It's all thanks to Ingrid (of course) and Dianne from Oops! I Read A Book Again that I'm able to share these goodies with all of you! We have a giveaway, an excerpt from In The Beginning There Was Us, a guest post by Ingrid herself, and more! I invite you all to pull up a chair, get a warm beverage and enjoy everything we have in store for you ;)
Ingrid Jonach writes books for kids and teens.
Her young adult sci fi romance novels When the World was Flat (and we were in love) and In The Beginning There Was Us are available now.
She is also the author of the picture book A Lot of Things and the chapter books The Frank Frankie and Frankie goes to France published by Pan Macmillan Australia.
Ingrid has worked as a journalist and public relations consultant, and has a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing with Honors in Communications.
She lives down under - in Canberra, Australia - with her husband Craig and their pug dog Mooshi.
Why I Love Writing sci-fi YA
by Ingrid Jonach
I love writing for young adults—mainly because I like reading young adult novels, so I guess I feel like I'm writing for myself. And, even though I’m now well beyond the traditional age bracket, my favourite contemporary author remains Sarah Dessen (who has just released her twelfth novel Saint Anything. Yay!).
When I was writing books for kids, I used to get asked all the time whether I had kids myself. I somewhat sheepishly replied, ‘No,’ as if this somehow disqualified me from being able to entertain and educate that age group. After all, I was a kid once myself.
And that’s exactly how I look at my obsession with young adult novels. I was—not too long ago—a teenager and it left an indelible mark on me. I think what really appeals to me about writing for young adults is that you’re exploring the transition to adulthood, which gives you some really heavy themes like the loss of innocence and search for identity, coupled with characters who vary vastly in maturity.
I’ve always been a big fan of fantasy—more so than science fiction. The books I adored growing up were mostly supernatural (for example, anything by Australian author Victor Kelleher). I particularly adored the horror genre. I devoured anything with vampires in it (WAY before Twilight) and cut my teeth on R. L. Stine.
When I started pitching my first young adult novel—When the World was Flat (and we were in love)—to agents, I actually described it as a fantasy novel. Embarrassing as this is for someone with a writing degree to admit, I wasn’t a reader of science fiction and thought of it largely as stories set in space (hard science fiction). When I finally pieced together that Albert Einstein and his Theory of Everything were science and NOT fantasy (duh!), I started describing my story as science fiction fantasy and then soft science fiction and now science fiction romance and sometimes speculative fiction. The genre, however, that I think really sums it up is the non-existent genre of urban science fiction (a hypothetical counterpart to urban fantasy).
My follow up young adult novel, In The Beginning There Was Us, is also urban science fiction (I’m just going to go ahead and coin it as a genre). Both of my young adult novels look at re-imagined histories and possible scientific explanations for the inexplicable in a contemporary setting. For example, scientific theories I have developed (or dreamed up) about ghosts and luck. I use the term ‘scientific’ loosely, of course. The theories are only based in science – the rest is based in what if?
You know how kids go through the ‘why?’ phase. They ask what you’re doing and when you tell them they want to know why. And when you tell them why their next question is inevitably, ‘why?’ I think I’ve never left that phase behind. I enjoyed maths at school until my teachers stopped being able to explain to me why I needed to understand trigonometry and calculus. Then I dropped it (something I somewhat regret, but that saw me pass my final exams with flying colours!).
This insatiable curiosity has led me to the science fiction genre. The romance that’s spread throughout my novels is just the icing on the cake. Couple both of those with the young adult demographic and I have so much scope for my imagination!
In The Beginning There Was Us
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Blurb: What would you do if you were God? If you had the power to not only give life, but take it away in the blink of an eye? These are the questions that haunt fifteen-year-old Abbey Baxter after she resurrects a boy, long lost to the ages.
The achingly beautiful and eternally melancholy Cole not only serves as a welcome distraction from her long-time crush, Elwin, but also eases the heartache that persists since the sudden passing of her younger brother, Junior, four years earlier.
As the intrigue of her relationship with Cole deepens, so too does the mystery that surrounds a growing phenomenon sweeping through her small West Virginian town, transforming the lives of its residents. Around her, two bedroom cottages are transforming into mansions without explanation and residents are waking up to bank balances that have tripled overnight, all under the watchful gaze of the sinister American Laboratory for Particle Physics, located on the outskirts of town.
As Abbey searches for answers in a bid to solve the mystery in partnership with Elwin, she’s forced into a realization that that some things are better left buried, including her newfound love, Cole.
This cautionary tale of heartache and obsession explores the endless possibilities of the universe and its devastating impact on two young lovers from different worlds.
Excerpt from In The Beginning There Was Us
I’m dreaming about Cole and in my dream, he’s lying beside me on the grass, listening to me talk nonsense. And I mean that literally. It’s a dream after all.
We’re talking about how we’re getting married in the Fall. When I ask whether he wants to get married in Albert Falls or Italy, he tells me his hometown had been part of the European Apocalypse.
