Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Kings & Queens by Courtney Vail: Character Interview, Excerpt

Seventeen-year-old Majesty Alistair wants police to look further into her father’s fatal car wreck, hopes the baseball team she manages can reclaim the state crown, aches for Derek…or, no…maybe Alec…maybe. And she mostly wishes to retract the hateful words she said to her dad right before slamming the door in his face, only to never see him again.

All her desires get sidelined, though, when she overhears two fellow students planning a church massacre. She doubts cops will follow up on her tip since they’re sick of her coming around with notions of possible crimes-in-the-works. And it’s not like she cries wolf. Not really. They’d be freaked too, but they’re not the ones suffering from bloody dreams that hint at disaster like some crazy, street guy forecasting the Apocalypse.

So, she does what any habitual winner with zero cred would do…try to I.D. the nutjobs before they act. But, when their agenda turns out to be far bigger than she ever assumed, and even friends start looking suspect, the truth and her actions threaten to haunt her forever, especially since she’s left with blood on her hands, the blood of someone she loves.

Finished with player updates, an article for the team site and most deliciously, the call, Majesty laughed, dropping her office phone into its cradle in her office off of the gym. Getting to gloat to the Wasps’ Athletic Director thrilled as a definite managerial perk. The Colts and Wasps usually faced off in the regionals, but the Dragons just scorched the lousy buzzers, 12-5.
But, every ounce of funny was suddenly slain by the lingering sting from nearly being taken out by Derek. Cornered in the brush, the last one standing, and “Time’s up!” was what had saved her? Disgraceful.
She groaned at the unfamiliar taste of loserdom while tucking her hair under her cap, then snatched flavored water from her mini-fridge and kissed the school goodbye. Exiting out the back, she thought of Jase and prayed to the ears in the air that he’d find peace or something.
She dashed to the front and down the driveway and turned left toward the town center, and away from homes with yippy purse dogs and diamond-studded mailboxes. A sprinkle of storefronts, a second-run cinema, St. Mark’s, one restaurant, one gas station and Spanky’s—a mini-golf/ice cream shop-gone-wild—made up Cedar Creek’s hub.
Banners put up for the St. Paddy’s Day parade still hung on utility poles and she searched for surprise additions amongst the bunnies and flowers. No screwing dogs or puking rats yet? Boring, people. Get with it! These sugary spring-things always flapped in the wind beside mini American flags until the day after the Independence Day fireworks, which was not necessarily on the 4th ... or even in July. She’d have to be on the lookout for the perfect demented treasure to tack up before then. Little sound was lovelier than a chorus of old lady shrieks and tsks.
She passed Fisher Price village and the lions guarding Markie’s cathedral and booked it into The Common, a fancy name for an ill-equipped park. Woods laced through town, but the strip behind The Common aroused whispers. Three kids, holding hands and singing Ring Around the Rosie, stopped and gawked.
One cried, “She’s goin’ in! Must not be ascared a the spooks.”
Entering the shadowy land, Majesty snickered that Alec’s urban legend about those people-turned-creatures endured. “They grow more fierce each day, waiting in the woods for their kings and queens to come and lead them to overtake the area, the country, and eventually, the world.”
Six years ago, a girl disappeared. Theories abounded, but most of the children believed, “The spooks got her.”
Crows griped about the invasion and the drooping sun spilled beams through the evergreen towers, creating an inky leviathan war deep in the thick. Majesty took a deep breath as anxiety weaseled in.
Near the tripod, where three towns converged and a coven reportedly danced nude, she slowed to a stroll. Birds departed the treetops in a flurry of flapping wings, but one crow remained, voicing stern warnings to friends ... or maybe her. She gulped her drink, enjoying its grape hint.
When glitchy male voices found her ears, she froze, bead of water dripping from her mouth.
“So, everything’s set?”
“Yep. Got the guns, supplies. It’s a go.”
Majesty searched. There ... little over ten yards.
“Hope ... doesn’t blow up in our faces. Thought we were gonna kill one. Those people won’t know what hit ’em.”
People? Can’t see anything! Imaginary ants tingled her neck, and her legs wobbled with each step she took toward a concealing tree. She braced herself, peered around the trunk. But the closer look didn’t help, since fatigues, bulky vests and face-engulfing Buffs obscured them. Great!
“That’s the beauty ... They’ll learn how dead and buried their Jesus is when ... doesn’t help ... start shooting up the church. Haven’t ... how many I wanna off yet. Needs to be sick … national coverage. Let’s snatch our gear ... do this lame paintball thing, get back to our real deal.”
They headed for the even deader town of Megan’s Corner. No. Wait! Majesty leaned forward, shifting her weight. If I could just... A stick snapped underfoot. The taller one stopped and whacked his buddy’s arm. She cringed and jerked back.
“Shh. Hear somethin’?” They were likely debating the noise she’d stupidly made in the whispers she couldn’t make out, but the clatter of them moving through the woodland was deafening.
Sweat dripped from Majesty’s temples and frightened fairies fluttered beneath her skin. She stood motionless but the rustling drew too close. Shoved into flight, she took off like a sprinter at the shot. Water sloshed on her leg, awakening goose bumps with its chill. She chucked the bottle and cap into reaching shrubs. Muddled threats nipped at her heels, but agility and swiftness aided her evasion, as well as knowing the woods, not well, but well enough. Majesty bolted through the clearing, rounded a bend and deserted the path.
Busting through brushwood as fast as she could, she spotted a hollow. She jumped into its bowl of dead foliage with way too much crunch, slid under a bush and clammed her mouth with her hands to prevent gasping. She swallowed to rid the tightness that was crawling up her throat.
“Some girl. See anything?”
She tried to catch vocal distinctions, already smothered by a babbling stream. She swept a tickling spider off her arm, lifting freakin’ trumpet blasts into the air. Idiot! Her heartbeat drummed in her ears as she muscled her gaze through branches.
The watery white noise had proven a godsend for her foolish misstep and cranky stomach, now bellowing for food.
One of them kicked debris her way and a fleck of something hit her eye. She closed it and covered it with her fingers.
After a string of salty slurs, one said, “Hair was hidden ... Colts shirt.”
“Good. One of our own. Should ... find her.”
Our own? She shuddered. Agony seduced her to dislodge the foreign body with her knuckle. She couldn’t wait.
“But what if she—”
“No one can stop us, especially some girl. We’re in control. I’ll find her first ... eradicate her.” Their nerve-grating footfalls walked away, veering into silence.
Majesty finally allowed her lungs to yank air. She’d never been so petrified ... except for the time men in blue had come to her door ... and she just knew.

