Ava’s life is . . . complicated.
After all, it’s not every day a girl learns she’s not entirely human, or unlocks hidden powers strong enough to make even the First Race sit up and take notice. After surviving an attempted kidnapping and standing up to the Race’s Ruling Council, Ava Michaels returns to college and what she hopes is a normal life. But Ava quickly realizes that for her, normal may not even exist anymore.
In fact, the Council wants her under their control, and they’re not the only ones. The mysterious Rogues have a plan of their own, and it turns out Ava’s a big part of it, whether she wants to be or not.
On top of that, her new relationship is tested in ways she never expected. Her boyfriend, Caleb Foster, has disappeared—accused of betraying the Race—and Ava herself stands implicated in a crime she didn’t commit.
Clearing their names will mean uncovering a web of deceit and intrigue with Ava woven right in the center. To unravel the strands, she joins forces with some unlikely allies; a Protector who once haunted her nightmares, a young girl with secrets as unexpected as Ava’s, and a group of rebel Guardians who have their own fight against the Council.
Together they stand in a battle to find the truth, bring Caleb home, and secure Ava’s freedom—not to mention save her life.
About T.M. Franklin
T.M. Franklin started out her career writing non-fiction in a television newsroom. Graduating with a B.A. in Communications specializing in broadcast journalism and production, she worked for nine years as a major market television news producer, and garnered two regional Emmy Awards, before she resigned to be a full-time mom and part-time freelance writer. After writing and unsuccessfully querying a novel that she now admits, “is not that great,” she decided to follow the advice of one of the agents who turned her down—write some more and get better at it. Her first published novel, MORE, was born during National Novel Writing month, a challenge to write a novel in thirty days.
She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Mike, is mom to two boys, Justin and Ryan, and has an enormous black dog named Rocky who’s always lying nearby while she’s writing. Whether he’s soothed by the clicking of the computer keys or just waiting for someone to rub his belly is up for debate.
In addition to MORE and The Guardians, Franklin penned the Amazon best-selling short story, Window, as well as another short story, A Piece of Cake, which appears in the Romantic Interludes anthology.
Connect with T.M. Franklin:
I’ve been acquainted with T.M. for some years and have had the good fortune to spend time with her in my writers’ circles. She writes elegantly, with a sort of direct yet colourful prose that is very immediate to the reader (which is great for Young Adult fiction). The first two books in this trilogy are presently available and they would probably be my number one recommended gift for teens this holiday season.
Jess: Thanks for being with me today! I find that I have a zillion questions to ask you, but I don’t want to give too much away. Do you get frustrated when someone spoils the ending of something you’re reading?
Oh absolutely!! I hate to be spoiled. I’m definitely one of those fingers-in-the-ears-and-scream-la-la-la people when someone starts talking about the ending of a book I want to read.
Jess: What do you like to read?
I enjoy a variety of genres, depending on my mood. I do read a lot of YA, and I like a little bit of fantasy/paranormal, so I think that’s why I like to write it. I also love general romance, humor, adventure – anything with a good story.
Jess: I must start with something cheeky. LOL! Ava Michaels has a mom who would like to be planning her wedding ASAP. My own series features a group of matchmaking moms. Ava and my characters have a common feature: they really roll their eyes at the idea that marriage is the ultimate achievement in life, while (at the same time) pining for their soul mates. It’s a nice bit of irony. Would you like to expound on that?
Well, I don’t know that Ava’s pining exactly. She is young and in love, and that can kind of take over your world if you let it. At the same time, she has a lot of other things to deal with. I mean, all of these people want her and she’s accused of a crime she didn’t commit and she’s still trying to figure out how she fits into this strange, new world she’s discovered. On top of that, she’s only nineteen. So marriage is kind of on the back burner for now.
Jess: I always forget she’s still a teenager. She seems older. LOL! How does your newsroom background influence your writing style?
I think it affects it a lot. Writing news, you definitely develop a concise, conversational style. Everything is timed and we’re constantly trying to tighten up copy because the newscast is always running long. So, I tend to write in shorter sentences, without a lot of flowery words and descriptions. I write how I talk.
Jess: You started writing your debut novel, MORE, during NaNoWriMo. Did you also work on The Guardians as a November project?
I did work on it, but I didn’t get as much done last November, mainly because I was also promoting MORE at the time. The same thing is happening this year. I’m promoting The Guardians and attempting to write the third book in NaNo. I’m not doing so well, honestly. LoL!
Jess: I’m doing NaNo this year and achieving a word quota per day can be really tough. I wanted to do it, though, because professional authors tend to follow this kind of writing schedule. How much do you write a day, normally? And was NaNo tough for you?
The part of NaNo that was tough wasn’t so much the word count. It was the not going back to fix things. I had a constant desire to edit while I was writing, and NaNo is all about just letting it flow – getting that first draft written and then going back to edit and fix things later.
Jess: Ooh, that drives me nuts, too!
As for how much I write a day, it varies. Some days it might only be a couple hundred words. Others I might write two or three thousand, sometimes more. It just depends on what’s going on and what’s distracting me, and how the story’s flowing.
Jess: You work outside the home and have a family. What’s your normal writing routine like?
I don’t know that I have an actual routine. I write when I can – in between everything else and sometimes during! I write while I’m at work if it’s quiet, or waiting at the doctor’s office, that kind of thing. I write while my son’s doing his homework or while everyone else is watching TV. (I can’t listen to music while writing, but TV doesn’t distract me for some reason. Maybe because I grew so used to TV noise while working in a newsroom.)
Jess: R Cubes remind me of Jello vitamins, and they don’t sound very appealing. The Protectors use them a lot and they seem to be very practical people. So if they need these R Cubes to sustain their strength after teleporting, why don’t they make them tastier? (Yeah, I’m a bit of a foodie!)
