Nova Ren Suma and those mysterious sisters.

Welcome back to the second week of Spies, Murder and Mystery! Celebrating my release of A Spy Like Me!

Today we have Nova Ren Suma with us. She’s the author of Fade Out and Imaginary Girls. Both will be released in paperback in June with new covers! I read this book called Imaginary Girls and ended up loving it! The mythical relationship between sisters is not easy to show and having an older sister, I related. So I asked Nova to talk to us about mysterious girls.

Nova has run some incredible blog series about Turning Points and authors of upcoming releases. Check them out if you haven’t yet.

Blog ~ Website ~ Twitter


Mysterious Girls

I’m drawn to mysterious characters. The characters who give you pause, who make you question. The ones you need to know more about… And then you discover that the more you know, the more mystery there is to unravel. They’re complex. They’re flawed. They’re impossible to truly know, which to my mind makes them all the more real. I think that’s why I created Ruby, the larger-than-life older sister in my novel Imaginary Girls, or, really, why Ruby found me and forced me to sit down and write about her. I wanted to know who she was, and she wanted to play a cruel little game with me to keep me guessing.

It’s the mystery of Ruby that propels that novel—and so much of that comes from telling the story in the voice, and through the lens, of Chloe, the younger sister who idolizes every single thing Ruby does and yet still doesn’t fully understand her. She can’t. I admit I loved telling Ruby’s story through those eyes. I never want a mysterious girl to be stripped of all her mystery.

I wonder where this fascination came from. Even in my first published novel—originally titled Dani Noir, but you’ll see a new version of it on shelves this June called Fade Out—my narrator, Dani, goes searching for a mysterious femme fatale in her small sleepy town, even if there’s no true “femme fatale” to be found for miles. There are the secrets. The lies told behind closed doors. And how Dani idolizes a true mystery girl on-screen, none other than Rita Hayworth, star of glamorous noir movies like Gilda.

Even my upcoming book, 17 & Gone—which is such a mystery I haven’t revealed the summary yet!—is peopled with a whole cast of mysterious girls. You might just say the book wouldn’t exist without them.

I’m simply intrigued by a girl who inspires questions. And I don’t want easy answers.

So who are some mysterious girls from books I’ve read that catch my imagination?

Hannah in 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher: The whole story is set up to unravel Hannah and reveal why she chose to take her own life. Once the truth is exposed, it’s heartbreaking.

Bev in The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour: Colby can’t keep his eyes off Bev, and neither can we. Why does Bev do what she doe—say one thing and then change her mind and do another?

Mandarin in Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard: I remember being drawn to girls like this when I was in high school, wanting to be their friend, never at first realizing what dark, unruly secrets they kept hidden.

Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote: I know this one isn’t YA, but I can’t help but be obsessed with the mysterious, fascinating figure who makes this novel what it is. We only see her through the eyes of another, and we never quite catch up to her.

Francie in The Blonde of the Joke by Bennett Madison: In this novel, Val tries to be like her gorgeous, exciting new friend Francie, but who is Francie, really? And what does becoming like Francie really entail?

Margo Roth Spiegelman in Paper Towns by John Green: It’s an obsession with the girl next door that drives this mystery and the ensuing adventure adventure. We want to climb out the window and follow her into the night.

Who are some mysterious girls you find yourself drawn to in books?

Comment to win a pre-order of the Imaginary Girls paperback or a signed copy when Nova receives her author copies. Your choice! And please tweet with @laurapauling. Thanks!

Comment on yesterday’s post for a chance to win Spencer Brokaw’s The Impenetrable Spy!

Thanks everyone!


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37 Responses to Nova Ren Suma and those mysterious sisters.

  1. Peggy Eddleman May 15, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    I love the girl who inspires questions! Great post!

  2. Patti May 15, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    I loved Hannah from Thirteen Reasons Why and Melinda from Speak.

  3. Karen Strong May 15, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

    Love Nova Ren Suma and her work. Thanks for letting her guest post on your blog. 🙂

    Love her take on other mysterious girls.

  4. Christina (A Reader of Fictions) May 15, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    As soon as I saw that you were doing a list of mysterious girls in fiction, I KNEW there would be a John Green book on there. And I was right. The only question was whether it would be Alaska or Margo. I probably would have bet on the wrong one for that part of it. I actually don’t often like mysterious heroines, or maybe it’s because John Green’s books are from the perspective of a guy who desperately wants them but obviously is never going to to get them. I don’t know.

