Book Two in the Variant Series
February 11, 2014
Available at Amazon * B&N * Smashwords
Alexandra Parker might be the most powerful Variant the world has ever seen—but even that won’t get her out of finishing her junior year of high school.
The challenge of keeping her abilities under wraps during class is daunting enough, but throw one surly, sandy-haired Jumper into the mix, and things can get downright complicated.
Declan’s new job? Watch over Alex while she’s at school and do everything in his power to keep her from losing control. But as sparks of every kind begin flying between Alex and her new bodyguard, she's left feeling more unstable than ever.
When avoiding her abilities results in a surprise visit from her parents’ killer, Alex’s worlds collide with a bang that nearly levels Bay View High.
With her freedom now squarely in the Agency’s crosshairs, Alex will be faced with the fight of her life... and a decision that could forever alter the course of her destiny.
Kenzie drummed her fingers idly on the top of her desk. Slouched in her seat, she stared unblinking at the black hands of the clock mounted to the wall above the whiteboard. All around the room, students waited in small groups for the bell to release them and their weekend to begin.
Three minutes until the final bell.
Three minutes, and she’d be free.
Three minutes, thought Kenzie, and I’ll be on my way toward my next coffee fix.
That bell really needed to hurry itself up.
She had places to be.
Kenzie sighed. The longer she went without a fix, the harder it was to silence the thoughts emanating from the sea of humanity around her.
Caffeine meant focus.
Focus meant an easier time of keeping the walls up and the voices out.
She wondered, briefly, what telepaths did before the discovery of caffeinated beverages. The thought made her shudder. Control without stimulants in the bloodstream was possible, of course. But it was far from a pleasant way to go. Especially in populated areas.
Kenzie jolted upright, the sudden movement causing her desk to bang into the back of the seat in front of her.
Something had just slammed into her mental walls with enough force to send a stab of pain through her temple.
What the crap was that?
Around the room, the steady flow of conversation dried up.
It wasn’t just Kenzie. That pulse had hit everyone.
Even the norms.
Kenzie got slowly to her feet.
A funny thing happens when norms experience Variant abilities firsthand. Instead of seeing the supernatural for what it is, nine times out of ten, they will translate their experience into something that better fits the rules of their reality.
The brilliant light of a jumper’s teleport becomes a camera flash, the telekinetic movement of objects through the air gets blamed on a strong gust of wind, and mental assaults are automatically translated into something external.
“Did you hear that?” asked a freckle-faced blonde from across the aisle. “Sounded like a sonic boom, or something.”
“Yeah! I heard it, too!” said another. “Wonder what it was?”
She supposed the better question was not what was it, but who was it?
The wave came again, this time with twice the strength behind it. Kenzie grabbed for the back of her seat to keep from losing her balance.
The wave wasn’t a thought, it was a distilled emotion. Someone, somewhere, was absolutely terrified.
Judging from the nervous expressions on the faces of the students around her, that fear was not only being broadcast to the rest of the school, it was also creeping its way into their subconscious.
Kenzie sifted through the residue of the psychic onslaught in an attempt to identify the source.
The second she caught a glimpse of that all too familiar thought signature, she cursed—loudly, to the surprise of the students standing stock-still beside her—before sprinting toward the door.
Halfway down the locker-lined hall the ground began to shudder, the floor practically roiling beneath her feet.
Earthquake? she wondered.
But this was Florida. Florida didn’t have earthquakes.
Declan appeared at the other end of the hall, running in her direction.
“Where is she?” called Kenzie.
Her brother ducked through a swinging door just ahead of her.
The girl’s bathroom?
Kenzie followed him in.
“Oh my god.”
Alex was on her knees in a shallow sea of water, dripping wet, her hands clutching the sides of her head.
Water flooded the room. The porcelain sinks lining the wall lay shattered and in pieces on the ground. A large, spherical indentation was blasted into the wall behind Alex and what could only be burn marks scorched onto the ceiling above.
As Kenzie watched in amazement, strands of water began swirling around her friend, encasing her in a glittering sphere of liquid before losing form and crashing back down around her.
A shimmer of light rippled across Alex’s body, distorting her appearance like a mirage on desert sand.
“I can’t…” Alex was sobbing. “There are too many, Declan. I can’t make them stop!”
Declan edged as close to Alex as he dared, his expression grim.
