Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Gray Island By J.C. Aster ~ Evernight Teen ~ Giveaway ~ Interview

Gray Island
By J.C. Aster


Crystal: Today I have the pleasure of having J.C. Aster stop by for a visit. She has agreed to answer a few interview questions today. I love these fun little interviews as some of you. Thank you for visiting today J.C. I'm very honored to have you here today. Would you share a little bit about yourself with us today?

J.C. : I’m about to turn 50, am happily single, and live in the icy-cold Northeast. I have been writing pretty much every day since I was about ten years old. I’ve published romances, magazine articles, and nonfiction under various pen names, but Gray Island is my first attempt at YA.

Crystal: Do you have a favorite scene you would like to share with us?

J.C. : I think anyone who was bullied for being different, as I was from about the fourth grade on, will enjoy the very scene in which Sage, my young hero, literally turns the tables on his tormentors. That was highly cathartic for me, even some 30 years after I graduated from high school.

Crystal: Where did you come up with the idea for your current release?

J.C. : I had been wanting to write a YA novel for some time, but my own fears and insecurities held me back. Then it struck me that I should start the project as a National Novel Writing Month (NanoWriMo) challenge. 50,000 words in 30 days. I did that and more and had a ball the whole time! It needed a lot of revision, as these things do, but I had done it—I had conquered my fear of starting a new genre.

Crystal: What are you currently working on?

J.C. : I’m collecting my thoughts for a Gray Island sequel, but meanwhile I am working on another YA contemporary, this time with a female protagonist and some light mystery. So far, so good!

Crystal: Do you have any special routine that you follow when you are writing? 

J.C. : Nano has been wonderful for me because it taught me one basic trick that gets me through all the tough spots—write 2,000 words a day, good or bad, whether I want to or not. That’s all it takes to get started. Revision is another matter, of course, but one can’t revise what doesn’t exist. Got to start somewhere and 2K a Day is as good a place as any! (I’ve now completed three Nano projects and found  publishers for all of them).

Crystal: Did you have to do a lot of research for this book or any other? If so do you have a fascinating fact that you have learned you would like to share with us?

J.C. : In the interest of adding some interesting and unfamiliar sea-spirit legends, actually read about not only mermen and mermaids, but humanoid sea creatures from many different cultures. I was amazed at how many different kinds there were, some evil and some good, and many of them would be great to use in stories!

Crystal: Who are some of your favorite authors that you like to read?

J.C. : I love the traditional Gothic authors like Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney, and Dorothy Daniels. As a teenager, I met Dan “Marilyn” Ross, who wrote hundreds of Gothic novels in the 1960s including the Dark Shadows paperback series. I will always cherish that memory and enjoy those books again and again!

Crystal: Is there any genre you haven't written that you would like to try?

J.C. : I would love to try a cozy mystery, perhaps crossed with Gothic paranormal. Hopefully this summer!


Sage Murdock has always felt different from the other students at his high school in Boston, and being bullied and ostracized has become a way of life he accepts…but at the same time, he worries that the whispers are true and that he is, in fact, mentally abnormal.

After a bullying incident at school provokes Sage to violence, his mother and stepfather tell him he is being sent to live with his biological father on Gray Island, a small weather-beaten island off the coast of Maine. There, Sage encounters many strange people who all seem to be hiding something.

A single bright spot is Cadi, a free-spirited girl about his own age. Unfortunately, Cadi is a member of a strange cult-like group that lives on the opposite side of Gray Island. Before long, Sage learns that his relationship with Cadi must end or the consequences will be catastrophic.

