Excerpt + Interview: Obscura Burning by Suzanne van Rooyen

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Obscura Burning
Title: Obscura Burning

Author: Suzanne van Rooyen
Date of Publication: December 7, 2012
Publisher: Etopia Press
Genre: YA sci-fi

The world's going to end in fire...and it's all Kyle's fault.

Kyle Wolfe's world is about to crash and burn. Just weeks away from graduation, a fire kills Kyle's two best friends and leaves him permanently scarred. A fire that Kyle accidentally set the night he cheated on his boyfriend Danny with their female friend, Shira. That same day, a strange new planet, Obscura, appears in the sky. And suddenly Kyle's friends aren't all that dead anymore. Each time Kyle goes to sleep, he awakens to two different realities. In one, his boyfriend Danny is still alive, but Shira is dead. In the other, it's Shira who's alive...and now they're friends with benefits. Shifting between realities is slowly killing him, and he's not the only one dying. The world is dying with him. He's pretty sure Obscura has something to do with it, but with his parents' marriage imploding and realities shifting each time he closes his eyes, Kyle has problems enough without being the one in charge of saving the world...

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Excerpt


Scrabbling under my bed, I retrieve an A3 drawing book and bag of colored pens. The first few pages are half-finished comics, a story yet unfinished waiting for my imagination. Then there’s a multicolored map scrawled across several pages, denoting my life: pages filled with boxes, each dated and timed, connected by lines as I try to make sense of what’s happening to me.

With a ruler and green pen, I draw a new box, jotting down the details since waking up at Shira’s.

I glance at my watch just to be sure. Tuesday, 21:47, June 26.

The map is a spaghetti mess of interweaving lines and text boxes. I’m not sure when my life got so complicated. Maybe when I was bandaged in the hospital, delirious in an opiate-induced haze, or maybe in those first few days after Danny’s spinal fusion, days I spent pacing the halls waiting to find out if he’d ever walk again.

My starting point is marked in red. April 6. The night of the fire.

I stash the book under my bed and strip naked. The stink of sex clings to my skin. Girls smell different, ripe and cloying. It’s a smell that gets everywhere. Even my hair reeks of girl-musk.

The tiles are cool against my back as I stand beneath a jet of cold water. Although my burns have healed, the scars are still sensitive. If the water is warmer than tepid it feels like I’m on fire all over again.

Running a hand over my mangled flesh, it’s as if I’m feeling the strange surface of some weird planet. Caressing Obscura perhaps. Her cratered and shale-smeared crust probably looks a lot like my skin. At first it was terrifying, the bubbles and swaths of too smooth flesh, the pink knots and swollen ridges slithering down my belly. Now it’s fascinating, all the warped shapes and odd textures. Surreal really, like it’s not my body that got deep-fried.

Not sure what the big deal is about me not being able to have kids. My left ball only looks a little more wrinkled than before, less hairy and more like a prune. The plumbing works just fine. Sex doesn’t feel the same, but then with a girl, how could it?

My face is a different matter entirely. I used to be cute, with matching dimples. Danny loved them; he’d tell me the crappiest jokes just to make me smile, and in the other life, he still does. In this reality, my smile just makes children cry.

Interview


1. Do you judge a book by its cover?

All the time. That’s not to say that all my judgments are accurate but a book cover is really important. If I’m standing in a store torn between two books of equal price with equally interesting blurbs, I’ll certainly take the one with the nicer cover - that’s just the way it is.

2. Is there a series you'll read over and over again and never get tired of?

Series? No. I’m not really into series. I find myself often reading the first book and never further. I may make exceptions for trilogies and I’ll have to see how it goes with The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater before changing my mind on book series.

3. What are two of your favorite fictional worlds that you'd like to see together?

Wow - that’s tough. Merging two worlds. Hm... I think Capt. Jack Harkness from Dr Who and Torchwood could just about take on anything and anyone so I’d like to see him take on some comic book heroes. I reckon Capt. Jack should make a guest appearance in The Avengers or X-Men - get Torchwood on the hunt for Magneto or Loki. That could be fun!

4. If you could meet a fictional character, who would it be and why?

It’s a tie between Capt. Jack Harkness and Morpheus, the Sandman and King of Dreams. Capt. Jack because he is awesome and has seen the future and would be infinitely interesting to talk to and Morpheus because he lives inside people’s dreams - I think he’d have a unique perspective on the human condition.

5. How do you feel about book to movies or book to TV shows?

Love them when they’re done well, which isn’t all that often. I’m a bit of purist tending to prefer the book to adaptation but I’m the first to admit that movies like Stardust and Coraline are fantastic and actually improve upon the original books. I think all the Nicholas Sparks movies have been an improvement on the books but the one that wins hands down is The Vampire Diaries. I could never get into the books despite trying more than once. The TV series however? Yeah I’m a total Damon Salvatore fangirl.

6. How many unread books do you have? On your TBR list?

Hundreds. I add more than I can ever hope to read but at least it gives me options. I love the sample function on Amazon - makes life easier being able to scroll through samples on my Kindle and get a taste for the book before purchasing it.

7. What's your favorite book this year?

I read this in November last year but it remains a favorite: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. A totally unexpected and brilliant book about zombies. I hope the film adaptation will do it justice!

8. Ebooks or physical books? Which do you prefer?

Ebooks - more practical, lighter, easier to travel with and they save a hell of a lot of shelf space.



About Suzanne van Rooyen


Suzanne is a freelance writer and author from South Africa. She currently lives in Finland and finds the cold, dark forests nothing if not inspiring. Suzanne is the author of the cyberpunk novel Dragon’s Teeth (Divertir), the YA science fiction novel Obscura Burning (Etopia) and has had several short stories published by Golden Visions Magazine, Space and Time and Niteblade. Niteblade nominated her short story Where dreams are grown for the Pushcart Prize. Her non-fiction articles on travel, music and other topics can be found scattered throughout the Internet. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When not writing you can find her teaching dance to ninth graders or playing in the snow with her shiba inu.

Suzanne is represented by Jordy Albert of the Booker Albert Agency.

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