The Gripped Characters: Q&A with Bella Gill on “Smoke & Mirrors”

| Written by Bella Gill, Pembroke, Massachusetts |

Meet Bella Gill

Bella is a junior at Pembroke High School in Pembroke, Massachusetts.  She is a midfielder for the South Shore Select 2006 Girls Academy Soccer Team and is headed to the National Finals in St. Louis this summer.  She is also a midfielder for the Pembroke High School Girls Varsity soccer team.  Additionally, Bella is the vice-president of her class, a member of the Pembroke High School Yearbook staff and assistant coaches a U10 girls soccer team. Bella enjoys traveling with her family and friends, skiing, reading, babysitting, and working in the local office of a gastroenterologist. Bella’s favorite subjects include English, History, and Model UN.  She hopes to study abroad in Europe in college. 

I think Luke has truly grown as a character and has begun to have some positive intentions, outgrowing his drug dealer phase. He seems to be more cautious and caring about his decisions and how they affect those around him. His future seems brighter than I once thought it would be. 

I have grown to love Jordan, when in previous books I did not think of him as a positive character. His morals have seemed to change, and I like how much he cares about his family and his future. His transformation from ladies man and party boy to the kind brother he is now was very exciting to read. 

I have begun to feel sort of bad for Taylor, because although he got himself into this entire drug dealing and drug abuse series of his life, it seems as if he is trying to rekindle his relationships and escape from this part of his life. He has become more aware about how he has impacted his family and friends, and wants to go back to who he was before his downward spiral. Although this is going to be overwhelmingly difficult, if Taylor continues to make the right decisions I believe he can become the person he aspires to be. 

It is hard for me to form an opinion on Jason, because although he seems to have good intentions, he seems to always make the wrong decision, and therefore hurt someone else in the process. He is easily persuaded by his peers to drink or abuse drugs, and this makes him a harmful character in my mind. 

My opinions on Cathy are extremely mixed, when in the beginning books she was one of my favorite characters. Her recent behavior and occasional relationship with drugs has made me less fond of her. Although she has previously ignored her religious morals, I think her separation from Jason will help her find her old self again, especially with Marc by her side. 


Now being adapted for TV by Emmy-winning producer Mark Blutman!

After spending her first month of high school grounded, Cathy Kagelli is finally allowed to socialize and uncover what her boyfriend, Jason Davids, has been up to without her. When Cathy realizes Jason has been experimenting with a variety of drugs, she devises a plan to save him from himself… but she just may lose herself in the process.

Meanwhile Taylor Dunkin finds himself playing a game with even higher stakes because his life, his reputation, and the safety of everyone he loves are all on the line. Taylor’s two younger brothers, Jordan and Marc, have been at odds for years, but they are brought together to decipher the mysterious clues Taylor is leaving regarding his whereabouts. As secrets are revealed, the Dunkin boys’ relationships will be changed forever.

In Taylor’s weakest moment, he made a deal with the devil, and now there is a reckoning. But who will pay the price?

Published by Author Stacy A. Padula

Stacy Padula has spent the last 14 years working daily with teenagers as a college counselor, mentor, and life coach. She was named "Top Inspirational Author of the Year" for 2022 by the International Association of Top Professionals (New York, NY). In 2021, she was broadcast on the famous Reuters Building in Times Square as "Empowered Woman of the Year." Her Gripped book series is currently being adapted for TV by Emmy-winning producer Mark Blutman. She is the founder and CEO of Briley & Baxter Publications: a publishing company that donates a portion of its proceeds to animal rescues each month. She has edited and published a variety of titles, including Boston Bruins Anthem Singer Todd Angilly and Rachel Goguen's The Adventures of Owen & the Anthem Singer, LaTonya Pinkard of Netflix's Last Chance U's Nate & His Magic Lion, and former NHL player Norm Beaudin's memoir The Original: Living Life Through Hockey. Stacy resides in Plymouth, Massachusetts with her husband Tim and two miniature dachshunds, Briley and Baxter.