I`ve been tagged (a while back) by a wonderful writer and person, Ylette Pearson, in an Author Blog Hop.
Follow Ylette on Twitter at @ylettepearson, visit her website at https://www.facebook.com/YlettePearson
So here are the questions Ylette sent through to me and my answers:
What are you working on now?
Right now I`m insanely working on two projects and editing a completed manuscript (the one I entered for sytycw2014).
The one Elastic Heart is a New Adult contemporary romance novel with crossover potential, since the story spans over different timeframes in the main characters lives. I`ve always wanted to write a story where a career in music plays a big part in the motivations of the characters. My main character wants to be a songwriter, but she`s opted to go the safe route by first getting a ‘sensible’ degree (her parents motivation). However, after graduation she packed up and moved from Stellenbosch (SA) to Manhattan (US) to do an internship at a record label. The path to success and love, of course, isn’t smooth.
The second novel Lineage: Paradise Lost is a paranormal romance set in a fictional world featuring Nephilim and Fallen Angels AND a quest for the Garden of Eden. Yep! Epic stuff! *laughs* It deals with a ‘young’ (because in human terms she wouldn`t be) female Nephilim who`s on the run from a group of Fallen Angels called The Pride (*grin* see what I did there?). The Pride`s in search of the Garden of Eden and believes she can lead them to it. Their main motivation for finding it is to eat the fruit from the Tree of Life in order to gain access to Heaven. Look even the chick thinks they are nuts, but since they`re hunting her, she has no choice but to take them seriously. Since her birth, she`s lived in hiding on Earth in a fictional town in the Western Cape called Idendale . But why`s she so special to them? Because she`s the only Nephilim to have ever been born with wings. Oh and factor into that an inexplicable attraction to a, Orlando Bloom lookalike from The Lord of the Rings, Fallen Angel and you have lots of trouble on the horizon *grin*
Give the beginning on your WIP as an excerpt?
Since I`ve more than one, I decided to go with my contemporary novel`s tentative 1st Chapter.
*oh and it`s not edited*
Derek Welsh was a Rock-god, with his head bent and cradling the microphone-stand in his hands, he personified the hardcore star images on a Rolling Stones cover.
Black fitted jeans hugged his hips, in stark contrast with the crisp white t-shirt he wore. His muscles strained underneath the material as he moved forward into the song, his dark gaze sweeping over the crowd of swooning teenage girls ready to do his bidding.
He had picked the right song. There`s nothing like Bon Jovi`s classic and revered Bed of Roses to make budding female hearts thump in unison.
He had taken to the school stage as if born to it, displaying a comfortable-ness beyond his years. At seventeen, Derek came across older in the single spotlight hitting the strong angular edges of his face. But this image wasn`t the only thing that had matured him, Derek had suffered a great loss in his life.
As the story went, his whole family died in a car crash a year before.
He had moved to his uncle and aunt to the middle of SA`s wine country, Stellenbosch, bringing with him the glamour and tint of the big city Johannesburg.
Derek didn`t display a level of moodiness and darkness you would expect from someone who`ve dealt with so much tragedy, losing his parents and little brother and sister. Though he also didn`t show the usual carelessness towards life most teenage boys did.
He`d been part of Stellenbosch High for six months now and in that time he had quietly branded the scared halls with his presence, became popular amongst teachers and students alike and unobtrusively remained gracious.
Early on everyone got to know him as a musician. He became known for whipping out his guitar at bonfire parties in Strand or singing at clubs and bars in town that were…ahem… a bit lenient about who they let perform.
Clearly those appearances had honed his ability, because even as Hannah Spellman stood in the shadows of the school-hall, her pulse quicken with every word he sang. For some reason her brain kept on getting stuck on the image of Derek French-kissing anything be it the morning or even…heart clench, her.
He ran a hand through his jaw length pitch black hair and then as if fate willed it so, his eyes zeroed in on her and beads of sweat burst out all over her body.
No, he can`t possibly see me.
She flattened herself further against the back wall, and told herself to not be silly. Of course he wasn’t looking at her. As her female counterparts cheered and whistled, she squeezed her eyes shut at her stupidity. When she opened them again, he wasn`t looking in her direction anymore, proving her point, he hadn`t been fixated on her like she had been on him.
She wouldn`t have taken any interest in him if it hadn`t been for her older sister Alicia dragging her to Brollocks with a fake student ID-Card and a skimpy black dress. It was Alicia`s twenty-first birthday and Hannah was visiting with her for the weekend in her girls dorm.
Their parents would`ve had a fit if they knew she had gone out with Alicia.
A long line outside had ensured that the club would be packed with students. She had secretly hoped they would be turned away at the door, but they hadn`t since Alicia knew the bouncer.