Q and A Today is  with  MAJESTY, the protagonist Kings and Queens. 

Hello Majesty.  It's great of you to take some time to visit today.
What would we find under your bed?

Probably crumpled balls of papers. I manage my school’s baseball team, and since I’ve been writing sports news for my team, and also the Athletic department in general, I’ve become extremely picky about my writing. I like my pieces to be humorous and witty but without seeming purposefully that way. You know what mean? It needs to feel natural, and it’s hard to strike that balance sometimes.

I also have dust bunnies under there. Under my bed is one of the last places I vacuum or sweep. I maybe do it once every three months, so the dust bunnies have usually mated by then, and I end up finding a whole family all up under there having a party that they didn’t even have the decency to invite me to.

What is the next big thing?

Another World Series win for the Sox! Yeah! You know which ones, and if you don’t, you need a slap upside the head. Seriously.

Do your friends think you are an introvert or an extravert? Why?

Um, my friends KNOW I’m an extra-extrovert, and they get on my case about it because I sometimes speak up and/or out during the most inappropriate times and I’m not afraid to say what I’m thinking. There is not a shy bone in my body. I chat it up with people wherever I go.

I have this intense desire to spar verbally, a need really. I crave dirty battle to keep me sharp and on my toes, but it’s so hard to find a viable match these days. My fierce tongue has shoved so many into the shadows and they never come back for a rematch. I often offend people when I first meet them because if they’re interesting, I HAVE to test them out, to see if they’d be a worthy opponent. Usually, and so very sadly, they flunk.

What songs are most played on your Ipod?

