Aug 6, 2015

The Nightmare Charade (The Arkwell Academy #3) by Mindee Arnett

The final installment in a thrilling fantastical mystery series.
Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare. Literally. Dusty is a magical being who feeds on human dreams.
Description:

Release Date: August 4th, 2015
The final installment in a thrilling fantastical mystery series.
Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare. Literally. Dusty is a magical being who feeds on human dreams.
Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy is hard enough, not to mention the crazy events of the past year. Dusty may have saved the day, but there are many days left in the year, and with an old foe back to seek revenge, she'll need all her strength to defeat him and save her friends. 
Mindee Arnett thrills again in this stunning final installment in the Arkwell Academy series.
MB's INTERVIEW

1. How The Arkwell Academy series was born and the “nightmare became alive”?
The Arkwell Academy series all started with the conception of my main character Dusty. I found her one day while I was searching for a monster to use in a short story I was working on at the time. Prior to writing novels, I wrote a fair number of shorts, all of them in the horror genre. I decided to look into nightmares, those creatures of folklore that sit on your chest when you’re asleep and give you bad dreams. Right away, I came across Henry Fuseli’s painting “The Nightmare.” In it, there’s a woman lying on a bed with a demon sitting on her chest. I saw it and began to wonder what would happen if I switched the girl and the demon. What if the girl was the nightmare? And what if she wasn’t evil at all but a normal teenager? Everything else in the series followed afterwards. I began to ask questions such as if there are nightmares in this world, are there other creatures? (answer: yes). What kind of creatures? How do they live? And so on.

2. What are the challenges and what makes best a final volume of a series? And what to expect next from you?
There are all kinds of challenges in writing a series. Chief among them is keeping the relationships fresh for the readers (and the writer). The plot of the story is fairly easy to deal with from book to book—you just put your characters in a new situation with new danger and challenges. But the interplay between reoccurring characters is a lot tougher. Fortunately, for me I had a built-in conflict and mystery between my two main characters right from the beginning of the first story. When Dusty and Eli first learn they are dream-seers, they have no idea what that fully means. The complications get revealed to them slowly throughout the series. By having this upfront mystery, I was able to keep things tense between them. For supporting characters I employed the same technique—I gave them a mystery that needed to be solved. Like Selene for example. She’s acting really strange in book two, The Nightmare Dilemma, and Dusty doesn’t know why.

German Edition
I think what makes for the best in a final book in a series is giving readers the payoff for following the story to the end. Chiefly, the last book is when you finally give the readers what they’ve been wanting from the beginning. That includes both answers to the mysteries you’ve created and a resolution to the main conflict between characters.

Up next for me is, I hope, a high fantasy about a girl who has a magical ability that allows her to communicate and influence the minds of animals. She’s also the daughter of the most infamous man in the kingdom, one who tried to assassinate the high king several years before.

3. Are there any aspects that an author should avoid when mixing fantastical characters? What did you do in order to make the story “believable”?
When it comes to mixing fantastical creatures, my only suggestion is that you make sure you give the world a lot of rules and restrictions. The pitfall of magic is that it can allow characters to be too strong. You’ve got to give them an Achilles’ heel. Keep them in balance so that they can’t just use magic to solve all their problems. I think this kind of restriction and depth is what makes magical characters believable.

4. Action, danger, love – what are your secret ingredients and what “rules” of writing fantasy did you follow…or break?
Action and mystery are probably my main secret ingredients. I like a story that moves, and I like characters who have goals and a focus. As far as “rules” I’m sure I broke plenty of them, but it wasn’t intentional. For me, the story is always boss. I just do what the story says.

5. What readers want vs. what author wants to write – how do you treat these facts?
Really, this isn’t something I’ve had to deal with very much. I think that’s probably because my books are not huge. I’m not sure how I will react if/when something like that starts to happen to me. But I will say that when it comes down to it, writers get very little choice in the stories we write. We don’t pick the stories—the stories pick us. Trust me, I wish this weren’t true. It would be so much easier if I could just decide on my next story and make it happen. But it doesn’t work that way. The story has to speak to me first. It has to capture my imagination—and my heart—before I can write it. The best any writer can hope for is that the readers will love the next one regardless of what it is.
Thank you for such a fun interview!