In my mind, there are a couple of reasons. First, the Protectors are tough. R-cubes are there to get the job done, and the Protectors don’t need a lot of fancy flavouring, because they’ve got other things to deal with. Boo-yah! Second, if they tasted good, you’d have kids chomping on them all the time, and that’s not what they’re for. Yes, they’re essential, but I think of them like our vitamins – you swallow them down and move on. They’re not there to be enjoyed.
Jess: Self-sacrifice defines the Protectors’ relationships: duty before all. When they can’t follow their duty, they really suffer. If their soul mate’s ideals go contrary to their own, they choose ideals and duty over love. Was there a special source from which you drew this idea?
Not a particular source, but the concept is one that I think is important and carries through all three books. What happens when what you’re raised to believe is challenged? Do you stick to what you know, or do you explore the possibility that there could be something else out there? In Caleb’s case, Ava leads him to question what his role is in the world, and he has to decide what’s right for him. We see another side of this in Tiernan’s backstory, and how that molded him into the person he is today. Ava, although not a Protector, deals with this issue as well. She learns the world is not what she thinks, and basically that everything she thought was true, isn’t. Does she have a destiny or does she have a choice? Does where she comes from define who she is? That’s an underlying theme through the whole trilogy.
Jess: You do a lot of artwork including book covers, banners and book-themed jewelry. What draws you to this kind of artistic expression and how do you choose your materials?
I’m by no means a professional, but I started doing banners for friends a couple of years ago. I’m self-taught on Photoshop and have spent a lot of time combing forums and learning how to do things, although obviously, I still have a lot to learn. I find creating graphics to be kind of calming, actually. It’s creative, but in a different way from writing. It’s all visual, so there’s no searching for the right word or phrase. That part of my brain can take a break!
As for the jewelry, I haven’t done a lot, but that’s fun too. I’ve been hanging out a lot in the bead section at the craft store. There are so many cool kits and things to create your own charms and jewelry. I don’t see myself doing a lot of it, but it’s fun for giveaways to be able to make some one-of-a-kind pieces.
Jess: Comic relief is important in this story. Early on, Ava displays a reluctance to introduce Caleb to her Uncle Bobby, who takes out his dentures to… ah… I’m not going to spoil it. Tell me how these quirky ideas manifest.
Oh, I have no idea. Lol! I have all kinds of weird things going on in my head.
Jess: Snort. Me, too. I guess we shouldn’t question the weirdness. 😉 Tiernan is way more than meets the eye. What can you tell us about him without giving too much away?
It was a lot of fun sharing more about Tiernan’s character in The Guardians. In MORE, we only got a few glimpses of him, and they were all kind of terrifying. But in the Guardians, we get to see a different side to his personality – including a rather wry sense of humor – and we find out a little about his past, and why he is the way he is. Developing his relationship with Ava was one of my favorite parts of writing The Guardians. They definitely get on each other’s nerves and push each other’s buttons, but they also grow to trust each other.
Jess: Why heterochromia (different coloured eyes)?
I wanted something to identify the Race, but that couldn’t be covered by the Veil. The HC also serves as an identifier of those who have no desire to “fit in” with the humans, so don’t use contacts – like Tiernan and the Rogues, for example.
Jess: Crystals and magic stones actually work in this universe and Ava has a special necklace which is on your cover: Azurite stimulates mental activity and Fluorite gives clarity and peace. I myself have a necklace which is supposed to stimulate creativity but I don’t wear it all the time because the maker claimed it would also make me irritable. I’m not sure it does anything! Birth stones are also based on this idea. Do you have a special piece of jewellery that you hope gives you an emotional or creative nudge?
I don’t. I definitely could use Ava’s necklace on occasion, though!
Jess: Star Trek or Star Wars?
Ooohhh… I love them both, but I have to go Star Trek. Just because I found the second Star Wars trilogy so disappointing.
Jess: We were obviously separated at birth. I feel the same way. Love Spock! I digress… Psychic gifts can be used benevolently or malevolently. This book is a battlefield fought in minds. Each Race member has a gift: telekinesis, influence, manifestation or erasure of objects, the blurring or supplanting of memories, intuition, sensing… This is some pretty scary stuff when one considers that if your control over your own mind isn’t strong, you can be influenced, even to the degree of betraying your loyalties. Where did you get the inspiration for this?
If a hero has no weakness, he’s not much of a hero. Overcoming weakness is what makes us strong. I think that’s all I can say about that without giving too much away.
Jess: In effect, although Race members are physically strong, it’s the mind that ultimately matters. The physical playing field isn’t level, since some can teleport, for example, but ultimately it’s strength of mind that matters. Or should I say, “mind over matter”? LOL! How did this concept become intrinsic to the trilogy?
I’ve always had a soft spot for the smart heroes – the ones who use brain rather than brawn. I’ve also always been fascinated by those studies that say we only use a small percentage of our brain. It just opens up a world of possibilities – of potential – which is where the idea of the Race abilities came from in the first place.
Jess: Kewl. I really like it that the main characters in these books are ones I wouldn’t mind my teenagers idolizing. For a long time, it seemed like authors and filmmakers presented us with nothing but antiheroes. How important are heroes?
I think heroes are very important, and I’m not talking about perfect people or people who never make mistakes. I’m talking about people who do the best they can. People who take what comes at them and try to do the right thing. Maybe they’re right and maybe they’re not, but their motivation is pure. This, to me, is a true hero, and it’s something we all can be.
Jess: I ate up these books and then pouted for more. When is the last book going to come out?
I just got the release date – October 9, 2014.
Jess: Yay! Thank you for being with me today! I hope we get to WC again soon!!!
Me too – thanks so much for having me!