Thursday, November 27, 2014

Possession by Annie Oldham - Excerpt, Guest Post & Giveaway

Song & Shadow #1

Annie Oldham

YA Paranormal
October 31, 2014

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Constance Jerome wants nothing more than to make it through her senior year of high school without being noticed. But when her mother drops the world's biggest bombshell, flying under the radar just isn't in the cards. It turns out Constance is a necromancer—one of the few who can travel the realms of the dead.

Apparently it runs in the family. And now there's a threat coming: another necromancer with plans to disturb the living and the dead, and Constance and her mother are the only ones who can stop him. If only they knew who he was. Or what exactly he was up to. A quiet senior year isn't an option, and Constance must race to stop a high school apocalypse before the balance between the living and the dead is overturned.

Guest Post by Annie Oldham

Reliving High School

I don't know about you, but I had a great high school experience (and to those of you still in high school, I hope it's treating you right). I wasn't the most popular girl in school, but I found my niche and had a good group of friends, and we lived it happily.

Posession has been my first contemporary young adult novel, and so the theater of high school definitely needed to feature in, but I didn't want it to be the entire focus of the story—after all, most high schoolers have lives outside of school. It was this juxtaposition of life at high school and what goes on outside it and how the two worlds collide that made writing Possession a lot of fun for me.

The typical high school requirements are there—the jocks, the mean girls, the wall flowers. But there are also the nice kids. Then there are the social classes that indelibly exist no matter which high school you visit. Mixing that with a heavy dose of the paranormal—paranormal that isn't taken for granted across the board; only a select few are in on the secret, but everyone is affected—was fun. I know for a lot of people, high school seemed just a little surreal, maybe just a little paranormal, and so literally adding the paranormal worked in an extra layer to the high school story.

Constance is one of those girls that just wants to be left alone and graduate in peace so she can really start her life. But she finds out she's a necromancer—she can travel the realms of the dead—and suddenly her life is turned upside down as she tries to navigate the murky waters of high school and this creepy new power. I love putting characters in unexpected situations. Constance is the last person you'd expect to take something like this on, but watching her embrace it is great, as is watching people both rally around her and regard her as something suspicious or dangerous.

That's what high school—and real life for that matter—is like. We have choices every day about what goes on around us and whether we'll rise to what's been given us or if we'll founder beneath it. Fiction can help us make sense of that, and it can sure be entertaining along the way.


Constance remembered what her mother said: it was a mistake bringing life back. But wasn’t it a mistake to mess around with death at all? How could anything good come from it? She saw the way her mother had looked the past week. She was exhausted and worn too thin. And who enforced the rules anyway?

And she needed to know.

She needed to know if what her mother was saying was true—if Biscuit and the duckling were just those flukes that sometimes happen because life is unpredictable, or if there was something more to their existence. Constance needed proof, and if she had done it once—and it wasn’t a fluke—then she should be able to do it again.

Her spade struck the box, and she used her fingers to edge around the lid and pry it off. She sat back on her heels. Maggots were crawling over the bird’s feathers.

She reminded herself that she needed to know.

How did she even start? What had she done with the duckling years ago? She forced herself to look at the tiny body and the spindly legs, and tried to ignore the white worms destroying the small form. She had felt so sad for that duckling, had wanted to return it to its family. But what had she actually done? Her hands hovered over the shoebox. She couldn’t bring herself to actually touch it, but as her hand lingered, the shadows made a film around the edges of her vision. She shook her head, trying to clear her eyes, but they pressed in even more deeply. Did she have to sing? Should she have brought one of the candles? Her mother had said something about using both of them together. But she didn’t know anything. All she knew was that she needed to know if this was who she was supposed to be.

As she stared at the bird, the wind floated over her arms and hands, and then the breeze kicked up, pulling her hair out in tendrils. She imagined the bird as it must have been in life: sandpipers scurried along the ground, their toothpick legs moving so quickly they were a blur. As she stared at the bird in the box, the shadows seemed to play tricks on her. Her vision blurred and doubled and then tripled, the outlines of the ground hazy in all the ways her vision had refracted. She shook her head, and when she did, her eyesight was back to normal.

The wind ruffled through the bird’s mangled feathers, and Constance was just about to put the lid back on the box, ready to be done with this perverse experiment, when it happen.
The bird’s eye opened, and where there should have been a glassy, ink-drop eye there was a maggot. And then the bird blinked.

Constance’s hand flew to her mouth, the bile rose in her throat, and she wheeled backward, falling back into the grass. Her lungs wanted nothing more than to force her vocal chords into a scream, but she swallowed it down. How would her mother like this, if she saw it? Here Constance was bringing something back to life—that is what happened, right?—when really the only thing she had been taught so far was never to do that.

Her chest heaved for a few moments, and then she crawled on her hands and knees to the box.
 She had to make sure.

The bird’s head rested feebly on the cardboard, and it could do nothing more than blink at her, maggots inching their way across its decomposing flesh. And then her heart plummeted. It was now alive when it was supposed to be dead. She had done this; she had made this monstrosity. Tears pricked her eyes. It had been easy—was it supposed to be this easy?—to just bring it to life. Now she had to send it back, and that was going to be hard. Her stomach heaved as she grabbed a heavy rock from the rock bed and raised it over her head. As it came smashing down, the tears poured down her cheeks, and she had so many thoughts racing through her head that she couldn’t untangle them all until one finally threaded its way to the forefront.

She would go along with her mother on this necromancy thing, but she could never, ever tell her about tonight.

 About the Author

Annie adores writing and reading YA novels. She grew up with an insatiable desire to read and then came the insatiable desire to write. Annie has been blessed to have both of those in her life.
Away from her writing, Annie is the mother of the most adorable girls in the world, has the best husband in the world, and lives in the hottest place in the world (not really, but Phoenix sure feels like it). She loves to cook, sing, and play the piano.

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