We are so excited to bring you this exclusive excerpt of Glimpsed by G.F. Miller! First, an exclusive Q&A with G.F. Miller herself!
Aurora: In the novel, there’s a magical element and talks about making dreams come true. If you were to have a fairy godmother come to you, what wishes would you have for her?
G.F. Miller: Man, this is a tough one. I’m going to assume that, like the characters in Glimpsed, my wishes would only apply to my personal life (so, no world peace option) and that I only get one wish. Actually, in Glimpsed, the wishes kind of make themselves—Charity glimpses what is supposed to happen and then she sets out to make it reality. She often seeks out her Cinderellas and tells them what their wish is—to their great surprise. But, in her defense, she does some great stuff. She reunites estranged parents and BFFs, gets the upstart the lead in the spring musical, orchestrates kisses from secret crushes and epic prom dates… She just doesn’t realize the fallout she might be causing along the way.
That said, I really hope that my own fairy godmother has figured out how to bring the magic minus the baggage.
Ideally, my fairy godmother could enable me to travel all kinds of places. (I love traveling and even secretly enjoy 23-hour flights to Asia where I can sit and read entire books with no guilt that I should be doing something else.) More likely, if my FG is as practical as Charity, she’d tell me that she glimpsed my house all clean and tidy and looking like a bookstagram post. Wait—hold the phone—is my fairy godmother Marie Kondo?! Please say yes.
Which character do you relate to the most in the novel and why?
Every character in Glimpsed has a little part of me woven in. I’m nerdy like Noah, and I stole so many things from my own family to create his. At one point they’re playing Catan and it’s getting really cut-throat; that is 100 percent lifted from my life experience. Like Charity, I’m overprotective of my people, and I want to fix things—especially injustice! Even the side characters—Gwen who never wants to put her e-book down, Carmen who’s worried about not being cool enough, and Sean who needs to let his light shine—are all me. But I got the most satisfaction from pouring all of my working mom guilt into the character of Charity’s mother. I took everything I’ve ever felt bad about—every work trip, evening Zoom call, and missed moment with my family—and Charity’s mom does it all 1000 percent more. She also works for a non-profit and has the same hairstyle as me. So, even though she is the absolute worst, I guess I have to admit that I really relate to Charity’s mom.
What inspired the “Glimpsed” story?
At one point in the book, Charity says, “I’m a fixer, not a hugger.” Ever since at least high school, that’s been me, too. I mean, I *do* enjoy a good hug. But seriously, if there’s a problem, I would very much like to fix it. It’s probably one of my most annoying characteristics. So it came pretty naturally to write a story about someone who felt it was legitimately her job to fix everybody’s stuff for them. Glimpsed was my “rebound book.” I had just finished writing something very deep and heavy, and I was exhausted from pouring myself into this difficult topic. So I said, “Okay, now I’m just going to make myself laugh.” I had so much fun writing Glimpsed. And I loved exploring—in a really whimsical way—the question of “What does it mean to truly help others? How do we engage with people who are struggling without imposing our own will on them or diminishing their dignity?”
Charity is a fairy godmother. She doesn’t wear a poofy dress or go around waving a wand, but she does make sure the deepest desires of the student population at Jack London High School come true. And she knows what they want even better than they do because she can glimpse their perfect futures.
But when Charity fulfills a glimpse that gets Vindhya crowned homecoming queen, it ends in disaster. Suddenly, every wish Charity has ever granted is called into question. Has she really been helping people? Where do these glimpses come from, anyway? What if she’s not getting the whole picture?
Making this existential crisis way worse is Noah—the adorkable and (in Charity’s opinion) diabolical ex of one of her past clients—who blames her for sabotaging his prom plans and claims her interventions are doing more harm than good. He demands that she stop granting wishes and help him get his girl back. At first, Charity has no choice but to play along. But soon, Noah becomes an unexpected ally in getting to the bottom of the glimpses. Before long, Charity dares to call him her friend…and even starts to wish he were something more. But can the fairy godmother ever get the happily ever after?