Evernight Teen/69k
Teen Romance/Paranormal/Shifters

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“I was out walking,” she answered, to his relief. She shook her head, sending a cascade of glistening raindrops from her honey-brown hair. The droplets seemed to descend in slow motion, twinkling like stardust.
“In the rain?”
“It isn’t raining anymore. Besides, I don’t mind. Rain is part of nature. We’re part of nature. It all fits, right?”
“I guess. I prefer to stay dry.”
“Oh? I can’t help but notice you’re out here, same as I am.”
“I…uh, yeah. I couldn’t sleep. And then I spotted you from my window.” He paused, fumbling for his next few words. “I…um…I saw Ivar tonight.”
Her rosy lips thinned. “I heard. I’m sorry he tormented you.”
Sage shrugged self-consciously. “It’s a public place. I guess he had a right to be there, same as I did.”
“Stuff like that happens because we have only one restaurant on the island. I know he goes there with his friends once in a while.”
“Do you ever go with him?” Sage asked hopefully.
“No. My parents won’t let me go anywhere that serves alcohol… besides, that place is a little noisy for my tastes.”
“I know what you mean.”
They fell into step together as they trudged through the sodden forest. The water dripping on her skin didn’t seem to bother her at all, nor did the chilly air. She was used to it, Sage supposed. Maybe he’d get used to it one day, too. But, no—he had no idea of staying that long.
Cadi did make it tempting to stick around a while, though.
“What’s the deal with you and Ivar, anyway?” he finally asked, unable to keep a note of strain from his voice. “You said once he wasn’t your boyfriend. But is he…I mean, are you and he…?”
She didn’t wait for him to finish. “I don’t like labels, personally. Do you?”
“I don’t know. It’s kind of hard to tell what’s inside the can without one.”
She laughed, a genuine and easy sort of laugh that banished the cold from his body. He smiled too. They walked on, side by side, not touching but enjoying the moment. At least, he was. And she seemed happy enough to stay beside him.
“I’m glad you have a sense of humor,” Cadi said. “Not many people around here do.”
“The weather makes them that way, maybe. No sun. I’ve been feeling kind of strange myself.”
“Not because of the weather. Haven’t you figured that out yet?” She stopped and looked at him intently.
“No. What do you mean? Figured what out?”
“Sage…you don’t know your father very well, do you? Or much about his life here?”
“Nah. Why would I? My parents split up and he took off when I was less than a year old. I haven’t had much contact with him since. Then, all of a sudden, my mother got this bright idea to send me out here to live with him.”
“She didn’t tell you why?” Cadi seemed genuinely concerned.
“Not in so many words. I figure she couldn’t handle me anymore. You know, hormones, bad temper, the usual teenage stuff.”
“No, Sage. It wasn’t the normal teenaged stuff. Trust me.”
“What do you mean?” He scowled and started walking again. “Are you trying to tell me my father is a serial killer or something?”
“No! No, Jeremy’s all right. I admit, my parents aren’t crazy about him, but they live on the other side of the island, so that’s to be expected.”
Sage scowled. “Don’t you come over to this side for school?”
“No. We have private lessons in the compound. Ivar’s father, Laurent—he’s sort of like our governor—appoints teachers for us. Sometimes he lectures to us, too. We can study at our own pace. I kind of like it that way. I don’t think I’d do well in your kind of school.”
“You’re kidding. That sounds like something from another century!”
“No, it’s modern enough. We have electricity and everything.” Her sardonic laugh ended in a sigh. “There’s a lot about this place you don’t understand, Sage.”
“I’ll be the first to admit that.”
She took his hand. He squeezed back. “You’ll find out a lot, soon enough. Too soon, and I hate thinking about it. I want to remember you like this: just a normal guy from Boston, taking an innocent walk with me through the forest. I wish it could stay like that.”
“What are you talking about? What do you mean? I’m lost.” He looked around at the dark trees that hemmed them in on all sides. Nothing looked familiar. “In more ways than one.”
“Don’t worry. You won’t be for long. Don’t try to answer these questions too soon. Let some things be a mystery. Once you look for answers, everything gets complicated.”
“I guess so. But I’d still like to know the truth.”
“And I like mystery. Maybe we’re not so compatible after all.”
“Don’t say that.”
“Then let some things stay unsaid. Don’t ask me things. Let’s just spend time together and enjoy it.”
“Okay. If that’s what you want.”
“I do, and I want things between us to be special. Like magic.” She grasped his hand, pulling him to a stop. Then she leaned up and kissed him on the mouth. Startled, Sage responded awkwardly at first. Despite what he’d seen in movies and TV shows, he wasn’t quite sure which way to tilt his lips, and at one point his front teeth knocked against hers. When she didn’t move away, though, he decided to let instinct guide him. That worked out better, as their mouths began to slide together in a balanced and highly enjoyable rhythm.
Magic was an understatement.

About the Author:

J.C. Aster is a teacher and freelance writer who is a huge fan of young adult fiction, especially stories with a paranormal twist (they sure didn’t have cool books like that when she was a kid or she might have had a more exciting childhood!).  GRAY ISLAND started as a National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) project and quickly took on a life of its own.  She is currently at work on new projects and hopes to visit the magical shores of Gray Island again soon.

Giveaway:    $10 Evernight Teen Gift Card

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1 comment:

  1. Nice interview, thanks for sharing and congrats on the debut into YA fiction!