by Corinne O’Flynn
(Song of the Sending)
Publication date: October 15th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
They told him his world was destroyed.
And they were the last to escape.
They thought he was safe.
They were wrong.
Jim Wales can communicate with animals, but that’s not why he lives with a traveling carnival. Turns out his family’s been hiding him there since he was little, since someone started hunting all the scholars. Jim is a scholar—someone who can manipulate energy using magic—and he has no idea.
When a message arrives from Jim’s father—who supposedly died twelve years ago—Jim’s whereabouts are discovered, their carnival is attacked, and his mother is kidnapped. On the run with a strange glass map and a single coin, Jim finds himself racing to reclaim the father he thought he’d lost, plotting to save his mother, and discovering the truth about who he is.
But going home isn’t the same as being safe, and trust is everything.
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“Shh!” Charlie stepped toward the midway, her head cocked to listen. “What in the world?”
I followed her gaze across the fairgrounds where the big top towered over the smaller event tents. Festive red, white, and blue flags atop each of them blew in the morning breeze.
“Do you guys hear that?” she asked.
“Hear what?” Hollis said, wiping sweat from his face. He held the swaddled bird against his chest.
The peaked canopy of the big top stood tall over the row of concession stands. The old marquee twinkled faintly in the sunlight, its red and yellow light bulbs spelling out Sweetwater’s Traveling Show. Everything was quiet.
“Charlie?” I knew better than to question her ears.
“What is it?” Sam asked.
“Shhh.” She closed her eyes and cupped her hands around her ears.
“I don’t hear anything,” I said. “Actually I don’t hear anything at all.”
Usually, on the day we arrived in a town, the fairgrounds were so noisy you could barely have a conversation without shouting. The roustabouts and canvasmen made a terrible racket erecting the tents and hammering the steel spikes into the ground. Then there was the constant hum of generators and cranes and trucks permeating everything as we all got things ready for the weeklong stay. Not to mention the animals screeching and squawking and the regular people noise. But from where we stood, it was eerily quiet. The whole place felt like a ghost town.
A mushroom of black smoke billowed above the big top in the distance. A rolling boom reached us a moment later.
“Whoa,” Sam whispered.
“Sweet Sisters. They’re here,” Hollis said.
“Well, it’s not dead.” Charlie let out a nervous laugh.
“What should we do with it?” Sam asked.
Hollis took off his t-shirt and proceeded to wrap the bird like a burrito. “We need to protect her wings in case she thrashes. She’ll wake soon.”
I looked at Hollis, stunned. “How do you know that?” I asked. And what else did he know?
“This,”—he cradled the wrapped bird in his arms—“is a very important messenger. It’s called a Sending. They don’t do that sort of thing anymore—change an animal like that.” He shook his head as if lost in thought. “It changes them. Their brain. Something big must be going on back home. There’s only one person who could have sent her to you. And if I’m right, then something’s really wrong.”
“What kind of wrong?” Sam asked, his forehead wrinkled with worry.
Everything in me flashed to attention at what Hollis said. “Back home?” I asked. There was no way.
Hollis stared at me, saying nothing.
“Hollis, what do you mean back home?” I repeated. I’d always known we weren’t from here, from the Modern World—the human world. All of us, everyone in Sweetwater’s, were originally from a place called Bellenor, which used to be connected to this world by some magical force—until the bridge collapsed. Or so I’d been told. “You all said Bellenor was destroyed. Back when my mother was a kid. Before I was born.”
“I’m sorry, Jim,” he said. “We had no choice.”
Corinne O'Flynn is a native New Yorker who now lives in Colorado and wouldn't trade life in the Rockies for anything. She loves writing flash and experimenting with short fiction. Her novel, THE EXPATRIATES (Oct. 2014) is a YA fantasy adventure with magic and creatures and lots of creepy stuff. She is a scone aficionado, has an entire section of her kitchen devoted to tea, and is always on the lookout for the elusive Peanut Chews candy.
When she isn’t writing or hanging with her family, Corinne works as the executive director of a nonprofit. She is a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Mystery Writers of America, and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. You can find her online at her website, Facebook, or Twitter @CorinneOFlynn.
- Website: http://www.corinneoflynn.com
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/
- Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/
- Newsletter: eepurl.com/YNic5
- Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/
Corinne O’Flynn's Interview
Tell us about your book.
THE EXPATRIATES is the first book in a new YA fantasy series about a teenage boy, Jim Wales, who discovers his family’s been hiding him in a traveling carnival because he’s being hunted for his powers.
What inspired you to write THE EXPATRIATES?
This is such a cliché!! But, the truth is the book was inspired by a dream I had almost 14 years ago. It was a little scene where this dark-haired kid is walking through a meadow of golden grass with a tiger and there’s a falcon hovering in the air over him. He’s communicating with the animals telepathically. The whole thing is still so vivid, all these years later.
