A Q&A with Author Tonya Hurley and a ‘Precious Blood’ Summer Prize Pack Giveaway!

Tonya Hurley Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur

Tonya Hurley (Image Credit: Kevin Mazur) / Precious Blood (Image Credit: Tonya Hurley)

The Daily Quirk has teamed up with Simon & Schuster to bring you an exciting Precious Blood The Patron Saint of Summer Prize Pack Giveaway and an Exclusive Q&A with Precious Blood author Tonya Hurley! Read on to find out what inspired the book, Ms. Hurley’s favorite scene to write, and what to expect from the next two books in the The Blessed Series. Then find out how you can enter the giveaway to win an amazing Summer Prize Pack courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

The Daily Quirk: Precious Blood was a really unique book. What inspired you to write it?

Tonya Hurley: Thank you.  I came across a book of martyr stories and was really struck by the legends of several of the earliest female martyrs.  I always loved the iconic art depicting their lives and I just knew there was something there.  Most of them were very young, just teenagers, when they died.  The stories read like romances and reminded me a lot of today’s YA fiction with their focus on strong female characters and supernatural love, albeit of the divine variety in the case of these young women.  In fact, I see these stories as some of the first young adult stories we have on record and these young martyrs as the first YA superstars.  And, talk about being famous.  They are the three of the most famous girls of all time.  No fifteen minutes for them, or their faces on toothbrushes at Target.  But, how cool would that be?

TDQ: Where did the idea to base your characters on saints and martyrs come from?

TH: As I got to reading some of these stories, I realized that everything that makes up a good Young Adult story was in there.  The love story, the rebellion, and once I read the supernatural aspects, I was hooked. In Precious Blood, the characters of Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia echo to some degree their namesake saints.   For example, Saint Agnes refused to marry a pagan nobleman because of her devotion to her faith – her true love – and was sentenced to live out her life in a brothel. As she walked there, her hair grew down to her ankles to cover her nakedness and anyone who tried to touch her was struck blind.

Agnes, Cecilia, Lucy and Sebastian were martyred at a young age in particularly bloody and brutal fashion two thousand years ago, and have been revered ever since. We tend to think of Saints as passive figures but I found that this perception could not be farther from the truth.  They were stubborn and rebellious and willing to defy parental authority and even the Roman Empire itself rather than deny their beliefs.  Very inspirational stuff.  Writing that kind of passion and comittment into a story about modern day teens became an obsession for me. These girls died for love. I just had to marry these ancient ideas with a modern story of three girls struggling to make it in New York.

TDQ: What is it about Lucy, Agnes, and Cecilia that you think readers relate to so strongly?

TH: These characters are as real and flawed as I could make them. They were based on myself, my experiences and people that I’ve known in and around Brooklyn and New York City.  I hope that is what readers relate to the most.  That these no-nonsense, very material girls could find themselves caught up in such a surreal situation.  Cecilia (the patron saint of music), the runaway rock star, Lucy (the patron saint of sight), the self-absorbed It Girl only concerned about appearances, and Agnes (the patron saint of young girls), the bohemian idealistic romantic are all characters that we recognize and read about in our everyday lives.

The whole series revolves around a central question of self-awareness, identity and ultimately self-acceptance.  What would you do if somebody told you that you were a saint?  Would you believe them?  Which is just a way of asking, who are you really, deep down inside.  I hope that readers are not only entertained by this gritty rock-n-roll romance thriller, but that they also walk away with the idea that the most important thing they need faith in is themselves.  And, that they don’t have to look for something to save them, they have the power to save themselves.

TDQ: Is there one scene that you particularly enjoyed writing?

TH: That is a really tough question.  I loved writing the fight scenes. I tried to make them as savage as I could to reflect the savagery that is found in the martyr legends.  Also, the transformation in the basement ossuary chapel.  I turned it into a torture chamber of sorts, a place where Lucy, Cecilia and Agnes’s old selves could be purged and their new identities could emerge. A chance for me to explore the sacred and the profane. There is this false impression that Precious Blood is a religious book.  It isn’t. Rather I intended to use faith – mostly in yourself and in others – as a narrative device to explore present day notions of love, loyalty, identity and sacrifice.

If I had to pick particular scenes for each girl it would be the one where Sebastian ’heals’ Agnes.  They sneak off to a private room in the abandoned church they have been hiding in during the epic storm.  It’s a very intimate scene in which Sebastian tenderly, almost seductively, dresses her wounds from an earlier suicide attempt.  For Lucy, I would say the sexy confessional booth scene between her and Sebastian.  That was intense.  And, then for Cecilia , I love the scenes between her and Bill, but the most enjoyable would have to be the one where she goes up on the balcony in the abandoned church and rocks the old pipe organ to the amazement of Agnes, Lucy and especially Sebastian. That was pretty cathartic.

TDQ: Precious Blood is the first in The Blessed Series. How would you describe what awaits the characters in future installments (in a spoiler free way, of course) for readers who are anxious to find out more?

TH: The next two novels in the trilogy are really about Lucy, Cecilia and Agnes coming to terms with who they are and what they are supposed to do now that they know who they are.  The struggle to accept who they are and whether or not others accept them.  Readers now know them inside and out pretty much, so the second book PASSIONARIES is is more plot than character driven.  You will see their saintly powers, how they deal with their ”fame” and how they are mocked in everyday life.  And, most importantly, how the love between them and Sebastian grows.

Summer Prize

One lucky Giveaway Winner will receive a Prize Pack including:

Earbuds (courtesy of Cecilia, Patron Saint of Music)

Sunglasses (courtesy of Lucy, Patron Saint of Sight)

Essie Chastity Nail Polish (courtesy of Agnes, Patron Saint of Chastity)

And of course, a copy of Precious Blood by Tonya Hurley

The Giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to our winner, Heather R.! 

The Patron Saints of Summer Prize Pack Giveaway is sponsored by Simon & Schuster and open to U.S. Residents (one entry per individual). Entries will be accepted until 11:59pm EST on July 9th. To enter the giveaway, fill out your name and email address in the form above. It’s that simple! Good luck and happy reading!

To learn more about Author Tonya Hurley and Precious Blood, visit the Website, like The Blessed on Facebook, follow The Blessed and Tonya Hurley on Twitter and join the conversation using #PreciousBlood!

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Abbie Reetz
Hi! I’m Abbie. I’m a Wisconsin girl who just completed a degree in journalism, which I hope will help me achieve my goal of reading books and writing about them for a living. In my free time, I enjoy reading, watching Doctor Who and hanging out with my boyfriend and his two cats.
Check out more from Abbie Reetz on TDQ…

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