Determined to escape her failed pop career and focus on her classical training, Maude Laurent moves back to France and enrolls at the prestigious National Academy of Arts.
Between balls, charity events, concerts, and navigating in the French elite, Maude has to prove she’s cut out to become a professional opera singer in a world where pop music is regarded with disdain.
Though she fights it, her past catches up with her when she meets an English teacher who forces her to see a world beyond the safety of the Academy and takes her down an unusual musical journey where the risk is great and the reward uncertain. And when a chain of events bring her and Matt back in the same town, Maude will learn that music can bring people closer or tear them apart forever.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born in France, raised partly in the United States and in France, Anna Adams grew up loving stories in French and English.
Anna currently lives in Paris where she studies at la Sorbonne as a Law Student.
She's the author of the French Girl series for which she is writing the the third installment.
When she isn't writing, Anna likes to travel in Europe and dreams of going to Asia and Africa.
Prologue “I’ve decided to move back to France.” When she spoke the fatal words, silence filled the room, and Maude enjoyed the savory sense of satisfaction to its fullest. Her glass was half raised and half full with clear, icy, mineral water, transparent and brilliant as the truth. The glass slipped from her fingers, and as easily as crystal explodes in a million pieces, the shocked silence shattered and the reporters craved for every detail of the decision, details Maude refused to give. She grabbed a tissue and rubbed her dark pencil skirt furiously. She’d worn that precise skirt because she associated it with seriousness. Solemnity was required of her in the midst of a scandal. Her natural dark hair tied into a tight bun, very little makeup on her smooth chocolate skin. Just enough foundation to hide that she’d barely slept a wink the night before. She’d weighed the pros and the cons. But it all came down to one thing: her love for music. Her passion for classical music had helped her years ago when she lived in a basement in the north of France. In those days, she’d dreamed of becoming a concert pianist or an opera singer. Dreams, like nature, change over time. When she’d been discovered by James Baldwin almost two years ago and whisked off to New York, she’d fallen in love with pop music and her ambitions grew as did her love for music. She wanted to show the world that classical and pop could make a wonderful combination. This ambition had given birth to her first self-titled album. Success, praise, fame. All had ensued with impeccable timing.
How had her dreams turned into frightful nightmares? She’d lied, unwillingly to be sure, but the consequences had been disastrous. She’d lost her way. She thought about this as her uncle led her out of the crowded room, the sound of her heels muffled by the wool carpeting. His grip tightened around her elbow. Security guards surrounded her every side, but as they rushed outside to the dark sedan waiting for her, a crowd had gathered. Maude’s tenacious bodyguards contained a vocal, vociferating mob with difficulty. They held cardboard signs instead of pitchforks, yet their intentions weren’t so different from that of angry villagers in medieval times. The focus of public outrage may differ through time, but its force rarely alters. “Liar!” “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself? Faking a relationship just to sell more albums?” She might’ve argued she wasn’t the first to do so and probably wouldn’t be the last. Did it matter? She’d been caught, no one else had, and that remained the only difference. The origin of the leak remained a mystery although she had a pretty strong hunch it was Lindsey Linton, the blonde beauty who saw in Maude an unprecedented rival. “Duck!” yelled James. Too late, much too late. Splat!A ripe tomato landed in her dark mane and oozed down her neck, leaving a reddish trail of slime. Maude continued to advance to the car, swallowing repeatedly to push down her disgust. Her heart stopped when she noticed a girl, not much older than twelve, clutching her music album. Tears were streaming down her face as she squeezed the album against her chest, biting her lip with an unsettling fierceness. Incomprehension, disappointment, accusation. Her eyes were the accumulation of all the feelings Maude’s scandal had unleashed. The little girl’s expressive distress tormented Maude more than any of the cardboards or edibles thrown at her. She faltered at the car’s door, one
foot inside, one foot out, prompting a bodyguard to push her head inside, entangling her hair with the tomato further. His grip hurt, and she caught one last glimpse of the girl before he slammed the door in her face. A rotten banana hit the window. It was high time to go, and Maude was keener than ever to escape public fury. While the pop world no longer wanted her, the classical world greeted her with open arms. After her performance in Aida a couple of days ago, in which she’d played the devious Egyptian princess intent on thwarting the purest love of all time, her talent had been recognized by the National Academy of Arts, the most prestigious French music school based in the Parisian area. They wanted her. No paparazzi, no scandal, just music. Going back to her classical roots. So what if her dream of bringing classical to the pop world was to be ignored henceforth? The pop world didn’t want her. And as much as it hurt, as much as the crashing sales hurt and the dreadful names she was being called pained her (“a conniving little Frenchie”), she needed to step away from it all. To go back to a peaceful existence in France where no one had really heard of Maude Laurent anyway. Forget launching her international career. She would live in blissful anonymity. That was Maude’s plan. And she honestly hoped everything would go smoothly. ***
Julia’s sworn enemies are safely sequestered in a prison of the fey and her forever mate has been chosen. Not by blood, but by a circumstance shaped from coincidence. However, it’s not enough to save Julia and the others who came from Alaska their fate by the hand of the Alaska den, whose reacquisition has come alarmingly full-circle to capture them. Tharell of the fey aligns with the Singers, Were and remaining vampire to take back the one Queen who could stop the interspecies wars and establish a truce of genetics that would free all the groups from extinction and conflict. Can they rescue Julia and her allies before it’s too late? Will the Red Were’s lineage prove to be the catalyst of victory against a corrupt pack that’s grown too debauched by greed and power to be overcome?
Tamara Rose Blodgett, is the NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling author of A Terrible Love; written under her pen name Marata Eros. Tamara has more than thirty-five titles in multiple genres including Dark Fantasy, Dark Romance and Dark Erotica. Tamara lives in South Dakota with her husband, children and fur kids (dogs). She is an ardent reader of many genres. Tamara enjoys interacting with her readers via Twitter, blog and newsletter as often as possible. Please stop by either one and say hi :)
The Washington state border loomed in the distance. Armed by Canadian Mounties. The horses pitched around nervously, causing the men on their backs to tighten their grip on the reins.
The horses were not dumb. An alert as ancient as any had tweaked their internal alarms.
Julia watched her husband and the other two females move forward. All half-wolfen. This is what the horses sensed.
In a perfect world, they'd all be on horseback, and the horses' scent would mask the Were.