What can you tell us about the main character?
The main character in THE EXPATRIATES is a seventeen year old named James Wales. His friends call him Jim. He has the ability to communicate with animals telepathically, which comes in handy living with a traveling carnival! The story opens with him training a tiger to do some new moves for their carnival act. It doesn’t go well, and Jim’s concerned the tiger can understand the insults coming from Jim’s best friend, Sam.
Which comes to you first, the characters or the story?
I don’t think you can have one without the other, and finding that balance is important in fiction. I tend to be driven by plot more than character, especially when plotting out a story, but it doesn’t matter how fabulous your plot is if you don’t have characters who are impacted by that particular plot in ways that are specific and meaningful to them.
Your cover is fantastic! Who designed it and do you think a good cover is important part of publishing?
My cover was designed by Steven Novak at www.novakillustsration.com. He’s super to work with, and I can’t wait to see what he does with my next cover. I think a good cover is absolutely vital to capturing a reader’s attention. I learned something important while working on the cover, and that is to focus on the concept and the theme you want to portray, and not get stuck trying to be too literal in showing an actual scene from the story. Keeping that in mind really helped me get my head around what we needed to do.
When did you start writing?
Creative Writing was always my favorite class in school, so I’ve been writing for a long time. I didn’t aspire to write novels until I was in my twenties. I lacked a compass for that goal, however and ended up taking loads of writing courses over the years. I have probably always wanted to “be a writer”, but my novel didn’t find me until I was well into my thirties.
Why do you write?
I write because I love to read. I love reading a story that makes my world disappear, or makes my heart race, or makes my soul ache. I love reading the kind of stories that stick with me, that make me think, and even the ones that are just plain thrilling. I write in an attempt to do that. I have stories inside my own head that transport me in that way, and I think it’s awesome to be able to share that with readers.
How would you describe your writing?
I’ve been told my writing is quite visual, and I like to think that’s true. I’m a very visual person and that comes through while I’m at my desk writing because as I build the worlds of my story, I tend to start with visuals in an attempt to bring you into my world, fully in that moment, in that scene. I think all writers want readers to have that immersive experience while reading. And for me, that begins with visuals.
Do you write in one specific genre?
At this time, I am focused on my fantasy series, but I have a constant tug from many different things in my writer-mind. I have ideas for sci-fi, creepy thrillers, some paranormal stories. I don’t feel committed to one genre overall. I have learned to let my passion drive me to the next thing, so I write these ideas down and add them to my idea book and get back to work on whatever is burning brightest.
Do you find it difficult being an indie author when so many others are doing it?
Just the opposite. I am an indie author because so many are finding success in self-publishing. There is a huge movement going on, as if we all weren’t aware, and I feel fortunate that I found the courage to take that leap.
What makes your book different from others in the genre?
THE EXPATRIATES is a fantasy adventure about a boy who discovers he’s being hunted for his power. It’s a fast-paced story with animals and magical creatures who are portrayed differently than readers of the genre have seen before. And while it is a hero’s journey, there is a lot of intrigue and lies on the road to discovery.
Do you have to plan to write or are you constantly jotting ideas and lines down?
A little of both. The only way for me to get work done is to schedule the time on my calendar. My biggest challenge in my daily life is time-competition. We’ve got a lot of balls in the air at our house, and even though I work from home, it’s difficult to stay on task and on schedule with things that can be pushed back. So, while I am always jotting things down and making voice memos for myself as ideas and lines come to me, I won’t get anything done unless I make a plan to write.
Who or what influences your writing?
This is one of those questions where the answer changes by the day. At the moment of this writing, I am feeling the influence of Neil Gaiman, Diana Gabaldon, Phillip Pullman, Stephen King, Susan Kaye Quinn, Kate Morton, and Gillian Flynn. I read across all genres and find that it keeps my mind percolating and fresh.
If you had to choose one author as your idol, who would it be?
I would have to pick Neil Gaiman. He’s so accessible to his fans, and shares all these wonderful projects and creative things he’s doing. I’ve followed him on social media over the years and I feel he is authentically himself in whatever he’s doing. And he does a lot. He continues to do new things with his writing and in the creative community. When I close my eyes and imagine the kind of writer/creative person I want to be in the world, I think of him. So, yeah... Neil Gaiman.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“There is nothing wrong with loving the crap out of everything. Negative people find their walls. So never apologize for your enthusiasm. Never. Ever. Never.” - Ryan AdamsWhat books and/or authors have most influenced your life?
I read most of the usual things as a kid, but I remember discovering
After that, it was anything supernatural, magical, or creepy.
Dean Koontz, Neil Gaiman, Diana Gabaldon, Anne Rice, Harry Potter, LOTR, and His Dark Materials.
I also adore
PILLARS OF THE EARTH and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.
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