Sunday, November 4, 2012

Dream Cast for Emily's Trial, Excerpt and Giveaway

Some writers “cast” their characters before they pen the first word of their story.  I didn’t search for actors or models to serve as references for my characters before I wrote Emily’s House, Book 1 of the Akasha Chronicles. But when I set out to write Book 2, Emily’s Trial, I decided to give casting my characters a shot.

It was a lot of fun to search out real-world faces to match the characters I’d created in my mind. There aren’t any exact matches of course. But I’ve come pretty close here.

Allow me to introduce you to the cast of Emily’s Trial:

Emily Adams – played by Rachel Hurd-Wood. Emily is the main character, reluctant hero, ordinary girl with a painful past turned modern Celtic Priestess. Emily’s signature long, red hair and piercing green eyes make her a somewhat hard character to cast. Emily is beautiful but in a natural way. She doesn’t wear much makeup and tends to let her hair go au naturel. But when I came across this picture of Rachel Hurd-Wood, it was like looking at a picture of the snapshot of Emily I’ve had in my head for about five years now!
Actress Rachel Hurd-Wood
But hold on, when we cast the model to pose as Emily for the cover of Emily’s Trial, I think we found a girl that may be even more of a dead ringer for Emily than Rachel. Here’s Ashley playing Emily Adams for the cover of Emily’s Trial.
Behind the Scenes at Photo Shoot for Emily's Trial Cover
Photo copyright Teresa Yeh

Armed with her magical dagger and wearing the golden torc, forged long ago by faerie hands, Emily is ready to take on the forces of darkness in Emily’s Trial. But will desire tempt her to use the powerful magic entrusted to her in a forbidden way? And what will happen to her and her friends if she succumbs to the forces of temptation?

Fanny Katz – played by Allisyn Ashley Arm. Fanny is the wisecracking, loyal friend to Emily. The two friends have known each other since pre-school. Fanny has always had Emily’s back. But in Emily’s Trial, the friendship is tested. Will their bond survive the ordeal of Emily’s Trial?

Fanny’s strong, athletic and although physically small, can kick the ass of just about anybody. When I’m writing, Fanny’s voice comes out with a potty mouth! So to keep the Akasha Chronicles series YA appropriate, I’ve had to tone down her language ;-) It has been a fun challenge to try to find other ways to say her trash-mouth phrases that won’t scald the ears of parents and librarians!

I came across this picture of Allisyn Ashley Arm and couldn’t believe the resemblance to the Fanny in my mind! Just add unruly, curly hair and you’ve got Fanny.

Owen Breen – played by Ian Somerhalder. How hot does a guy have to be to get Emily to put her friendships – the most valuable thing to her – at risk? How about Ian Somerhalder hot?

Those smoldering eyes, the full lips, the dark hair. Ian is slightly older than Owen, and Owen has dark, chocolate-brown eyes. But the swagger is all Owen. I think Ian Somerhalder could persuade me to do anything he wanted me to. Hell, I don’t think it would take much persuading!

Jake Stevens – Played by Sterling Beaumon. If you’ve read book 1, Emily’s House, then you know that Jake and Emily have been best friends since they were little kids. Jake is super-smart and as loyal as they come. What he lacks in courage, he makes up for with his calm, level-headed reason. When the shit hits the fan, and you find yourself in a big mess, Jake is the go-to guy to come up with a plan to get you out (a good thing, because Emily has a way of getting herself into lots of messes!).

Jake is what you might call a “late bloomer”. In Emily’s Trial, he’s now 16 but still waiting to “fill out” a bit. When I came across a picture of Sterling Beaumon, I thought he was perfect to play Jake. Just add glasses and you’ve got Jake Stevens.

Astute readers of book 1 may have guessed it, but in Emily’s Trial, it’s confirmed – Jake has been crushing on Emily - big time! But the oblivious Miss Adams hasn’t put it together. When they’re thrust into danger, will Emily start to crush on him too? And if she does, is it too late for them?

