Undertow (Undertow #1)
by K.R. Conway
Release Date: 10/18/13
Summary from Goodreads:
Luckless Eila is unknowingly the last of her kind: Rare. Gifted. Breakable. Stunning Raef is her kind's historic enemy: Soulless. Lethal. Lost. A legendary death 160 years before would set their lives to collide, forcing a beautiful killer to become a savior, a simple wallflower to become a warrior, and ruthless destiny to become a death sentence.
High school senior Eila Walker knows that good luck skips over her like an Easter Bunny on Speed. So when she inherits her grandmother's million-dollar Cape Cod home, she is downright shocked. And yeah, her new town isn't perfect: the cheerleaders are heinous clones, the local undertow can kill ya, and her Great Grams was supposedly fried by lightning in the harbor square. Still, Eila is hopeful her luckless days are in the past . . . until history decides to repeat itself.
A self-proclaimed loner and previous-social reject, Eila thinks she's hit the jackpot when drool-worthy Raef O’Reilly becomes her friendly, yet weirdly protective shadow. But being hauled beneath the waves by an unnatural undertow slams the brakes on bliss – especially when Raef storms to her aid with coal-black eyes and iron-like strength.
Eila, entirely freaked, demands an explanation and Raef comes clean, revealing that neither of them are average humans but rather the genetic remnants of an angelic pissing-match gone wrong. Eila supposedly can channel the power of human souls, while Raef is quite adept at stealing them. Even worse, the legend about her ancestor isn't such a myth, since Eila’s grandmother was one kick-ass warrior until her lightning-like power backfired. A power that is written all over Eila's DNA.
Now sought by Raef’s own family for her destructive ability, Eila must trust him to watch her back. But when a quest for information goes terribly wrong, Eila is suddenly left with only two options: become a weapon for the enemy or follow in her Gram’s fearless footsteps to save those she loves. Unfortunately she needs a willing enemy to ignite her suicidal energy and the only one she trusts has been guarding her butt and scorching her lips.
Five weeks ago, I nearly killed the girl I loved.
It wasn't an accident. It wasn't a mistake.
I did it deliberately, and the feeling of her body weakening in my arms haunts me still, as if branded into my hands. The sound of her last, thin breath replays over and over in my mind, a taunting reminder of what I am capable of and what I had done.
She carries the mark of where I had forced a stolen soul into her - a thin, finger-long scar engraved between her breasts.
She tries to hide it, but I know it's there.
She will carry that scar to her grave, a permanent reminder of who I truly am - a killer, designed by the darker hand of fate.
The scar had bled down her beautiful, fair skin that night, turning the bodice of the white ball gown she had worn into a sickening, mottled pink. In my mind I see her, lifeless, tucked under me as I try to shield her from the pieces of falling stone and wood that rain down around us. Debris that was from the massive hole her energy had drilled through the Breakers. Energy that was unleashed when her body switched to overload, and her DNA hit the self-destruct button because of me.
I slammed the driver’s door shut and walked around the back towards Ana who was sliding out her side. Her walking boot was awkward, but soon would thankfully be retired. She wobbled slightly on the slick ground, but Kian was quickly next to her, one broad hand on her back.
“I am not a total clutz you know?” she protested, cursing the slushy driveway.
Kian slid her a sly smile. “Yeah, well . . . knowing your luck, you will slip and break the other leg and then I will be giving you piggy back rides everywhere. Actually, I could get down with that arrangement.”
Ana punched him in the arm, but then slipped. He grabbed her quickly and pinned her to his side. “Jeez woman! It wasn’t a dare!”
“Will you just help me get inside already?” she sighed, gripping the front of his leather jacket tighter as she slowly made her way across the slick ground to the door. I followed, trying not to smile as she and Kian continued to argue about everything, including the size of the snowflakes.
I shook my head to clear the ringing, and began to go after him again, but then I heard Eila’s voice behind me. I turned, and she was coming down the stairs, her stained t-shirt and old jeans still on. Kian and I immediately switched to a more neutral stance so she wouldn’t know we had just tried to start our own Fight Club.
