Here we are at the last Monday of April! May is almost here! Today I am pleased to welcome Rhiannon Frater back to the blog. She brought her friend and collaborator Kody Boye. Together, the two recently wrote a YA book: The Midnight Spell. It features a friendship between a teenage witch and a gay boy. This book is fun and entertaining. What I liked most was the portrayal of Adam, the gay teenager, who is trying to find his identity and be comfortable in his own skin. I thought it was refreshing to get a character who comes from a loving supportive family. I invited Kody here to talk about growing up different in a small community in Idaho, very near where I grew up.
Before we get to that let me introduce you to Kody:
Kody Boye was born and raised in Southeastern Idaho. Since his initial publication in the Yellow Mama Webzine in 2007, he has gone on to sell nearly three-dozen stories to various markets. He is the author of the short story collection Amorous Things, the novella The Diary of Dakota Hammell, the zombie novel Sunrise and The Brotherhood Saga. His fiction has been described as ‘Surreal, beautiful and harrowing’ (Fantastic Horror,) while he himself has been heralded as a writer beyond his years(Bitten by Books.) He currently lives and writes in the Austin, Texas area. You can visit him on his website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.
Please welcome Kody:
I think it’s safe to assume that people think two things when a gay teenage male is represented in a young adult novel: that they are either A) So depressed and woe-is-me-please-ride-or-die or B) Gurl please let’s go get us some shoezz honey. Both are so blatantly used everywhere that I have to wonder, ‘Have they even met any gay people?’
I made it very clear from the beginning that I didn’t want this to be a ‘coming of age’ novel, nor did I (or Rhiannon) want this to be about bullying or the effects it has on people. That’s been done before. Rather, we wanted it to be about friendship and how, through its power, anything can be overcome.
I had an incredibly difficult time writing Adam. I think people imagine that I must’ve had some kind of amazing connection with the character in order to write what people are referring to as a ‘very real and realistic struggle.’ When Rhiannon and I started, Adam was completely foreign to me. I ended up rewriting my sections of the first four-and-a-half chapters because I didn’t ‘get’ that Adam could have good stuff in his life (his mother, his little annoying sister, his friends.) The tropes were there, stacked together and heavily-inspired by my own history, and while my case wasn’t as severe as it could have been, it did have a huge effect on the writing of this novel.
Adam isn’t anything like me. I’d go so far as to say that out of all the characters I’ve written, he bears the least resemblance to me. That isn’t to say that I don’t connect with him (because now, having finished the novel, I can easily see similarities,) but the small-town mentality that ‘if you’re different you’re fucked so you better get used to it’ was very present when I first started writing.
I grew up in Southeastern Idaho. Picture this: Beautiful. Idyllic. The mountains in the foreseeable distance. The air crisp and fresh. The wilderness even outside of small towns so breathtaking along the Snake River that you beg to wonder whether or not you’re in suburbia. Then imagine the people, like wolves in sheep’s clothing that never bite but are always willing to bark.
I don’t regret growing up where I did. It may have given me a very pessimistic outlook on life during my teenage years (and still a little to this day,) but there’s a very harsh truth in the fact that the childhood shapes the adult. Sure—there’s truth in the fact that some people with really abusive social or familial upbringing do end up going on to live bad lives—but just because you’re gay doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to be a raving bitch or depressed as hell, or grow up to be a fashion designer or a makeup artist or have constant unprotected sex, start doing drugs, prostitute yourself, get HIV, then die in a corner alone with the pipe in your hand. It happens, yeah, but small town life doesn’t have to define you, and it sure as hell doesn’t shape what happens to everyone. Sadly, I think that’s become the history of gay characters in fiction. I’d like to see that change.
I so agree, Kody, it is time for us to get a better idea of real gay teenagers and understand
the devastating consequences of bullying. Big props to you and Rhiannon for writing such a wonderful book! Also thank you for taking the time to guest post today! Because I liked this book so much, I want to share it with you all! I have decided to host a giveaway for an ebook copy of The Midnight Spell. This giveaway is open Internationally and I will be sending the books via Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Smashwords. Fill out the Rafflecopter to enter. Good Luck!
Here is my review:
The Midnight Spell by Rhiannon Frater and Kody Boye
Adam and Christy have been best friends since kindergarten. Always the perpetual outsiders in their small town in Texas, they’ve always had to deal with nasty comments from their classmates. Adam is called “gay” while Christy is called “witch.”On both counts the bullies are right.Their junior year in high school seems destined to be the same old same old until Christy decides to cast a love spell for Adam at the midnight hour. The next day an alluring and mysterious new boy enrolls at school and sets hearts a flutter, including Adam’s. Meanwhile, Christy’s mad crush on the handsome Ian seems to be going nowhere fast. Struggling to capture the heart of Ian while trying to come into her full witch powers is tough enough, but when a great evil arrives in town that threatens everything they hold dear, she realizes that finding a boyfriend is the least of her and Adam’s worries.Soon Adam, Christy, their potential love interests, and their good friends Drifter and Olivia, will have to battle a force of darkness that has killed in their town before and will again.
