Today’s book review is very exciting for me to bring to you because it’s for a great YA paranormal novel put out by a lovely friend, Emlyn Chand. Emlyn and I met through Twitter and became fast friends. I was luckly enough to beta read the first half of this book months ago and I’m super excited to be a part of the blog tour now that the book has finally hit the “shelves”.
Author: Emlyn Chand
Genre: YA Paranormal
Alex Kosmitoras’s life has never been easy. The only other student who will talk to him is the school bully, his parents are dead-broke and insanely overprotective, and to complicate matters even more, he’s blind. Just when he thinks he’ll never have a shot at a normal life, a new girl from India moves into town. Simmi is smart, nice, and actually wants to be friends with Alex. Plus she smells like an Almond Joy bar. Yes, sophomore year might not be so bad after all.
Unfortunately, Alex is in store for another new arrival–an unexpected and often embarrassing ability to “see” the future. Try as he may, Alex is unable to ignore his visions, especially when they begin to suggest that Simmi is in danger. With the help of the mysterious psychic next door and new friends who come bearing gifts of their own, Alex must embark on a journey to change his future.
Luckily, I got to see this story from its first draft to the final product and I enjoyed it immensely. It’s something different compared to a lot of the YA stuff that’s out right now. While Alex has this sight, he’s definitely not the super hero type (even though he would very much like to be). He comes off as very real; a sullen, moody, hormonal teen. I liked that it wasn’t very predictable. When you read a lot of YA, it’s sometimes very easy to figure out what’s going to happen next. I didn’t really have much of that with Farsighted, a definite plus. If you’re looking for something a little different in the YA paranormal genre, definitely pick this up!
Q) Is Farsighted your first novel?
R) Nope. It’s my second. After lots of back and forth, I decided my first novel would be better off unpublished. So with that said, it’s important to remember that not every work has to be published. My first novel was important, because it taught me I could see an entire novel through from start to finish. But in that first novel, I made lots of mistakes as a writer. Luckily, I learned what my faults were and sought out ways to improve upon them. And Farsighted is the better for it.
Q) In a category where fantasy currently runs rampant (vampires, fae, etc.), what made you choose to go a different route with a main character with psychic abilities?
R) Everything started with a single image—my face in these tacky oversized sunglasses reflecting out at me from the car’s side mirror. I was daydreaming while my husband drove us across Michigan for my sister’s wedding. Something about my image really struck me in an almost horrific way. I felt the glasses made me look blind but found it so weird that there was still a clear image within them; it seemed so contradictory. At the time, my book club was reading The Odyssey, which features the blind Theban prophet, Tieresias. I started thinking about what it would be like to have non-visual visions of the future and began forming a modern Tieresias in my mind. Lo and behold, Alex Kosmitoras was born. I didn’t want him to be alone in his psychic subculture, so I found other characters with other powers to keep him company. Thank God for my poor fashion sense.
Q) Being female, what made you opt for a male main character?
R) Again it goes back to that initial glimpse of myself in the mirror and somehow linking it to Tieresias from Greek mythology. I always saw Alex as a boy. It was fun to think outside of my gender, my age group, my physical abilities – everything.
Q) What was the most difficult part of writing Farsighted?
R) The hardest part was getting started! I spent about three months trying to talk myself out of writing Farsighted. It’s too ambitious, my inner critic pointed out. You’ll never get it done, not in the way it deserves to be done, it pressed. But there was another part of me that couldn’t resist; I knew I had to at least try before giving up. So glad I decided to be an optimist for a change!
Q) How did your personal experiences influence your writing?
R) Farsighted’s fictional town of Grandon is based on my hometown; it’s small and kind of boring. I couldn’t wait to escape and move on to bigger and better things. My home town was mostly Caucasian, but somehow I ended up with a very diverse set of friends even though they made up less than 1% of the student body. Fast forward a few years, and I end up marrying a man from India. He’s from New Delhi, like Simmi. I’ve always been fascinated by other cultures; I even decided to pursue my Master’s in Sociology for this very reason. I credit two early life influences for this attraction: 1) My adoration of A.C. Slater in Saved by the Bell, 2) Disney’s Aladdin being the best movie ever.
Q) Did you have to do a lot of research before writing?
