Martyn Bedford Twenty Questions for Gloria

ISBN 13: 9781406363531

Twenty Questions for Gloria

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9781406363531: Twenty Questions for Gloria
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At 15, Gloria longs for adventure, something beyond her ordinary suburban life. When a mysterious new boy strolls into school, bent on breaking all the rules, Gloria is ready to fall under his spell.
   Uman is funny, confident, and smart. He does what he wants without a care for what anyone thinks. The only people for him, he says, are the mad ones, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing but burn, burn, burn.
   He is everything Gloria wants to be. He can whisk her away and show her a more daring, more exciting life in which the only limits are the boundaries of her own boldness. But Uman is not all he seems. And by the time she learns the truth about him, she’s a long way from home . . . and the whole country wants to know: Where’s Gloria?
   For fans of Dreamland by Sarah Dessen, Stolen by Lucy Christopher, and the Mara Dyer books by Michelle Hodkin.

Praise for Twenty Questions for Gloria
“The witty banter . . . will appeal to teens who love books with quirky dialogue and zingy one-liners, which also provide a refreshing and authentic counterpoint to the darker themes that run through the story. . . . For fans of Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park.”—SLJ
 
“Bedford’s (Never Ending, 2014) skillful writing and unusual format will draw in teens who identify with the urge to cast off the mundane and find their place in the world.”—Booklist
 
“Dropping clues with absolute control over the novel’s trajectory, Bedford builds tension from the initial interview to the surprising final scene.”—Horn Book
 
“Feels like it should be a Sherlock Holmes style novel and I mean that in the best way possible because it has that allure and mystery, and yet still keeps it humble with its quirky characters, romance-on-the-side . . . it’s an amazing novel to read.”—The Guardian, UK

“A gripping tale . . . should definitely be on your reading list.”—Escapades of a Bookworm (UK)
 
“An outstanding novel which poses big questions while immersing the reader in a fast-moving narrative.”—The School Librarian (UK)

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About the Author:

Martyn Bedford’s first novel for young adults, Flip, won multiple awards in Britain and has been translated into eight languages. His second novel for young adults, Never Ending, was nominated for the Carnegie Medal. He has also written five novels for adults, including The Houdini Girl. A former journalist, he teaches creative writing at Leeds Trinity University. Martyn lives in West Yorkshire, England, with his wife and two daughters. Learn more about him at martynbedford.com.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Question 1:

 

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

 

 

Detective Inspector Katharine Ryan:

 

This interview is being audio- and video-recorded, with parental consent and the agreement of the interviewee. We are in interview suite one at Litchbury Police Station on the fourteenth of June. Time, 10:12 a.m. The interview is being conducted by myself, Detective Inspector Katharine Ryan, of the West Yorkshire Police Service. Also present, for the purposes of interview support of a juvenile, is the interviewee’s mother. Can you state your name, please?

 

Mrs. Elizabeth Ellis:

 

Oh, yes. Liz--I mean[clears throat], Mrs. Elizabeth Mary Ellis.

 

DI Ryan:

 

Thank you. I am interviewing . . . Could you please say your full name?

 

Gloria Ellis:

 

Gloria Jade Ellis.

 

DI Ryan:

 

That’s great. How old are you, Gloria?

 

Gloria:

 

Fifteen. Sixteen in October.

 

DI Ryan:

 

Are you happy for me to call you Gloria? Your mum calls you Lor, so--

 

Gloria:

 

Gloria is fine.

 

DI Ryan:

 

Right. Okay, as I’ve explained, Gloria, this is an interview, not an interrogation. You’re here of your own volition, your own free will, to--

 

Gloria:

 

I know what “volition” means.

 

DI Ryan:

 

I didn’t mean to be patronizing, I just want to make sure there are no misunderstandings about the nature of what we’re doing today. So, as I say, you’re here of your own volition to help us figure out what’s been happening. That’s all. Are we okay with that?

 

Gloria:

 

[nods]

 

DI Ryan:

 

For the recording, please.

 

Gloria:

 

Yes, I’m okay with that.

 

DI Ryan:

 

Excuse me. [presses intercom button] Are the levels okay, Mike?

