Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Paranormal, Romance
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"Everyone in the world has a spark, a light inside that guides them, keeps them alive.”
Myxini School for Children specializes in training young men and women who have powerful sparks. Strikers are taught to manipulate fire. Trackers learn to find animals in the most formidable terrains. Handlers are instructed in communication with large predators. But forty years have passed since the last time they had a Reader – a student with the ability to read minds.
When Lark Davies enrolls at Myxini, he knows there aren’t many like him, but he doesn’t realize just how rare his abilities really are. He thinks nothing of being asked to keep his spark a secret; after all, he can barely control it. Thoughts and emotions flood unbidden into his mind until he can scarcely walk or hold a conversation. But just when he needs it most, his ability fails him.
Larks meets Khea, a small frightened girl who mysteriously insights his protective nature. He has no explanation for the curious strength of their relationship, and it doesn’t help that she is one of the few people in the world whose thoughts can’t be read. As he struggles to get to the root of their unique bond, Lark begins to unravel more power than even his mentor expected, but in the process makes himself a target to political leaders eager to take control.
Check out this interview with author R.S. McCoy and see the end for a giveaway for a $25 Amazon Gift card and two copies of Sparks.
Interview with Author R.S. McCoy
Can you talk a little about what the book is about?
Sparks is a novel that describes a group of friends learning to control their strengths, or ‘sparks’. The main character Lark struggles to master his ability to read minds, and all the difficulties that come with hearing the thoughts of everyone around you. There’s a little bit of romance, a bit of action, some violence, heartache and loyalty.
Where did you get the idea for the book?
My dad always told us that everyone in the world had a job they were just meant for. Whether it was being an astronaut or a garbage man, there is a job out there that is perfectly suited to each person. Through my last few years of teaching, I began to notice patterns in some of the students. Some who were just amazing in math would really struggle with science, and be decent at one sport or another. As I realized that those strengths were being solidified in my students, even as young adults, I began to think about how those abilities would shape their careers in high school. That thought process eventually led to the idea of the spark.
What message do you want readers to get from reading the book?
Hopefully, readers will foster an understanding that not every person can have strength in every area of life, but that each person does have a significant strength in at least one area.
How long did it take to write the book?
The actual writing process only took about six or eight weeks. The story seemed desperate to escape as fast as I could mash my fingers into the keyboard. Sadly, the editing and revising process took about six months. I’d much rather write than check for typos!
Who is your favorite character, or what character was the most fun to write?
Oh, definitely Avis. He serves as a mentor to students with mind-reading abilities, which puts him in a unique position. He doesn’t lie or sugar coat anything and he isn’t afraid to put students in their place. Avis was a ton of fun to write.
Can you talk about how you wrote it? Did you do any outlining? Did it take you in any unexpected directions?
Sparks started as two pieces of white computer paper with a sad little map on the bottom of one page and list of potential characters on another. Slowly but surely the pages filled with ideas about the layout of the school, the types of sparks and the direction of the plot. Once those pages were filled to the point that they started to resemble my two-year old’s art projects, I was already well into the throws of mad typing. For the next book I plan on using an outline so I don’t feel so rushed to get it all out of my head in one go.
If you could go back and change anything in the novel, what would it be?
Oh, man. This probably sounds terrible, but I can’t think of anything. I really, truly feel like I have created a great novel and I wouldn’t change a thing. Then again, that’s probably like asking which of my kids do I like the best.
How did you come up with the cover?
I knew from the start that I wanted an original piece of art for the cover. Chickens can draw better than I can, so I knew I wasn’t in a position to make something myself. I scanned artist websites for a few weeks before I found Laura Pelick’s Fallen Lights site. Thankfully she agreed to let me use her Goddess piece for the cover!
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I think this is probably the point where I spout some BS about wanting to be a writer since I could spell my own name, but that just wasn’t the case. My whole life I knew I wanted to be a biologist, particularly working with fish. I pursued a degree in Marine Biology and worked in an aquarium before teaching biology. I didn’t start writing until I got sick last year and needed something to keep my mind off the treatment. Then as it turned out, readers quite liked my work and I quite liked writing. The rest is history, as they say.
What are you favorite books and authors?
I, Robot by Asimov. Ender’s Game, Pastwatch and Treason by Card. The Alchemist by Coelho. The Dune books by Herbert. Brave New World by Huxley. Anything by Orwell, Pierce, Tolkien or Orwell. Clearly there’s a sci-fi and fantasy theme going here.
What are you working on next?
The sequel to Sparks! Tentatively the second book will be called Spirits and will be released sometime in 2014.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Just do it! There are few people in the world who are less qualified to write a book than I was. With no real writing experience I just had to set out to do it because it was something I liked. It took a great deal of time, work and thought to get a finished product I couldn’t be happier with. It takes a bit of gumption to try something you’ve never done before, but now that I’ve tasted it, there’s no way I could go back.
How do you juggle writing with family time?
Ha! My husband will tell you that I don’t juggle very well. I try to sneak in a few pages after my kids go to bed and limit myself to an hour or two a day. About once a month or so, I’ll arrange for grandparents to take the kids out for the day so I can burn through a few chapters. Sometimes I go a whole week without writing, as much as that kills me.
I ran over to her as soon as I saw her, but the blank expression she wore made it clear she wasn’t all that pleased to see me. It had been months, and I’d almost thought she’d gone home, or hadn’t had a bright enough spark after all. I could have jumped and yelled from excitement to see her.
“Lark, have you met my mentor Mathias?” She turned to look at a middle aged man who stood behind her. I couldn’t get a read on either one, though it was hard to tell in the commotion of the training area. He wore the gray coverings that all mentors wore, and despite the age on his face, his golden hair matched the yellow pendant about his neck; which itself was inlaid with a black stone spider.
“Where have you been all this time?”
“Training, of course. Haven’t you?”
“Well, yes, but-. Why haven’t I seen you?”
“Mathias is responsible for all my lessons.” She was cold and dismissive, almost as if I bothered her. I couldn’t believe it. Why is she being so weird? I only wanted to make sure she was safe, that she was taken care of. What happened?
With a wave of dismissal she walked past me to challenge Parvani and I was sure my mouth dropped to the ground. Does she have any idea what she’s doing?
“Is she crazy?” Micha asked. He seemed more worried for her mental faculties than her general well-being, though I couldn’t disagree.
They stood and faced each other as Sinha commenced the fight. Khea was at least a full foot shorter than Parvani and looked like she could be her toy. I didn’t imagine Parvani was going to let her down easy.
In a moment of what must have been suicidal desire, Khea lunged, blocked a punch, and landed her fist square on Parvani’s cheek before the larger girl dropped onto her back on the ground. It was the most impressive display I had ever seen. Once she knew what she was up against, Parvani put in real effort to fight, and for a while, it seemed as if they were evenly matched. The final blow came when Khea grabbed Parvani’s wrist, spun around her, and forced her to the ground. “Yield,” Parvani let out, defeated.
Without a word to me or Micha, Khea walked back to Mathias and he led her away. It was all I could think about the rest of the day, and into the next morning. What happened to Khea? Where has she been all this time and why is she so distant now? And since when was she some sort of combat master?
Enter to win a $25 Amazon Giftcard, or one of two ebook copies of Sparks by RS McCoy. Ends 1/27/2013.
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