From Stacey Wallace Benefiel, the author of the Zellie Wells trilogy, comes a new NA trilogy set in the Society world.
*The Penny Black trilogy is a companion to the Zellie Wells trilogy and not a continuation of the series. (PBT is set 18 years in the future with a new cast of characters.)
*Due to language and sexuality, FOUND is recommended for older teens (Most of the
characters are out of high school and preparing for college.)
Penny Black Book 1
by Stacey Wallace Benefiel
Penny Black hasn’t had it easy. Just about everything you’d expect to happen to a harassed foster-kid turned junkie has happened to Penny. Add in the mysterious power to rewind time, conducting events around her, and it’s a wonder she held up on the streets for so many years. Now, at seventeen, the New Society has found her. Finally, Penny is where she belongs. But that doesn’t stop the visions, or the need to protect the victims shown to her.
Wyatt Adams is excited and intrigued when his sister Melody assigns him to be Penny’s Lookout. Being the youngest, and hopelessly ordinary in the family that created the New Society, has left Wyatt feeling like he has a lot to prove -- and Penny is a big deal. She’s got abilities that surpass any he’s seen before…and pretty much every quality he looks for in a girlfriend, but no one needs to know about that, especially Penny.
Ben Fontenot fits his Ret-tech onto his head, flips the microscreen down in front of his right eye, and continues cramming all of his and Christopher’s belongings into their suitcases. “Zellie Adams,” he says in a clear and clipped manner. He has two Zellies and a few Adams’ listed in his contacts and half the time his Ret either techs his daughter Zellie or adult Zellie’s husband, Avery. It makes him wonder why he ever got rid of his iPhone 23.
He is bent over, looking under the bed for his shoes – another thing he wonders about, after all of his years spent on the road, is why does he always misplace his shoes in motel rooms? --when Zellie answers.
“Beeeeeen. It’s early.”
He smiles as her image appears before his eye. Is that a pillow behind her head? She hasn’t even bothered to get out of bed. “Hey Doc,” he says, his smile growing wider. She rolls her eyes at him. Zellie hates it when he calls her Doc. He can’t help it. He’s excited. “You might want to sit up for this, I have some news.”
Zellie rocks back and forth, her long red hair working itself into a rat’s nest against the pillow. She is either trying to roll onto her side or fall out of bed…Ben isn’t sure which.
Finally, she says, “Avery, help me.”
Ben hears Avery chuckle and then sees him come into view above Zellie. He’s doing a crappy job of hiding his amusement over his pregnant wife’s predicament.
Zellie swats him on the arm. “Knock it off and help me up. It’s all your fault I’m ginormous, asshat.”
“Can you believe people come to her for advice?” Avery jokes to Ben as his face gets really close to Zellie’s, and then they are moving backward. “There, all better.”
Ben locates his shoes and sits on the bed, slipping his special edition hemp-fiber Chucks on. When he is sure that he has Zellie’s full attention, he takes a deep breath and says, “We’ve found her.”
“Penny Black? In DC?” Zellie asks, her voice going up an octave with each question.
“Yup.” Ben nods enthusiastically. He rights his Ret-tech. “Lookout Command sent us new video a few hours ago.” Ben moves his eyes across the microscreen, focuses on the video icon in the top left corner and blinks once, bringing up the latest clip for Zellie. “You’re not the only one who got a 5:00 a.m. wake up call.”
He waits while Zellie watches the clip of seventeen-year-old Penny Black, a Retroact who has managed to elude capture for the past seven years, as she pauses time and rewinds a twelve-car pile-up on Interstate 66 in Virginia.
Ben shakes his head, in awe. “She collapsed after that display of badassed-ness, which is consistent with all the intel Melody’s gathered. The Highway Patrol picked Penny up off the side of the road an hour later. They were completely unaware of what she’d done and how many lives she’d saved. The cops delivered her to a juvenile detention center twenty miles from here. Christopher’s on his way now to work his mind mojo.”
“Wow,” Zellie says. “She’s just…amazing. I don’t know how she’s made it this far on her own, Lookout-free, maybe not even knowing what she is. You and Christopher will be on a plane with her in the next couple hours, I assume?”
“Our flight for Cali leaves at eleven DC time. I can’t believe we found her right before the term begins. The Universe seems to be goosing me again.”
“You love it,” Zellie teases. “All right…” Ben can practically hear the gears in her shrink mind click into overdrive. “I’ll meet you at the Society School for an intake at three. We can put off the full psych eval for a few days.”