    I wish I’d read any of the other books for some perspective. I do love Holly Golightly in the movie version, but I suspect they’re quite different. 🙂

  5. Lisseth Torres May 15, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    Im attracted to mysterious girls that are quiet in books because they tend to know the most secrets & make great spies. I don’t really have A character in mind but if they have the traits im looking for then they are my favorites. Thanks for the giveaway!

  6. Jess May 15, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    NOVA!!! 🙂 You rock darlin! XO

  7. Malvina Beatrice May 15, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

    Mysterious, this is my kind of story.

  8. Zara Alexis May 15, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

    I absolutely love the female characters in THE DOVEKEEPERS by Alice Hoffman! There’s enough “mystery’ in each of them since they come from dark and quiet pasts. If I were to choose only one character, though, it would be “Shirah” from the book. She’s powerful, passionate, and sensual with enough secrets to have an entirely different novel just written about her.

    I love Nova Ren Suma! I hope I win this since I’d LOVE a copy of Imaginary Girls! “Imagine” that!

    Thanks for hosting this giveaway.

  9. Madison S May 15, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

    Wow, I would absolutely LOVE to win a copy of Imaginary Girls! I love mysterious, intriguing characters in books, and some I found myself most drawn to are: Kiki from Kiki Strike, Jenny from The Forbidden Game, Lena from Beautiful Creatures, as well as Ridley from Beautiful Creatures, and Pippa in Rebel Angels.
    I think all the characters I’ve listed are absolutely amazing; they are enrapturing to read about, and so much fun to speculate about! I think mysterious characters make the novel/story/book all the more fun to read, and Imaginary Girls sounds great! It would be AMAZING to win, and best of luck to all who enter! Also, thanks for the fun contest and question. 🙂

  10. Stacy May 15, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

    Love mysterious characters – creates depth and makes me want to know more. Your books sound really interesting, too. As for mysterious characters, naturally I can’t think of one now, but I love the ones who make me wonder if they’re truly good or bad.

  11. Natasha May 15, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

    I have to say Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone kept me intrigued.

  12. Vivien May 15, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

    I really love mysterious characters. There are times when I continue a series solely based on the appearance of a specific character. They really know how to keep the tension alive!


    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  13. Star May 15, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    I love mysterious girls. In every story they seem strong, confident, and solid. They seem sure of themselves. Very stoic. Immobile. No life circumstance can deter them from the truth they hold and protect inside. The gall that they posess I hope to experience someday. To be a mysterious girl is the new ‘material girl’ haha

  14. Sophie May 15, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Ha, yes, I also thought immediately of Margo and Alaska!
    And I’m not sure she counts as “really mysterious”, but I found Emma from Miss Peregrine’s very intriguing.

    Thanks for the interview and giveaway 🙂

  15. Leslie Rose May 16, 2012 at 12:10 am #

    I had the privilege of hearing Nova speak in a panel at SCBWI-LA last year. Can’t wait to dig into Imaginary Girls – love that cover.

  16. Kristen Pelfrey May 16, 2012 at 2:47 am #

    Great topic.
    Nickie in Andrew Smith’s The Marbury Lens. She puts up with a lot. She loves. She knows a lot. How does she pull it all off?
    Alaska in John Green’s Looking for Alaska. Love her. Can’t stand her. Love her.
    All of the women in Sara Zarr’s How to Save a Life. Incredible.
    And hooray–BIG hooray–for Nova Ren, who rocks it.

  17. Marcy May 16, 2012 at 3:00 am #

    I’ve been compiling my own list of these, as I’ve been trying to write a mysterious girl, though I think it’s more than mystery that make these characters intriguing. Ruby, Mandarin, Margo, they are all powerful, attractive.

    Seductive is the word I really think works best.

    And I’ll have to add Jo Knowles’ Leah Greene from LESSONS FROM A DEAD GIRL.

  18. Jenna May 16, 2012 at 5:34 am #

    I know you mentioned Margo, but I am always drawn to Alaska Young from Looking for Alaska by John Green. There are so many unanswered questions, but there’s enough to feel empathy/sympathy for her.

