Mandy the Bookworm has released her review of Downburst! You can read the entire review here.
“Katie Robison’s Downburst was just what I needed. I was in a bit of a reading slump, reading a few books at the same time but nothing really grabbing my attention. I wanted to read a book which whispered to me, ‘Go on, read some more, you know you want to, don’t put me to bed yet’…Boy did I pick the right book!!
“Downburst is Katie Robison’s debut YA novel and it is set to be a great series – The Windstorm Series. I completely agree with many others who have said this series will rival The Hunger Games…I can say that although the blurb sounds quite exciting enough in itself it most certainly does not even come close to illustrating just what this book is about……..oh, the last line is pretty good! You will be surprised, just know that.
“Katie Robison has obviously given thought to how she was going to present the world in Downburst as the details are such that it makes this make-believe fiction setting seem real. I certainly could picture in my mind the environment/setting for the story, the descriptions were more than sufficient to open up that creative part of my brain and conjure up a picture that fit….The storyline was great, started off with a bang and ended with a………well let’s just say it ended leaving a definite want for more!… I just love when a book leaves you feeling like that! Well done, Katie Robison!
“Fantastic start to the series! Loved the ending of the first book! Can’t wait to see what will happen next! Word of advice – get your hands on this one if you haven’t already.”
Sorry it’s taken me so long to post the answers to the sneak peek competition. (I recently took my preliminary exams for the Ph.D., and preparing for them has completely consumed my time.) The first allusion comes from Virginia Woolf’s novel, The Voyage Out. The main character, Rachel Vinrace, journeys to South America where she eventually becomes sick from a fever and experiences intense hallucinations. I used a few of Woolf’s images, such as the old woman under the tunnel (which indicate something about the character’s anxieties), to enhance Kit’s own delirium.
The second allusion comes from Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, another narrative about a character who travels to an unfamiliar place, far from home. One of the most famous scenes from Defoe’s novel is when Robinson Crusoe discovers–and is terrified by–a single footprint on his deserted island. Critics have long disputed the origin of this footprint. Now we finally have the answer!
Congratulations to our giveaway winners, Lexi J. and Laura T.!
If you missed my interview with the Indie Book Exchange last week, you can listen to it here. (Be warned: there was a feedback issue, so you get to hear everything I say twice!)
Thanks again, Donna and Coral! I had a lot of fun.
To whet your appetite for book two of the series, I happily present this brief excerpt. (Please note that this is a work in progress and that all content is subject to change–and copyright. )
Just for fun, I’ve included direct allusions to two notable literary works which I find to be thematically relevant to my story. And for even more fun, I’ve decided that the first two people to correctly identify the texts–the first person to guess Text A and the first person to guess Text B–will receive a free copy of the book when it’s released! (Send your answer to email@example.com.) Good luck, and enjoy!
The hippopotamus begat a clamshell. For a long time, the clamshell danced on top of the mountains. And then it grew tired of its game and swallowed the earth.
This time I hear the roar as it clamps down its jaws, flattening the cliffs. The boom punches through my eardrums, and once again I’m falling toward razor-edged sand dunes.
“The whole time, or thereabouts.”
“You must have used a lot of hop.”
“That and a few other things.”
It’s raining again. Why does it always rain when I want to have a parade? Mom told me the rain would stop. She was such a liar.
“Will there be brain damage?”
“No. I was careful. She’ll come around soon enough.”
Clamshells hate the sun. They only let pale blue light into the sky—squiggly pale blue and purple. And rain. Always rain. It makes the sand glop into mud. At least the hippopotamus is happy.
The mud slips away from under my feet, and cold waves drill through my stomach as I somersault into the Mariana Trench.
“Well I didn’t mean to, did I?”
“You’re being careless.”
“I’m plain knackered, that’s what.”
“Stop your whinging and pick up her feet.”
A gray bird swims past me and promptly eats a whale. It swallows the blubber down then crows in joy. A second later, it’s eaten by a shark. I can still hear it crowing and shrieking inside the shark’s body. The shark swims by me, and I grab its fin, ride up with it to the surface.
Loud vibrations sing through my bones. The clamshell must be chewing on us. That, or it’s the sea turtles, hammering on their shells. I try to plug my ears, but the shark won’t let me. Instead, it starts to sing.
From far away, a Great White answers his song. “Kia tupato,” she wails. “Kaua e takahia te mana o te tangata.”
“Can you please pass the salt?” I ask. “This clam is bland.”
I swim away from the shark and the purple-blue light in search of my seasoning. I know salt lives in the ocean, but I can’t find the shaker.
There! Inside a coral reef. How typical.
But just as I’m about to grab it, the rain gets in the way.
Fine, I’ll give up on the ocean. I turn around and swim for the sky. I fly through the rain and say so long to the drumming drum-drum-a-long turtles. If only crazy bird would leave me alone.
And it rained. And it rained. And it rained.
I find shelter under a tunnel. An old woman is there playing cards. Her long gray hair flows in the breeze. Behind her, the bricks of the tunnel wall ooze with damp, collecting into drops and sliding down the rock. When they reach the ground, they turn into pieces of bone. The woman looks at me and holds up a card. I see her arm is really a snake.