Ben grins, blinking to close the video and send it to its folder. “Hers or mine?”
Zellie snorts. “Dude, like you didn’t fail yours the second we met. I still love you, though.”
“Hey!” Avery says, from Zellie’s left. “Enough with the sweet nothings to Benji while you’re carrying my spawn.”
It’s Ben’s turn to snort. “Your spawn? Nice way to talk about your son, Adams. So, I guess that makes Zel some kind of reptile?”
“Seriously?” Zellie moans, her face moving toward a beaming Avery. She kisses him. “Boys, it’s been eighteen years. Get over it.”
Buy the Book
In celebration of Stacey Wallace Benefiel’s third Indieversary, FOUND (Penny Black #1) is only 99cents April 20-27!
Haven't read the Zellie Wells trilogy yet? Pick up all three novels together for $6.99 at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and iTunes. Or get the first novel, Glimpse, for FREE at all e-book retailers.
Interview with Stacey Wallace Benefiel
Q: In the description for FOUND, you write that the Penny Black trilogy is a companion to the Zellie Wells trilogy (Glimpse, Glimmer, Glow) and not a continuation of that series. Can you tell us why you decided to write another trilogy instead of Zellie Wells #4?
A: I ran out of “G” titles that were appealing. Gastroenteritis? Gangrene? Gluten-free? Ha. You know, I did consider writing a Zellie #4. I have all sorts of starts…that I won’t rule out as good material for bonus short stories. They’re all episodic and not enough to base an entire novel on.
I felt like I’d got Zellie through the worst of it. She’d gotten the guy and he was safe. Her relationship with her parents was moving in the right direction. Melody came into her own and wasn’t just her annoying little sister. Ben and Christopher were on their path to open the Society School. Zellie’s gifts had gone from being a burden to a blessing. She’d owned it.
And, I’m not going to lie, I wanted a fresh love story, a new location, and a more evil villain.
Q: Several characters from the ZWT make an appearance in FOUND, though?
A: Yes! The main characters in FOUND are Penny Black (basically the new Zellie) and Wyatt Adams (Zellie and Avery’s baby brother in the ZWT). The kids from the Zellie books are now the adults and the supporting characters in the Penny books. I had the best time writing about them as adults! Ben is still hot and a gigantic pain in the ass.
Q: FOUND is set eighteen years in the future. Was that challenging?
A: It was challenging in that I’m kind of a techno-phobe. I just started texting last fall. Seriously, it was too much for me. That’s why Zellie didn’t have a cell phone. :)
So, here I go and create a world where cars have autodrive and everyone walks around with micro computers strapped to their heads. It was especially interesting for me to write Phoebe. She’s the youngest of the group at 16 and therefore, the most savvy with tech. But, at the end of the day, I’m a writer. I looked at what was possible now and expanded on that. Hopefully, it comes off as plausible.
Q: You’ve also included some new slang in FOUND. How did that come about?
A: I wanted this new group of kids to have their own slang. Cool and OMG were done to death in the Zellie books (and the adults continue to say those things) so I looked to use words that meant the same thing, but were new. I looked to Spanish. It made sense to me that eighteen years in the future, people in the U.S. would speak spanglish even more than they do today.
Q: If you consider Penny to be the new Zellie, how are they alike and how are they different?
A: Penny’s life has been infinitely harder, obviously. She’s been abused and bounced around from foster home to foster home until she ran away to live on the streets. Penny’s more closed off, more skeptical, more afraid. But, she’s as funny as Zellie, as self-deprecating. Penny has no more of a chance against the draw of an Adams man than Zellie or Zellie’s mom, Grace, did.
Penny’s powers are not the same as Zellie’s, but they go through the same type of discovery. This is one aspect where Penny didn’t have to go it alone, while Zellie did. Penny has a whole school and group of peers to guide her.
Writing the scenes between Zellie and Penny was the best. I was really proud of Zel and the advice she gave. :)
Q: What’s next?
A: I’m in the plotting stage for FRAYED, the next Penny book, while I finish up working on CROSSING, my first Contemporary NA Romance that should be out within the next month or so. Definitely by summer!
About the Author
She sometimes goes by S.W. Benefiel, but knows she's not foolin' anybody.
Stacey lives in an orange house in Beaverton, OR with her poet husband and their two young children.
One winner will receive a signed Zellie Wells trilogy e-card. The e-card is the size of a credit card and has a scratch off code on the back. You visit Greenersidedigital.com, input the code, and can download the entire Zellie Wells trilogy in whatever e-book format you prefer.