Vodnik is Bryce’s first novel with Tu Books, a YA and middle grade imprint with a focus on fantasy novels with ethnically diverse characters, specifically people of color. In Vodnik, Tomas, a teenager of Roma heritage, explores Slovakia and encounters dangerous creatures from Slovak myth and legend. I have to say I love this book. And that t-shirt on the cover? One of those could be yours.
So, Bryce. Tell us about Vodnik.
Teacups: great for tea. Really sucky as
elbow room, and the internet connection is notoriously slow. Plus,
they’re a real pain in the butt to get out of, especially when you’ve
When Tomas was six, someone–something–tried to drown him. And burn
him to a crisp. Tomas survived, but whatever was trying to kill him
freaked out his parents enough to convince them to move from Slovakia
to the United States.
Now sixteen-year-old Tomas and his family are back in Slovakia, and
that something still lurks somewhere. Nearby. Ready to drown him again
and imprison his soul in a teacup.
Then there’s the fire víla, the water ghost, the pitchfork-happy city
folk, and Death herself who are all after him.
All this sounds a bit comical, unless the one haunted by water ghosts
and fire vílas or doing time in a cramped, internet-deprived teacup
If Tomas wants to survive, he’ll have to embrace the meaning behind
the Slovak proverb, So smrťou ešte nik zmluvu neurobil. With Death,
nobody makes a pact.
Now, let’s say you’re a fugitive. You’ve skipped bail, and a bounty hunter is looking for you. What
three things do you bring with you?
My Leatherman (I don’t leave home without it. Ever.), my car keys (you
need to have wheels if you’re going to get anywhere in this country),
and my wallet (to get as much cash as I can as quickly as I can–and
then ditch the credit cards right after).
Where does the bounty hunter find you?
He finds me? That’s disappointing. But assuming he does, I’m probably
holed up in a hotel somewhere, watching movies while I wait for the
hunt to die down. Probably crime movies: Snatch, The Transporter,
Oceans Eleven. That kind of thing.
Now you’re the bounty hunter. When three things do you bring with you
while tracking your skip?
My Leatherman (see answer above), my car keys, and my iPad (because
I’ll need to be doing a lot of research on the fly to find this guy or
girl, I’d imagine. Then again, I’m a librarian in real life–research
is really important to me.)
Through your diligent research, you’ve found your skip, right where you thought they would be.
Describe your location and approach.
It’s in the middle of a busy train station, and she’s about to leave
again–but I’m one step ahead of her at last. I know which train she
has tickets for, and I got to the station before her, getting
everything set up just right. I pull the fire alarm to cause more
confusion, then, herd her into my trap: a taxi driver I’ve paid off
ahead of time to take her to a prearranged location. My plan threatens
to fall apart a few times, but I manage to improv things together into
a happy ending.
You’ve just caught a skip, and you’re surprised to find them
attractive. What three things make them irresistible to you?
Spunky attitude (everybody loves spunk), her justification for
committing the crime she’s accused of (she’s really innocent, of
course), and the fact that she laughs at my humor.
Anything else you’d like to tell us?
I’d be a terrible bounty hunter in real life. I probably would never
get within the same county. Sad, but true. As for trying to evade the
law . . . I just hope I never have to.
Aww, I’m sure those librarian superpowers would get you farther than that.