EXCERPT




Last Kiss

I had no idea that the first kiss would be the last.
The last free one that was, the only one Eli and I didn’t have to steal or keep hidden like some terrible secret.
No, I had no idea what was coming as I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and reapplied my cherry lip gloss for the fourth time.
“You know, Dusty,” Selene said from outside the door where she was hanging posters on the wall of our new dorm room, two floors up from our old one. “Despite what the packaging might claim, I don’t think it’s actually possible to increase the size of your lips by putting on layers.”
Suppressing a nervous laugh, I turned and stepped out into the living room portion of the suite. We were juniors this year, and that meant a larger dorm, complete with a private bathroom. Selene and I had plans to burn our old shower shoes in a celebratory ritual this weekend.
I fixed her with the most serious stare I could manage. “Are you sure? This is magic lip gloss, you know.”
Selene snorted. “I don’t believe you.” She held out her hand, and I set the lipstick canister on her palm. She turned it over in her fingers, and then raised it to eye level to read the label.
“This is in French.”
“That’s because I bought it in Paris.” The memory brought a fleeting grin to my face. Despite the emotional challenges I’d faced during my summer vacation spent touring Europe—being cut off from my friends; stuck with only my mother for company; and most especially, going weeks on end without a single word from the literal boy of my dreams, Eli Booker—the physical experience had been fun. The lip balm was an impromptu purchase at a little shop called the Incantorium Emporium. It was the kind of place that only served magickind. Probably a good thing, given its location inside a secret alcove in the Paris catacombs. Nothing said magical and charming like a bunch of skeletons.
“So I gathered,” Selene said with a hint of envy in her voice. Her summer hadn’t been quite as exotic, although I would’ve traded places with her in a hot second. She’d spent the last eleven weeks hanging out with her boyfriend—late-night strolls by the lake, trips to the movies, not to mention hours of kissing, or so I guessed. Even if Selene were the kind of girl to make out and tell, she wouldn’t have chosen me as her confidant. Partially because I wasn’t thrilled about her reconciliation with my sometimes tormenter and regular jackass Lance Rathbone, but mostly because she knew all too well how little kissing I’d been doing lately.
A situation that was about to change.
A flock of butterflies took flight inside my stomach. I fought to keep the tremor out of my voice, my words coming rapidly. “Yeah, the shop owner told me it has an amore charm on it. At least, that’s what I thought he said. His accent was pretty thick, and I don’t think he liked me at all. He was a Mors demon and you know how they feel about Nightmares. I mean, then again, pretty much everybody hates Night—”
“Dusty.” Selene grabbed my shoulders and gave me a shake. “You’re babbling.”
I gulped, trying to settle the butterflies, but they only increased their frenzy, becoming hummingbirds instead, wings on turbo speed. “Sorry. I can’t help it. I’m nervous.”
Selene smiled. The gesture was so radiant it made my head spin, and for a second the hummingbirds froze, stunned by an unexpected onslaught of bliss. That was the trouble with having a siren for a best friend—random moments of dazedness. Not that it was her fault. She couldn’t help being beautiful and mesmerizing. No more than I could help the way my eyes glow in the dark, an aspect of my Nightmare heritage. At the moment, however, I had a feeling Selene wasn’t aware of just how much more dazzling she was being than normal. I suspected it might have something to do with Lance.
“You’ve no reason to be nervous,” Selene said, her smile easing enough to make the radiance tolerable. “You look beautiful.”
I shook my head and stepped back. “It’s not that. It’s…” I broke off, searching for the right words. Looks weren’t the problem. I didn’t feel beautiful, exactly, but I knew I was looking nice, slightly above my average state. My makeup was even and natural, and I’d managed to convince my frizzy red hair to lie flat for once with some help from Magick Madam’s Hair Pomade, another purchase from the Incantorium Emporium. Outfit wise, I’d opted for a pair of low-rise designer jeans and a pale pink knit top, the kind that hangs loose around the shoulders, that my mom bought me from a boutique in Italy.
No, looks weren’t the problem.
Time was.


About the author:

YA Author of THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR, a contemporary fantasy coming March 5, 2013 from Tor Teen (Macmillan) and AVALON, a YA sci-fi thriller coming Winter 2014 from Balzer+Bray (HarperCollins). Represented by the fabulous Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary. Addicted to jumping horses and telling tales of magic, the macabre, and outer space.

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