“Oh,” she said, halting on the stairs, “I didn’t know you were here, Kian. Everything all right?”
He glanced at me, then to Eila. “Of course. I was just going to keep digging through Dalca’s journals. Ana might join me later.”
“Really?” she asked, genuinely surprised and happy.
He shrugged. “It will keep her mind busy.”
She nodded, “That’s a great idea. Thank you, by the way, for helping her yesterday.”
He shifted, looking more uncomfortable. The subject of Ana’s father was never mentioned around Kian. “I’m going to leave you two, so you can get back to whatever it is you have to do. I’ll be in the library.” Kian eyed me once last time as he turned to leave.
I looked back to Eila and she gave me a shy smile. I came to the stairs and walked my way up to her, “You didn’t take a shower?”
“I can’t raise my arms enough to get my shirt off. Do you have scissors? ‘Cause I’m just gonna cut it off – it’s old anyway.”
“Christian probably does somewhere, but I’d need to find them,” I replied, stepping closer to her and taking the edge of her t-shirt in my hands. “Turn around,” I instructed and she gave me a curious glance, but obeyed, turning her back to me.
With one good pull, I tore the t-shirt straight up her back, turning the top into a smock.
“Better?” I asked.
“Uh . . . yup,” she replied with a breathless squeak.
Are your books pure fiction or are some aspects inspired by your own life or someone close to you?
The series is based on a REAL version of Cape Cod. In fact, one of the characters owns an ice cream shop named The Milk Way. While “The Milk Way” is fictitious, it is 100% based on Four Seas Ice Cream in Centerville (a REAL town, were fictional Eila lives). Four Seas knows they are in the book and they host book signings. Other things in the book that are real to Cape Cod (so you can basically visit here and do all the things that Eila and her crew do) are:
1. Eila’s house – The home the main character inherits, and thus sets off the chain of events for UNDERTOW, does exist in the historic area of Centerville, not far from Four Seas Ice Cream. It used to be owned by a friend of mine and we hung out in it all the time when we were young. She now resides in Hong Kong as a pilot, so we catch up on Facebook and she gives me more secrets about how the house was built. FYI – don’t go knocking on the door, because someone else owns the house now.
2. Barnstable High School – Totally real and totally cool public high school that does some crazy thing. The students and faculty know they are in the novels (and even decided to begin building their own book trailer based on the series), so they allow me to come in and walk the halls as needed to make sure I stay true to the story. And yes – it is so huge that I need a GPS to find my way out. 2000+ students go there. Their award winning theater department became part of a major TV network series known as High Drama a few years ago. American Idol contestant Siobhan Magnus was a student there.
3. The Jeep Subculture – Again, totally real. On Cape Cod, Wranglers are the most beloved vehicles of all. Most families have one, and if you drive one, other Wrangler drivers will wave to you when you pass each other – like Harley riders do. And yes – you can drive them out onto some of the beaches (MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHICH ONES!)
4. Witch Balls, The Crimson Moon, and Eila’s Bracelet – All real. Witch Balls are made at any one of our beautiful, glass-blowing shops (and yes – you can watch them actually blow glass, which is so cool). The Crimson Moon was based on The Lavender Moon, which is no longer in business. It was owned by a real coven of witches and when you would go in there, you could buy healing stones, herbs, crystals, oils, etc. Don’t worry – Dalca didn’t work at the real version! Eila’s bracelet is a staple of Cape Cod and there are several variations, though the original is simply called a Cape Cod Bracelet. They come in various sizes, so having a two-year-old with one is not unusual. The ball screws the bangle together, which means that sucker ain’t coming off, so don’t get it caught on anything or your arm may go with it.
