We are today's stop on the Mind Secrets Blog Tour. Author Chris Reynolds has written a guest post for us and is sharing an excerpt. Welcome Chris Reynolds to our blog.
by Chris Reynolds
BLURB: On the run and without his memories, Michael escapes from a man called Carter onto the unfamiliar streets of London. There, he meets a gang of teenagers with the power to sense the thoughts and feelings of others. They live in fear of ‘the cure’, a mysterious process which takes away their power and, some believe, destroys their personality. Suspecting the cure caused his memory loss, Michael goes undercover to investigate the truth behind the doctors of the cure clinic. What he discovers leads him to a conspiracy that runs to the heart of government and reveals the shocking reality of his own past.
Mind Secrets is a compelling thriller set in a contemporary world and will appeal to anyone who's ever wondered what it's like to have mind powers.
Topic: In a YA market filled with the paranormal you have decided to write about something different: mind powers. Can you tell us how Michael's story began for you, when you knew you had something there, and how you feel about your finished work?
It was precisely because there were few books about teenagers with special powers that I wanted to write one. It was a subject that hooked me from childhood. From television shows like The Tomorrow People to novels like John Wyndham’s The Crysalids, I devoured the stuff. And, as I grew up, I continued to want to devour the stuff. But where was it? It was very difficult to find. People were writing about vampires, werewolves and demons — which is perfectly fine — but not necessarily what I wanted to read. There was only one thing for it: write my own.
That’s how it began. I wanted to write the sort of story which had enthralled me as a teenager, but for years I had been too scared to tackle it. Like many writers, I learnt my craft by writing a series of flawed books and never had the courage to do something about that idea which was nagging at the back of my mind. Only when I thought I was I good enough writer, did I sit down to plot out that “kids with special powers” story I had always wanted to tell.
But I needed to update it. In the days of mobile phones and Skype, the allure of being able to communicate with your friends inside your head — telepathy — wasn’t the same as it had been for me as a child. If kids want to secretly gossip among themselves these days, they just send each other a text. So I didn’t want to write about that, even though I had always loved telepathy stories. I also didn’t want something that was too farfetched — like people moving objects with their minds or teleporting themselves across vast distances. I wanted to tell a story that was more grounded, with teenagers who had developed a power which you could almost believe might have emerged naturally through evolution. Like being able to sense the thoughts and feelings of other people. Our brains are so powerful and our thoughts are so loud within our own heads that it doesn’t take too much of a leap of the imagination to believe someone else might be able to eavesdrop on them.
I took that central idea and expanded upon it. What if that suddenly happened in our world? If teenagers were able to sense the thoughts and feelings of other people, then adults would be scared. There would be two sets of people in society, ‘Perceivers’ (as I called those with the power) and ‘Norms’. Those two cultures would clash and that would lead to a dramatic backdrop for my story.
The story of Michael — my main character — actually came second to the central idea. I knew I needed a viewpoint character and I knew I wanted to stay with that character for the whole novel, so he needed to be at the heart of the story. That meant I had to tell the background through his eyes — and that was tough, because I had to explain about a society of Perceivers from the point of view of someone living in it. So, before the story begins, I had someone wipe Michael’s memories. Not in a cheesy amnesia kind of way, but in a sinister way which suggested someone wanted him to forget.
It gave me a great way to open the story. Michael is being chased by a man called Carter, but he doesn’t know why. He escapes and joins up with a gang of Perceivers hoping they can retrieve the secrets lost inside his mind. Instead, he ends up getting involved in their fight against adults who want to take away their powers and, in the process, uncovers the truth about his own past.
I didn’t know I ‘had something’ with Mind Secrets until I started getting emails from editors saying ‘have you sold it yet, can you send me the whole manuscript?’. Still I’m surprised when people tell me they stayed reading in the bath with the water getting cold around rather than put down the book to get out (yes, someone actually said that).
So, I love my own book. Is that bad? Something inside of me says I shouldn’t, that I should have a healthy distain for it. But I love stories about kids with special powers, I love the adventure I put Michael through, and I think I was at the right stage of my career to do the idea justice.
(c) Chris Reynolds, 2012
She was about sixteen years old with brown eyes, black hair that fell in waves to below her shoulders, and dark skin. ‘Is your name Michael?’ she said.
Michael was taken aback. ‘Yeah.’
‘There’s two blokes out here looking for you.’
‘What?’ Michael rushed to the curtain and poked his head out into the corridor. Two men in suits were walking down the cubicles, checking each one. Michael drew his head back inside and pulled the curtain shut. ‘How do you know they’re after me?’
‘I saw it in their heads,’ she said.
‘You read their minds?’ said Michael.
‘I’m a Perceiver, not a mind reader.
‘Do you know what they want?’ asked Michael.
She shrugged. ‘Something about Carter...?’
He knew it was stupid to have come to the hospital. It was the first place someone would look if they were after a stab victim on the run. ‘Shit!’
The girl handed him a jumper. ‘I thought you might need this.’
Michael looked at his blood-splattered shirt with one sleeve cut off screwed up on the bed, then across to the jumper belonging to a dead man in the girl’s hand. He grabbed the jumper and put it on. ‘Why are you helping me?’
‘Just ’cos I’m a Perceiver, don’t mean I’m not nice.’ She took a quick peek out of the curtain. ‘You can make a run for it, if you go now.’
Michael looked out too. The men were a couple of metres away with their backs to him.
‘Thanks,’ he said to the girl. He stepped out into the corridor and ran. Back through the reception area of A&E, past the seats of waiting patients and out through the automatic doors, with no idea of who he was and where he was going.
About the author: Chris Reynolds is a lover of adventure stories. Chris spent her time growing up avidly reading them, watching them on TV and writing them in her school exercise books. She was often frustrated that stories written by other people didn’t go the way she wanted them to, so she decided to write her own. In the interim, she has worked for the BBC and independent radio as a journalist, written for magazines and some published non-fiction books. Now her stories are available for all to read, following the release of her acclaimed debut novel “Mind Secrets”.
Chris lives among the Chiltern Hills, north of London.
Author links: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Chris will be awarding a $10 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. One randomly drawn host will win a $10 Amazon GC.
Follow the tour and comment to increase your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here.