 

Recording Technician:

 

[voice only] Yep.

 

Gloria:

 

The recording guy iscalled Mike?

 

DI Ryan:

 

How many times you been ribbed about that, Mike?

 

Recording Technician:

 

Eight hundred and sixty-three. That’s just this month. [laughter]

 

DI Ryan:

 

Believe it or not, we have a Sergeant Pete Sargent and a dog handler called David Barker.

 

Gloria:

 

You’re making that up.

 

DI Ryan:

 

10:15 a.m., interviewee accuses interviewing officer of lying. [laughter]

 

Okay, this is all good. So, Gloria, thank you for coming in this morning. You’ve been home less than twenty-four hours, and I imagine the last thing you want to do is sit here going over everything and answering a pile of questions. You too, Mrs. Ellis--I appreciate your cooperation.

 

Mrs. Ellis:

 

We just want to know what he--

 

DI Ryan:

 

It must be so good to have her back.

 

Mrs. Ellis:

 

It is. It is. [snuffles] Sorry, I promised myself I wouldn’t do this.

 

DI Ryan:

 

Take your time.

 

[to Gloria] How about you--glad to be back with your mum and dad?

 

Gloria:

 

[no response]

 

DI Ryan:

 

You certainly look a lot better for a decent night’s sleep, a shower, and a change of clothes.

 

Gloria:

 

Look, I know you have to be friendly, win my trust and all that, but d’you think we could--

 

DI Ryan:

 

Rapport, they call it. With someone your age, I’m supposed to ask what music you’re into, your favorite movie, your best subject at school. Your hobbies.

 

Gloria:

 

I make my own earrings. You want to talk about that?

 

Mrs. Ellis:

 

Lor, why are you being like this? She’s on our side.

 

DI Ryan:

 

No, Gloria’s right--we should cut the crap and get on with it. Get you out of here and back with your family as soon as possible.

 

Okay, let me just explain the process. In a moment I’m going to ask you to tell me all about the events of the past fifteen days. Take as long as you like. While you’re speaking, I won’t interrupt or ask questions unless I have to--just to make sure I’ve got things straight in my head. Okay? We’ll have regular breaks, of course. And you can call a time-out at any point. If you’re tired. Or if it all gets a bit too much.

 

Good. So, one last thing. I have to be clear that you appreciate how important it is for you to be totally honest with me today. Try to recall as much as you can, as accurately as you can, yeah?

 

Gloria:

 

The whole truth and nothing but the truth. [crosses her heart] So help me God.

 

DI Ryan:

 

I’m being serious.

 

Gloria:

 

Me too.

 

DI Ryan:

 

The thing is, people have been very worried about you. Your mum, your dad. All of us. A girl your agegoes missing for as long as you did--well, you can imagine what we thought. And we’re so pleased and relieved that you’re back with us. But if we’re to make sense of it all, I need you to take me through everything that happened to you while you were gone. Step by step.

 

Gloria:

 

He said you’d do this. Get me to play the victim.

 

DI Ryan:

 

No one’s getting you to . . . That’s not what we’re doing here, Gloria. We have fifteen days unaccounted for. Fifteen blanks. I can’t fill in those blanks without your help. That’s all.

 

Gloria:

 

[no response]

 

DI Ryan:

 

Do you think you can do that for me?

 

Gloria:

 

[no response]

 

DI Ryan:

 

Just . . . say it like it was. In your own time, in your own words. Yeah?

 

Gloria:

 

[shrugs]

 

DI Ryan:

 

Gloria?

 

Gloria:

 

[nods] Yeah.

 

DI Ryan:

 

Excellent. So. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

 

 

 

 

Question 2:

 

How can you disappear from yourself?

 

 

DI Ryan doesn’t look like a detective in her ripped jeans and sneakers and black short-sleeved Dorothy Perkins top. The outfit must be for my benefit, to put me at my ease. I read somewhere that when children give evidence in court the barristers and judge take off their wigs and gowns to appear less intimidating. The room’s playing its part, too. On TV, it’s always bare walls, hard seats, and a lightbulb behind wire mesh. This “interview suite” reminds me of a hotel lobby--a triangular coffee table, comfy purple chairs, a leafy plant in a tub, art prints on the wall, and a blue-tinted water dispenser that stands in a corner like an ice sculpture.

