Published by Siobhan Davis on 10--2014
Genres: Dystopia, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult
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Planet Novo, nestled in space twelve hundred miles above the surface of the Earth, is the new home of 17 year old Cadet Ariana Skyee. Confused by the government-sanctioned memory erase and distressed at her impending forced marriage and motherhood, Ariana’s plans for the future are thrown into complete disarray.
As the traumatic events within her family life enfold, Ariana grows increasingly alarmed at the authorities apparent pre-occupation with her and feels progressively more isolated and alone.
Her growing feelings for fellow Cadet Cal Remus intensify as the recently announced pageant, ‘The Calling’, gets underway. Struggling to comprehend the continuous, inexplicable dreams of the mysterious Zane, discovering the past helps shape her future, with devastating personal consequences.
There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of True Calling. The giveaway is open international. These are the prizes you can win:
– Paperback copy True Calling
– 3 e-copies of True Calling
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Interview With Siobhan Davis
Can you talk a little about what the book is about?
True Calling is a new YA sci-fi romance trilogy with a unique paranormal twist, containing a perfect blend of action, adventure, romance, conspiracy, loss and survival. Set amidst a controlling regime and an unravelling new world order, the plot moves between two different worlds and is relayed from two distinct perspectives.
Cadet Ariana Skyee’s life is turned upside-down when the government on Planet Novo announce the introduction of an e-pageant—‘The Calling’—which compels every 17-year-old into impending marriage and parenthood. Forced to participate in the elaborate, reality TV-style assessment process which will identify her future spouse, Ariana is distraught at being compelled to marry and have children at such a young age. Confounded by the influx of dreams of the mysterious Zane, Ariana wonders whether the government-sanctioned memory erase has seriously messed with her mind. She falls for fellow Cadet Cal Remus as the pageant gets underway, coinciding with a series of tragic events which rock her world.
What makes your book unique?
There is a very unique love triangle in True Calling which will cause every reader who says they are jaded with love-triangles to re-think their views!
Where did you get the idea for the book?
It all started with a dream. Just not my own! I got hooked on Twilight in 2009 and was fascinated to hear how Stephenie Meyer felt compelled to write the series on the basis of the now-infamous dream. Dreams have always captivated me and I started thinking a lot about their meaning and whether our dreams have the power to change our lives (not just metaphorically speaking).
I wondered a lot about her ‘meadow dream’; probably more than was normal. Who sent her that dream? And why? And did someone (or something) plant that seed knowing full well that it would lead her on a path to a significant life-altering experience? And what are dreams anyway? A malfunction of our brain? An unconscious message from our inner selves? A medium for receiving messages from others? My thoughts jumbled around like this for weeks, and my idea started to grow from this silent analysis and developed from there. And then ‘True Calling’ was borne.
Is there any message you want readers to get from reading the book?
First and foremost, I hope that the reader will thoroughly enjoy the story on a sheer entertainment basis. However, True Calling also invites the reader to explore the rationale behind ‘dreams’ – to ponder the power of dreams and the messages they are trying to send us. The underlying theme of this series is about one’s True Calling in life and I hope it raises thought-provoking analysis into the nature of our true vocation, and whether our desired path is the one that fate has in mind for us.
How long did it take to write the book?
Though I completed the first draft in about six weeks, the whole process took approximately a year. This was mainly because I was writing while I was working full-time, so I could only devote a few hours each day to it. If I’d been solely dedicated and focused on writing, I think it would have taken half that amount of time.
Who is your favorite character, or what character was the most fun to write?
It’s extremely difficult for me to pick a favorite character as I have grown so attached to all my characters. Both Ariana, and Cal, have a special place in my heart, but Isla Munroe was the most fun character to write. She is snarky and feisty and a handful of trouble, but ultimately loyal to the core. She has an interesting backstory which we will learn more about as the series develops.
Can you talk about how you wrote it? Did you do any outlining? Did it take you in any unexpected directions?
