For 17-year-old Tamsin Fletch, living with the curse, in a world where magic is banned, could be the difference between life and death.
Young Adult Fantasy
||London, United Kingdom
||7 publishers interested
Seventeen year old Tamsin Fletch lives a bleak existence in The Deep. A land ravaged during a bitter war when magic was eradicated from the world and power passed to one man. The Overlord. With the disappearance of magic every day is a fight for survival and harsh realities replace ancient myths.
Living hand to mouth, the residents of The Deep rely more than they know on Tamsin and her best friend Tom as they brave the wild to bring them food.
Tamsin knows these days won’t last long, not now she is near to marriageable age. Soon her father will be negotiating for her hand. If that wasn’t bad enough, Tamsin has a secret that could cost her family what little they have. She’s cursed. The binding ritual created to stop magic developing in the females of society has failed on her. Within her veins the ability to summon magic and bend nature to her will flows strong.
Tamsin knows if she can keep her secret for just a little longer then she can provide her family with everything they need.
Yet, she’s not the only one keeping secrets. When the son of The Overlord comes seeking a tribute for his bride the dire position she’s in begins to unravel, especially when his falls onto her.
Outed when an impulsive use of her power overtakes her, Tamsin must watch Tom punished for knowing her secret, before she is cast out into the depths of The Void. There she knows her fight for survival will be short-lived as wolves circle closer to their prey. When she thinks the end is near a mysterious form saves her from the ravages of starved wild beasts. Tamsin comes face to face with a force more unnerving than snapping jaws. The Ice Prince, the whispered source of legend and lore is real. His Kingdom, where she is taken for safety, hidden from the rest of civilization; a kingdom where magic is free to flourish and develop.
Tamsin is thrust into a world she never could have imagined. A place where nature forms the castle itself and everything is wonderfully abundant and plentiful. Tamsin fights hard to remember her family and the fate of her loyal friend Tom. She tries to convince The Ice Prince to help her embark on a rescue mission to save Tom, but he has other plans. He’s been waiting a long time for Tamsin to arrive, his future queen and the one who can bring the power of magic back into the land.
Disgusted by her attraction to the man who declares he love her yet keeps her prisoner, Tamsin must use every resource at her disposal to find her way to The Overlords castle. When she gets there, everything is not as she thought and heartbroken she gives herself up for capture. But, when the Ice Prince risks revealing himself once again to save her life Tamsin must consider where her loyalties lie. With her past or with the future of magic.
My primary audience are YA and NA readers especially girls and young women who enjoy a heroes story romance and paranormal / fantasy romance. Specifically readers who enjoy Victoria Aveyard and Marissa Meyer both who provide YA readers with strong heroines, sharp storytelling and have succeeded in hitting lists with their fantasy storylines.
I have a well implemented marketing platform with a steady interactive email list of 6k plus an active readership following both on my Facebook author page and reader groups where I have a loyal base of fans always excited to share my releases. I'm working on developing my Instagram reach where YA readers are more prolific and to extend my hold of the readers attention within the genre by using a multitude of compelling graphics and dynamic hooks to keep users engaged.
Extract from Gravity.
I saw him straight away.
It was hard not to.
Dressed in black, with a dark cap pulled low over his eyes, he stood out like a neon sign. His feet crossed at the ankle on top of a cracked picnic bench as he watched everyone walk by.
Stomping across the grass, I cursed under my breath as my heavy bag bit into my shoulder. Lauren was late. I held in an eye roll as I recalled her jumbled, panicked, call from earlier. Something to do with her brothers, the television screen, and her dad going to kill them all.
Now I was alone. On the first day of term. Attending school was a dangerous affair—well for me, anyway. In fact leaving the house was dangerous . . . But nothing would stop me attending school. Nothing, not a bag splitting from the weight of too many books, or flying solo.
It was Eleanor Heavers that made me notice. Curse the bitch. I was halfway across the grass when the anomaly struck. Heavy Ellie, was famous for sniffing out fresh male blood from a clear school corridor away. Yet she walked passed, with her perfect hair streaming in the breeze, as she chewed the ear off Sarah Hamley.
Eleanor didn't notice the biker boots, or the black clothes and baseball cap. Nor did she notice the mysterious allure that exuded from his direction. Neither did anyone else.