But the world was not perfect. They had upwards of fifteen Were trailing them by their fragrance. Eau de Body Odor, Julia thought with a thinly concealed snort. She figured they kept getting worse as they traveled. No baths, food where they could get it—sleep a luxury. It was a combo for smelly, grumpy and beat.
Jason glanced at her and she gave a tired smile back. When Julia had been taken, she'd been wearing cute but useless tennis shoes. The kind you buy for nearly free and walk to the mailbox in.
They were in tatters. Blisters covered every place she looked. They had been especially bad at the back of her ankle and alongside her toes.
Cyn had healed her from most of it, along with the broken ribs and dislocated shoulder, but the injuries kept returning. The Were changed and suddenly there were no problems—for them. They were in their element out here in the forest. Julia was a regular person who'd just walked fifteen miles on no sleep and inadequate footware.
Jason lumbered back to her position. She looked up into his face, almost seven feet of half-Were and sighed.
“I smell your wounds,” he said and she nodded.
“Likely—they're driving me crazy.”
She laughed out loud when he put his big paws on his hips, thinking about a solution to her shredded feet.
His red downy fur and spinning green eyes regarded her. “What?” he asked and it came out as a growl instead of a word. Julia was feeling the lack of sleep and it translated into giddiness. She so didn't need that, but the more she tried to stop laughing, the worse in became.
She was now the interpreter of wolf speak.
“What? Stop the noise please,” Slash said with more than a little irritation.
“I think she's tired,” Jason restated the obvious with a grin that looked like a grimace on features that were far from human....
Tires spinning, the car launched off in a lurching Superman dive.
Gravel, water from a swollen river below, and broken limbs showered in reverse as the car nose-dove into the shallowest part of the river below.
Tony waited, seconds sliding into a minute, and the gas tank cooperatively blew. Tony instinctively covered his face as it grew hot from the burning wreckage.
Fan-effing-tastic, he thought with satisfaction. Good old Doug was laughing to pieces down there in the trunk. Literally. Of course, the dead had no humor. It was too perfect.
He laughed at his cleverness and backed away from the inferno.
After about a quarter mile outside the immediate scent reach, he caught the one smell he'd been hunting before trashing the burning evidence.
And one in particular: Jacqueline.
The grin on his face reflected his satisfaction.
It fit him perfectly as he'd slipped his human skin to go to wolfen the instant his nose guided him into the thickest part of the woods where his prize lay hiding.
Tony ran, the small animals of the forest moving like water split by a ship's prow. They scampered as he tore through their habitat.
When he arrived where the Singers and demonic fought, he wore their small bodies to mid-shin.
If they did not move out of his way, he ran them into the ground.
It was this vision that filled Jacqueline's eyes when her gaze found him. He knew what she saw from the tenseness of her body.
Fucking weird, Tony thought. As he looked around at the Singers, he noticed they wore some kind of silver all over their skin.
He squinted, looking closer, and realized it was the blood coursing through their bodies.
“You never have to be without me, Laney, never.”He lied…my everything I ever knew, trusted, wanted…I am, in fact, without him. On my own and out of my shell, I learn new things about life, friendship and…myself. Like what you’ve always known may not be what you’ve always wanted. Dane Kendrick awakened things within me that I never knew existed, unraveling and uncovering the real Laney Jo Walker. I’m a NEW adult…so is my story.
S.E.Hall is the author of the Amazon Best Selling Evolve Series, Emerge, Embrace, Entangled(novella)and Entice as well as the best selling stand-alone NA Romance, Pretty Instinct. She also co-wrote Stirred Up, an erotic short-story with her CP and friend, Author Angela Graham and is honored to be a part of the USA Today and NYT Best Selling Devour box set. S.E., which stands for Stephanie Elaine, resides in Arkansas with her husband of 18 years and 3 beautiful daughters of the home, and one married daughter who graced her with two beautiful grandchildren. When not in the stands watching her ladies play softball, she enjoys reading and writing and the occasional trip to the casino. She's also clutch at Baggo, when it's warm outside, and definitely the woman to pick on your side for some Flip Cup!
What has been your best experience since the release of your book?
Ashley Poston: Definitely all the support on Twitter and Facebook! I never thought I’d have so many people out of the blue just tweeting me to tell me how much they loved my story! It means a lot to me. I think every author has one story that’s their “baby” and mine is The Sound of Us. While it’s a very funny, very light-hearted YA/NA crossover (think Fangirl), its tackles some heavy-hitting stuff that’s pretty personal to me. And it’s surreal and wonderful and thrilling to read how much other people enjoyed it!
I loved seeing the face of my heroine Sharra on the beautiful cover. She is just as I imagined her.
Cat Kalen: I am thrilled with reader response. I heard from students who were using my book for their school reports and it thrilled me. Christine Duval: Really it is more than one moment. It is all the times women have come up to me, written to me, tweeted to me about how Positively Mine reminded them of their own situations. Many are women who were teen moms or who found themselves unexpectedly pregnant in college. I am so moved that something I created has had meaning in another person’s life. Frankie Brown: Meeting so many wonderful people! The Sparkies are a wonderfully sweet, vivacious group, and the online YA book community is a ton of fun. Jen McConnel: Listening to the amazing audiobook for the first time! My narrator, Carolyn Bonnyman, has the perfect voice for the story, and I could listen to her all day long. It’s funny, too; when I was revising the sequel, I heard it in her voice. She’s become an integral part of my story, and I’m so glad! Jenny Kaczorowski: The moment my book popped up in my local library’s eMedia collection! More than any other publishing dream, I’ve always wanted to have something I wrote in libraries. I stumbled across it by accident and nearly screamed. Jenny Morris: Reading people’s reviews and knowing they totally got our story. It’s still crazy to me that a total stranger is reading something that I wrote and relating to it. Judith Tewes: My title isn’t out in the world yet (releases in July), but I’ve had a blast supporting my fellow Bloomsbury Spark authors as each new title has launched.
Kate Jarvik Birch:
It might sound a little sadistic, but hearing that my book has brought someone to tears is one of the best feelings EVER—it’s also pretty awesome to hear that I’ve made them yell and cheer, but for some reason the tears feel like the biggest payoff.
Kelley Lynn: Fans (Eep! I still can’t believe I have fans…haha) contacting me wanting to talk about the book. I actually had one twelve-year-old girl somehow get a hold of my phone number. She called me and in this really sweet, shaky voice, asked how she could get a signed copy of my book. It was just so flattering and is totally the reason I do this.
It’s an awesome feeling when you connect with readers. Especially when they’re in a country you’ve never been to!
