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Tuesday 26 February 2013

Guest Post ~ Forged in Grace by Jordan E. Rosenfeld

Forged in Grace

by Jordan E. Rosenfeld

Published: February 2013
Publisher: Indie-Visible Ink
Genre: YA/NA Psychological Suspense

Forged in Grace

Book Description

Grace Jensen survived a horrific fire at age 15. The flames changed her: badly scarred in body and mind, Grace developed an ability to feel other people’s pain. Unable to bear human touch, she has made a small life for herself in Northern California, living with her hoarder mother, tending wounded animals, and falling a little in love with her former doctor. Her safe world explodes when the magnetic Marly Kennet reappears in town; Grace falls right back into the dynamic of their complicated friendship. Marly is the holder of many secrets, including one that has haunted Grace for over a decade: what really happened the night of the fire?

When Marly exhorts Grace to join her in Las Vegas, to make up for the years they have been lost to each other, Grace takes a leap of faith and goes. Although Marly is not entirely honest about her intentions, neither woman anticipates that enlarging Grace’s world will magnify her ability to sense the suffering of others—or that she will begin to heal wounds by swallowing her own pain and laying her hands on the afflicted.

This gift soon turns darker when the truth of Marly’s life—and the real reason she ended her friendship with Grace—pushes the boundaries of loyalty and exposes both women to danger.


When I look up, I see that I’m in front of a gallery. The photo in the window display—as big as the entire square of glass, is of a woman, naked except for black underwear, her body classically hourglass, hugging herself as she looks down a row of books in a tiny library, lit by one tiny, mushroom-shaped lamp.

I shake off coffee from my hands, toss the empty cup into the garbage can on the sidewalk, and enter the gallery as though it was my destination all along. Every photo, each one nearly as big as me, is a black and white of people’s backs standing in states of partial dress before different corridors—a young boy in pajama bottoms looking down the dark hallway of a home framed by family pictures, ostensibly at night, lit only by the moon. An elderly person in a hospital gown, knobby edges of spine showing through—it’s impossible to tell if the subject is male or female—staring down a hallway marked “surgery.”

“Do you like them?” a voice at my right ear says suddenly, and I jerk around, glad the speaker is on my good side. The squeak of surprise comes out of me before I can stop myself. I know he’s a man because of his deep voice, but I’m looking into a cartoon page, an ancient map—I’m not sure frankly what I’m seeing, so bold and all-consuming are the tattoos upon his face. There’s not a centimeter of actual skin left that isn’t inked. The design is somewhere between aboriginal and comic book. Bright blue, green and red—black stripes that look like skid marks left by a car, symbols crowding the spaces between the lines. His dark green eyes blinking out of the face make him look as though he’s peering up at me from beneath a child’s toy chest.

If he’s as surprised by the terrain of my face, he doesn’t register it, or perhaps surprise is simply lost in a face like his.

Fortunately, Ma raised me to be polite. My nod is so vigorous my neck muscles pinch. “I do like the photos.”

“My show’s almost over. Glad you got to see them.” He sweeps a hand around the gallery.

“Oh, they’re yours!” I point at one dumbly.

The tattoos over his top lip rise to meet those of his cheeks, and I realize he’s smiling.

“Gus.” He puts out a hand and I chuckle, both because it is so smooth and unblemished by ink, and to hide my own anxiety at showing my thumb.

“Grace.” I shake quickly, and detect a strong, kind energy in him that makes me feel instantly at ease, releasing my hand before my serpent gets too curious.

“Why do you photograph them from behind?” I ask.

He gazes at me for a long moment, and I force myself not to trace every image—Egyptian ahnks, God’s eyes, the infinity loop, all vibrating just slightly with the life in his cheeks.

“This series is about shame,” he says. “Hiding and fear, and frailty.”

Girls, A Love Story

by Jordan E. Rosenfeld

When I first began writing FORGED IN GRACE, or rather, when the character of Marly whispered in my ear while I stoked a fire in a little cabin overlooking a wild river, I knew right away this would be a story about female friends. I didn’t know it would be a dark exploration, but when all was said and done, I continue to think of this novel as a “dark love story of friendship.” That is to say, it’s a story that celebrates the powerful bonds that young girls forge with one another as they act as surrogates to each other for the mature relationships that will come down the road.

I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of friends in my life, but as a girl, I only had one best friend, Sacha. The tried-and-true bestie who was part sister, part romantic stand-in, part keeper of secrets. She could make me feel good or break my heart all in the same day. She was an athlete to my bookworm, daring and brave where I was timid. She came from a loud family with brothers and two European parents. I was a latch-key kid from a “broken” home with two hippie parents.

Like Grace does Marly in the novel, I adored and was slightly in awe of Sacha. She bounced back from sleights while I wilted. She took the world head on, while I crept at it from the shadows. We fought, sometimes for days, but always came back together. Not until high school—though Sacha was a year older than I was—did a wedge come between us, and that wedge was, natch, another girl, named Shawna. A prettier, more sophisticated, worldly girl than me who didn’t use “too big” words and needed to wear a bra. Quickly I became replaced. It was a theme that would repeat in my life as part of the messy geometry of friendship. A theme that seems to happen to so many girls, teaching the painful lesson of jealousy and self-esteem, of loyalty and betrayal.

In FORGED IN GRACE, Grace has an unhealthy bond with the bold, beautiful Marly. Grace wants what Marly seems to have. And yet Marly is all pretense and façade. Her external world hides the darkness she keeps tucked away. What Grace thinks she wants, Marly may not actually have, and vice versa. And it’s up to Grace to realize her own talents and power in order to come to see the friendship for what it was, and is. A lesson many girls can use.

Many of my favorite books and movies about dark female friendships touch upon an overt or indirect sexuality between the girls. As an adult I can see now that most of these friendships are not, explicitly, sexual—barring those that really are, of course, and that’s not what I’m talking about in this piece—but rather girls, with their fluid and often early developed emotional lives, need to start exercising these feelings before the boys get around to it. They test them on each other, for better or worse. They project things onto one another that will someday be meant for their mates. In the best of scenarios, they forge life-long friendships; in others, jealousy and competition draw them apart.

As an adult, lucky to have a circle of dear, trusted women friends with whom I can talk honestly and show my dark and messy sides, I now look back on the friends of my youth with a clearer eye.  It was my girlfriends upon whom I first tested the strategies of what would someday become my grown-up relationships at slumber parties where we whispered to the night sky our deepest desires and fears. Like Grace, those early friendships are important artifacts that reveal precious information to me about myself.

About The Author 

Jordan E. Rosenfeld

Website | Goodreads | Twitter

Jordan E. Rosenfeld learned early on that people prefer a storyteller to a know-it-all. She channeled any Hermione-esque tendencies into a career as a writing coach, editor and freelance journalist and saves the Tall Tales for her novels. She earned her MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and is the author of the books, Make A Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time (Writer’s Digest Books) and Write Free! Attracting the Creative Life with Rebecca Lawton (BeijaFlor Books). Jordan’s essays and articles have appeared in such publications as Publisher’s Weekly, The San Francisco Chronicle, The St. Petersburg Times, The Writer and Writer’s Digest magazine. Her book commentaries have appeared on The California Report, a news-magazine produced by NPR-affiliate KQED radio. She lives in Northern California with her Batman-obsessed son and Psychologist husband.



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