I tried to ignore him but my feet weren't listening and walked me right in his direction. My stomach squeezed with a tug that pulled me from the safety of the path onto the uneven tufts of vibrant grass. Walking is a dangerous pass time—for me.
At first, I thought he wasn't looking. But, when I tripped, the roots of an old oak tree reaching to grab me on my inexplicable detour, I landed with a resounding bang on my hands and knees.
That's when I realised he was watching me. He smiled.
By the time I'd scrambled off the floor and glanced to the picnic bench, he was gone.
"Oh, look." I cringed as Eleanor's voice carried over the lawn to my unwilling ears. "Poor Bronte's on the floor, and the term hasn't even started yet." I didn't bother to locate her. Her twittering laughter bounced off the redbrick building and assaulted my ears. I didn't need an accompanying visual cue. "I wonder how many bones she will break this year?" she said. Her musings were loud. Guaranteed to draw enquiring glances of other students as they crossed the quad on the first day of lessons.
I fidgeted with the neckline of my shirt, which strangled my neck with a Boa Constrictor's grip. With my left hand, I smoothed my skirt, brushing away debris from my first tumble of the term. With a shake of my head, I shook it off and made my way to class. The strap of my bag dug in like a razor and I winced under the weight, even though I hadn't even made it to the library yet. The familiar "Library thrill" made its way along my spine when I considered the new reading list.
"What are you thinking of?" Lauren skipped up beside me and linked her arm through mine. Our black blazers meshed. I didn't bother to question her tardiness.
"Coach Rivers face."
Lauren giggled, her brown hair lifting in the breeze into some wild halo, as she shook it out the way. "Your mum didn't change her mind then."
"Nope." I patted my bag which safely enclosed a letter excluding me from physical education. The letter had been under more discussion than I would have liked, which I found ridiculous considering my injury rate.
"Do you reckon she'd write one for me?" Lauren pouted her cherry stained lips. "It's not fair you no longer have to do Phys. Ed and I do."
"I suggest you break various bones and fall down a lot, and then they will let you get away with it." When I'd broken my arm for the third time, everyone knew that I shouldn't take part in sports any more. Everyone apart from Coach Rivers. Coach Rivers had sadistic tendencies. Mainly born from the fact she looked like a male shot putter and had the personal allure of a warthog. I hated P.E it was the literal bane of my life. I caused more accidents to others than I did to myself. This was a feat considering I'd been wearing plaster casts for most of the last few months.
"Remember when you smacked Paul in the face with the football?"
I cringed. "Remember when you tried to kiss it better?”
"I did not,” she laughed, “much."
"Anyway, I will be in the library exercising the only muscle I need. My brain."
Lauren shook her head, deep in thought. "I don't know how we are best friends."
"You need me to make you feel like Wonder Woman?”
With a straight face Lauren nodded. “I need you to help me with my math homework more.”
I laughed, losing my concentration and tripped on the edge of the walkway. Lauren's hand shot out to catch me. “Okay, I am Wonder Woman,” she said.
Before my birthday I’d been normal; well, at least I thought I was. I'd always been happy existing in my own little bubble. Happy in my bubble, bopping along, trying to stay out of the way of Eleanor Heavers. Then I'd blown out my sixteen candles and everything had changed. Everything.
By the time Lauren and I reached class, a pinch of anxiety was gripping my insides. It was uncomfortable, and I hoped it wouldn't result in a trip to the toilet before registration. No one wanted to start the new school year doing the hallway dash to the girl's lavatory.
Lauren eyed the double doors with measured dislike. "Ready for another boring year?"
"There's a new boy." I shouted the words in my excitement—I didn't know how I'd forgotten to mention it before.
Lauren's mouth fell open, her gum balancing precariously on the tip of her tongue. "Get out. There is not." New kids didn't turn up often. When the last new student arrived, lesson plans had been disrupted for days. He was still famous for being the new kid, and he arrived two years ago. "Where?" Lauren craned her neck trying to locate the newcomer.
"Well he's not here right now, is he?" I rolled my eyes and tried to shush her with my hand. I'd already had enough people stare at me for the day and it hadn't even started yet.
"Are you sure he's real? He's not one of your migraine hallucinations is he?" She chuckled, but I noticed her eyes flick over me.
"No. I haven't had a headache in, uh, in days."