Sterling sure is aging well! Perhaps a look at Jake in the last installment of the Akasha Chronicles, Emily’s Heart, coming 2013.

What’s a story without some conflict – antagonists? Emily’s got plenty of antagonists in Emily’s Trial. Her old nemesis Greta Hoffman makes an appearance in Emily’s Trial.

In Emily’s House, we learned that Greta was the kind of girl that, as a child, could melt the hearts of adults with her blonde curls and large, blue eyes. Greta still uses her physical beauty and charm to get what she wants.

There are plenty of blonde-haired, blue-eyes beauties in Hollywood. But whoever plays Greta has to have something other than good looks. After all, Greta has to hold her own against Emily Adams – no wimpy, lithe runway walker will do!

Greta Hoffman – Played by AnnaSophia Robb. When I saw this picture of AnnaSophia, I thought this is Greta! I can picture her as a popular, a cheerleader, and a teacher’s favorite. But this picture also captures that side of Greta that no one knows – the secret side. There’s more to her than meets the eye. What role will she play in Emily’s Trial? And I promise you, there’s more of her to come in Book 3, Emily’s Heart.

One last character to get you in the spirit of it all. A nasty creature – sometimes I wonder where my brain comes up with this stuff! Should I be worried?!

In Emily’s Trial, Emily and crew meet perhaps the ugliest beast they’ve ever seen. What would happen if you took this . . .
And mixed it with this . . .

The mixture would turn out to look a lot like Dorcha, a strange creature that roams the Umbra Perdita.

There are other characters to meet in the pages of Emily’s Trial, but I have to leave you some surprises.

Excerpt of Emily's Trial: 


