Today I’m super-pleased to welcome onto my blog multitalented author of books for children and adults and a writing tutor, Karen King. Take it away, Karen!
Hi Sheryl, Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog. I’m super-excited to have a lovely trailer for my YA Sapphire Blue, an afterlife romance thriller. You can watch it here:
Sapphire Blue is my second YA and it’s a story that wouldn’t go away.
I first started writing Sapphire Blue seven years ago. I wrote a brief synopsis and sample pages and sent them to a publisher I worked with who I knew were planning on expanding their children’s fiction list. The editor loved the idea right away and told me they wanted it when they brought out their YA list. A couple of years passed during which I wrote several other books and added to Sapphire Blue now and again. Then the publisher told me they’d had to shelve their fiction list so I put it away. A friend who’d seen the original chapters persuaded me to keep writing it up. I got about half way through and shelved it again. Then another writer friend read it and persuaded me to finish it. So finally I did.
What it’s about
Sapphire Blue is set in the afterlife and is based on the concept of true love being eternal. Sapphire and her boyfriend Will are killed in the first chapter but love each other so much they search for each other. They find that the afterworld is split into seven zones, each named after the colour of the rainbow. They both believe the other one to have been taken by the Soul Catchers to Red, a zone where all your nightmares come true. They love each other so much that they go to Red to find each other. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot but it’s a mix of romance and horror – the first time I’ve ever written horror, actually. It’s not my usual sort of story but it’s the one that I’ve carried in my head for seven years so I hope the readers enjoy it.
Here’s the cover.
Our first drive together. Later, I’ll take photos of wherever it is we’re going, save a leaflet, a ticket, or receipt. Today deserves a whole page in our scrapbook.
Will’s a good driver. His eyes constantly dart to the mirrors to check what’s behind him, around him, in front of him, and he keeps his speed steady. I feel safe with him.
I look out of the passenger window, trying to guess where we’re going. As soon as we join the dual carriageway I know. Mawlish Cove. Where we went for our very first proper date. It’s our special place, the one we go to when we want to celebrate something, but usually we have to cycle there. I think of all the places we can go now that Will can drive, to the coast a few miles away, a sightseeing tour of the local villages, maybe even drive to Wales to see my cousin, Gemma. I’ll be seventeen in a few months and maybe I can pass my test too, then we can go away for weekend, share the driving. I glance at Will and smile. I’m so proud of him.
“I love you,” I say.
“Love you too,” he replies. Then he starts singing.
I do love you,
Forever you!” I join in the chorus, bubbles of happiness fizzing through me.
Will wrote the song for me last Christmas, calling it Sapphire ‘Blue’ after the color of my eyes—he said. He knew his folks were buying him the guitar he’d been begging for all year, so had secretly written the song to surprise me. It was the first thing he played. I remember how he picked up the guitar, slowly strumming the strings, then he’d walked over to me, sat down beside me and gazing into my eyes he’d started singing. It was only a short song, one verse, nothing special, I guess, but it summed us up. Me and Will, together forever. A warm surge of love spreads through me. I reach out and touch his hand. He turns to me and our eyes meet.
Just for a couple of seconds. An eye blink. Hardly any time at all.
But long enough for us to not notice the container fall off the back of the lorry in front. When we do notice, it’s in the middle of the road, blocking our path. A shard of ice slithers down my spine.
“Stop! Will, stop! We’re going to crash!”
Even as I shriek the words I know that there isn’t enough time to stop. I’m frozen to my seat, my eyes fixed in terror on the huge metal box just meters away.
“Hold tight!” Will jerks the steering wheel to the left in an attempt to avoid it, but he loses control of the car, and we’re skidding off the road. OMG, now we’re heading for a huge tree. It’s looming in front of us, solid and immovable. Its long, leafy branches swaying in the wind like scaly, green arms reaching out to grab us.
“Shit!” Will’s almost standing on the brakes in an effort to stop the car. My body shoots forward, then is pulled back by the seatbelt. My head slams against the back of the seat. The tires screech as the car starts to slow down but not quick enough for us to avoid the tree. I shut my eyes, not wanting to see the inevitable, horrific moment of impact. I can hear Will shouting, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I love you!” I want to tell him that I love him too, but I can’t speak, can’t move, my body’s turned into a block of granite.
I’m dimly aware that someone is screaming as if their soul is being ripped from their body. It is a few seconds before I realize that the screams are mine.
We’re going to die.
An explosion shatters in my head.
You can buy it from Amazon: http://bookgoodies.com/a/1625261667
And other book stores
My first YA is called Perfect Summer and is set in the not-too distant future when society is so obsessed with perfection that being different in any way is considered a crime. Morgan, the heroine, has a younger brother, Josh, with Down’s syndrome and she and her family are under a lot of pressure to have him put away in a home so life is tough for Morgan. Whereas her best friend, Summer, seems to have a perfect life. Then Josh goes missing and in her quest to find him Morgan encounters great danger and discovers that Summer’s life isn’t so perfect after all.