I have to write around my fulltime job and in between ferrying my sons to various football matches, cleaning, shopping etc. I try to write two hours every night and squeeze in three or four hours on Saturdays and Sundays. I’m a very disciplined person in general, so my issue is actually forcing myself to stop writing most of the time!
When I was writing True Calling I knew largely how the story was going to pan-out so I roughly plotted the book, chapter by chapter, and stuck to this 70% of the time. The other 30% was where the story took off in tangents I hadn’t expected and I just let it flow, to see where it would take me.
I keep a notepad in my bag at all times so I can jot down ideas as they occur to me, often this can happen quite randomly – while I am in the supermarket queue, waiting at the doctors, standing freezing at the side of the football field and most frequently in the middle of the night when I’m asleep and have a light-bulb moment!
If you could go back and change anything in the novel, what would it be?
To be honest there isn’t really that much I would change. There are some scenes I feel I could have expanded on a little, and a couple of others that could have been slightly shorter, but overall I’m very happy with the end result. The feedback I have received from readers, in the main, has been absolutely fantastic, so that affirms my belief in the final published version.
How did you come up with the cover?
I knew that I wanted to depict the two worlds and the main character, Ariana, on the cover, but I was unsure exactly of how to structure it. I engaged a brilliant designer, gave her an overview of the book and my cover ideas, and she came up with a few suggestions. The initial idea we were working on just wasn’t coming together so my designer came back with an alternative suggestion which ended up being the cover I choose.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I loved reading from a very early age and English was one of my favorite subjects in school. My day job involves a huge amount of writing though it’s mainly corporate communications, policy documents and management reports/proposals. I’d felt the desire to write fiction for years (I was always dreaming up stories in my head and dissecting books/movies) and once I started fiction-writing five/six years ago I couldn’t, and haven’t, stopped. I’m a member of a writing group and I try to write something every day or every other day. It’s not really something that I choose to do at this stage –it’s something I feel compelled to do and it’s as vital to me as breathing! I have lots of things written, but my first published work is True Calling. I also have a True Calling related short story now available on Wattpad.
What was the first story that you ever wrote?
The first story I can remember writing was when I was about 8 or 9 years old and it was called ‘The Circus Came to Town’. We’d been asked to write it in school, as part of our homework and I got totally carried away and wrote an essay length story, which I think is pretty impressive for such a young age. Now if only I’d kept it…
What is your favorite genre, and why?
YA is my favourite genre, closely followed by crime/thrillers. I love the action-adventure and futuristic worlds of the YA dystopian/sci-fi though it only works for me if there is a romance theme as well. I am a total sucker for romance and it’s often this thread that has me racing through a book to find out what’s next.
Are there any books you are absolutely inspired by?
I love Emily Bronte’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, not purely because it’s so well written, but mainly because it shows the dark side of love and obsession and it is a fascinating study into human relationships and society’s view of what is deemed acceptable. I read a lot of crime novels and I adore Tess Gerritsen’s books without exception. On the YA side, I’m blown away by some of the talented authors writing in this genre – those that spring to mind are Suzanne Collins, Jennifer L. Armentrout, John Green, Laini Taylor and Moira Young’s Dustlands series is incredible.
What are you working on next?
After I’m done with the True Calling series there are three other stories in particular that are calling out to me. The first is another science fiction story but it’s a completely different premise than True Calling. The second idea is a contemporary drama/romance that will require heaps of research to ensure the facts are bang-on. The third is a historical fiction piece, based around Irish History and it’s something I have longed to write as I have a Degree in History and a love of the past.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
I’m still learning my craft so I don’t feel I’m qualified yet to pass on advice to other writers, but I have reads tons of advice from established authors and the two things that resonate with me are:
1. Write every day – it’s important to flex the muscle.
2. Never stop believing in yourself – there are enough people out there who will doubt you, so don’t doubt yourself.
How do you juggle writing with family time?
With great difficulty! As I mentioned earlier, I have to juggle my writing schedule around work and personal priorities, and it is very challenging at times. But I’m lucky that I have a very supportive husband who doesn’t mind spending nights in the Singles lounge (aka the sitting room!) and my parents provide tons of practical support on a daily basis, so I manage to fit it all in.
