Say hello to Sparrow Jones, the nine year old leader of the Glory Brats. Sparrow lives in Garden City - a bright, idyllic, leafy place, where children can walk home safely from school, and hardly anyone gets sick. But then Sparrow's mum gets suddenly re-called to Central, war breaks out, and her dad goes missing from his job on the construction site. She and her little sister Tekla run away from the authorities, and accidentally get left behind when the city is evacuated. They meet up with another group of abandoned kids, and at first they have fun exploring the empty city. But the war catches up with them, and they need to take to the road to find a place of safety...
1. What is their secret desire?
Secretly, she wants to be a little kid again. She's fed up of being the leader but won't let anyone know because she feels that being in charge is the only thing she has left.
2. What is the best and brightest moment they experience during the story?
Just before the Glory Brats have to leave Garden City - they've got a massive bonfire, have raided the abandoned depot for the quarantined food, and everyone is wrapped up in blankets and eiderdowns, just sitting around talking and laughing, and picking at the remains of the food. Sparrow feels that they have all they need, and life is good, for the moment.
3. What are the emotional places your characters are afraid to go to?
Sparrow doesn't think about her mum or dad, and doesn't like it when her little sister Tekla talks about them.
4. Is there a place/city/room where they will never go? Why?
There's a strip of forest surrounding Garden City, and no one ever goes there. Ostensibly the trees were planted to improve the air quality, but urban legend says that there's a dark secret involving underground bunkers and skeletons. But that's just kids' tales, right?
5. If they were permanently leaving town, what would they easily throw out? What would they refuse to part with? (Why?)
She gets rid of all her 'trophies' collected from the abandoned apartments - toys, forks (she just likes forks, OK?), books. But she keeps her scrap book of all the identity photos, because it's her only way of remembering EVERYONE who got taken away.
6. What do they want (consciously and tangibly)?
She wants the Glory Brats to stick together, so that they can get to a safe place where they can do whatever they want. More immediately, she wants medicine from the clinic in Exchange to make Tekla better. And she wants Kayzee to stop crying right now.
7. On the other hand: what do they need (on the emotional, subconscious level)?
A feeling of security. To be able to play, without having to worry about how to feed the others and look after them all the time.
8. If they could change one thing about themselves, what would it be?
When she was at school before the evacuation started, it would have been to change her status from Red to Green. Now she'd like to be bigger and older, so that people would give her more respect.
9. What is the most humiliating event of their life?
Life before the evacuation? When everyone else in her class got their green badges presented after their second blood tests, but she had to stay in her seat in front of the whole school because her test came back positive for infection. As a Glory Brat - when they all get transferred to Central, and put in quarantine lock-down. All her clothes are burnt, and she has to wear a hospital tunic, and they cut her hair really short.
10. What things do they turn to when they need a bit of hope?
Sparrow doesn't really have hope, but she gets a kind of comfort from two things: Fire, and books. Two completely contrasting things - but Sparrow is made up of contradictions. Fire makes her feel warm, and safe, and powerful. She's the only one of the Glory Brats that is allowed to keep and use the fire-starter. Books - she's the only one of the Glory Brats who can read, so it's a power thing again, but also she's only ever come across factual books before, so she's fascinated by the idea of story books, and reads them whenever she feels the need to escape.