Theresa DaLayne: Since my book doesn’t release until mid-August of this 2014, I probably haven’t had it yet. THE EDGE OF YOU is my new adult debut, and although Ron and Lilly’s story isn’t full of rainbows and gumdrops, it’s real. I think my favorite part about writing the story was reliving my years spent in Kodiak Island, Alaska, where I grew up. A few characters, like Lori for example, play a small but beautiful role, and are depictions of real people. It was an honor to incorporate part of my life into the story that will be shared with so many others.
What is the best thing about being part of Bloomsbury Spark?
Ashley Poston: Definitely the authors. We’re like one big family. I’m thankful and so very glad to have met every single one of them. They’re all so talented, and they’ve enriched my life more than they know!
Everyone has been so warm and welcoming.
Cat Kalen: The support from Meredith and all the authors. Everyone is so giving, helpful and wonderful, not to mention talented! Christine Duval: The enthusiasm of everyone involved with it! It has been so amazing watching Spark grow under Meredith’s guidance and I feel I’ve made a bunch of new friends on this journey. I love hearing about everyone’s successes and learning what’s coming next while watching our readership grow. Frankie Brown: Again: the people. Meredith is incredible, and everyone at Bloomsbury--from the social media team to the cover designers--is passionate about what they do. It's infectious. Jen McConnel: It’s so hard to pick one thing, but I’d have to say that the sense of community is amazing. The authors, the team at Bloomsbury, and our fearless leader, editor Meredith Rich, all come together to create a wonderful, enthusiastic literary family. Jenny Kaczorowski: The support! Meredith is an amazing editor, the cover artist for FALLING is amazing, and the other Spark authors are fantastic! Not only are we publishing siblings, but friends. I love having so many people with me on this journey! Jenny Morris: The Sparkie Family. Meredith connected all of us together and the other authors really are amazingly supportive, and the best cheerleaders. Judith Tewes: Bloomsbury Spark is in good hands with our editor, Meredith, and I love how she’s willing to take risks in her selections for this new YA / NA line. Spark titles (and authors) are ones to watch!
Kate Jarvik Birch:
Being part of the Spark family has introduced me to a tight knit group of fantastic writers, all of whom support and buoy one another. Plus, it’s given me a chance to read some pretty stellar books by my fellow authors.
Kelley Lynn: Can I say everything? Everyone on the Bloomsbury Spark team is so wonderful. Meredith, and her supporting cast are the best. And the other authors in this family are so talented and nice. It’s just such a wonderful community to be a part of.
I feel so lucky to be a part of this group of fantastic authors. So much support and so much fun. You really get to be a part of something special and make friends along the way!
Theresa DaLayne: My publishing career has had its peaks and valleys, but being a part of Bloomsbury Spark is most definitely a peak. My editor, Meredith, and the talented cover art department have worked hard to ensure I love the cover to my book. That’s something invaluable. And my fellow Sparkies are just about the best group of young adult and new adult authors I’ve had the honor of working with. With only six months under Spark’s belt, the future of our growing family is bright!
What are you working on now?
Ashley Poston: The sequels to THE SOUND OF US, actually! WE OWN THE NIGHT follows Ingrid, who hosts a late-night radio show to escape the reality of her small-town life, and finds herself drawn to a regular caller who is trying to escape his own life, too. It’s like Sleepless in Seattle if the main character was Rebel Wilson. YOU BURY ME is about two ex-best friends who find themselves on a road trip to complete a bucket list their late friend left behind. I’m really excited for both of them, and I hope you are, too! While they’re not direct sequels to Junie and Roman’s adventures in love, JuRo definitely make appearances (and maybe some other lovely secondary characters, too?)
I have stories I'm working on, but I don't tend to reveal anything until the time is right!
I’m working on Pride Unleashed and Pride’s Pursuit the follow up books to Pride’s Run. Christine Duval: The sequel to POSITIVELY MINE! The first draft is done, I am happy to say, and I am getting ready to send the detailed synopsis off to Bloomsbury! Frankie Brown: A lot of different things! Stay tuned... Jen McConnel: I’m shifting gears out of NA mode for awhile, and focusing on revising the second book in my YA fantasy series from Month9Books. It’s fun to flip flop between contemporary with a touch of paranormal and full-on fantasy, with witches and gods and goddesses popping up like whack-a-mole. GODS OF CHAOS, the sequel to DAUGHTER OF CHAOS, is due out next March...squee! There’s always another story to be told, and I can’t wait to see what comes next! Jenny Kaczorowski: I am working on two follow-ups to THE ART OF FALLING, set in the same high school but following different characters. THE TRICK TO LANDING is about Summer, a semi-pro skateboarder trying to build a new life after a DUI. After moving to Oceanside, she meets Bastian, a brilliant photographer fighting for a future beyond the bleeding disorder that defines his life. Their romance is messy and painful, but very sweet. THE RHYTHM OF BREATHING follows Abby, Bria’s best friend in FALLING. When she kisses Jackie, the drummer in a metal band, on New Year’s Eve, she expects it to be a one-time fling. Instead, she finds herself head over heals for a boy with a dark past, deep scars and exactly what she needs to confront her own issues. Jenny Morris: I am working on a story outline for a follow-up to ROAD TO SOMEWHERE. It follows Charlie to college and Lucy in her last few months of high school. Kelly Lynn and I are excited about the possibility of continuing the sisters’ story. I’m also working on another collaboration called REMEMBER. It’s Romeo and Juliette meets Total Recall. Judith Tewes: I’m gearing up for the release of MY SOON-TO-BE SEX LIFE, can’t wait for the blog tour madness to begin.
Kate Jarvik Birch:
What am I NOT working on now? I’m just finishing up co-writing a middle grade novel about unlikely friends navigating middle school while trying to discover whether magic is real. I’ve got another YA novel, PERFECTED, coming out July 1st from Entangled Teen and I’m busy writing the sequel, which is due out next year. I’ve got some picture book projects in the works and still need to find the time to write the screenplay I’ve been marinating for years. Phew, I’m exhausted just thinking about it!