5. Town Neck, the Bonfire party, and the infamous bridge – All real, though I did take a few creative liberties. So, Town Neck beach is part of the town of Sandwich. It has the boardwalk, just as described, and the long beach at the end, AND, yes, the river. Kids can jump from the bridge (yup, I’ve done it too, and IT IS FREEZING). However, you cannot drive a car out on Town Neck and you are not supposed to bonfire there – all those things can be done on SANDY NECK or NAUSET (where Raef hunts), so I kinda sorta blended the two beaches.
6. Barnstable Harbor and the Ferry – Totally true and yes, you can sit and people watch. You can also catch a Cape Cod Baseball League game in the nearby field. The Cape Cod League is famous because so many players get called up to the Majors.
Q & A with KR Conway
If you could be any character in your book (and receive their powers as well, if they have any), which would you be and what would you do?
Oh dang . . . Ummm. I’d be Ana Lane I guess – car fanatic, surfer girl, and basically an emotional psychic on crack who is pursued by a gorgeous and devoted guy named Kian. But I am lucky enough to have a real crew of teenaged models who I get to see on a regular basis. I found Cape Cod teenagers from the real Barnstable High School on Facebook that looked like the characters (at least, in my mind) and they were brave enough to become the models in a fancy-shmancy studio we use. So yeah – Raef, Kian, MJ, Ana, and Kian text me all the time – LOL. The entire “cast” will be at Stormfront’s book launch on August 3rd here on Cape Cod (yup – you can get an early copy on Cape Cod that night, otherwise it is August 13th).
Do you incorporate yourself into your characters' personalities? If so, which character are you most like?
I think all authors pull from what they “know” so yeah, I’d say Eila’s dry humor is me, the craziness of MJ is me, and Ana’s take-no-crap attitude is me. Of course, all those personality traits help in my other job: driving a school bus.
What do you aim to teach your readers through your books?
Strength, perseverance, and devotion. I want my female readers to be bold and strong, and my male readers to understand that being protective does not equal being controlling. I want teenagers to see relationships painted in a positive light and that every relationship must be a balance of one another.
Where did you get the inspiration for your characters' names? Kian, Raef, and Christian were all on my list of boy names for my son (he ended up as “Finn”). Jesse was a dear friend in high school as was MJ. Nikki is my niece’s name, and Mae is my daughter’s middle name. Ana, Eila, Rillin, and Collette were all just made up, though they seemed to fit the characters.
Have you always known that you wanted to become a writer?
HAHAHAHAHA – NO. I have a degree in Forensic Psychology from Mount Holyoke College (Criminal Minds type-thing), but while I was in college professors would say I had a “knack” for writing (I figured they were all high on something). Then I came out of college and was asked to interview an artist. From there other magazines and newspapers began approaching me. That was 16 years ago and the rest is history. I now teach fiction craft to teenagers at libraries and high schools. Truth = no one is born a writer, but you CAN be born a storyteller. Learning HOW to tell the story – that’s what I teach.
Do you have any routines before writing to get the creative juices flowing?
Walking and driving actually allow my mind to wander and thus, begin writing in my head (I occasionally have missed a bus stop or two, LOL). I am a rocker-girl at heart, so I listen to music non-stop while I write and blog. I just saw Paramore, Fall Out Boy, and New Politics in Mansfield. AWESOME!
Which scene(s) did you enjoy writing the most? -- in Undertow or Stormfront, or both.
Oh man . . . The bonfire scene in UNDERTOW I enjoyed writing because I had just been at the boardwalk the night before with my daughter. It is also that crazy turning point in the book when readers suddenly realize I am a seriously deranged writer. I had a lot of fun writing STORMFRONT, but I laughed myself silly writing the scene where MJ convinces Eila to become a criminal. I also spent a great deal of time writing a certain scene between Eila and Raef on the yacht. I think I rewrote it 10 times. The next book I hope to have out is Kian and Ana’s story known as CRUEL SUMMER.
If you could give one advice to every human on earth, what would it be?
Never judge someone if you have never walked in their shoes. So much hate is based on ignorance of the other person, race, or country. All it takes is a moment to step back and realize you may not know where the other person is coming from and that your hate is unwarranted.GIVEAWAY:
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