Too lacking in funds for an Ipod, but on my MP3 that I use for running, I have a wide range of things from Mozart to Katy Perry to Linkin Park, but the 60’s and 70’s stuff keeps pulling me back. So much of it is like a time capsule. And it’s not all pretty and overproduced and glossed up like today’s music. There’s so much that is ugly and gritty and raw in that old school sound. You can really get a sense of the societal tension, issues and what the musicians cared about.

If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?

Ouch, cut to the throat why don’tcha. My dad. I’m tearing up as I write my response. I said trash to him about being too old for the cutesy things he always did, slammed, SLAMMED, a door in his face and never saw him again. Later that day, cops pulled up in my driveway. I knew. I knew what horrible news they had. It read loud and clear on their faces. And I knew, in that moment, that my words, my horrible, wretched, biting words, would linger forever. They were immortalized without apology by the heartless utterance, “I’m sorry. There’s been an accident.”

What would you consider to be the best book you have ever read? 

The Outsiders. It was written by a teenager in like the 50’s or something, and is still making the rounds of awesome books today. But, I loved that it perfectly captured tension that has existed and will always exist between classes. It doesn’t matter what time period it is. From Romeo and Juliet to The Hunger Games. It’s still identifiable, and those types of stories will always rock and resonate, because there will always be those who delight in demolishing those in lack.

Who should play you in a film?

Me. I am an actress after all. I’ve got a head shot and my resume ready. Call me. Tickets for Our Town at Cedar Creek High are on sale now.  (Little plug there.)

And Matt Lanter from 90210 should play my best friend, Derek, and Tim Urban, yes the one who was on American Idol should play my other best friend, Alec. They’re pretty close in looks, voices and mannerisms. Alec might be able to play himself, but he’s not nearly as good as me. I would give Tim a chance. His voice is meltalicious. Check it.

Do you have a favorite quote, quip, or saying? What is it?

“Cowboy up!” ~ Kevin Millar.

(And if you don’t know who that is, slap yourself and Google it. You can probably find some hilarious interviews with him and some sports newscaster dudes on youtube. Word to the unstupid like me: don’t have any sips or big gulps in your mouth when you happen upon such said videos.)

“Cowboy up!” Those are the most awesome words I’ve ever heard. And they’re from a self-ascribed Idiot! It about sums up what everyone’s aim in life should be. When everything seems hopeless, when the odds are stacked against you, there’s always something to fight for, there’s still a reason to hope and believe and to give the battle your all.

Thanks so much for having me! This was an awesome and fun interview. I really enjoyed it.

COURTNEY VAIL writes totally twisted YA and adult suspense. She enjoys braiding mystery, suspense & romance with some kind of weirdness. Her addictions to crazy coffee concoctions, Funny Bones, Ben & Jerry's, and bacon keep her running and writing. She currently lives in New England with a comedian stud and a wild gang of kidlets. 

The eBook of Kings & Queens is currently on sale for $0.99, yay, and is available in all formats at most online stores.

If you like weird books, you can follow Courtney at:
Twitter @cvwriter    |  Facebook   |    Goodreads


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Bridget Howard said...

I would like a print copy please Thanks!!!!

Suz Reads said...

Thanks for this amazing giveaway! This book looks great & I would love to win the paperback version!

Steph said...

Thanks for the great giveaway! I'd love to win the paperback copy! :)

Courtney Vail said...

Thanks for having me on your blog!

Sarah Elizabeth said...

I would love a mobi copy! A friend of mine read this and said that it was really good! :)

Kylie said...

Those would be super creepy dreams, this looks interesting. I like ePub.

Gale Nelson said...

Thanks for the giveaway! Gale

molly.frenzel said...

Thanks for the giveaway. I'd love the print copy.

Doodle said...

I would love a print copy!
Thanks for the giveaway!

The Book Babe said...

Print, please! Thanks for the giveaway. :)

Joy said...

I would love the print copy.
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brandisbookmusings said...

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Kimberly Lim said...

I want the printed copy
Thank you

Darling Nikki said...

Print is lovely, but either Mobi or Epub would work too.

Helen said...

print or epub

Shauna Buck said...

Either one would be great!