Kelley Lynn: Jenny S. Morris and I are working on the sequel to ROAD TO SOMEWHERE. We just love being back in Charlie and Lucy’s world! I’m working on the final edits for another edition to the Bloomsbury Spark family, ONE WISH AWAY, which is a science fiction twist on the ‘when you wish upon a star’ theme. I’m also negotiating a contract for another YA Contemporary and my super duper agent, Jamie Bodnar Drowley, and I are putting the finishing touches on a YA Thriller so we can start submitting that soon. Busy, busy, busy ☺
I’m finishing up a project that has been a long time in the making. Imagine a protagonist who’s a little bit like Jo March but hears voices and is very, very angry. She’s viewed by many as odd and unfixable. In this character’s world the Archbishop teaches her to stay away from the lying peddlers of magic. This book is madness, magic, darkness, and lots of cool new magical weapons!
Theresa DaLayne: I’m working on a few projects at the moment. One is a new adult story about a nineteen-year-old California socialite with a kleptomaniac habit that gets her in big trouble. It started out as a fun, rich-girl-gets-forced-into-being-a-maid kind of story, but when my main character meets a kind-hearted guy with a humanitarian streak, her eyes are opened to a whole new world. That’s where the real life change happens, and I can’t wait to see where my agent puts it! I’m also working on the first of a new adult thriller series, tentatively titled, GLACIER PEAK. It’s totally different than anything I’ve ever written in the sense that most times, my heroine grows into her role as a leader. In this story, my main character struts into the story with a snarky attitude, the mouth of a sailor and a hair trigger temper. When her father goes missing, she sets out on an epic five-day hike through the wilderness to find him. And when she meets a guy covered in tats with a hidden agenda, the temperature in the tent goes from zero to smoldering. It’s all set in the rural mountains of Washington State, where the weather is unpredictable, the wild animals are hungry, and the romance is ice-melting.
Music major Maddie Taylor seems to have her life all figured out. She’s just finished her junior year of college, has a summer internship lined up with the LA Philharmonic, and plans to go to grad school to write movie scores. Only her roommates know she practices guitar every night and secretly dreams of a louder life. But geeky girls like her don't get to be rock stars.
Tattooed singer Jared Cross has a new girl every week, but when he catches Maddie playing one of his songs, she attracts his attention in an unexpected way. His band needs a fourth member for The Sound, a reality TV show competition—and he wants her. Though Maddie refuses to be another notch on Jared’s bedpost, she agrees to risk everything for the chance to be a rock star.
Once on the show, Maddie discovers there’s more to Jared behind his flirty smile, and with each performance their attraction becomes impossible to ignore. When the show pressures Jared to flaunt his player image, they’re forced to keep their relationship secret, but Maddie can’t help but want something real.
As the competition heats up, Jared will do whatever it takes for his band to win, and Maddie must decide if following her dream is worth losing her heart.
Elizabeth Briggs is a full-time geek who writes books for teens and adults. She plays the guitar, mentors at-risk teens, and volunteers with a dog rescue group. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and a pack of small, fluffy dogs.
What if you'd been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you? When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, who she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that's as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her archnemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger). But just when Alice's scores are settled, she goes into remission.Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she's said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she caused irreparable damage to the people around her—and to the one person who matters most? Julie Murphy's Side Effects May Vary is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.
[note: the interview here is a transcript created from the original video interview done by our reporter Maddie]
Fandom: Hi everyone!It’s Maddie and today I’m here with the lovely author of SideEffects May Vary, Miss Julie Murphy!
Julie: Yay, hello!
Julie: I will hold it. Side Effects May Vary is
about a girl named Alice who has been diagnosed with acute lymphocytic
leukemia. She’s not such a nice girl, so rather than your average bucket list
of doing, ya know, canned food drives and riding horseback on the beach, stuff
like that, she decides that she wants to make a bucket list of all the people
she needs to have a final word with before she passes away. So there’s lots of
revenge, some dirty words said. Alice, by any means possible, completes her list
and upon completion of her list, she goes into remission because everything has
Fandom: If you’ve been on my channel for a while or
just about a month, you’ll know I really enjoyed Side Effects May Vary. I will
link my Side Effects May Vary Booktalk right here so you can go click on it.
Click it. I will also link the liveshow I did with several other booktubers down
below. So I will just jump into the questions now. Were you inspired by other
sick Lit novels- like The Fault in Our Stars and My Sister’s
Keeper- to write this book or were you inspired by real life events?
Julie: Ya know, the story of how I got published is
pretty, like, a whirl-wind experience and in order to answer that question,
I’ll tell you this really fast. My major in college was political science
research and I took a year off before grad school or law school and really
deciding what I wanted to do to just write and see what happened. In that year
I wrote Side Effects May Vary, I got
an agent, and I got a publishing contract. So my life sort of changed in that
year and this was all before The Fault in
Our Stars came out. So when The Fault
in Our Stars hit, it was like, “Oh wow, like, there’s like, there’s this
whole avenue opening up for these types of books.” I never really gravitated
towards that type of book. I sort of like books that where, like, a character
gets hit by a car and it kind of, like, catches you off guard, you know what I
mean? Like, I just, I like to be caught off guard in that way. So I never really
gravitated toward books with illnesses per say, but I think that cancer is
something where, um, we’ve all been touched by it in some way or another. We
all know someone who’s had cancer. So it’s a really relatable thing and it’s
something that I think a lot of people can relate to. So I had this idea for
this girl who just lived her life without consequences and I had to come up
with a situation to where she felt comfortable doing that and what better than
a terminal illness.
Fandom: I really liked how you did that because
Alice feltjust so real to me and in
most books they’re kind of like, “Oh well, I have cancer, now I have to be an
angel and, like, do everything good.” But in this, she really doesn’t care about
the consequences and towards the end she finally goes through that character
development that I really enjoyed.
Julie: Growing up, I was not, like, a really
wonderful teenager. I, ya know, I barely graduated high school, I was, like, in
and out of class all the time, I was horrible to my parents. I really wanted to
write someone who would’ve felt authentic to me as a teenager and so if I had
been told that I had this terminal illness and my life was gonna end before I
even hit 20, I would be very angry and upset because I would feel very shorthanded.
And so I wanted to write a character who felt authentic in that way.
Fandom: My second question is: Were you afraid to
let Alice into the world because she has some unlikable traits?
Julie: This is embarrassing, I can’t believe I’m
saying this. I didn’t know Alice was so unlikable until my editor told me.
Because when you spend so much time with a character, it turns into the norm.
