In Gina Damico’s newest novel, Wax, which goes on sale next week, a teenage girl stumbles into a secret workshop at the infamous Grosholtz Candle Factory. There, beneath the suffocating scent of Americana, she discovers a collection of wax sculptures that seem just a little too life-like—a suspicion that is later confirmed when one jumps naked and screaming out of the trunk of her car and into her life.
Wax is the perfect YA novel for these hot summer days that have us feel like we’re melting! We sat down with Gina and asked her a few questions about thebook .
Read on for Gina Damico’s Q&A, and click here to start reading!
Wax is partially inspired by your own visit to a famous candle factory. Can you tell us about that?
A couple of summers ago, my husband and I were looking to buy a house in a location that was relatively new to us, so one weekend we decided to go on a lazy drive around the area. We passed charming village after charming village, lots of rolling hills and a few ”mountains,” a lovely river, and—wait, what’s that giant parking lot for? And why is it full of tour buses? What is this massive attraction out in the middle of nowhere?
That massive attraction was the flagship store of a major candle brand (you can probably guess the one). It is a crazy fever dream of a retail concept, complete with a make-your-own-candle section, an animatronic show for the kids, more candles than you can imagine, a Christmas tree forest in a room that actually snows, and a year-round Santa Claus stationed in his very own workshop, ready to take your toy requests in the dead of July. How could I not write a book inspired by this place?
The main character, Poppy, is a performer. How did your theater background help you write this book?
Poppys obsession is, let’s face it, my own obsession. When I was five, my parents made the grave mistake of taking me to see a local production of Annie and then made the even graver mistake of purchasing the soundtrack for me, a cassette tape that I wore out to the point of disintegration. But that was okay, because by then I was staging fully realized productions in the backyard, choreographing dances in and around my swing set, and stubbornly putting out lawn chairs and demanding that my parents sit there and watch and applaud the monster that they’d created.
I’ve been doing theater ever since, and Poppy’s nerdiness was so naturally easy to write because all I had to do was pull from my own theater-crazed brain. A lot of the musicals mentioned in Wax are shows that I have either been in myself or dearly loved for years—with the exception of The Sound of Music, the source of Poppy’s downfall. I hate The Sound of Music. So Poppy does too.
Was it a challenge for you to envision the world through the eyes of a wax boy who comes to life?
Poor Dud has been plopped into this world without the benefit of a childhood or any sort of context to human life whatsoever, so imagining the steepness of his learning curve was tricky, to say the least. I had to envision what it would be like to not know how to talk, not know what clothes are, not know what pain is. Concepts that are second nature to us—danger and loss and the potential for people to do harm—are scary things to deal with even when you’ve grown up learning what they are, so the idea of having them suddenly be thrust upon you is overwhelming. But there’s a flip side to that too. Seeing the world for the first time—there’s a lot of wonder there, and gratitude and appreciation for how amazing life on earth really is.
If you could have your own wax museum, who would be in it?
This should come as no surprise to readers of the Croak trilogy, but I would fully stock my wax museum with famous historical figures, because the photo opportunities are too good to pass up. Fist-bumping Abraham Lincoln. Playing hide-and-seek with Amelia Earhart. Teasing Einstein’s hair. I mean, I’ve already done all of this at Madame Tussaud’s, but if it were my own museum, at least it wouldn’t end in a call to security.
Where will your next book take us?
To space! My next book, Waste of Space, is about an off-the-wall television network that produces a reality show wherein ten teenagers are selected to be stuffed into a rocket ship and thrown out into space. Find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting intergalactic!
Thanks so much, Gina!