Alex finally lifted her head to look at them.
Kenzie took an involuntary step backward. She had seen the way a jumper’s eyes changed color, the brilliant violet light causing their eyes to glow brightly in the moments before and after they teleported, but Alex’s normally gray eyes were now shifting colors with every beat of her heart.
The rumbling in the floor intensified, sending Declan into action. He sloshed through the water, reaching down to grip Alex under her arms.
“Get the door,” he called over his shoulder.
Kenzie held the door for Declan as he dragged Alex into the deserted hallway.
“Take my arm,” he ordered, maintaining his hold on Alex. “Let’s go, Kenzie.”
Terrified of being this close to Alex during a meltdown, but knowing her brother would leave her behind if she didn’t act fast, Kenzie lurched forward and grabbed Declan’s upper arm.They jumped with the sound of the final bell ringing in their ears.
How did you come up with the idea for the Variant Series?
The inspiration for the Variant Series as a whole came from many different places, but the original spark for Revival came in the form of my morning coffee. One day at the coffee shop, the barista had drawn the shape of a phoenix into the foam on my latte. The image set my mind to wandering and I spent the next half hour writing out a scene where a young girl was being chased by a wall of flames through a burning bookstore. That piece would eventually become the opening scene of Chapter Four in Revival.
Can you give us a hint to what we should be expecting in your second book?
In Resistance, book two in the Variant series, the stakes are raised even higher for Alex and the gang. As Alex struggles to get a grip on her newfound powers, she’s faced with a far more daunting assignment—survive the last few months of her junior year without accidentally losing control and leveling Bay View High.
But the risk of outing herself and the Variant population at large would be a lot easier to handle if the Agency wasn’t still breathing down her neck… and if Declan weren’t quite so distracting in his newfound role as Alex’s bodyguard. As sparks of all kinds start flying, Alex is left struggling to keep her head above water and her heart in one piece. And when her freedom lands itself in the Agency’s crosshairs, Alex will be faced with the fight of her life.
Where do you like to write?
Anywhere and everywhere. I seem to do my best work in unfamiliar places. I’ve written on planes, at the mall, in doctor’s office waiting rooms… If I have my computer or a journal with me, I’ll usually try to get a few words on the page. There’s something about traveling that helps me to tune out distractions and focus, while at the same time inspiring my writing.
Do you decide character traits before you sit down to write the book, or as you go along?
Character traits are usually decided on as I write. I very rarely have an entire character in mind when I sit down at the keyboard. I usually start with a few random traits—a name here, a face there, a quirk or two to distinguish them, an important bit of backstory that forever changed their life or altered their personality—and then the personalities of my characters become clearer to me as I make it further into the story.
Who is your favorite character in the series, and why?
Oh, that’s a tough one! It seems to change from day to day. Right now I’d probably have to say that Declan’s sister Kenzie is my favorite. She’s sassy, sarcastic and I can always count on her for a witty rejoinder. Kenzie’s scenes are always enjoyable to write.
Tell us about the biggest challenges you face in your writing process.
I think the biggest challenge I have is in plotting out a story. When it comes to my writing, I’m a total pantser and I despise outlining. Writing only feels natural to me when my characters are the ones telling the story. I love being just as surprised as my readers are when something unexpected happens in the narrative. When you’re working on a series, however, that doesn’t always work. You need to have some idea of where the story is headed before you begin, otherwise it’s very easy to write yourself into a corner.
If you could give a young writer any tip, what would it be?
Write constantly and read everything you can get your hands on. It seems like such an obvious piece of advice, but it’s quite possibly the most important things you can do to improve your writing.
If you weren't writing, what would you want to be doing for a living? What are some of your other passions in life?
Rock star! I mean, really. Who hasn’t wanted to be one at some point? Aside from writing, I’m incredibly passionate about music. I love it, but I haven’t got a lick of talent (although that doesn’t stop me from singing at the top of my lungs in the shower every morning). If there’s not a song playing in the background somewhere, I usually don’t know what to do with myself.
About the Author
Jena Leigh is the author of the Variant Series novels REVIVAL and RESISTANCE. Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, she spent ten years in the mountains of North Carolina before returning home to the lightning capital of North America. A shameless geek, she loves coffee, loud music, bad sci-fi movies, Skittles, and shenanigan-filled road trips to faraway concerts.