I’ve read books narrated by characters who do really horrible things, like are
murderers or just other types of horrible things, and you get so used to it
that it doesn’t faze you when they do those things. I spent so much time with
Alice writing Alice that it came to the point where it wasn’t Alice had all
these horrible traits, it was just Alice being Alice, you know what I mean? So
I got really used to it. We definitely scaled some things back. But it was
still really, really scary because people say that they want to see authentic
and sometimes even unlikable characters, or antiheroes, but sometimes they’re
not prepared to deal with the reality of it. So it was scary but I don’t regret
anything and I’m really pleased with Alice.
Fandom: I liked Alice. I mean, she was real to me. She
just did some things that real people would do. I liked how she also did some
good things along with the bad and so it kind of balanced itself out.
Julie: A big thing in constructing Alice is that I
really thought a lot about how as people, usually our greatest strengths are
also our greatest weaknesses. Even with Harvey, his greatest strength is his
unconditional love, but it’s also his greatest weakness. So that was really important
to me in building Alice. So you’ll see that the way she that treats Harvey can
sometimes be horrible, but sometimes that exact thing, that exact fierceness is
also her greatest strength.
Fandom: So my next question is: Side Effects May Vary and Dumplin’,
your book that’s going to be coming out next year, are both contemporary
novels, do you think you’ll ever venture out into other genres?
Julie: I was actually just talking to someone about this
at the RT Book Fair. I read a lot of contemporary, I do, but I also read a lot of
adult books. But in YA, my biggest sweet spot that I really love is paranormal
and fantasy, which is surprising. When I sit down to write, it’s always
contemporary. But sometimes I drift into magical realism and I do have this
project that I work on just for me when I’m only not on a deadline and I just have
time for myself. It’s just a really fun thing that I’ve always loved to work on
and it’s definitely, ya know, more like circus-y. Just totally different from
anything I’ve ever written before. So sometimes. Maybe someday.
Fandom: Awesome! I’d love to read it!
Fandom: My last question is: What is your favorite
part of the writing process and what’s your least favorite part?
Julie: I’ll start with my least favorite part. My
least favorite part is that I work from home, so there’s, like, I worked since
I was 16, so I always had a work schedule. I always left work. When you’re
writing and you’re working from home, there’s no such thing as leaving work.
There’s no such thing as office hours. So you never have time off. Your brain
is always working. It’s a really wonderful thing but it’s also a really hard
thing because you can never, like, I can’t even read a book anymore and just be
a reader. I’m always thinking from an author’s perspective of like, “What’s
going on?” “What’s happening?” “Was this an editor’s decision or an author’s
decision?” So the thing that I most enjoy has almost been a little ruined by
it. But, you know, it’s hard to get that balance of closing your office door at
home and just saying like, “I’m done now. I’m gonna go spend time with my
family. This is enough.”
Julie: I’d say that my favorite part so far has been
the community. It feels like this whole missing link of my life has been, like,
unveiled to me. All these people have been so incredible and so welcoming and
so kind and I’ve created lifelong friends in the last couple years that I
wouldn’t have otherwise met. So definitely the community has been really huge.
You know, just the relationship I’ve created with my editor and it’s really
cool to finally meet someone who just trusts you to create something.
Fandom: That’s great. Authors just seem so nice to
me. You’re so nice and everyone I’ve met today has just been so nice.
Julie: Well you’re so nice!
Fandom: Thank you! Everyone has just been so
wonderful and it just seems like every author has this love of books and each
other. It’s awesome. Well, thank you so much for doing an interview with me!
When a string of fires claim the lives of FBI Special Agent Kenzie Frost's parents, she and her partner uncover the secrets that had been hidden from her since childhood. Meanwhile, Kenzie has her own secret that she has been hiding from the world. When a turn of events at work makes Kenzie face her own feelings, she must decide whether or not to put her partner's life in danger by confessing everything to him, finally answering all of the questions he's been asking for years, or continuing to live a lie with the man she loves.
At two months old, Meredith was adopted into a loving family who have supported her and loved her since the moment they first saw her. After years of struggling with questions and emotions of her adoption, she decided to take the first step to begin the search for her birth family. Little did she know that some of them had been searching for her since the day she was born. Two short months after Meredith’s search began, they came face-to-face with each other and part of her birth family became a reality. When Meredith sat down to write her story of finding and meeting her biological family, it quickly spun into the fantasy of Searching for Blood. Meredith resides in Raleigh, North Carolina, with her daughter.
Guardian angel Enael can’t seem to keep her human Wards in check. They’re the ones who choose their paths before reincarnating—she’s just there to help make sure they stay on track. But it’s not as easy as it might look.
When she meets and falls in love with charismatic Kaspen, a fellow Guardian, Enael’s feelings about Heaven, Hell, demons, and the life she’s known are turned upside down. Worse, angel-turned-demon Yasva, Kaspen’s former love, still holds him in her clutches. Even as Yasva works toward obtaining complete control of Earth, she taunts and haunts Kaspen’s and Enael’s lives.
Now Enael is forced to face her past (which is centuries long and bursting with secrets), her present (which is terribly unfulfilling and full of questions), and her future (which becomes more uncertain as time passes). Armed with a newfound love and fear of losing it all, she must figure out how to save the world—-and the angel she loves. Which side will win? Who will Kaspen choose? Will Heaven and Earth continue to exist, or will everything go to Hell?
Samantha grew up in a small town in Iowa but now lives in the suburbs of Toronto with her Canadian husband and expatriate cat. In her spare time, she reads, writes, and thinks about reading and writing—along with playing the occasional video game or eight.
Give us the title and genre of your book and a short tagline.
Guarding Angel – Fantasy. Guardian angel Enael is forced to confront her inability to protect her Wards when a demon interferes in their lives.
What kind of writing do you do?
When I first started writing when I was a kid, I wrote lots of short stories. Many of them were near copies of my favorite books or stories in Cricket magazine (loved it!). But we all have to start somewhere, right? As I moved into junior high and high school, I got into fan fiction. I loved the X-Files—don’t get me started on Mulder and Scully. It was an evolution of sorts because I went from completely derivative to branching out into a universe someone else created while still coming up with unique ideas. For several years in college, I exclusively wrote in an online journal. It was a great experience for many reasons. I would do a lot of stream of consciousness stuff to help me through that, ahem, painful time of growth, and I met a lot of other people that way. It was really a way to connect more than write, but I felt like I was practicing my writing skills for the future at a time when I couldn’t really focus on fiction writing. Now I write novels. I’ve tried to write short stories again, but they feel like they’re missing something. I’m verbose, so I always think that what I have to say is too large to contain in a story of only a few thousand words. I can definitely see myself writing novellas or short stories in the universes that I create, once I get a few things out there. I’m trying to focus on my novels first and foremost right now, though.