A frown creased between Lauren's eyebrows. "Days?" Her body angled towards mine a fraction, like she was ready to take a bullet for me.
"Don't fuss," I sighed.
"I'm not fussing."
Exhaustion washed over me, I hated feeling I was so different. "You are."
Holding her hands palm up she said, "I'm not. Okay, I'm forgetting all about it, see?" She motioned dragging the thought from her head and throwing it over her shoulder.
We both turned for the doors. "Ready?"
I groaned. "No."
"Come on, you love this stuff."
I shook my head hard enough to make it hurt. "I love the library. The rest of it can burn."
"Maybe it will. It's the end of days, don't you know?"
I laughed and shouldered my bag. My laughter pulled some enquiring glances from a bunch of first years as they scurried past. "The end of days? Have you been reading the Daily Rag again?"
Lauren looked at me, her expression wide eyed. "I saw it on the news. Meteor showers. Days getting shorter even though it's not daylight savings yet."
"It's scaremongering, that's all. It's just global warming, etc, exactly the same as when we had the heat wave in April."
“That may be so.” She snickered. “But I hate the bloody dark.”
I laughed. “Still? Really?” Before I could say anything else, the bell tolled, making us jump. “Come on, doom and gloom," I said, "let's get to class before we get a late slip first period."
"See you at lunch?" She turned for her class while I eyed mine up three doors down the corridor.
"Yep." I hoped I'd make it to lunch. Over the last few months I’d viewed the day as an assault course. It needed completing in hourly intervals. If I got to the end of the day without some physical calamity befalling me, I considered it a win. "See you at lunch," I said, but she was already through her door.
My focus was on the red chipped paint of the classroom door, so I didn't see the chair jump out and attack my leg.
"Bugger." I rubbed my thigh, which was already aching with that heavy lead sensation that comes from a dead limb, and tried to gain my footing.
"Easy there." A hand jutted out and grasped my elbow, stabilising me as I threatened to topple again.
"Sorry," I mumbled. My cheeks were glowing a vicious, volcanic, burn. I could live without Eleanor Heavers finding out I'd fallen over not once, but twice on the first day. I knew she would, though. Gossip spread through the school like fire through a parched forest.
"You seem to be vertically challenged." The voice was soft, bringing a low bell to mind. My stomach felt all squishy, which was odd when combined with numb legs.
My eyes snapped up into the shadowed face of the boy from the picnic bench. His face tilted under the worn peak of his baseball cap. His features obscured in shadows so I couldn’t get a good look at the caps owner. "I am not." I stated. My blatant lie made the burn running along my cheeks intensify until I was uncomfortably hot. He was scrutinising me and I didn't know why. I stood there, while from under the cap, I knew he was evaluating what he saw. I prickled, straightening my shoulders. I didn't exactly march off down the corridor in outrage at his blatant presumptuous scrutiny. I just kind of suspended there while he stared from under the cap.
"No?" he asked. His fingers still held my elbow, and I tried to peer closer so I could see him better. It was an impulse I couldn’t ignore and I shifted forward.
"You also don't seem to grasp the concept of personal space.” He stepped away, breaking the spell that had pulled me towards him. The burning flush transformed into an all out uncomfortable sweat.
"Sorry, I was just. Um, just." What was I doing?
"Just, what?" The voice sounded like it might be amused if it could be arsed.
"Just trying to see you." The words blurted from my mouth, clanging into the air around me like boulders into a small rain puddle.
"Trying to see what?" As he spoke, my bag slipped off my shoulder. It smashed onto the floor with the heavy thud that twenty overdue library books will make. I scrambled to pick up the mess.
"You," I said. Glancing up, I looked to see his reaction to my outrageous declaration, but there was nobody there. Just me and an empty hallway and the bell tolling on the wall, telling me I was late for my first class.
"Who is it?" Lauren peered over and looked at my phone. I tilted the screen away.
Mum Text: Are you okay?
Me Text: Y
Mum Text: You can use vowels to converse
Me Text: Y
"Who'd you think?"
Lauren pretended to think, although we both knew she wasn't trying that hard. "Mm, your mum or Aaron."
"Wrong. It's the Prime Minister asking for my opinion on the current celestial changes."
"Very funny." Lauren took a giant bite of her sausage roll and sprayed pastry everywhere with her words. "Your mum wanted to know if you were okay didn't she?”
