Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Character Interview: Summer

Today it’s my pleasure to introduce Summer, the lead character in the latest YA paranormal novel from Laurel Houck “The Girl with Chameleon Eyes”.   

Here’s a little bit about the story.  

It’s an abrupt, uncomfortable incarnation for Summer, the ghostly girl with chameleon eyes. Exotic hues roil in her gaze as she seeks to recall what awful sin in her past has doomed her to roam the earth. And to discover what—or who—will bring her to eternal rest. 

Kota, brunt of bad jokes because he’s different, feels an instant connection to Summer. She recoils at the mere sight of him. Yet they are drawn together in a dance of mutual need, choreographed by the ages.

As Summer grows more attached to both her young foster brother and to Kota’s friend, Preston, she struggles against complacency. Until discovering that if she doesn’t expiate the guilt on her soul by her seventeenth birthday, she will roam forever.

For her, it’s hate at first sight. For him, it’s instant attraction. When the pieces of their lives begin to unravel and intertwine, will love be enough to save them both? Or will evil decide their future?

Sounds intriguing.  Let’s see what we can learn from Summer.

Tell us a little about yourself:

I wish I could tell you more than a little about myself. And the truth I carry with me, well, it’s not good. All I know is that I’m a ghost. I did something very wrong in my past. And I have no freaking idea how to make it right. You can call me Summer—because I’ve got nothing. Except for two guys at school who seem to be interested in me. Preston, total perfection in a hot package. And Kota, total turn-off in a ball of anger that’s way too scary. The only guy who makes any sense is my foster brother, Finn. But he’s ten years old.

How did your background get you involved in this novel?

At some point I died. No clue how, when, why, where or anything else. Telling my story will, I hope, open the locked door in my memory. Because it turns  out that time is my real enemy. If I don’t figure out this mess by my next birthday, I’ll be doomed to roam forever. Which sucks. Between Preston and Kota I keep wondering. Are either of them the one I’m searching for? Which guy is it? And will love be enough to save me?

Who came first, you or the author?

I DON’T KNOW! No clue how old I really am, although Laurel, the author, has to be older. Was this a trick question? Because, you know, I already made quite a statement about my lack of memory.

What’s your greatest strength?   And of course, we want to know the opposite, your greatest weakness. 

Each time I materialize it’s like starting all over again. But I do. I’m persistent. It’s a strength—but exhausting.

Aside from being clueless, my biggest weakness right now is Finn. He makes me vulnerable. Because he can’t protect himself. And the evil that seems to be gathering around me is sure to pull him in, too. Which means I have to protect the little dude, even if it means I’m lost.

What is it about this story that sets it apart from the others?

It’s MY story. I feel like I’m alive. But I’m not. And all I really want is to rest.

Tell us something about your background that may or may not be revealed in the book?

Surely after everything I’m going through, I’ll discover where I came from, what I did, and how to make it right. I’m fairly certain at the very least I’ll know whether it’s Kota or Preston who is the biggest problem. But that nagging question—will love be enough to save me—not sure if I’ll ever know.

Are you the type of person who always seeks out the company of others?

NO! Only when it’s necessary to survive. There’s no good way to explain how my eyes change to any color at all. And people ask too many questions that I can’t answer. Except for Finn, who just melts my heart. He deserves real answers.

What do you do to relax after a day’s work?

Sometimes I nap after school, but the dreams are brutal. If they’re even dreams. It’s hard to relax at all. The clock is ticking on eternity…

Which do you prefer, music or television?

Music. No doubt. TV is too weird.

Who’s your best friend and what influence have they had on your life?

Hmm…I suppose I don’t have one, or if I did I don’t remember. Kota thinks we are meant to ‘be together,’ but that hardly qualifies as a friend. And Preston assumes I’m totally into him. He has no clue that for me, love is only a way to be rescued.

What has been the most romantic thing you’ve ever done or instigated?

This sounds totally lame, but the prom dress I bought at Goodwill is so lovely that it seems romantic. At least to me. And the way Preston tried to get it off me, I think it’s romantic...if that’s the right word…to him as well.

Tell us about the one person you loved who got away.

Interesting question, because I sense there must have been someone important in my life. The memories that do come occasionally only show me my mother. Oh, how I miss her. And…nope, it slipped away again.

Here’s a short excerpt from the story:
I creep closer, fighting off the thought of being a peeping perv who only wants to stand in the shadows. And then I see them. Red plaid blanket—Preston keeps it in his backseat, no matter what the season. Summer almost hidden under Preston. He slips one hand loose and eases her dress away from her shoulder, kissing her neck and lower.
In one quick move he flips her over, so she’s now on top of him. That’s when it happens. Sudden moonlight bathes the scene in silver, like her dress, which is on top of Preston. But it’s almost like, I don’t know, her soul escapes the clothing and floats above it all.
Preston doesn’t seem to notice. His eyes are closed and his hands are roaming. Until he yanks her skirt up around her waist.
“No. Preston, no.” Summer returns to earth, rolls off him, adjusts her clothing, jumps to her feet.
Suddenly it all looks normal. Just a guy and girl making out, and the girl changes her mind. Except that even at this distance I see her eyes, shining in the dark like a wild animal’s.
I rub my face with both hands. Shouldn’t have had the booze, the moonlight was almost blinding, my brain couldn’t stand what I was seeing and screwed with my perceptions.
Preston stands and cinches his belt. “You need me.”
Summer takes a step back. “What does that mean?”
“I’m the one for you.” Then, softer, “I just want to take care of you. No pressure. I’m here when you’re ready. Maybe you’ll dream about me tonight.”
Summer picks up her shawl, brushes off some bits of leaf, and pulls it snug around her body. She flips her hair to the side and stares. At me.
I shake my head, no. And make my way up the hill to Marlie.

Even our characters have favorite music.  Here's a tune that Summer can definitely relate to. The Breakup Song by Francesca Battistelli. 


About Laurel Houck:

Laurel has been writing since the age of six, when Crawls the Caterpillar inched across her lined notebook paper propelled by a fat yellow pencil. She has published magazine and newspaper articles as well as blog posts with All The Way YA,, and on her website. Her portfolio includes multiple children’s stories in a variety of genres. She has two Young Adult novels—both paranormal romances—with Inkspell Publishing. 

In addition to writing, her passion is for travel to exotic locations around the globe. The people she meets, the places she visits, and the quirky way she looks at life all inspire her work. She loves complex characters and intricate plots that mesh into multifaceted books, melding romance, mystery, adventure, and history. 

Laurel was a chosen participant at Better Books, a craft-based workshop near San Francisco. She is active in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and has been a presenter at their Fall SCBWI Conference in Pittsburgh. 

Here are some links for Laurel.

You can find The Girl With Chameleon Eyes at these links.

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