How does Guarding Angel relate to your spiritual practice or other life path?
Guarding Angel is the culmination of a journey I’ve been on for awhile. I grew up in a strict Lutheran household and then considered myself born-again Christian for many years. I even spent three summers on mission trips overseas (Trinidad, Thailand, and Botswana). However, I never felt like the philosophy fit what I really believed deep inside. Some bad and judgmental behavior on the part of the leaders on the mission trips made me begin to question what I’d been taught. I sought answers through prayer and reading, and after awhile, I found them. The answers that I found did not match what I’d been taught, so in my early twenties, I walked away from Christianity. The book is an amalgamation of the beliefs of different religions set in a world where all religion and spirituality has a purpose without any one being correct. The heart of it is what I believe in, although I embellished many of the details for the sake of the novel. I don’t actually believe that the angelic hierarchy is exactly the way I wrote it, that a Muse’s wings are royal purple, or that a place called the Praetorium exists in Heaven. Although it’s interesting to imagine!
What were your goals and intentions in Guarding Angel, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
I had several goals. First I wanted to create a story about a guardian angel who was struggling with the morality of the choices her human Wards made. This I definitely achieved. I also wanted to raise the question of whether her morality was correct or if their morality was correct. I also believe that I achieved that, although Daniel turned out much more of an ass than I had originally written him. He was kind of boring at first—so I took him in a pretty strong direction. I wanted to continue the theme of correct action based on perspective throughout the book. I think I also achieved that. It makes sense for Enael to do what she’s done, even though she struggles with it and gets no support.In terms of world-building, I definitely created the universe the way I wanted it. All religion or spirituality has power, but none are correct or exclusive.
Are there misconceptions that people have about Guarding Angel? If so, explain.
A book should stand on its own merit, so if I have to explain something outside the book, I’m not doing my job as a writer. However, I will say that people too often assume that a writer believes in or condones the behavior of the characters in the book. That’s a ridiculous assumption. Although I believe in the essence of spirituality of the book, I’m not so sure about everything. I’ve created a universe where humans choose the terrible things that happen to them, for their own spiritual growth. That means that murders, rapes, and suicides are something that you or I choose before we come to the physical plane. It’s a simple answer to the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Occam’s Razor is great, but I don’t know that spiritual truth can be simplified that easily. I will say that question has made writing the second book challenging since I’m delving further into that same theme.
Who is your favorite character from Guarding Angel and why?
That’s easy. My favorite character is always the flawed but complicated one. In this case, as with many books, it’s the antagonist, Yasva. She’s seductive and mean and broken. She’s chosen a not-very-wise path, but she’s done so because she feels she has no other choice. She’s angry at the Seraphim for crimes they may or may not have committed. She’s also trying to hold herself together, so you have to wonder. Are her over-the-top schemes and game-playing compensation for her feelings of inadequacy or are they true to her true personality? Maybe it’s both. My all-time favorite character of any book or film is Hannibal Lector. I don’t know what that says about me, so I’m not going to analyze that! I didn’t pattern Yasva after him, but I do strive to create his complexity and allure in my characters. Especially the villains.
How did you come up with the title of your book and series?
I’m terrible at coming up with titles. I originally called it “Enael’s Book.” I mean, horrible, right? When it went out to the first round of critique partners, one of the first readers was my dad. He came up with the title Fallen Redemption, and it fit. A year ago, when I was querying, I searched for the title in the marketplace and didn’t find it. However, when I was getting ready to self-publish, much to my horror, I discovered someone else had recently published a book with that title. When I hired Jessica Swift of Swift Ink Editorial to do my developmental edits, she also agreed to help with the book blurb and titles. She researched keywords and came up with a number of them, but none of them really clicked with me. We spent a session on the phone and finally came up with Guarding Angel. It’s simple but descriptive, and the rest of the series fits into the pattern. (Reaping Angel, Warring Angel) I just couldn’t let Fallen Redemption go, though, and I feel it’s a good descriptor for where I’m going overall. So that’s how it became the name of the series.
Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?
I’ve never been a visually artistic person, but I know enough to be dangerous. I can look at a cover and say, “Yes, this works,” or “No, that doesn’t,” but I can’t say why. When I looked through Regina Wamba’s portfolio, her tone and artistry fit the feel that I wanted. When we started work on the cover, she sent me a questionnaire. I say “we started work” loosely—all I did was answer some simple questions about what my book was about, the main characters, and the mood. She came back with this amazing cover. I only had a few tweaks, and it was done. Everyone tells me how much they love it, so I think I did a great job. A great job picking out an awesome cover designer, that is!
What inspires you?
Great stories inspire me. I recently finished The Siren by Tiffany Reisz, and it made me both want to write the hell out of my book and hang up my pen forever. It’s a complicated story about multi-layered characters with shocking revelations that in retrospect seem almost cliché—but she handled them so masterfully that I am in awe. Another book, We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver, inspired me through its character development, too. It put us in the mind of one of the least remembered victims of a school shooting—the shooter’s mother. I never would have considered what the situation would have been for her, yet the author created a living, breathing character. Character-driven novels about flawed people. That’s what inspires me the most and what I aspire to write.
Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
I’m a part-time writer, unfortunately. I’d love to be full-time, but it’s not economically feasible at this point. (Ah, the old refrain.) Last year, I was mentally dedicated to writing and revising what I was working on. I have a 45 minute train ride to and from work every day, so I was able to sit down and focus for that 45 minutes almost five days a week. I’d also work hard on the weekends for a few solid hours each day. I probably didn’t give myself enough breaks—I’d get burnt out every once in awhile and need to take a week or two off. I should probably give myself at least Sunday … But I digress. This year, though, it’s been even tougher. On Christmas Day, my husband and I got the best gift—a positive pregnancy test! I didn’t realize how dramatically things would change for me as the months progressed. I don’t know if it’s the hormones or the exhaustion or the random aches and pains, but I’ve been having trouble focusing. So I’ve been doing little things and trying not to beat myself up for not keeping the same pace as pre-pregnancy. On or around September 3, it will all be worth it. And maybe I’ll be able to get back to writing. Or maybe it’ll be even harder with a new little person around. We’ll see!
Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two? Summarize your writing process.
