If you were a teen girl living in ancient times, your father owned you. When you got married (to the man your father chose for you) your husband owned you. They didn’t just own you, these men could kill you at will and nobody would say anything. As a female in ancient Rome, you had no rights whatsoever until you were widowed three times. After three dead husbands, you finally controlled your destiny.
There was only one way to escape the brutal patriarchy of the Roman legal system: be chosen as a Vestal Virgin. These select women were priestesses of Vestal, committed to virginity for thirty years, and said to have supernatural powers. It was rumored they could whisper prayers and make magic happen. But more importantly, they were in charge of their own legal rights. Vestal Virgins could own property, vote, testify in court, sign legal documents, and no husband or father could order their death.
When I created the world of GENESIS GIRL, I imagined what Vestal Virgins would look like in a futuristic, digital age.
In ancient Rome, Vestals Virgins were in charge of the sacred hearth, keeping a flame burning that would never burn out. They were also the guardians of secrets. Caesars and senators entrusted them with important documents and prized objects. Vestals were Roman superstars, and everyone knew who they were.
In GENESIS GIRL, Blanca and her Vestal brethren are still superstars. They guard secrets and maintain private archives. Blanca whispers blessings behind closed doors. In the inner sanctum of Tabula Rasa school the Vestals believe themselves to be a sacred fire that will not burn out.
But unlike the Vestal Virgins of Rome, Blanca has no power over her own destiny. She doesn’t have a vote in her own life. Her digital purity makes her powerful and important, but men control her.
In ancient Rome, Vestals had rights. In GENESIS GIRL, Vestals give their rights away.
Power, secrets, fame, and purity; are they worth it?
GENESIS GIRL comes out June 14, 2016.
Jennifer Bardsley writes the parenting column “I Brake for Moms” for The Everett Daily Herald. Her debut YA novel, “Genesis Girl” will be published by Month9Books on June 14, 2016, with the sequel releasing in 2017. “Genesis Girl” is about a teenager who has never been on the Internet. Jennifer however, is on the web all the time as “The YA Gal” with over 20,000 followers on Facebook, and 15,000 followers on Instagram. On Facebook, she hosts the weekly instant book club called #TakeALookTuesday where YA Gal friends geek out, share pictures of what they are reading, and chat about books. Jennifer is a member of SCBWI, The Sweet Sixteens debut author group, and is founder of Sixteen To Read. An alumna of Stanford University, Jennifer lives near Seattle, WA where she enjoys spending time with her family and her poodle, Merlin.