I stop speaking mid-sentence as Cole brushes my cheek with his fingers. He leans towards me, his porcelain skin dappled in the sunlight that filters through the leaves.
I open my eyes. I’m curled up on my side with the grass tickling my cheek. I blink owlishly at a pair of red skate shoes. “Cole?” I mumble.
I roll onto my back and stare up at a wide smile and a mop of light brown hair. “Elwin. Hi.” I return his smile as I realize he’d just called me Abbey, instead of Quasi.
I sit up too quickly, moaning at the rush of blood to my head.
“Are you OK?” he asks, crouching down and steadying me with an arm around my shoulders.
“Head spin.” I rub my temples, trying to get rid of the black spots in my vision. My heart’s thudding like a bass drum, but that’s because I’m in his arms, not because of my blood pressure.
“Have you had lunch?”
I shake my head.
And thus begins the best thirty-five minutes of my life. Elwin buys us hot dogs and sodas, before settling down beside me on the grass to watch the game. It feels like we’re on a date.
“Do you like volleyball?” he asks.
I choke on my mouthful of hot dog as I laugh.
Elwin grins and nudges me companionably. “I forgot. It sends you to sleep.”
“I shut my eyes for like a second,” I lie.
“You were snoring.”
I gasp and nudge him back. “I was not!”
He chuckles, flashing me a picture perfect smile.
I look straight ahead at the court in case I swoon. Is this another dream? It’s been years since I’ve had one-on-one time with Elwin.
I can remember having heart to hearts with him after Junior had died. Mali would be lapping their indoor pool and we’d be stretched out on the chaise lounges talking. It had been good to be able to take off my Moretta mask for a while—even Mali had been speechless when it came to Junior.
That was when I’d started crushing on Elwin majorly—like stealing strands of hair from his comb and hiding a photo of him in my underwear drawer majorly. Yeah. I know. Stalker.
“How was New York?” Elwin asks, tilting his head and studying me with gold-flecked eyes.
The key chain in my pocket digs into my thigh and I shift my weight as I’m reminded of Cole. “Good,” I say.
“How was your mum without…” He doesn’t even have to add “Junior.”
I shrug as I give my earlobe an absentminded tug. “OK.”
“At least you got a full week with the folks,” Elwin muses and I think about his own parents. It’s been about six months since they were last home and even then I think it had only been for three weeks.
“Have your parents called?” I ask.
He nods. “I told them not to come home. I’m not sure they would have let them in during those first two weeks anyway.”
There’s something in his tone that makes it sound like coming home hadn’t even been a consideration for his parents.
They’d often talked about moving to New York or Los Angeles since they'd launched Buzz-O-Rama, but the Kendricks have lived in Albert Falls since their great-great-grandfather emigrated from Ireland. Mr Kendrick likes to joke that he bleeds coal dust and I actually think he misses working at Albert Falls Coke & Co.
Elwin gives a whoop as his eyes return to the court.
“What happened?” I ask.
Elwin shrugs. “Buck hit the ball,” he says and then touches his finger to the side of his nose. “Between you and me? I hate volleyball too. All I know about it is that it involves a ball and a net.”
I laugh, my face flushing as I finish with a snort.
Elwin grins and then reclines on his elbow on the grass. There’s no conversation for six lots of five seconds. I actually count each tick of the clock on my watch.
I’m about to put myself out of my misery by commenting on the weather when Elwin finally speaks, as if the thirty seconds had been one second.
“Did you hear about the Hallifords?” he asks.
I could kiss him for starting a conversation. Correction. I could kiss him period. “No,” I say, making myself look at his eyes, instead of at his lips.
“Do you know their house on Fourth Street?”
I nod. Albert Falls is hardly New York. It’s not even Brooklyn. It’s a duplex in Brooklyn. My dad’s on lean-on-the-fence-and-talk-for-two-hours terms with Mr Halliford, who works as a janitor at Albert Falls Elementary. And my mom used to be friends with Mrs Halliford, who’s expecting their third child in October.
“I think it’s about twice the size of our house now.”
“What?” The Hallifords live in a three-bedroom cottage that looks like it needs a lick of paint and a new roof. It’s definitely no Buzz-O-Rama Mansion. “How?”
“It literally happened overnight,” Elwin says. “I spoke to Jeremy Blundall this morning,” he continues and then pauses. “I think you know his sister Katie. She’s your age. Maybe older.”
Katie Blundall? She’s thirteen! “She’s two years younger,” I correct him and he shrugs, not noticing my flushed cheeks as he continues his story about the Hallifords.
“Jeremy said he went to bed next door to a cottage and woke up next to a mansion. You’d think he would have woken up if there was a house being built next door. He said Mr Halliford was just as stunned as everyone else.”
“Welcome to Albert Falls,” Elwin says with a nod to one of the soldiers.
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