I wrote Guarding Angel without plotting. I found that I had to go back and clean up a lot of dead-end subplots and character issues. I wrote my second book, working title TheExorcist’s Assistant, by starting out pansting and switching over to plotting. After I got the plot down, I let the story continue to take me where it wanted. Now that I’m working on the sequel to Guarding Angel, I’ve done plot and character sketches. The things that happen while writing still surprise me, but at least now I know what direction I’m heading. I defined all the major plot points—first chapter inciting incident, first act finale, midpoint, etc. Until I get that down, I flounder. I’m sure I’ll continue to refine my process, but it will always be a mixture of the two. Logic for the big plot points and intuition for the smaller nuances that happen throughout the book.
What projects are you working on at the present or do you have planned for the future?
All of these books have working titles, except the sequel to Guarding Angel, which I chose with my developmental editor, Jessica Swift, when we picked out all the titles for the series. Reaping Angel – Book #2 of 3 in the Fallen Redemption series. This is hard to describe without spoilering the end of the first book, so I’ll be vague. Enael must deal with the consequences of her decision near the end of the first book by paying penance to the Council of Seraphim. It’s fully plotted and approximately 1/3 written. I hope to get it to my first round of critique partners before our baby is born at the beginning of September. Warring Angel – Book #3 of 3 in the Fallen Redemption series. A war erupts when Enael uncovers a deep-seated conspiracy dividing heaven’s reigning Council of Seraphim. I have the major plot points determined, but I won’t start on the detailed plot until the 2nd book is written. The Exorcist’s Assistant – Dark Urban Fantasy. A woman harassed by a demon discovers its connection to her past life. Enlisting the aid of a doubting exorcist, she fights for her life—and the life of her wife and daughter. I’ve written this and revised it once. It’s currently out with critique partners, and I hope to get it revised a second time before the beginning of September. I haven’t decided if I’m going to query or self-publish it. Titus versus Tamora– Science Fiction retelling of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus. Titus and Tamora each lead a terraforming team at the edges of the galaxy. A feud from decades ago erupts between them against the backdrop of the vast and unforgiving wilderness of space. I’ve started plotting this one when I needed a break in the Fallen Redemption series. I don’t have a goal for it right now; I’m going to focus on the others first.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I only published my book a month ago, so that’s not been a lot of time for people to discover me. I’ve heard from a few readers told me they loved it. It’s the most gratifying thing for me, to know that people have read my book and loved it. The best comment was that the reader was “confused what to feel/think about a book” but that he thought it was an “amazing book.” The first part of the comment made me nervous, so I’m glad he followed it up with the ending part! But the more I think about it, the more I like the comment. I wrote Guarding Angel both to inspire people and to make them uncomfortable. I am unapologetic about the world I created, the situations I placed my characters in, and the moral implications of everything that happened. I only hope that I did as well as I wanted.
What can readers who enjoy Guarding Angel do to help make it successful?
Write a review for Amazon and Goodreads! I think for self-published writers especially, that’s the number one thing. The second would be to tell your friends and family to go buy the book. Think of me as your small-town shop owner. I’m here, but I only have a tiny little storefront, and I need to get the word of mouth out so traffic picks up.
How do you feel about eBooks vs. print books?
I grew up on print books, of course, and I feel like nothing can top a paperback in your hands. But that’s nostalgia, really. I almost exclusively read eBooks now because it’s more convenient. I have a friend that loans me print books, and I find them unwieldy compared to the eBook. Our kids are going to grow up on eBooks, so they’ll probably get the same nostalgia holding a tablet or eReader as I do with a print book. (At least, I hope they’ll enjoy reading as much as I do.) I recently discovered that I could install and read Kindle books on my Android phone. I don’t know why it never occurred to me before to look up the app. I was just reading them on my tablet, which I had to lug with me. But now, I’ve gone nuts. I can read while standing in line somewhere rather than goofing off on Facebook or Twitter. (Sorry, FB and Twitter.)
How do you feel about alternative vs. conventional publishing?
I struggled with the idea of self-publishing originally. I honestly felt that to be a real writer, you needed to have an agent and a publisher to validate that you were good. But as I explored the options, I realized that’s not the case. People who approach self-publishing as an entrepreneur who is setting up a small business and selling a product can be successful. And self-publishing is no longer the option of the desperate and terrible writer. I have a book review blog, and I welcome self-published authors’ work. However, being that I’ve been exposed to a lot of it, I have seen the lower quality work that is out in the marketplace. People come up with all sorts of excuses (“I don’t have money;” “I don’t have time;” “I’ll just throw this out there and someone will see my scintillating talent through my typos if they’re smart enough”), but I don’t agree with any of that. If I were a small business owner, I would do everything I could to invest the right amount of money and time into my beautiful creation to ensure it flourishes. I don’t understand people who do it differently. So that’s what I’ve done with Guarding Angel. Three editors, a professional cover designer, a webpage designer, a photographer for my headshots, and more. Is it 100% perfect or as good as it would be if backed by a huge publisher? Maybe, maybe not. After all, writing is art, which is subjective.But I believe I’ve put as much heart and soul into it as I have without getting paralyzed by the “Is it good enough?” doubt and never releasing it into the world.
What do you think is the future of reading/writing?
The endless debate about traditional publishing versus self-publishing exhausts me, actually. I steer clear of the people who proclaim that print books are dying or that big publishers are dying. I’m sorry, but if Wal-Mart went bankrupt next week and closed its doors, another gigantic corporation would fill its spot within a year. It’s a basic consequence of capitalism. Now, will the same Big 6 publishers exist 100 years from now? I would be inordinately surprised if they did. Some of them will be unable to adapt to changes in the marketplace, and they’ll die off. Again, basic capitalism. But big publishers of some sort will always exist, of that I’m sure. They might sell text floating on your Google glasses, but until we outlaw gigantic corporations, they’ll be around. So what do I think the future holds? Writers gonna write. Readers gonna read. Both quality and shoddy work will get attention with enough marketing; both quality and shoddy work will get ignored if not in the right place in the right time. Reading and writing won’t die, and that’s really that’s important.