I frowned. "Yep."
"Is she still threatening to homeschool you?"
Pulling the crust off my sandwich, I dropped it on my plate where it sat looking dried and unappetising. "I told her if she tried to homeschool me, I would embark on a hunger strike sit in and refuse to wash ever again."
Lauren snorted and then checked no one had heard by stealing a glance around the crowded cafeteria. "Sounds delightful, forgive me if I don't come to visit often."
"Won't have to worry about visiting." I said. "It's not happening. I'm coming to school. Regardless."
Lauren's face creased into a frown I was all too familiar seeing on my parent’s faces. "Don't," I warned. Talking about my ongoing health problems was exhausting. Lauren gave a slow shake of her head.
"I can't believe they haven't found out what's wrong with you yet. It's crazy, you've gone from being normal," she shrugged at my affronted expression, "to becoming frail and breakable within a few months." Silence lapped between us as we both studied our cans of diet coke.
"Nothing's coming up on the tests, Lauren," I explained. My voice pitched low so no one else could overhear. Although I don't know why I bothered. The whole school knew there was something wrong with me. "They can't test for something when they don't have a clue what it is." I pulled on the sleeve of my sweater, covering up the bruises on my inner arm. My latest round of tests had left me resembling a pin cushion. The one positive about the celestial changes was the cooler weather. This meant I could cover up most of the bruises, dents and scratches on my body without having to sweat in a jumper. Summer had been uncomfortable, although thankfully, it was short.
Eleanor Heavers caught my attention. She was sat at her usual table. Around her were her humble side-kicks who were ready to take her abuse as and when she dished it out. Soppy Sarah was laughing at something Eleanor was saying. Although I noticed it was just her mouth that was smiling. Above her lips, her eyes were frozen like a lake in January.
I hated Eleanor. Hated her for being the exact opposite to me. Hated her for the fact we shared the same birthday. That since we'd turned sixteen a few months before, she'd grown more and more beautiful. Her dark mysterious looks had become more alluring with every day that passed. While I had become frailer. More brittle. Like a discarded cracker, left to bake in the sun and ready to crumble into scattered pieces. It was unfair. I was understanding that life was unfair with a jaded scepticism a sixteen year old shouldn’t have. But then anyone's positive outlook on life was sure to wane after three breaks to the arm, a shattered femur and teeth that wobbled. Oh, and hair that fell every time you brushed it.
She must have sensed me looking at her because her dark eyes flashed in my direction, a smear across her face. I knew why I hated her. Why she'd hated me our entire lives when I hadn't ever done anything wrong was a mystery. I turned my eyes away and caught a drip of condensation with my index finger as it rolled down my coke can. "Have you seen the new boy yet?" I asked, forcing my attention away from Heavy Ellie and her cronies.
"Seriously, Bron? What new boy? I asked in class and no one has seen him." Lauren looked me straight in the eyes. I was sure she was wondering if this was the next stage in my strange illness. Hallucination. Saying that, he wasn't a bad hallucination for my addled brain to dream up so if that were the case, then I wouldn't have been unhappy.
"Well I saw him, and he was rude. He told me I was vertically challenged."
Lauren snorted again, louder, and this time she got a few glances. Her cheeks flushed a rosy pink, but she straightened her shoulders and fluffed out her hair. "You are vertically challenged."
"Yeah, well he doesn't know that. Anyway, he's rude. And I will tell him next time I see him." It wasn’t so much his rude words that were rankling with me and irritating under my skin with annoying persistence. It was the way his words made my insides liquefy and my legs wobble like under-set jelly. I couldn’t afford to have wobbling legs—I struggled enough when they were stable.
"You?" Lauren raised an eyebrow and clapped her hands together a grin flashing across her face. "You, Bronte-Don’t-Say-Boo-to-a-Ghost, will go up to a stranger and tell them they're rude? Yeah, right."
"Yeah, right, I will." I straightened my back and steeled my gaze onto my coke can with the venom I planned to point in the new boys direction. If I saw him again. My phone buzzed and distracted me from making any more plans I wouldn't follow through.
Aaron Text: Everything okay, sunshine?
"Oh, my God. Why won't they leave me alone?" I flung my half eaten lunch on the faded, red tray, my minimal appetite fast disappearing.