    Movie wise, I’ve recently like Hanna. I felt like there was an air of mystery to her kickass-ness. Television wise, I go with Rivers from Firefly. There is something really intriguing about her brain that is never really explained, and she is just so fascinating.

    Anyway, thank you for the thought provoking post and interview. excited for the giveaway!

  19. Traci Kenworth May 16, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    Sounds fascinating.

  20. Tara May 16, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

    Ruby, of course! Briony from Chime kept me guessing. Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Spencer from Pretty Little Liars. Just starting The Virgin Suicides now and very intrigued by those girls..

  21. Katie O'Shea May 16, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    Very cool post! I still can’t get over all the mystery that is Ruby. 🙂

  22. Iffath May 16, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

    Fantastic guest post, thanks to both of you! I’d probably go with Margo from Paper Towns or Alaska from Looking for Alaska (go John Green!)–I love those girls <3

  23. madeline May 16, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

    This might be a cop-out, but Ruby is definitely my favorite mysterious girl 😉

  24. YA Book Queen May 16, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

    I have to agree about Bev from The Disenchantments – the mystery surrounding her character kept me hooked and wondering as I tried to piece together the reasons she might have for acting the way she did.

    I think Raven from Pandemonium (by Lauren Oliver) is one of my favorite mysterious girls. It’s been months since I read the book, and I’m still curious about her character!

  25. Lexie B. May 16, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

    As several previous commentors mentioned, I’m fascinated by both of John Green’s mystery girls–Margo, from Paper Towns, and Alaska, from Looking for Alaska. Part of what’s so fascinating about this pair is how similar they are in character and how differently they’re treated in their respective novels. The central focus of Paper Towns is the unraveling of Margo Roth Spiegelman, this larger-than-life girl, this girl who Quentin had placed on so high a pedestal. It focuses on brushing away the cloak of mystery, on realizing that she is, in the end, just a human; no more, no less. Whereas Alaska never really loses her mystery. Her mystery is carried to the grave. She will always be the crazy, beautiful girl who may have loved him and who may have killed herself.

  26. Carmen May 17, 2012 at 2:49 am #

    I love Karou from Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone. She’s completely mysterious. From beginning to end I couldn’t predict what she would do next! And who doesn’t love a girl with blue hair?

  27. Miss Jack Lewis Baillot May 17, 2012 at 3:18 am #

    I want to read all those books now! I love mysterious characters SO much! Sherlock, Tintin, the Doctor. Thanks for sharing! I’m going to have to look for your book now, it sounds very interesting.

  28. Christina Lee May 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

    LOVE this. *waves to Nova and Laura* (psst: Laura, just sent your book to my kindle). Nova, your Ruby left me wondering about her for *days* after reading the book.

  29. Alba @BookPics May 17, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

    ooooh there are so many mysterious girls in my reads…
    I personally am intrigued by a lot…
    Kaylee from the Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent…

  30. Christina Kit. May 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    I love a girl who knows what others don’t, but doesn’t feel like she can reveal much. For whatever reason – to protect herself, her family or to just fit in. I find the choice these girls face to balance their behavior with what each girl really thinks and feels very interesting. There’s a lot of character development with these kinds of girls.

    I love Alaska in Looking for Alaska by John Green, and Lena Duchannes in Beautiful Creatures by Garcia and Stohl.

    ccfioriole at gmail dot com


  31. jpetroroy May 17, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

    I love Alaska in Looking for Alaska.

  32. Karen Kincy May 17, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

    Another vote for Karou in Daughter of Smoke and Bone! Also, I loved Ruby in Imaginary Girls. 🙂

  33. JennyC May 18, 2012 at 12:40 am #

    I’m looking forward to this book! 🙂!/immabelieve/status/203283785922519041

  34. Reut May 22, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

    Alaska Young from Looking for Alaska – while she is the classic Manic Pixie Dream Girl, I’m a sucker for it. And I’ll go ahead and say Ruby too 😉

  35. Marc King August 18, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

    Oh my goodness!!! This is incredibly fascinating and indeed full of of excitement sort of bone tingling huh. You really did a great job Laura Pauling .Thanks for sharing this Nove ren Suma resources. Will definitely grab a copy and watch for latest books!


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