What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
Before I made the decision to self-publish, I queried agents and participated in contests. I got a small amount of interest and feedback, but the answer always was that angel books are a saturated marketplace, so I needed to make my query stand out more. I found it difficult to make that happen. What makes Guarding Angel stand out isn’t the plot or characters, which is what book blurbs and query letters focus on. What makes it stand out is the world-building and the underlying moral questions that I raised. It’s not preachy (or, at least, if it was, I would have hoped that my developmental editor, Jessica Swift, would have beat me over the head about that), but the context and situations I placed Enael and her humans in were ambiguous. As an example, Enael’s second human, Tabitha, has decided to make life very difficult for herself during her planning sessions before reincarnating. Bad things happen to her, some which she had chosen and some of which Enael’s demon nemesis orchestrates. In the end, it’s too much for Tabitha, and she succumbs to depression. The angels have to intervene to prevent damage to her soul. That entire section about Tabitha is emotional. Sometimes I have trouble rereading parts of it because it’s so brutal. And I never figured out a way to get its essence crammed into a two paragraph query letter—especially since it’s not the main plot.
What are some ways in which you promote your work? Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time?
Before Guarding Angel released, I sent out requests for book bloggers to review my ARC. I’m now continuing to send out review requests, a few each week, because I know that reviews are most important for Amazon rankings. I’ve also been doing interviews and guest posts on different blogs, and I keep an active Twitter and Pinterest account. I don’t know how much either of those things helps, but it’s fun and keeps me connected to the community. I have to say that sometimes I’m nostalgic for last year, when all I was doing was writing and not worrying about whether I’d been on Twitter enough or I’d met my quota of review requests for the week. The grass is always greener! I’m starting to adapt, and now that the release has happened, I’m settling into a routine. I need to add more writing time to my routine, definitely, though.
What do you like to read in your free time?
I’m a big fan of speculative fiction. I grew up reading science fiction and fantasy. I love a well-written world. Octavia Butler’s Lilith’s Brood series was the most recent sci-fi that I was in awe of. She created an alien species that was foreign yet believable. I love when writers can do that. It’s also why Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card has been one of my favorites for years. I also like to read erotic romance or dark contemporary books from time to time. I have some feminism-based issues with a lot of the romance trope, so I usually can’t stay in that genre for very long before getting discouraged. But some great books exist out there. I really liked Mina Vaughn’s How To Discipline Your Vampire and How To Reprimand Your Rock Star (I just finished the ARC from Netgalley; whoo hoo!). She’s a smart, sassy woman who writes smart, sassy books, so I’m excited to see more from her.
How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
I’m on Twitter the most. Not to sound like a snob, but I’m a bit choosy about who I follow. I have a big pet peeve about people who only retweet or only spam links to their books / products or only send out famous quotes. I like to talk about random stuff with strangers who then become Twitter friends, so if people who follow me are doing that, I follow them back. I don’t have much of a presence on Google+ or Facebook yet. I don’t know about the future of businesses on Facebook, but it feels like they’re killing off the small ones. So I don’t know that I’ll ever devote much time to it. But I have a page now!
Yasva tipped her head back. “No more. I revoke my place in Heaven.”
Her amethyst eyes went wide and the air shimmered around her. I cringed but couldn’t look away. She screamed as she clamped her hands to her ears. Her wings quivered. No… They flared above her and burst apart in a spray of royal purple. The droplets hung in the air before they contracted into nothingness.
I backed away but bumped into a bush. It’s happening again.
Shrieking, Yasva pressed her hands to her eyes and doubled over. Deep purple blood soaked the back of her robe where her wings had been. She wrenched her hands down and stared at me. I willed myself to move but couldn’t. Her eyes were pits, stark black and seething. She regarded me with a hatred I had seen but once before.
My stomach lurched in fear. Beside me, Kaspen gripped his hair, eyes wide. I’d nearly forgotten he was there.
Yasva thrust out a hand as though to steady herself. “This isn’t…” She wobbled, reaching for Kaspen, who backed away. “… the end…” She coughed and staggered. “… of me! I will have my revenge!” She went to a knee before fading and disappearing into Hell.
Where all angels who renounce their connections to the Source go.
Where they live as demons.
The stench of sulfur washed over me, and I quashed the urge to gag.
I’d never visited Hell, so I wasn’t certain where it was located, which would make it harder to get there. Instead of envisioning the place, I closed my eyes and pictured Kaspen. I reached for his essence, groping for him. Ah, there. As expected, his life spark was located somewhere other than Heaven or Earth. Darkness pulsated near him.
I took a deep breath and fixed my mind. Straining, I envisioned Kaspen’s face, wondering where I would end up. I opened my eyes to the greens of the Garden melding together and fading.
This transition was nothing like the pleasant tingling I felt when moving between Heaven and Earth. Instead, it felt as though something cold and slippery were being poured over my body, into my mouth and nostrils, and squeezed through my pores. My stomach churned. Dimness enveloped me and the oiliness slid from my skin.
I found myself in front of a pit-marked rock face marred by a double swinging door. I tried to peer through the crack between the doors, but a figure blocked most of the dim, red light.
The doors burst open and I was knocked to the ground. A hood fell over my face. I tried to fade from Hell but couldn’t. Something wrapped around the base of my wings, and my arms were forced behind me and bound.
I was wrenched forward and thrown over something—the shoulder of whatever creature had assaulted me, perhaps. Lurching footsteps carried me away from where I’d faded into Hell. I fought, but whatever bound my wrists and wings squeezed more tightly around them. I stopped struggling, clamping my lips together to keep from crying out.
Kaspen said, “I’m so sorry, Enael. I can’t do this anymore.”
I stopped. The humans disappeared around a corner. “Come with me, Kaspen.” I clenched my hands in my skirt again. “Please.”
“I can’t watch them be whipped for something I did.”
I turned. Kaspen’s head was bowed. His wings trembled. A feeling of resolution blasted through the bond. “Kaspen, don’t!”
“It’s the only way, Enael. I don’t belong here. I don’t deserve Leon, just as I didn’t deserve Miriam.” Kaspen looked up. His white eyes pinned me. I was stuck to the ground, unable to move, unable to speak. “Just as I don’t deserve you.”
I went numb. It was as though I watched the scene from a great distance. My human Wards had experienced this in stressful times, but I didn’t know it could happen to disembodied angels. “I love you, Kaspen. Please, stay.”
A look of sadness and compassion—For me!—came over him. “There’s only one place in the universe that I belong. And it isn’t here.”
I was unable to move anything but my mouth. “We’ll be together, Kaspen, forever, just don’t go. Please, stay with me and I’ll tell you my true name. It’s what you want, isn’t it?”
Kaspen stood and walked toward me. Another carriage, this time from the other direction, rushed through him. He brushed a hand through my hair and kissed me. “It doesn’t matter. I just wanted to be close to you. Forever. I love you, too.”
Other angels stared at us, but I didn’t care. “Then stay. Stay and we’ll—”