 

I’m so tired I could curl up and go to sleep. It’s going to take more than one night in my own bed to wipe out the last couple of weeks.

 

Imagine their expressions if I called a time-out now, before we’ve even begun.

 

For all her smiles, DI Ryan looks frazzled. Edgy. She wants to find him. Bring him in. But first she’s got me to deal with. She tells me to take as long as I need, but I can taste her impatience. Mum and Dad are the same. Not that they’ve been interrogating me since I got back--the police probably told them to lay off the questions. The questions are there, though, hanging unspoken in the air. Meantime, they make do with holding my hand, squeezing my shoulder, rubbing my back, kissing the top of my head, asking if I’m okay, if I want anything to eat or drink, if I’m warm enough/too warm, or telling me how good it is to have me home. That’s when they’re not staring at my fake-blond hair like they’re trying to figure out if I’m an impostor pretending to be their daughter. Or simply gazing at me the way I imagine they did when I was a baby.

 

During one of my naps I half woke to see them in the bedroom doorway, Dad’s arm around Mum’s shoulders, watching me.

 

I just want to be left alone.

 

I can’t say that to them. They were afraid I was gone forever. Then I turned up. It’s a miracle. I’m a miracle. And they can’t quite believe I won’t vanish again.

 

 

It’s funny, I never thought of myself as missing. How can you disappear from yourself?

 

 

I did make a start at explaining things yesterday, at home, once the police doctor had given DI Ryan the go-ahead to speak to me.

 

It wasn’t what they thought, I tried to tell her.

 

That didn’t get me very far. It hardly helped that I slurred like a drunk and couldn’t string two sentences together. I was exhausted, she decided. The interview could wait.

 

“We’ll try again tomorrow, when you’re fresher. Less confused.” DI Ryan sounded like a teacher who suspects a student of lying but is giving him another chance to tell the truth.

 

I was in bed by the time Dad showed her out. I overheard him ask if she thought I was in posttraumatic shock.

 

“It’s possible,” came her muffled answer. Then something I didn’t catch.

 

“Did the doctor . . . examine her?” Dad said. “You know, properly?”

 

I thought I’d missed DI Ryan’s reply, but she must’ve just taken her time answering. “No,” she said. “I can’t authorize that until we know whether the boy did anything.”

 

“You’re not seriously telling me you think he didn’t?”

 

“Mr. Ellis, I’m saying we need to hear it from Gloria.”

 

Then the front door opened and the hallway echoed with the clamor of the reporters, photographers, andcamera crews behind the barrier across the street from our house.

 

I nuzzled down under the duvet, shut my eyes, and imagined myself somewhere else.

 

Apparently, while I was away, I’d gone viral at #wheresgloria.

 

Yesterday evening I was watching the TV news--a reporter doing a live report from outside our house, talking about me. If I’d gone over to the window and pulled back the curtain, I could have waved to myself. It’s weird and a bit scary to think of so many people missing me, worrying about me, looking for me. When my parents showed me some of the stuff online and in the newspapers, it was as if I was reading about someone else. Some other Gloria.

 

But that’s me, now. That’s become my story.

 

Only, “Where’s Gloria?” has become “Where was Gloria?” And “What did he do to Gloria?” And “Where’s the boy who took Gloria?”

 

 

Where is he? It’s all I can think about. Every minute since it ended.

 

 

DI Ryan wants to hear it from the beginning. The first of the fifteen days, I presume she means; the day I went missing. It started a couple of weeks before then, though.

 

It started with an appearance, not a disappearance.

 

 

It was a regular Monday morning at school and the tutor room was lively, start-of-the-week blues drowned out by the chatter of what-did-you-do-at-the-weekend? Mr. Brunt hadjust taken the attendance. The windows were open, letting in the drone of alawn mower from the school field and the scent of cut grass. It had set offTierney’s hay fever. Even with red eyes and a snotty nose, she’s pretty. Like a grief-stricken princess. She sneezed three times, all over our desk.

