Wednesday, May 15, 2013

First by Chanda Stafford: Character Interview and Excerpt: Red Adept Blog Tour


Character: Mira is the seventeen-year-old protagonist in a dystopian novel set in the year 2500. She has been chosen to die so another person can live another lifetime in her body.

·         What was the scariest moment of your life?
My boyfriend, Tanner, asked me to meet this guy who’s a member of the Live Once rebels. He tried to get me to run away with them, but then all these guards came out of the forest and attacked us. I ended up getting arrested and thrown in prison. It was the most terrifying thing that ever happened to me and I still have nightmares about it.

·         If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?
My little sister. When she was five, she disappeared into the forest because I wouldn’t take her swimming in the stream that separates our farm from the wilderness. It’s pretty safe there, but something went wrong and she disappeared. It’s all my fault because I should have been watching her. I wish, with my entire being, that there was some way I could go back in time to save her. She was just so sweet and innocent. I would give anything to switch places with her.  
·         What makes you happy?
My super-annoying little brother, Max. I love being around him, even though he drives me crazy sometimes. He always tries to act grown up and I just want to see him be a kid for a while longer. I almost feel like he’s my second chance, like if I do right by him, I can make up for failing my sister.

·         What one word best describes you?
I’ve never really thought about that before. I get scared a lot, even though I try not to show it. I’m not pretty, no matter what Tanner says. When I got to our nation’s capital, they fixed me up so much; I didn’t even look like myself! They even made me wear a wig made of human hair. Ewww!
I don’t take direction very well, either. My teacher, Mr. Flannigan, kept saying the most he could hope for was that I wouldn’t embarrass Socrates. He might be right, especially if he judges me based on my past offenses, like skipping a visit to be with my brother after he got in trouble. I’ll take that punishment any day.   
·         Do you have any special routines or rituals?
When I get really stressed, I go to a little playground behind our apartments and talk to my sister. We all used to play there, but Mrs. Chesaning said we were too noisy so she shut it down. Some of the parents started putting up little crosses for their kids who died or disappeared, like my sister, and it just kept going from there. I still don’t think Mrs. Chesaning likes it, but she’d have a riot on her hands if she took the crosses down. It’s always so peaceful when I go there and talk to my sister, sometimes I swear I can hear her talk back.
·         Is there a piece of advice that you have received that has really stuck with you? If so, what was it?
It’s not really a bit of advice, but my teacher, Mr. Flannigan, had a huge impact on my life. He came to Chesaning Farms to teach me how to act and behave before I left to meet up with Socrates. That’s not what stuck with me, though. It was his nature. His belief that even if the odds are stacked against you, it’s important to stand up for your beliefs, no matter the cost. I’ve never forgotten that lesson.

Book One in the Live Once Trilogy
by Chanda Stafford
Seventeen-year-old Mira works on a farm in the ruins of Texas, along with all of the other descendants of the defeated rebels. Though she’s given her heart to Tanner, their lives are not their own.
When Socrates, a powerful First, chooses Mira as his Second, she is thrust into the bewildering world of the rich and influential. Will, a servant assigned to assist her, whispers of rebellion, love, and of a darker fate than she’s ever imagined.
With time running out, Mira must decide whether to run to the boy she left behind, to the boy who wants her to live, or to the man who wants her dead.

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“Don’t say a word.”

