This book was a great read- suspenseful and interesting characters
Here is a note from Jennifer on the book:
Eating Fire and Other Adventures on the Way to Burntown
Sometimes my writing takes me to interesting places and leads me to do interesting things. When I was working on Burntown, I visited several New England mill towns — I walked around abandoned factories, explored under bridges and in vacant lots, and nearly fell into rivers. I went to museums and national historic sites, toured a boarding house where "mill girls" once lived. I took hundreds of photos of crumbling brick buildings, nineteenth-century machines, the underside of bridges, old rail yards, dams, and riversides. I made a detailed map of my invented Ashford, an amalgam of all the towns I visited with some other details added in. I read all I could find about the rumor that Thomas Edison was working on a secret invention that would enable people to communicate with the dead. I listened to recordings of echoing, ethereal voices talking through "spirit box receivers," a tool that modern day ghost hunters love.
And when I was creating a group of women who live in an encampment by the river in Ashford, where they inhale hallucinogens, see the future, and eat fire — I had to learn about fire-eating. I read about it, but mostly I watched countless videos. After all, as my twelve-year-old daughter has shown me, you can learn just about anything from YouTube. When the time came for me to write the scene where Necco (aka Eva, aka Fire Girl) eats fire for the schoolboys and Theo, I decided I needed to try it myself. (Don't try this at home, kids!) So I picked a YouTube video that seemed particularly reliable (that is, the demonstrator had no visible burn scars), and watched it about twenty times. Finally, I ripped off a bit of cotton ball (100% cotton, I verified over and over), fluffed it up a bit, lit it on fire with a Bic lighter, popped it into my mouth and closed my lips around it. It worked! It went out instantly and I was left with just a little wad of damp cotton to dispose of. My daughter was impressed and horrified. I felt incredibly stupid and incredibly pleased with myself at the same time. And I felt connected to Necco and her flashy trick in a new way.
When I start a story, I never have any idea of the places it may take me, or the things it may lead me to do — the surprises and new experiences along the way are some of my favorite things about writing.
On the surface, Ashford, Vermont, seems like a quaint New England college town, but to those who live among the shadowy remains of its abandoned mills and factories, and beneath its towering steel bridges, it's known as Burntown.
Eva Sandeski, who goes by the name Necco on the street, has been a part of Burntown's underworld for years, ever since the night her father, Miles, drowned in a flood that left her and her mother, Lily, homeless. A respected professor, Miles was also an inventor of fantastic machines, including one so secret that the plans were said to have been stolen from Thomas Edison's workshop. According to Lily, this machine got Miles murdered.
Necco has always written off this claim as the fevered imaginings of a woman consumed by grief. But when Lily also dies under mysterious circumstances, and Necco's boyfriend is murdered, she's convinced her mother was telling the truth. Now, on the run from a man called Snake Eyes, Necco must rely on other Burntown outsiders to survive.
As the lives of these misfits intersect, and as the killer from the Sandeski family's past draws ever closer, a story of edge-of-your-seat suspense begins to unfurl with classic Jennifer McMahon twists and turns.
About the Author
JENNIFER McMAHON is the author of eight novels, including the New York Times best-sellers Promise Not to Tell and The Winter People. She graduated from Goddard College and studied poetry in the MFA Writing Program at Vermont College. She lives in Vermont with her partner, Drea, and their daughter, Zella.
“McMahon’s latest is bar-raising. . . . . A stunning genre blend of thriller and fantasy.” --Booklist