I almost drop the phone. That has got to be the creepiest text ever. Right?
I swipe the message off the screen, glancing around for stalker types. The courtyard—an enclosed brick box with no ceiling and about forty circular tables with attached benches—is a beehive of activity. Almost everyone is on their phone, at least tacitly. My eye is drawn to a knot of cheerleaders huddled around one phone, whispering what I can only imagine to be jealous rumors about yours truly. Then I notice Carmen’s homecoming suitor sitting with a couple of AV Club guys. He’s wearing a T-shirt that says live long and prosper, and he repeatedly opens and closes what could be—I’m not kidding you—a flip phone. Not too far from him there’s a highly suspicious Goth girl with black lipstick who looks away too quickly. Then my gaze lands on a fishy group of probable hackers who look like they haven’t showered in weeks. They’re snickering secretively.
It might be any of them. Or none of these people. I consider nudging them one at a time with a strong urge to fess up. I do some quick mental math and decide I would look like I was having a stroke if I tried to do that many nudges. So that’s not going to work. I decide I have no choice but to keep walking and blow this off.
Five steps, and the phone vibrates again. I look down almost against my will.
It says: Bibbidi bobbidi boo.
My first instinct is to make a run for it. My skin is crawling, and my leg muscles itch to engage evasive maneuvers. But that’s pointless. I can’t run away from my own phone. The creeper could be here, or a thousand miles away, or waiting on the other side of the door. I shiver.
But, you know, if I did panic-run out of the courtyard, I’d probably become a meme in ninety seconds flat. Plus I’d be faced with the JLHS version of the Spanish Inquisition. Who can afford that kind of bad PR?
So I do what I have to. I pocket the phone and walk—nay, strut—from the courtyard, as if all’s right with the world. I travel through the double doors, down the hall, past my next class, out another set of doors, and across the parking lot . . . all with perfectly measured strides and swaying hips to project carefree confidence.
When I get to my car, I lock the doors and cave in on myself, panting. My armpits are sticky with nervous sweat. I close my eyes and give in to the freak-out for a minute. Then I dig my phone out of my pocket. The message is still there on the home screen: Bibbidi bobbidi boo.
I swipe it away, wishing I could make the whole situation disappear that easily, and dial Memom.
“EH?” Memom yells into the phone. There is loud music playing on her end.
I yell, “Memom, it’s Charity.”
“Charity? You sound strange, honey. What’s wrong?” “I’ve been made.”
“You made it?”
“No! Jeez, Memom. I mean my cover’s blown. Somebody knows about me.”
There’s a pause. I wonder if she didn’t hear me and I’m going to have to say all that again. Suddenly the music clicks off, and she says quite seriously, “Oh. Mercy.”
There’s a long pause. I hear her talking to someone else in the room. After about four seconds, I huff, “Uh. Hello? Could use some sage advice right about now.”
“Charity, sweetie.” Memom has never sounded this serious. Ever. Her voice is low and secretive. “In 1998, a nosy little gossip found out about my side job. I was working at a diner in the cutest little town outside Chattanooga.”
Uh-oh, she’s detouring into Irrelevant Land. I steer her back on track. “What did you do?”
“The whole town turned on me and my clients. They called me a con artist in the town newspaper. Can you believe that? It got so bad, one of my Cindies lost his job. Another one’s wife left him, and he never saw his kids again.” There is panic in Memom’s voice now.
My throat is closing up. “So what did you DO?”
“I pulled your mom out of school midyear and hightailed it out of town. What else could I do?” She goes a little Granny Delta Force. “You’ve got to seal the leak. Now. Before it blows up.”
She doesn’t respond. She’s talking to someone else again. I yell, “Memom! You need to concentrate. I’m in crisis!”
“All right, all right. I’m here.” There’s a little pause. Then she offers, “Dig up some dirt on her—mutually assured destruction. Real old-school Cold War stuff.”