 

“Thank you for sharing those with us, Tierney,” Mr. Brunt said. “If you have any more lined up, please turn around--the chaps in the back row missed out that time.”

 

I’d like to say there was a sign, an omen--sunlight bathing the room in a strange aura, a blue butterfly fluttering in through the window and settling on my sleeve--but there was nothing like that. I don’t recall what I was thinking about (forgotten homework, probably, or whether Mum had signed my planner), or my mood (switched off, I expect; wishing away the day, the week), but it seems bizarre that those moments weren’t electrified with anticipation.

 

Mr. Brunt clapped his hands, as he always does ahead of class announcements. As usual, he followed the clap with, “Right then, Ten-GB, listen up.”

 

The whole time he’s been our form tutor, Mr. Brunt has worn nothing but variations of brown (suits, ties, shoes, socks, the occasional sweater). Even his white shirts have turned beige. He must have been teaching since the days when desks had inkwells.

 

He barely got started on his announcements that morning.

 

The door opened just then and a boy let himself into the room. Tall and gangly-thin, with very black,very fine, very straight hair down to his shoulders. Dusky, in a Mediterranean-meets-the-Indian-subcontinent kind of way. But for his height, his boy-sized nose, and the scruffy stubble on his chin and upper lip, he might have passed for a girl. It wasn’t just the long hair; there was something feminine in his manner and the way he moved. A kind of grace. His school uniform was way too small for him, exposing two stripes of hairy shin and apair of knobbly wrists encircled in numerous multicolored bangles.

 

He hadn’t knocked before coming in. Mr. Brunt wouldn’t like that.

 

“Who’s he?” Tierney whispered, through hay-feverish nostrils.

 

Not a wow-he’s-cute “Who’s he?” but more of a “Who’s this freak?”

 

One or two people sniggered.

 

He was tall enough to be year twelve or thirteen, but he wouldn’t have been in uniform if that was the case. I didn’t recognize him, anyway, and I’m sure I’d have remembered him if I’d seen him around school. The guy showed no trace of self-consciousness. Headheld high, he surveyed the room with an easy confidence.

 

“Shall we try that again, young man?” Mr. Brunt said.

 

I thought he was going to ignore the question. At last, with a half smile, he turned to the tutor. “Try what again, sir?”

 

Posh-spoken, polite. If he had any idea what he’d done wrong, he didn’t show it.

 

Mr. Brunt was a few centimeters shorter and seemed displeased by having to look up at him, as if the boy was to blame for it. The teacher pointed. “The door.”

 

The new arrival looked genuinely perplexed. “What about it?”

 

“I’d like you to knock on it before entering my tutor room.”

&...

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Book Description Walker Books Ltd, United Kingdom, 2016. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Two go missing. One comes back.Gloria is tired of her ordinary life. She barely recognizes the free-spirited girl she used to be in the unadventurous teenager she has become. So when a mysterious boy bent on breaking the rules strolls into her classroom, Gloria is ready to fall under his spell. Uman is funny, confident and smart. He does whatever he likes and doesn t care what anyone thinks of him. The only people for him are the mad ones, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing but burn, burn, burn. He is everything Gloria wishes to be. He can whisk her away from the life she loathes and show her a more daring, more exciting one, in which the only limits are the boundaries of her own boldness. But Uman in not all he seems and by the time she learns the truth about him, she is a long way from home and everyone wants to know, Where s Gloria?. Seller Inventory # AA99781406363531

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Book Description Walker Books Ltd, United Kingdom, 2016. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Two go missing. One comes back.Gloria is tired of her ordinary life. She barely recognizes the free-spirited girl she used to be in the unadventurous teenager she has become. So when a mysterious boy bent on breaking the rules strolls into her classroom, Gloria is ready to fall under his spell. Uman is funny, confident and smart. He does whatever he likes and doesn t care what anyone thinks of him. The only people for him are the mad ones, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing but burn, burn, burn. He is everything Gloria wishes to be. He can whisk her away from the life she loathes and show her a more daring, more exciting one, in which the only limits are the boundaries of her own boldness. But Uman in not all he seems and by the time she learns the truth about him, she is a long way from home and everyone wants to know, Where s Gloria?. Seller Inventory # AA99781406363531

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