The room smells musty, unused. Kind of like the back storage buildings on the farm, or the old cellar the Chesanings don’t use any more where we explore and play games. Shafts of sunlight slant through the cracks in the heavy, dark red curtains, and when I take a step, more puffs of dust cloud the air. Chairs covered in white blankets line the walls and tower over me in stacks almost as high as the ceiling.
“What do you think they’re doing out there?” I whisper, but it’s so quiet, I could be shouting.
My servant, Will, shushes me. “If you listen closely, I bet you can hear your First talking.”
I creep over to the door and press my ear against it. Nothing. As if no one’s on the other side. “Isn’t this the Release Ceremony? Shouldn’t I be out there with him?”
Will nods, leaning against the wall, crossing his arms in front of him. “That’s normally how it happens. This is… odd.”
“Did I do something wrong? Did I make Thoreau mad?” I bite my lip to keep it from trembling. Grow up, Adrian. Stop acting like a baby.
“No, of course not.” He flashes me a quick grin, but I can tell he’s nervous.
“Are you sure?” I hate it when my voice is all shaky like a little baby’s.
“Definitely. I would know if there was a problem.” He shrugs, and a bar of light illuminates his carefree smile. “I bet it’s to save you from having to sit out there for the whole ceremony. Some of them can get pretty long.”
On the other side of the door, I hear clapping. An old man’s voice rises up as the applause dies.
“There, you see?” Will says. “Nothing to worry about.” I turn away and tune him out so I can listen to Thoreau.
“Thank you, my friends, for this most welcome reception. As a First, I’ve lived for hundreds of years, influenced this country in ways the average person can’t even begin to comprehend. With your continued support, and that of Princeton, I will use your gift to change the future and create a better tomorrow. Thank you.”
A dull roar follows his words, and I fidget in my seat, watching the door. My eyes dart to Will.
“This doesn’t make any sense, Will. I should be out there.”
“I’m sure they’ll call you shortly, Adrian. Maybe the usual waiting room was unavailable and—”
A loud boom shakes the room, and I almost fall down. The chairs weave back and forth in their towers, and millions of dust particles rain down. Will shoves me away from the wall and pushes me toward the back of the room.
“Move, now!” he shouts, but my ears are ringing, and I cough from the dust. He looks behind us at the door and forces me to move faster.
“Murderer! Child killer! Free the Second!” a loud, mechanical voice shouts from the other room. “Free the Second! Free the Second!”
There’s more yelling, but I can’t make out what they’re saying. Another, quieter boom. Will pushes me to a narrow closet.
“In here,” he hisses and shoves me inside. We stay like that for what feels like a couple hours before the door to our main room bangs open, and I hear the heavy clomping of boots.
“You in here with the Second, boy?” Will stays silent. There is a general grumbling outside, some swearing my mother would never approve of, then the deep, gravelly voice speaks again. “Alpha Code One, this is Underground Robin. Is the cargo safe and accounted for? I repeat, is the cargo safe and accounted for?”
Apparently these are magic words for Will because relief washes over his features.
“Who wants to know?”
“Papa bird.” The men march over to our closet and slide open the door. “Good spot, boy.” The head guard, an older man with a pinched face and a permanent frown sheaths his Artos. The other guards keep theirs out. Why? Is it still dangerous?
“What’s going on out there?” Will asks.
“Nothing we didn’t expect. Stupid rebels, always doing things half-assed.” He grins. “Let’s go.” One of them reaches out for me, but I jerk away.
Will touches my shoulder, reassuring me. “It’s okay, Adrian. We’re safe now.”
I shake my head and step back. “Where are we going?”
“Someplace safe.” The head guard takes my arm roughly in his. “Don’t worry. We won’t let anything happen to you.” One of the other guards laughs, as if that’s somehow funny.
“Is… my First all right?”
“He’s fine, boy.” He drags me from the closet. “Now let’s go.”
“Where?” My feet skitter, trying to find purchase as the guard forces me to follow him. The other men glance at each other, at me, then away again. Even Will won’t meet my eyes. Fear freezes me, and I dig my shoes into the thick carpeting. “Will? What’s going on?”
“Nothing,” he answers too quickly. “Just a trip down to the medical center, to make sure you’re all right.” He tries to give me another smile, but he’s lying about something. I can feel it.
“But I’m fine,” I protest as the guard pulls me to the side of the room, behind the curtains where, instead of a window, there is another door. “Can’t you just tell them that? I’m fine. I just want to go back to my room.”
Will shakes his head, sadly. “I’m sorry, Adrian, I really am.”
“What’s going on? Why are you sorry? Will?”
“Let’s go,” one of the other guards growls from the rear of our group. “We don’t have all day. Some of us have work to do.” 

Chanda Stafford teaches middle and high school English. She loves traveling and currently lives in Michigan with her husband and a menagerie of rescued dogs and cats.
When she’s not reading or writing, Chanda enjoys old zombie movies, authentic Italian food, and comic books.
Visit Chanda’s Blog  |  Goodreads Page

Other Helpful Links:  

The First Tour

May 15, 2013 Through June 12, 2013


May 15: Interview on Young Adult Novel Reader 

May 16: Review on The Coffee Pot 

May 16: Interview on The IndieView 

May 17: Review on Mallory Heart Reviews 

May 18: Review on A Bit of Dash 

May 20: Review on Reading Renee 

May 20: Guest Post on To Read, or Not To Read 

May 21: Guest Post on A Knife and Quill 

May 21: Review on The Solitary Bookworm 

May 22: Review on Big Al’s Books and Pals 

May 23: Guest Post on Becky’s Blarmy Book Blog 

May 24: Guest Post on My Book and My Coffee 

May 25: Review on Lissette E. Manning 

May 27: Review on Books and Needlepoint 

May 30: Guest Post on Comfort Books 

June 1: Guest Post on Literary Musings 

June 3: Review on Lovey Dovey Books 

June 5: Guest Post on Big Al’s Books and Pals 

June 7: Review on I’m a Voracious Reader 

June 8: Interview on I Am a Reader, Not a Writer 

June 9: Review and Guest Post on Reader Girls 

June 10: Review on Offbeat Vagabond 

June 11: Interview on KBoards 

June 12: Review on Workaday Reads




Chanda Stafford said...

Thanks for hosting Mira and I on your blog!

Mary Lowery said...

Great giveaway thank you

Felicia said...

Thank you so much for the great opportunity to win -

Valerie R said...

Its terrific that you can offer these giveaways.. thank you!