THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY (Gabrielle Zevin).

I’m really awesome at eating chocolate chip cookies. I am willing to help you anytime.
I’m really embarrassed to admit I still count on my fingers.
The last great book I read was  THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE (Neil Gaiman).

If you were to bake a cupcake inspired by The Second Guard, what would it look and taste like and what would you call it?
Sugarbread and Lemonsong. It’s a treat in Tequende (think elephant ear and tart lemonade). It would be shaped like the Alcazar (a training fortress), and blue. Everything about Second Guard for me has a blue tint to it and I can’t explain exactly why.

The cake would be dark chocolate, to represent the Earth Guild. The frosting would be a silky, rich vanilla, to represent the Moon Guild. Sparkly golden sprinkles would adorn the top, to represent the Sun Guild. I’d call this delicious confection “The Oath of Guilds,” or perhaps, as my son Ryan suggested, “The Second Cake,” since I would probably burn the first one. ☺

J. D. Vaughn is the pen name of Julia Durango and Tracie Vaughn who are also writing partners.

By the time Julia Durango started Kindergarten she was an avid reader and has been ever since. She attended the University of Illinois where she received degrees in Latin American Studies and Political Science. In addition to writing children's books she is a school librarian and member of the Three Silly Chicks. Julia received the Golden Kite Award for SEA OF THE DEAD and currently lives in Ottawa, Illinois with her family. 

Tracie Vaughn Zimmer graduated from The Ohio State University and attained her master's degree at Miami. Tracie writes in a variety of genres from historical fiction to poetry. She has received critical acclaim and the Schneider Family Book Award for her work, REACHING FOR THE SUN. She teaches at her alma mater in the Lakota Local School district near Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Win 1 of 2 finished copies of
The Second Guard!
Disney-Hyperion has generously offered two copies for two winners.
-US/CAN only
-ends 4/3
-each winner will get one copy
(please read the FULL rules below the rafflecopter)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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anne s. said...

Thanks for the giveaway!Interesting to read about how this book came about!

Manju Howard said...

As a second-born child, I'm hooked! Great cover and concept!

Michelle @ In Libris Veritas said...

I love your intereview questions, they are just so much fun.

This sounds amazing! My favorite MG genre is high fantasy and this is just perfect.

Sui Generis said...

This is quite intriguing! Can't wait to read tgis one! Thank for the lovely giveaway.