How did you come up with Gilly Jung?

Gilly Jung is one of Underworld’s lead character and a major fan favorite. Of all Underworld’s cast, I most often get asked questions about her. I thought today I’d answer the most common: How did I come up with her?

If you haven’t read the book yet, don’t worry. This is spoiler-free…

Growing up in Pennsylvania

When I was young, we lived in the deep forests of Pennsylvania. Our house was small and red, and it sat on top of a hill with natural stone steps cut into the side for when the snow piled too high to drive, and the only way you could get up was by foot.

In the few years we lived there, I got to explore the surrounding forest only infrequently. I was young and my parents took turns as chef at the only restaurant for miles. Most of my time I spent reading.

On one of our rare trips into the woods, my adult and I trekked for what seemed like miles. The forest was so thick that even at mid-day it was dark. And the beams of sunlight were so rare, I took to counting, running through the woods at angles to find them. One, two, three, five, eight, thirteen…

After a long time lost in the beauty of nature and numbers, I found myself in a clearing just large enough for a fire pit and a few logs around the edges for sitting. I remember wondering if the entire area should count as the twenty-first beam of sunlight. Or if, because it was so big, it should count a hundred times instead. But when I turned to ask my adult, I realized that I was alone.

I panicked. What if I was lost in the woods forever? What would I eat? Where would I sleep? When would I find out what happened to those Boxcar Children this time?

And that’s when I saw her. The angel. A teenage girl with bleached blonde hair and blue eyes. She wore overalls that were cut high on her thighs, her pale golden skin glistened in the sunlight. All I wanted to do was touch her to see if she was as warm as she looked or as cool as the marble she was made from. From head to toe, she was beautiful.

“Are you lost?” the girl asked.

“Are you?”

She laughed.

I realized then that secret fire circle belonged to her. And the logs belonged to her friends. Older kids like her. Teenagers. All of whom must have been used to trekking through the woods at night to find that magic place where they could be together.

I felt young and silly.

“Do you wanna stay with me?” she asked.

The answer, of course, was yes. But before I had the chance to tell her, I heard my adult call for me from the woods.

“Mike!”

“Mike?” she asked. “Is that your name?”

But I knew I had to go.

I waved to the girl and ran. But sometimes I still wonder what her skin would have felt like had I touched her.