“Seriously?” I bite my lip. I can hear someone talking in the background again. “Memom? What the heck is going on over there?” “Oh, Lonnie Stevens next door flashed me this morning— shows me her wedding to John Tramond in 14C.” There’s a dramatic pause, then Memom says, “She’s eighty-six, Charity. And
I have to get her hitched before she croaks. That’s my crisis.”
I groan in self-pity. Selfish Lonnie Stevens. “But, Memom! I need you!”
“I have complete faith in you. I know you’ll handle it. Like I said, get ahold of her dirt. Or do her a favor so she owes you. Or move to Toledo and change your name.”
“You’re right. Move to Portland. Take me with you.”
“I’m not moving.”
“Okay. I’m giving Lonnie a dance lesson. I gotta go, sweetie. Call me with an update tomorrow.” Just before she ends the call, I hear the opening riff to Bon Jovi’s “Bad Medicine.”
A momentary smile sneaks past my agitation. Even though Memom was less than helpful, the mental picture of eighty-six- year-olds finding their OTP is exactly what I needed to calm my hysterical reaction to the skeezy texts.
Anyway. Problem number one with following Memom’s advice is that I don’t know who I need to dig dirt on. Problem number two is that I seriously don’t have time for this right now. I have trig this afternoon, Poms practice after school, Vindhya’s salon appointment, and a meet-cute to plan. I heave a sigh.
First things first. I stare at my phone for a long time, composing the text. I really—like so bad—want to say, I will have you arrested, you creepy POS. But no, I’ve got to play it cool. Reel them in. Finally I tap in: You know who I am, but who are you?
I send it, then drum on the steering wheel impatiently, waiting for the reply. When it hasn’t arrived twelve seconds later, I pull up a list of the top-ten high schools in Portland. I’m scrolling through the photo tour of Oceanview Academy when the incoming text pops up: I’m Captain America. I don’t like bullies.
What in the Marvel Universe is that supposed to mean? Stalker is delusional. I send back: What do you want?
The answer comes more quickly this time: No more wand waving. Further instructions to come.
I chuck the phone onto the passenger seat and crank up some electro house on my stereo until the car windows rattle. I close my eyes and try to lose myself in the beat. It doesn’t work. There are too many questions swirling around my brain. How much does this piece of human flotsam know about me? Where are they getting their intel? Why do they have it out for me anyway? I grab the phone again and type: And if I don’t feel like playing your game?
Three and a half agonizing minutes later, I read: This goes public: Carmen Castillo, Holly Butterman, Sean Slater, Teresa Saint Clair, Olivia Chang, Sara O’Rourke.
It’s everybody. Every single Cindy since freshman year. This deluded cyberstalker would out six people—submarine six lives . . . seven, if you count mine. At the very least I’d get major side-eye. But it’s the Cindies who would really suffer. They’d be rejected as fakes and poseurs. I tell myself I’m overreacting. I run through the list with best-case scenarios. Carmen has no chance, obviously. Her transformation is too fresh and fragile. Holly is dating JLHS’s star cornerback. He’ll for sure drop her like she’s hot. Sean might be popular enough to withstand the backlash, but what if he’s not? I cannot watch him be tormented and bullied all over again. Teresa, Olivia, Sara . . . They’ll lose everything.
How could anyone be so horrible? Why attack innocent Cindies? I can’t, I cannot, let this psycho destroy their Happily Ever Afters. Blinking back tears, I write: Why are you doing this?
My finger hovers over send. But as I stare at the words I’ve written, indignation rises inside me and ferments into resolve. Fairy godmothers don’t whine. We don’t beg for mercy like little wusses. Fairy godmothers take charge. We take the steaming crap other people don’t know what to do with and turn it into freaking flower gardens. And above all, we take care of our Cindies.
I delete the wuss-out message and send: I think we should meet.
The incoming buzz is instant: Soon.
About the Author:
G.F. Miller absolutely insists on a happy ending. Everything else is negotiable. Her wish is to go everywhere—and when a plane ticket isn’t available, books fill the gaps. She cries at all the wrong times. She makes faces at herself in the mirror. She believes in the Oxford comma. And she’s always here for a dance party.