“No, thank you,” I say.
“Then you can be wool,” she responds.
The bone water flies off the wall toward me. But before I can catch the droplets, they disappear into the wool that’s now stuffed inside my head and arms and chest and toenails.
“There it falls!” I gasp through the wool in my mouth as the bird’s head plops to my feet. I think the snake killed it.
Then the bird’s head screams, blasting a hole in the wool—a tiny prick of light in the thick wall of fleece. The dense blanket melts and curls away, the light waxing blisteringly hot. And then I feel the blast rip through my arms and legs as the wool is yanked from my bones.
My eyelids shudder open, and I gasp for air. For a moment, all I can hear is my hoarse breathing; all I can feel is an ache in my limbs. And then the room around me slides into focus.
I’m in an old house. I can tell because of the smell—damp walls, rotted wood, a bland odor like boiled vegetables. I’m lying on my back, wrapped in hand-knitted blankets, on a bed that takes up practically the entire floor. The beige plaster on the wall in front of me is peeling. To my left, a sketch of a bird hangs off-center.
In another room, I hear the shrill scream of a kettle boiling over. The angry air pushes the brain cells around in my head, making it very hard to think.
Where am I? There’s something mundane about that old smell, but the harder I think about it the less familiar it grows. Am I at the home of one of Sue’s friends? Maybe Rose down the street? But why am I in one of her bedrooms?
On my right is a glass door leading to the outside. I sit up slowly—my head pitches against my skull—and push aside the blankets. My arm stings, but I ignore it. I ignore my legs too, the sudden pricking in my blood, as I carefully lower my feet to the ground. An inexplicable dread is growing in my stomach, as if I sneaked inside to steal something and fell asleep on the job. I need to get out of here.
I force open the glass door and hobble into the sunshine. After a few blinding steps, I realize I’m on a dirt path and that directly ahead of me is a large body of water.
Am I at the lake? Maybe I got tired and someone let me take a nap in their cabin. But I’ve never been to this part of the shoreline; I don’t recognize a thing. Where is Sue? Jack and Maisy? Why did they leave me alone?
I curse as I step on something prickly and pick up my foot, tripping over logs and rocks. And then suddenly my toes are sinking into softness, and the slamming sound of waves is rushing into my ears. I get a mouthful of pungent salt as I turn my head to face an endless expanse of gray sand, strewn with driftwood and backed by dunes of spiky shrubs.
There are no beaches like this at Lake of the Woods.
I stagger toward the pounding water, hundreds of questions plugging up my mind, the dread in my gut growing exponentially. I look around desperately for something to tell me where I am. A sign, a person, a newspaper. But there’s nothing.
And then I stop and squint at the sand, my pulse rising in my ears. On the beach, directly in front of me, is a footprint.
I continue to stare. Something isn’t right. I look up and down the shoreline, but I don’t see any other tracks. How is that possible? We’re too high up the beach for the water to have erased any impressions. No one could have left an isolated print like that.
No one, except …
“Kava.” I stumble backward and trip again, this time falling to the ground. My elbow smacks a rock, and I cry out from more than the pain. It’s all surging back now. Winnipeg. The camp. Rye. The fortress. The bomb. And, them.
I have to get out of here! I stand up, forcing aside the protesting throb in my leg.
But when I raise my head, I freeze. Standing on the beach behind me, only a few yards away, is a tall woman with flowing gray hair. Her hands are on her hips, and black tattoos snake down her left arm.
“Sorry, love,” she says, “There’s nowhere for you to go.”
When I’m writing descriptively, I find my prose becomes much more vivid and concrete if I actively describe an image in front of me rather than simply conjure one in my mind. So, before I try to depict a kayak or a tree house or a camouflaged jumpsuit or anything, I find a picture of it first.
This works on a larger scale as well. If I want to detail an action sequence, for example, I’ll watch clips from action movies. If my character is walking around a city, I’ll chart her course on Google Maps and use the street view option to see exactly what she sees. If I’m writing about a vicious thunderstorm, I’ll watch some weather footage on the Internet. It’s amazing how much of a difference this technique makes.
Next time you’re struggling to write description, try looking at a picture.
YA writer Chersti Nieveen says of Downburst, “The book is well-paced and full of action, with Kit proving to be a competent hero…The biggest surprise was the ending, which kept me riveted on my seat until the last page when all I could think was ‘when does the next one come out?’ Overall, a very satisfying read.”
Check out her blog and enter the giveaway here. Thanks, Chersti!
Don’t miss another giveaway. This time courtesy of Amanda’s Writings!
My protagonist was originally Aura, not Kit.
Jeremy wasn’t supposed to be a love interest. (He decided that on his own!)
In an earlier draft, there were 11 other initiates in the van: Veni, Vidi, Vici (later Titan), Monk, Napoleon, Bullseye, Gander, Dee, Dum, Charity, and Diva.
The original spat with Diva occurred in a restaurant.
When Kit was kidnapped, she was taken to a warehouse to rendezvous with the others instead of what became the gas station.
Kohangaere is based on a real language, but I can’t tell you which one (yet!).