I drop my backpack on the table in the living area as my mom approaches with her arms extended. I sink into the warmth of her embrace and my repressed frustration releases in a flurry of tears. She offers no words of comfort but continues to hold me like this until my crying subsides. I look up at her, and all I see is concern shining in her eyes. I’ve missed this closeness between us and realize how much I still need her.
“I saw the official communication today, outlining the procedure for ‘The Calling’.
They’re very thorough, I’ll give them that,” she says.
“It’s like ‘The Bachelor’ meets ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’,” I croak—half laughing, half crying. “I’m too young to get married, I don’t even know if I’ve ever kissed a boy!” I sob. My romantic history since arriving on Novo has been non-existent, but I don’t know what, if anything, came before; thanks to the governments cerebral pilfering. “And all of it has to take place with the prying eyes of the nation watching my every move,” I say in disgust. My mother doesn’t need to be reminded of my abhorrence for any type of spotlight. She looks pensive as she rubs my back soothingly.
Just then my father comes through the front door and that brings a fresh bout of tears.
“Stay strong Ari, it will turn out all right in the end,” is all he says as he heads into his bedroom.
“I don’t feel like eating,” I tell my mother as I start to mount the stairs.
“I will bring you some camomile tea. Why don’t you snuggle up in bed with a book?” she suggests. I choose to take her advice, and having whipped my clothes off in record-breaking time, I pull on my comfy pajamas and dive down under the covers. I am rifling through my small collection of novels when she enters the room. She places a cup and a plate of fruit down on my locker before sitting down on the side of my bed. “Ariana, I owe you an apology,” she says seriously. I sit up and prop the pillows behind my back.
“An apology for what?” I ask, confused.
“For not being here for you all. I … I think you know that I’ve found it difficult to adjust to life here,” she says quietly.
“I know you’re trying your best,” I say reassuringly.
“Things are going to change from now on. The three of you need me, and I intend to be here for you. I know you’re upset over ‘The Calling’, I understand and I’m upset for you too. Getting married should be one of the best days of your life, something you really look forward to. Being in love is magical; experiencing the rush of emotions and finding that one person you just can’t live without—it’s such an amazing feeling! I’m unhappy it’s being forced on you, at a time when you’re not ready. Marriage is a challenge at the best of times, and it requires a strong union to keep it on track. So even if the right choice is made, your life may be tougher than it needs to be. But there’s no option sweetie, this is what the government has decreed. To rebuke it has dire consequences. At least we have some influence over the ultimate decision, that counts for something. I want you to know that I’m here for you, whenever you need to talk, just come find me.” She ruffles my hair and places a gentle kiss on my forehead before closing the door on her way out. It’s hugely comforting to feel mothered again.
I had a huge collection of books at home on Earth, and reading was one of my all-time favorite pastimes. We only had permission to bring a few belongings with us to Novo and paper books were seen as an unnecessary waste of our travel allowance, because of the vast e-library available to access via the data-cuff and commiboard. In my opinion, the experience isn’t the same unless you feel the pages between your fingers. I remember many nights reading late into the early hours of the morning, unable or unwilling to put the book down. I decide to read ‘Wuthering Heights’, maybe its depiction of morality, inhumanity, cruelty and forced marriages in the eighteenth century will help put my situation into perspective.
Zane is one of many people walking towards a huge red bricked concrete building. As the crowd surges towards the entrance door, a young woman holds tightly onto his arm. She has short blonde hair and hazel eyes. She’s throwing her head back in laughter. A grungy haired guy is on her adjoining side. They separate inside and the two boys descend several flights of stairs into a locker room. Zane is encased fully in a white latex bodysuit; goggles protect his eyes. He is seated at a clinical desk pouring liquid into vials.
I wake to the sound of the alarm with my hand still holding onto the book. I cannot recall at what stage I fell asleep, only that my dreams included a ghostly Catherine and a beastly Heathcliff. The intermittent flashes of Zane broke through the nightmares.