The Apocalypse didn’t start with four horsemen, harbingers of the horror to come. It didn’t start with a plague, or pestilence, or even zombies rising from the dead.
It came slowly and without warning. It crept up on people in the shadows, no more than a vague darkness that spread like an unseen cancer.
And it wasn’t set into action by a divine hand. A teenage girl was the catalyst for the End Times.
I should know. I’m the one that started it.
I didn’t plan to. I didn’t want to start the End Times, and I’m not evil.
Madame Wong taught me to tell the truth, and so here it is. I’m the one responsible for the Apocalypse. And this is the story of how I unwittingly unlocked the door to the darkness; of how a Priestess of the Order of Brighid, entrusted with powerful magic that was supposed to be used for the benefit of all humankind, unleashed a force that would destroy it instead.
And it all began with desire.
I sat at our usual lunch table with Jake, Fanny and my ever-present lunchtime entourage of sycophants. I had become Emily, the lunchtime Circus Freak.
The torc was still wrapped around my arm, still welded to my soul by the faerie magic that had created it. The torc still feeding my powers.
But was I out saving old ladies from muggers? Did I use my powers to fight evil, like some teenage superhero? No. I used the torc’s power to levitate objects in the lunchroom and eavesdrop into the minds of others.
I had become notorious. But notoriety is not the same as popularity – or acceptance.
When we got back from Europe, I stopped hiding my abilities, and I told my story to anyone who’d listen. Sure, people were amazed – in awe even. But the more I told the truth of who I was – really was – the farther away I got from acceptance by ‘them’.
Owen Breen was one of ‘them’. On the other side of the lunchroom at the table where he held court. He was in a whole different hemisphere from ‘us’. Owen’s hemisphere consisted of the popular seniors and a few of ‘them’ from the junior class. My hemisphere was filled with ‘us’, the freaks, the geeks and others on the fringe.
It had all started with desire, and Owen Breen was the well of desire from which I wanted to drink.
I’d sneak looks at him every chance I got. I felt pulled in by his dark, chocolate eyes. I wanted to dive into those eyes.
What would happen if our hemispheres meet? What would it be like to kiss his full lips?
Someone was yelling my name.
“Em. Earth to Em!”
It was Fanny.
“You’re hoarding the salt. Pass it over.” She said it extremely slowly, as if she was talking to a small child.
“Oh. Sure.” The clear shaker lifted in the air and floated across the table to Fanny.
“You could use your hands, you know,” Jake said.
“I can, it’s just more fun to do it with my mind.”
He rolled his eyes at me.
“Where were you?” Fanny asked.
If you only knew!
“You weren’t eavesdropping in someone’s head again, were you? ’Cause you agreed that was rude and you’d stop,” Jake said.
“No, I wasn’t reading any minds.” But that’s an excellent idea. What’s in Owen’s mind?
One of the freshmen at our table, a kid called Skip, whined at me. “Emily, we’re so bored. Show us something. Something big.”
Bored. He was bored. He didn’t know anything about boredom. None of them did.
Two years ago, I flew on a plane with Fanny and Jake – no parents – to Ireland, went to another dimension, fought supernatural ninjas, met alien entities, and – oh yeah – saved the world from a runaway black hole! And here I was, playing at being the lunchtime circus show, plodding through the days, waiting for something to happen. Anything.
What did they know about boredom?
“Come on, Emily. Show us something.”
Fine. They want a show. I’ll give them a show.
I looked around the room for something to use as a demonstration. Something to please the gawkers.
And there she was. Perfect.
Greta walked from Owen’s table, with two of her friends beside her. She carried her half-eaten salad on a tray, the leftover greens drenched with dressing.
It’d been a while since I attempted a levitation from so far away. I wondered if I could do it.
I heard Madame Wong’s voice in my head. “Time, distance – no matter. All things are one with Akasha.” I took a deep breath.
Greta’s salad bowl lifted off her tray. She didn’t seem to notice it at first. But whispers started, then kids were pointing to her, and some were laughing.
I saw Greta look around. Her face changed to a grimace when she realized the whispers, laughs and pointing were aimed at her. She stopped in her tracks, looked around and then noticed her salad bowl was missing. She followed the finger pointing and glanced up.
The salad bowl was perched about six inches above her head, waiting for my command to dump the oily contents all over her. If I chose to give the direction.
Greta’s face flushed. She glared at me with utter venom in her eyes.
“Don’t you dare, Freak Girl!” she screamed.
“What are you doin’, Em?” Jake asked.
There was a buzz of noise rising in the cafeteria.
“Having some fun.”
“I don’t think you should do this,” he said.
“Why? Because it’s not befitting a Priestess of Brighid? Because it’s bad manners?”
“Well, yeah, for a start. And maybe because you don’t need to go starting a war with Greta.”
I dismissed Jake with a roll of my eyes. The salad bowl still teetered over Greta as she stormed toward me.
“I’m tired of you telling me how to be a Priestess, Jake. I didn’t see you in the Netherworld, getting rapped with Madame Wong’s staff or sliced by her sword. You’re not the one who saved our collective bacon. Just leave me alone.”