Their group had consisted mainly of Alicia`s girlfriends, but when they entered a bunch of guys called them over to the bar and dutifully sacrificed their seats for them. She had felt out of place amongst them as the unsophisticated high-schooler she was.
One of the guy`s latched onto her side and made light conversation. There had been nothing creepy about him, but before she could learn more of him her sister had grasped her by the hand and headed for the dance floor. A local band had just come on stage and everyone was hollering, impatient for their performance.
It was there she had spotted Derek, the new boy at school, strumming his electric guitar with vigour, his solo introduction for the lead singer`s vocals.
He hadn`t sung that night, but his passion for music eclipsed that of everyone else on the tiny platform. Or maybe she`d been prejudice, because of how for a brief moment in time, their eyes had locked as she stood transfixed in the swaying crowd, unable to miss the recognition that had danced across his face.
A small smile had tugged at his mouth.
Later in the evening when they had finished playing and Alicia commandeered all of them back to the bar for tequila shots, she had caught him elbowing his way through the mass of ricocheting bodies, his goal true as they gazed at each from a distance.
However as warm and fuzzy feelings made their way through her, a leggy blond cut into his path and pulled him in for a soul sucking kiss. He had drawn away in surprise which had turned into a delighted grin. They exchanged a tight hug.
That was all she had given herself permission to observe, she had excused herself from the group and went in search of the ladies room.
With the heavy beat of drums coming through the speakers she had stared at herself in the mirror, wondering why seeing him kiss another girl could have thrown her whole evening so off kilter.
Because they had shared a look, a connection? Because she had spun some romantic notion around the event?
Either way Derek had a girlfriend, a very beautiful one and she couldn`t compete. Not that she wanted to, she had told herself at the time. Especially if the tall, tanned surfer bodied types was the kind of girls he went for. She was anything but.
At five foot nothing; she would mildly be described as petite. Her light brown hair could be viewed as wavy on a good day and her tiny middle was in stark contrast to her curvy top and bottom. Hence her aversion for wearing figure hugging clothing and the excuse for a dress she wore that night had only served to emphasize every voluptuous bend she had.
Yep her mother would`ve killed Alicia if she had seen her youngest daughter decked out like she should be standing at a corner in the Red-light District.
She had gone back out when she felt like her old self again and was subsequently relieved when Alicia wanted them to move on to another club.
The Monday at school she had made sure to ignore him having convinced herself thoroughly over the weekend that the whole incident was a figment of her imagination. Maybe she had wanted to see more. Maybe he hadn`t recognized her and smiled. Maybe someone else had stood behind her. She hadn`t even made sure to check!
In the end she had felt mortification so acutely she had curled up in a ball on her bed the Sunday evening when the thought of seeing him the next day left her in an embarrassed heap.
He hadn`t sought her out at school, which convinced her, she had imagined the whole thing.
But unlike then she wouldn`t be able to avoid him now, even as she stood at the back of the school hall. No, her friend Amy had made sure of it.
Hannah was scheduled to sing after him in this year’s talent competition.
She had never done anything like it before. Usually she skipped such events for the simple reason that her music was personal to her, her dairy. She didn`t feel the urge to share it with the world, to have people judge her words. But Amy, knowing her dream of being a songwriter, had suggested she started creating a music-CV by actually performing her own songs first.
There was indeed logic to Amy`s suggestion and though she had numerous times recorded herself and tried to post the videos to her channel on YouTube, she couldn`t click the button that would ultimately expose her to the whole planet.
Plus her parents, though having paid for expensive piano lessons and a vocal coach, didn`t want her to pursue a career in the industry. She first had to get a degree, any qualification it seemed, to fall back on and only then could she try for the arts.
She had agreed, because to be honest, she wasn`t so brave as to fork out into such a treacherous environment. The idea of swimming in uncharted territory didn`t sit well with her apply-to-all-the-rules personality. Yes she was creatively inclined, but more the organized-chaos type of artist, not the ones who blindly head into the wilderness and discover a new country.
Hannah bit her lip as Derek`s song came to a close. The windows shook as the applause vibrated through the room. This wasn`t about trying to win, she knew she didn`t stand a chance against Derek or even some of the other acts that had gone on before her. This was about learning about thick skin. She needed to pop her performing cherry so to speak.
Hannah pushed away from the wall.
“How do you feel?” Amy stood next to her. She had completely forgotten about her.
“Scared. Nervous. Like I`m going to faint at any moment,” she replied on a shaky breath.
Amy gave a short laugh. “You`ll be fine, especially when you get in the zone.”
Hannah rolled her eyes. Amy always talked about her appearing like she was being transported to another time and place when she sang.