Paperback Published February 28th 2013 by Rhiannon Frater
Christy and Adam have been best friends since Kindergarten. Thrown together as allies, weathering the taunts of the school yard children who called them "witch" and "fag". Yet, they never let those names hurt them because they were in fact true. Christy is indeed a witch born to two powerful witches, while Adam is the only gay boy in the small town. They have been through thick and thin together, and no matter what they have each other's back. Christy decides that she wants to help Adam find a boyfriend, since she is tired of seeing him alone and miserable. She decides to cast a midnight love spell, despite the fact that she isn't a good witch, yet, as she hasn't come into her powers. Nevertheless, the spell is cast at the stroke of midnight. Christy unknowingly sets in motion a stream of events that will end up testing their friendship and threatening their lives. Along they way, they might just learn a thing or two about life and love. Will Christy and Adam survive the Midnight Spell?
What I Liked:
- I never cease to be amazed by Ms. Frater's powerful writing, and this time she collaborates with fellow friend and author Kody Boye. What the two of them cook up is far beyond your typical YA book. Their brilliant pairing brings us a fantastic YA book that has amazing characters, an exciting paranormal story line, friendship, love, loyalty and magic. If you are looking for a YA title that is different and fun, I would highly recommend you check out these two talented, brilliant indie writers. Seriously, they are the type of indie writers you should be reading!
- How I loved the characters in this one! At the heart of the story are Adam and Christy, the outcast witch and gay boy. They have endured their torturous school years by banding together against all the mean girl princesses and the jocks. They are fiercely loyal toward each other, and I absolutely adored their friendship, it is enduring and endearing. Christy is shy and completely afraid to talk to her long time crush Ian because she feels like she is fat, ugly and awkward. How many teenagers can sympathize with Christy? Adam struggles with being gay since he has been horribly bullied in the past. He is a quiet, kind young man. He is not flamboyant nor is he into theatre or shoes. Instead he is just a typical guy. I liked finally getting a male gay character who is more normal. Let's face it, not all gay guys are singers and into fashion, but that is how they are most often portrayed. Together, Christy and Adam make an amazing pair. I enjoyed that this book is told with dual point of views, Adam is Cody's voice and Christy is Rhiannon's voice and together they make magic!
- Aside from Adam and Christy, there is an excellent cast of secondary characters from Drifter, the accepting boy, who moves from crowd to crowd, and doesn't blink an eye when he is pulled into all the craziness of magic and creepy. Olivia, the bubbly, lollipop sucking new girl who immediately latches onto Christy because she knows that the outcasts are far more interesting. She is funny, smart and has a few sneaky tricks up her sleeve. Add in Christy's eccentric and fun parents, along with Adam's stiletto wearing, fiercely protective mother, and you have a cast that you won't soon forget. I especially appreciated that Adam came from a loving, supportive family who accepted him being gay and loved him all the more for it. It was honestly hard to pick a favorite because I loved them all. That speaks volumes when the secondary characters are just as lovable and wonderful as the protagonists.
- The storyline is unexpected. The first half plays out a bit like your average YA read, but then once it hits the midway point, the book shifts and takes some completely unexpected turns, and I was blown away. From that point on, it becomes apparent that something evil is afoot, and it is up to Christy, Adam and their friends to stop it. I loved that there were so many supernatural elements thrown in from vampires, ghouls, witches, a familiar cat, magical broom, shapeshifter, monster hunter, zombies, and more. I loved all the paranormal in this one, and I was totally not expecting it after the first half.
- This book wraps everything up nicely and I was so excited that it appears there will be future books with the gang. I cannot wait to see how this series develops! It has everything I am looking for in a solid YA book from great characters and story line to non cliffhanger endings and no love triangles!
And The Not So Much:
- As I mentioned earlier, the first half reads like a normal YA read. It is a lot of getting to know the characters and following them at school as they dodge the vicious mean girls and the bullies, go to parties and experience teenage crushes. I was honestly a bit bored during the first portion, but I was blown away by the second half. The action notches up and there are all kinds of crazy reveals that left me stunned. I had so much fun. So best advice, be patient this is not your typical YA book.
- I loved Olivia. She is quirky and fun and she definitely has a few of her own big surprises. I just wish that I could have gotten to know her better. Her big reveal does not occur until the final pages, but I admit once I got into the second half, I had my hunches that she was something special. I was absolutely dying to know what was the deal with all the lollipops? Alas, that was never answered, but I am sure it was more than a penchant for sucking on something sugary.
- I was a tad bit disappointed that there was not a bit more resolution with the whole bullying theme. I hate bullies and there were a few in this one, but for the most part nothing is resolved with this story line. I wish that somehow the bullying was better addressed because it is such an important topic. Anything that can be done to alleviate the name calling and intolerance the better. I am hopeful that this theme will be revisited and something good will come of it in the next book, as I know it is an important issue with the authors.
- I was a bit confused over the whole vampire thing. Christy's powerful witch parents claimed they were extinct, but they seemed to be alive and feeding on humans according to Nathan the monster hunter. So which is it?
The Midnight Spell was a delightful book that took me by surprise with all of its paranormal secrets. This book has such amazing characters as well as a creative storyline. It is one that I would wholeheartedly recommend especially if you are looking for a terrific supernatural teen read. Do yourself and grab a copy of this one. The ebooks are a great deal! I personally cannot wait for the next book in this series!
"Little sisters. You could live without them just fine, but living with them? That was another story entirely."
"Don't hope, " Drifter said. "No use in hoping if you don't try and make something happen first."
"In my younger days, I had rippling muscles, not rippling fat. Enjoy it while you have it." Dad winked.
"Mom shrugged. "Boys are weird," she offered, "and you don't get better with age, if you want to know the truth."
"I had screwed up royally and guilt ate at me like a hungry hippo."
"Love. Love. How can such a beautiful thing be so painful? That's what I don't understand."
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.