Here’s the cover.
I raced along the street, looking for number fourteen, the address we had for Emma. I was at number thirty-four so I ran on. As I passed a small pathway separating a block of houses, two people came running out-both dressed in dark leisure suits. I barely had time to notice that one was a man, the other a woman, before the man charged into me, knocking me to the ground.
“Ow!” I yelled as I hit the pavement, landing on my left shoulder. “What the heck…?”
Furious, I pulled myself up and rubbed my shoulder. It stung like mad, and I could already feel the throb of a bruise forming. I glared up at the man then sucked in my breath as I saw the young girl, flung face down over his shoulder. I noticed the heavy boot on her left leg then the metal splint supporting it. She was wearing a calliper. She must be Emma. And they were kidnapping her!
“Hey, stop!” I yelled, scrambling to my feet. “Help! Help! Kidnap!” I screeched, running after them.
Jamie looked over, heard me and started towards us then suddenly backtracked to the van, shouting into his squilb.
“Law enforcement? You need to get to fourteen Greenhall Street, Barton fast. A young girl’s being kidnapped!”
The man snarled. “Get to the van quick!”
I charged after them as they both sprinted over to the van.
I’d heard people say that when they’d been faced with a dangerous situation, they didn’t have time to think, they just reacted. Just did what anyone else would do. Well, that’s exactly what happened to me.
I sort of went into auto-pilot. All I could think of was saving that little girl from whatever fate those two sickos had planned for her. Trying to ignore the stabbing pain in my shoulder, I ran after them, hollering for help at the top of my voice, hoping to alert Emma’s parents, the neighbours, anyone.
No one came.
The man ran faster, swearing profusely. The girl’s arms dangled limply down his back, her long hair cascading over her like a dark veil. She was so lifeless, that for a moment I feared she was dead. But then I realized she was probably drugged. After all, why would they want to carry off a dead body?
Jamie finished his phone call, and was leaning against the driver’s door of the van, obviously hoping to prevent them getting in. They ignored him and ran straight to the back, the woman in the lead. Jamie chased after them, shouting for help. We were both hollering at the top of our voices, but no one came to see what all the noise was about. Maybe the kidnappers chose the daytime to seize their victims because they knew most people were out at work then.
The woman pulled open the back doors of the van. “Quick! Get her inside before someone comes to check what these perishing kids are screaming at!”
A stitch was gnawing at my side. I tried to ignore it, forcing myself to run faster so I could help Jamie, who battled with the woman. I reached the van just as the man flung the little girl into the back of it. Jamie pushed past him and tried to pull her back out.
“You…” The man spat and cursed, kicking Jamie in the stomach with such force he fell back onto the ground.
Horrified, I heard Jamie groan and saw him curl up into a ball, clutching his stomach.
“Jamie!” I screamed. Pushing past the man I bent down to help Jamie up but the woman yanked me back by my hair so hard, I thought my scalp would come off in her hands. I jammed my elbow into her chest in a desperate attempt to force her to loosen her grip. Before I could wriggle free, I felt something placed over my mouth. A sickly, sweet smell flooded my nose and swarmed up into my head. Then everything went blank.
You can buy it from Amazon: http://bookgoodies.com/a/1482720639
And other books stores
Work in Schools
I’m proud to be Patron of Reading for Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College, Worcester. Encouraging children to read and write is very important to me and I often visit schools to talk about my work and run creative writing workshops with the pupils.
I’ve been visiting schools for over ten years now, and first started when I Iived in Cornwall. The Tate Gallery in St Ives asked me to run workshops based around one of their artist’s paintings. I enjoyed it and more visits followed.
I work with primary and secondary schools. For younger children I run a variety of workshops about creating characters and building up stories. We create stories about aliens, dragons, make up codes and other fun things. I love to read the stories children create and put a lot of them on my website.
The workshops I run in secondary schools are based around Perfect Summer and Sapphire Blue and cover characterisation, viewpoints, show not tell, setting the scene and story beginnings.
I’m an author of books for children and adults and a writing tutor. I started my writing career with the teenage magazine, Jackie and spent many years writing for various children’s magazines before concentrating solely on writing books. I’ve had over one hundred children’s books published by a range of publishers, including Walker, Scholastic and Harper Collins. I’ve also written several romance stories for women’s magazines and had two romance novels published, under the name of Kay Harborne. My third novel, a contemporary romance, will be published by Accent Press next year, under the name of Karen King.
You can find out more about me and my work at http://www.karenking.net/
Wow! Multitalented and prolific! I love the excerpts, Karen. Thanks so much for sharing. On a personal note, I’ve watched Karen in action in schools. I should say, watched in awe. The children are amazingly enthusiastic. Well done, Karen. And huge congratulations on your new contract with Accent Press. Good luck.
Keep safe all!
Lots of Love,