“Well wish me luck, because after Derek I`m gonna need it. In fact his fan-base is probably pissed they can`t get him to give them an encore.”
As the words left her mouth, the crowd started chanting, “We want more!”
Derek with an amused smile, shook his head. “We can pick this up this coming weekend,” he replied and they yelled affirmatives back at him.
As he made his way off the stage, she walked up to it with her heart beating fiercely in her throat. Amy had given her a warm hug just as she was about to make her way down the side of the cheering horde, now she was alone to literally face the music.
As she neared the stairs, Derek passed her with a surprised look on his face. She bravely moved her facial muscles into something less tight, trying to fend off the butterflies that were wrecking havoc not just in her stomach.
She felt lightheaded and took deep breathes as Principal Matthews announced she was the next act.
A hush went through the room and she gulped. She hadn`t expected that, in fact for some reason she had expected everyone to completely ignore her and go on with munching on crisps and drinking the spiked punch.
She made a quick silent prayer up to the heavens as she sat behind the school`s old piano. She didn`t look at her audience for fear she would bolt up from the bench and make a run for it.
Placing her fingers above the black and white keys she inhaled deeply, and then let out the air. As her fingers found the opening for Jordin Spark`s Battlefield, she became anchored. The delicate sound perfectly conveyed the heavy emotional beginning of the song.
The silence that enveloped her voice cocooned her and it was almost as if she was singing in her room with only the stars for company.
The song had brought her out of a dark period in her life. It had helped her to deal with everything she couldn`t voice to anyone, not even Amy. At the climax her voice climbed, the flow of the keys much more energetic and she lost herself in the beam of light shining down on her, directing the lyrics to an unseen God.
Everything thundered around her and she realized as the last sounds faded, her peers were applauding her. Principal Matthews joined her on stage and she got up from behind the piano and acknowledged everyone with a bewildered smile.
Amy stood right in front with her phone aimed at her.
As the announcement for the next performance was made, she ducked to the side of the stage, not ready yet to face everyone.
“You sang beautifully,” a gravelly voice spoke up behind her and she spun around. Derek.
“Thank you,” she managed to say.
He was leaning against the opposite wall, his guitar at his feet.
“Uhm…you were great,” she blurted out and cringed at her inability to make casual conversation.
He stared at her for a full heart beat, and then a slow smile worked its way from the middle of his mouth to the corners. Before she could contemplate how awkward she was, he had pushed away from the wall and came to a standstill a mere breath from her.
His dark eyes gleamed in the soft backstage lighting and she wasn`t sure what his intention were as he kept her gaze ensnared to his.
“You shouldn’t hide yourself,” he finally broke the heavy silence.
“I`m not…” His finger on her lips shut her up sufficiently.
“I`ve never seen someone shine as brightly as you had done just now. Don`t hide that.” His thumb stroked across her bottom lip and a shudder went through her. It was needless to say no one had ever touched her so intimately.
Loud clapping brought her back to reality. Derek, however hadn`t stopped his caress; instead he went a step further. He bent his head and brushed gently with his tongue where his thumb had been.
The shock of what was happening hadn`t registered in her brain until he drew away from her and coldness took the place of where his touch had been.
“You`re up again Derek,” one of his friends, Ian, suddenly said from behind him.
With Derek`s tall lanky frame shielding her, his friend couldn`t see what had transpired between them, yet a hot flush went through her inevitably burning her cheeks.
His hand briefly cupped her face, “Stay good Hannah.”
Her heart leaped out of her chest. How does he know my name?
He went back on the stage for his encore and as the accompanied roars indicated a sure victory tonight.
Hannah couldn`t say why she experienced a strange loss. Yes, even in that moment of pure bliss of him acknowledging her existence, she was aware of the fact that him kissing her weren`t a promise. It had surely been a goodbye.
How is your work different from others?
I`m a selfish writer…yep you read right. I write the stories that are closest to my heart, intrigues me, get`s a laugh from me- as I think on how I’m going to ‘mess’ up the ever crooked path of love. My stories usually come from those motivations.
Elastic Heart (before it was named) had sat in my head for years until I heard Maroon 5`s Wipe Your Eyes and Daylight on my playlist as I was editing another book and the above opening chapter played off in my head. I had written so many stories over the years and yet I hadn`t found the ‘right’ moment, if I could call it that, for my ‘music’ story. Funnily enough it took music to bring it all together.
I guess what I`m saying in a very longwinded way is, this is what I bring to the table as an author. Moments. I`m big on creating moments in my stories, because inevitably it`s moments in life that inspire me to write 🙂
* Thank you to Ylette for tagging me. I haven`t tagged anyone else, since it`s been hectic on my end. But I hope everyone enjoys this post and the Excerpt from Elastic Heart*