Jake got up from the bench and picked up his tray. “Fine. I’ll leave you alone. Do what you want. You always do anyway.” He huffed off.
Man, he’s snippy at me lately! What’s up his butt?
“Come on, Em. You’ve had your fun. Jake’s right about Greta. You don’t need to start anything with her,” Fanny whispered to me.
“Why? She’s taken plenty of shots at me over the years. Why shouldn’t I get a little payback?”
I could feel Fanny staring at me, waiting for me to turn to her. When I did, her eyes were set and hard, locking with mine.
“Because you’re better than her.”
Blast it, I hate it when Fanny’s right. And she was right. I didn’t need to stoop to Greta’s level. I’d show her that I could be the bigger person.
Greta was almost to our table, the salad still obeying my order to hover over her head. But then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Owen walking my way too, down the aisle between two sets of tables.
My eyes were magnets drawn to his eyes. His lips were pulled into a half-smirk, half-smile, revealing a small dimple in his right cheek, but not his left. That little asymmetry made it all the more adorable. I wanted to kiss that dimple. And his lips. The soft pout of his lower lip made me want to …
A loud scream pulled me out of my daydream, then laughing and applause erupted. Dang it. I’d lost my concentration on the salad bowl, and it fell, landing first on Greta’s head. It spilled greasy dressing all over her head before dropping to the floor.
I’m not sure what made her more angry. The oily dressing covering her head and shoulders, a bit of it dripping down her forehead, or the applause erupting from the crowd and cheers for me.
Popularity is such a crazy thing. Most of us want to be the popular kid – be a Greta or an Owen. But when a popular is taken down a peg, we cheer. Go figure.
Owen stopped and took in the scene, then continued walking the five feet or so he had left to get to my table, then he stopped.
He stood across from me and stared. His face was framed by his dark, wavy hair. It looked soft and was just long enough to run your fingers through. Owen looked me straight in the eyes with his smoldering, dark ones. He held my gaze, our eyes locked.
My heart began to beat faster, my stomach roiling. Was he going to scold me for humiliating one of his posse? Or was he going to … what?
Then he said, “Take a bow, Miss Magic. That’s the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time,” as he cocked his head toward Greta.
At first, my legs were frozen. I sat numbly, unable to speak. Then I found the ability to do what he said. I got up and bowed first to my left, then my right, the applause growing louder.
When I raised my head, Owen was gone, already pushing his way through the doors out of the lunchroom. But Greta was there, standing right across from me. Her neck, face, and ears were a red flame of anger. Her icy blue eyes, framed by strands of greasy hair, shot daggers at me.
“You’ll regret this, Freak Girl.”
“Whatever,” I said and laughed.
Greta didn’t laugh. She stood there, stinking of garlicky Italian dressing, her hands still gripping her tray.
“You may think you’re all that because you’ve got some stupid powers. But you’re still a freak, and that’s all you’ll ever be.” Then she stormed off, her two lap-dog friends on her heels.
Out loud, I laughed.
Inside, I wondered if what she said was true. Greta knew how to push all my buttons, how to bring out every insecurity I had. Could I ever be more than a side show? And could a guy like Owen ever be interested in a freak like me?
Greta stormed off. The show was over, and the bell would soon ring. The buzz of talking and laughter began to die down as people packed up their stuff and left.
“You shouldn’t have done it,” Fanny said.
“I know. I didn’t plan to. My concentration was … broken.”
“By what? You’ve never dropped anything before. You’ve levitated me for close to an hour. Don’t tell me Greta rattled you enough to drop that bowl.”
“It wasn’t her. She doesn’t rattle me.”
Yes, she does.
“Then what?”
I whispered low, so only Fanny would hear. “Owen Breen,” I confided.
“What? Breen? You’ve gotta be kidding,” she shrieked.
“Shh.” I put my finger to my lips. “This is between just you and me, okay? Don’t tell Jake.”
“Oh, I won’t tell Jake. It would crush him.”
“Whad’ya mean?”
“Man, for supposedly being an enlightened person, you sure are dense sometimes.”
“And what’s that supposed to mean?”
“Never mind.”
The bell rang. Time for chemistry class. Greta was in that class. I hoped she didn’t show that day, covered in grease and stinking of Italian dressing. It made my gut feel sick to think about it.
Fanny didn’t say anything to me as we headed to our lockers to get stuff for the afternoon. What had she meant about Jake being crushed if he found out I had a thing for Owen? And was Owen really out of my league? Even though we lived in two different hemispheres, couldn’t we meet somewhere around the equator?
As I walked to class, I decided to put Owen out of my mind. He’d laughed at my silly parlor trick, but he’d never look my way again.

*          *          *

Sometimes you’re as wrong as a left turn on red.

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Happy reading :-)

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Catherine Lee said...

My favorite thing to do on Halloween is to dole out candy to the Trick-or-Treaters. We had 232 Trick-or-Treaters this Halloween. It was a record for us!
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

Catherine Lee said...

And, DAM that's a ugly cat!