R) Absolutely. Research is a must for world-building, authenticity and just honing one’s craft in general. I started in on Farsighted by reading tons and tons of books before doing ANYTHING else—I read about world folklore and superstitions, religions especially Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and Sikhism, psychic powers, the occult, blindness, and even Nostradamus. I learned how to cast runes and perform a ten-card Celtic Cross Tarot reading. I had nightmares for several weeks, but then they eventually stopped, and I started writing.
Q) I know that YA wasn’t always your first choice when it came to writing, what prompted you to give it a try?
R) My first novel was literary women’s fiction. It didn’t capture who I am or what my strengths are— that’s why it’s taken up permanent residence in my desk drawer. When I was ready to write my second novel, I had 4 ideas that really excited me—a dystopian novel, historical fiction, chick lit, and what became Farsighted. I thought each idea out and wrote sample pages or character sketches as practice (I call this the left-brained approach to brainstorming books as described in the article I wrote here). The Farsighted pages were the easiest to write, and they were the ones my trusted beta readers liked best too, so I decided to give it a try.
Q) Who are your writing influences?
R) In truth, I’m influenced by everything I read (for better or worse). My primary influences are JK Rowling for awesome world-building and unrivaled dialogue-writing skill, Anne M Martin for first making me love books, John Irving for incredible characterization, Suzanne Collins for riveting action, and Vladimir Nabokov for seamless and beautiful prose.
Q) Who are your favorite YA authors?
Ooo. JK Rowling, Suzanne Collins, and JD Salinger are classic faves. I’m currently reading Matched by Ally Condie and am absolutely loving it. Next up is the Tiger series by Colleen Houck, another set of books I anticipate greatly enjoying.
Q) Just for fun, if Farsighted was made into a major Broadway musical, what would the name of big number be?
Is it bad that I totally have a musical planned out in my head already? A few months ago, I set out to write an edgy rock ballad to represent Farsighted, but it came out like a diddy from Rent. The title of my musicale’s big number would be “Tomorrow is Today (but still so far away).” A musical version of Farsighted would be so, so cool! Thanks for indulging my fantasy a bit ;-)
Q) What can we expect next from you?
R) I’m working on book two in the Farsighted series. It’s called Open Heart and will be written from the point-of-view of a different main character. I’m also toying with the idea of a special hardcover edition of Farsighted Book 1 with new chapters added to the end and a sneak peek of Open Heart.
Q) Where can fans purchase Farsighted and contact you?
R) You can get Farsighted in the Amazon Kindle store or in the eBook shop of your choice. The paperback edition will be available on November 24, which is also my birthday—hooray! To get in touch with me, visit my website at www.emlynchand.com, or look me up at: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, GoodReads, or LibraryThing.
Blog Tour Notes
THE BOOK: Alex Kosmitoras may be blind, but he can still “see” things others can’t. When his unwanted visions of the future begin to suggest that the girl he likes could be in danger, he has no choice but to take on destiny and demand it reconsider. Get your copy today by visiting Amazon.com’s Kindle store or the eBook retailer of your choice. The paperback edition will be available on November 24 (for the author’s birthday).
THE CASH PRIZES: Guess what? You could win a $100 Amazon gift card as part of this special blog tour. That’s right! Just leave a comment below saying something about the post you just read, and you’ll be entered into the raffle. I could win $100 too! Please help by voting for my blog, Keystrokes & Work Counts, in the traffic-breaker poll. To cast your vote, visit the official Farsighted blog tour page and scroll all the way to the bottom. Thank you for your help with that.
THE GIVEAWAYS: Win 1 of 10 autographed copies of Farsighted before its paperback release by entering the giveaway on GoodReads. Perhaps you’d like an autographed postcard from the author; you can request one on her site.
THE AUTHOR: Emlyn Chand has always loved to hear and tell stories, having emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). When she’s not writing, she runs a large book club in Ann Arbor and is the president of author PR firm, Novel Publicity. Emlyn loves to connect with readers and is available throughout the social media interweb. Visit www.emlynchand.com for more info. Don’t forget to say “hi” to her sun conure Ducky!
MORE FUN: There’s more fun below. Watch the live action Farsighted book trailer and take the quiz to find out which character is most like you!