"Because they care," Lauren soothed. Her words just made me grimace. "Just be grateful you've got a mum and stepdad that do. Look at me! Mum doesn't even know what day of the week it is because the twins drive her so crazy. And dad hides at work until he's escorted from the building and is literally forced to come home." She toyed with her banana, analysing the bruised tip. “Who knows how long he makes the drive home last, he could stop at the pub daily, or just sit in a car park for all we know. I think he feels anywhere is better than home.”
Lauren had spent a large proportion of our childhood friendship encamped at my house. I'd always been jealous of the freedom she enjoyed, but she loved my mum’s overbearing ways and stuck up for her every time I complained. Even now when mum and my step-dad, Aaron, were swaddling me in cotton wool on a daily basis. I knew I should be grateful that I had a stable life, it could have been worse. My mum had never lied about the fact she’d been pregnant with me when she met Aaron. I'd always known that Aaron wasn’t my real father; he’d always insisted that I call him Aaron, as opposed to Dad, which when I was young, had hurt, as all the other kids called out to their dad’s. But he’d provided enough security for me I’d never wondered who my real dad was. I didn’t need to. And that said a lot.
It didn’t stop my frustration with their constant monitoring. I grabbed my phone, my fingers flying over the screen.
Me text: F
There was no point not answering. They'd just as likely ring the school office and ask the Headmaster to track me down and check I was okay. Aaron didn't respond straight away. A small voice in the back of my head hoped he'd read my answer as the 'Fine' I'd meant, and not a swear word beginning with the same letter. Lifting my tray in my hands, I made my way to the empty trolleys, ready to ditch lunch and get to the library. The tray was blocking my view of my feet, although I would have tripped over Eleanor's outstretched foot whether I'd seen it or not. With a resounding clatter, both the tray and myself smashed onto the floor. My empty can of coke clattered along the floor as it rolled to a stop. I gasped as a shooting pain seared up my wrist and stared wide eyed at the unnaturally limp angle my hand hung at. It was broken, smashed, and useless. Tears stung along my eyelids as I rolled onto my knees and cradled my arm to my chest, struggling to sit. I blinked at the tears, dispersing them along my lashes. The room was deathly silent apart from the cackle of Eleanor as she leaned down and said. "Oops.” Her lips were close to my face and I could smell the peach scent of her sticky lip-gloss. “Bronte, you really must look where you're going." I managed to straighten myself as I watched her walk away, but it was as far as I could get. Waves of shock ran through me, causing my body to rock with a hard shudder. My teeth clanged together. We hadn't even made it to afternoon lessons, and I'd already broken a bone. My chest felt heavy. I laboured to breathe through the tight constriction that banded around my rib cage. I would be home schooled for sure. I expected Lauren to reach down and help me, but everything around me swirled like a kaleidoscope. My eyesight blurred to a dim hazy grey. Shit. I was going to pass out. A wave of sick washed over me like a high tide threatening to drag me out into a dark sea.
"Here." A hand reached for me. I couldn't even see through the shadowy darkness to determine who it was. My stomach gave a warm squeeze which I recognised from earlier in the day. It was the new boy confirming I was in fact vertically challenged after all. I didn't care. If I could make it to the office, they'd call my mum and she could take me to hospital, again. I reached out my good hand, the one that wasn't splintering in pain.
"The other hand."
I didn't respond. My eyesight darkened from grey to black, and my grasp on reality slipped as the pain of the shattered joint ran through my body. It resonated up my arm and into my chest. Fingers reached down and gripped my distorted wrist in loose fingers. "Come on, up you get." Despite the pain, the soothing words flowed over me like a balm.
Through the darkness, I let the hand guide me off the floor. The voice reached inside of me, soft and coaxing. "You definitely aren't the right girl." A low chuckle filled my ears. "Amusing, but not the right girl."
The absence of pain shocked throughout my body. It was like falling asleep to white noise and then waking in surprise when it switched off. My eyes opened, the threatened darkness of loss of consciousness, vanished like it had never existed at all. I looked down and found myself holding my tray—Lauren was standing by my side. My wrist was fine. Sitting at her table Eleanor Heavers was squawking away like she'd been moments before.
I spun round trying to catch sight of the new boy but there was no sign of him anywhere. I gasped.
"What the hell just happened?" I turned wide eyes for Lauren.
"Seriously? What the bloody hell just happened?" And then I dropped my tray.