A secret world, hidden creatures, and one girl who sees too much . . .
With her strange gold eyes, and haunted by things she can’t explain, Cara Ransome has never fit in. She’s down to one friend, and he’s four-legged and furry. On the cusp of high school, she vows to get a fresh start, and hearing a voice is not part of the plan.
The voice in Cara’s head tells her of a hidden world of ancient creatures she never knew existed. Now, one by one, they’re disappearing, and only she can help figure out why. That, or she’s losing her mind . . . along with her second chance. But the voice is insistent—they’re running out of time.
Will Cara embrace her true self before it’s too late, or will she end up alone again, lost in her secrets?
SECRETS is the first book in the GREEN & GOLD series. If you love contemporary young adult books with a side of whimsy, you’ll cheer for this enchanting story. Join Cara’s surprising journey of discovery in this coming-of-age urban fantasy novel, where strangeness and suspense ride alongside spirit and hope.
Read it today. Follow the voices.
Targeted Age Group:: 13+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The original inspiration for this book – the beginning of the idea – started from a single word, pyxis. The dictionary definition of pyxis is somewhat dull, but it made me think. What if it wasn't just a clay vessel in ancient Greece? What if it was a living vessel, holding something far more interesting, like another life form? The idea isn't new. After all, we're all vessels housing a plethora of symbiotic bacteria in our bodies. And while that might sound gross, we couldn't live without them. It's a win-win relationship. So what if that was bigger, grander, and more magical?
That was the story idea. The inspiration to write it, and the characters who tell this story, came later, after a long session of daydreaming on a very boring 3 hour bus ride. Mostly, I needed a break from my day job and a creative outlet. I also wanted a sense of purpose that wasn't being fulfilled in my life. So that's what this book is about. It's about finding and embracing the differences that make us who we are, and learning how to contribute to the world in a positive way by using those unique strengths.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I love group dynamics, but I'm a bit of a lone wolf at heart. I chose a main character who has been on her own, and enjoys her alone time, but also wants to be included. I like the idea of mirroring the experience of the main character, Cara, in a different way. So we have another two characters who travel a similar journey to Cara's, but they do it together and share the different aspects of what Cara has to endure alone. The trio of characters made a nice contrast in that way.
The main cast of characters grows over the course of the series, and some of my favorites are actually side characters, but the core three will always have each other's backs.
None of my characters are based on anyone I know, but they probably all have some aspects of me in them. I tend to see the world in a hopeful way, so they're generally nice people, but all incredibly different from one another in a lot of ways. I think they complement each other well, and hopefully you'll agree.
A whisper of wings overhead made her look up. Her heart jumped into her throat at the sight of the huge owl, with its long talons wrapped around a lump of dark fur. She shrieked as it swooped over her, low enough for a breeze to ruffle her long hair.
She flung her arms over her head, and stumbled sideways until something squished and rolled under her right heel. The leg went out from under her. With wild, wide eyes, Cara Ransome looked up from where she had fallen unceremoniously into the grass beside the path. The pinecone she had slipped on was still rolling away.
The owl dropped its prey ten feet away by a large evergreen tree and Cara blinked. The furry creature it had been carrying, which turned out to be a squirrel, scurried away unharmed. Weirder still, it ran off to meet up with two other squirrels who stood waiting under a tree. Waiting? That couldn’t be right.
Stop it, Cara, she told herself.
She shook her head, blushing. A quiet laugh reached her ears, and she looked around the park at the other people, searching for the source of the laughter.
This park used to be one of her favorite places as a child. With its groves of densely packed trees on either side of the path, it created its own world in spite of its small size, cut off from the surrounding neighborhoods. Frequently, the small animals playing amongst the trees had amused and entertained her with their antics, causing her to point and giggle while her mom glanced around in confusion.
Now, at fourteen, she felt completely differently about it. She hurried through on her way to and from school each day with her eyes focused only on the path ahead. The strategy worked most of the time. Not today, though.
Even if they weren’t laughing, people had stopped to stare. The closest, a man in a dark suit, hurried over and stretched out a hand to help her up.
“Are you okay?”
“I'm fine,” she mumbled, her face burning.
The man completely ignored the dive-bombing owl. In fact, now that she glanced around, the other people walking through the park had all stopped to look at her instead of at the owl. It soared, unnoticed by anyone else, up to the treetops. Her stomach clenched.
Things like this kept happening to her. She pursed her lips and her teeth ground together. She was usually better at hiding it when she saw weird things no one else saw. Overactive imagination was how her mom described it. Hallucination was the scary word she tried not to think about. Whatever it was, it had been going on her whole life. Her eyes closed while she took a long breath through her nose. She hadn’t let herself slip up so badly in a long time.
She took the man's hand to stand up—it felt rude not to, now that he was standing there—and started to brush herself off. She used the opportunity to scan the rest of the park. All she needed to top off the humiliation was for some of her classmates to have witnessed her fall.
She groaned. Two boys had turned into the park. They were definitely close enough to have heard her scream and to have watched the man help her up off the ground, and they were her age, even if they didn’t go to her school. Worst of all, at least one of them was really cute.
Fantastic. That’s just great, Cara.
The contrast between the two boys was striking. The tall, cute, athletic one was all blond hair and sunshine. He practically glowed. The grin on his face looked like a permanent fixture. The small guy beside the glowing blond was slight and wiry, with shiny black hair, dark features, and an expression that could have been sculpted in red clay for all it revealed.
She tried to compose herself and focus again. She was determined to ignore the owl and the squirrels like everyone else in the park.
Well, actually . . .
The shorter boy tracked the path of the owl across the sky. It vanished beyond the treetops, and he leaned in to mutter to his blond friend. Then he looked right at her.
Her stomach lurched. Her cheeks burned even hotter, and she waited for them to start laughing at her like other kids her age when she did something dumb like this. Instead, he pulled the bigger guy away, pointing toward the tree where the squirrels had now disappeared.
After quietly thanking the man who had helped her up, she walked with extra care past the two boys, avoiding eye contact. Fortunately, their attention stayed focused on the tree. They must be distracted by some silly game, searching for things in the park or looking for zombies to kill on their phones. Something like that. Whatever it was, bitter experience had taught her they weren't seeing what she had seen.
That night, Cara lay in bed thinking about the squirrels and the two guys in the park playing their dumb game. She couldn’t believe she’d let her guard down and overreacted to the owl so badly. At least she didn’t know them and she’d probably never see them again.
Eventually, she circled back to thinking about the squirrels. Had she really seen anything? Maybe the owl had been startled by her scream and dropped its catch before it could kill it—if the owl was even real to begin with. The worries started again. She must have fallen asleep, because she awoke with light peeking around the curtain.
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