Saturday, March 28, 2015

Showcase: Death Wish - Megan Tayte


Death Wish - Megan Tayte


Seventeen-year-old Scarlett Blake is haunted by death. Her estranged sister has made the ultimate dramatic exit. Running away from school, joining a surfing fraternity, partying hard: that sounds like Sienna. But suicide? It makes no sense.
Following in her sister’s footsteps, Scarlett comes to the isolated cove of Twycombe, Devon, with grand plans to uncover the truth. Alone. But she hasn’t reckoned on meeting two boys who are determined to help her. Luke: the blue-eyed surfer who’ll see the real Scarlett, who’ll challenge her, who’ll save her. And Jude: the elusive drifter with a knack for turning up whenever Scarlett’s in need.
As Scarlett’s quest for the truth unravels, so too does her grip on reality as she’s always known it. Because there’s something strange going on in this little cove. A dead magpie circles the skies. A dead deer watches from the undergrowth. Hands glow with light. Warmth. Power.
What transpires is a summer of discovery. Of what it means to conquer fear. To fall in love. To choose life. To choose death.
To believe the impossible. 


Waves everywhere, swirling, surging, seething – a raging melange of foam and salt and inky water biting at me, pulling at me, thrusting upon me a solitary invitation:

As I fought to remain on the flimsy polystyrene surfboard that seemed more bucking bronco than wave rider, I thought: That’s how easy it is – you just let go. Just release the grip on this world that in recent months had seemed so much an effort, and sink into the blue, beneath the waves, where chaos and fury turned to quiet and calm. Like she did.

Was drowning as they claim? I wondered. The easiest way to die – peaceful? How would it feel to give up all the dragging myself through the day, all the struggle to evade the aching void inside? A relief?
Another wave rose me up and slammed me down with breathtaking power. Its force stirred me. You could say a lot of things about Scarlett Blake – she’s a loner, she’s a wallflower, she’s a menace in the kitchen – but no way was ‘she’s a quitter’ on the list of character flaws.
‘Screw you!’ I shouted through the spray.
Funny, sounded like someone shouted back. But who else would be out in this tumultuous sea at six a.m. on a summer’s morning? Solitude was the entire point of hauling myself out of bed in the still-dark and picking my way down the cliff path to the beach just in time to see the horizon light up with the first burnt-orange glow of the rising sun. No one to see me make a damn fool of myself on my first surfing attempt.
‘Trying… yourself killed?’
Definitely a voice. Male. Angry.
Scanning the surroundings for the source proved difficult while lying stomach-to-board. On an upward surge I got a glimpse of the Devonshire cliffs that fringed the cove, all dark, jutting rocks topped by bushes of gorse, and then a flash of the beach. On a downward plummet there was nothing but eye-burning, throat-choking seawater.
‘Forward… next wave!’
The voice was closer now. There was an edge to it beyond the anger. Something raw.
My eyes picked out a black form between the waves. Someone on a surfboard, paddling it expertly seaward. I took one hand off the board to push sticky tendrils of hair from my eyes. Rookie mistake. Turned out holding on one-handed was impossible. The board shot upwards, out of my feeble grip, and then it was just me and Old Man Sea.
Kicking frantically, I tried to keep my head above the surface, but the waves were burying me, one after the other, only a second or two to come up for air before the next one hit. Far away now were thoughts of letting go – I was fighting furiously for life. Never in my seventeen years had I been so desperate. But my legs were tingling with effort, and I knew it was just a matter of time.
When the final wave broke me all I could think was, Sienna. With her name on my lips I inhaled a lungful of water and I sank…

… for all of a second before something grabbed the back of my t-shirt and hauled me upward. Coughing and spluttering, I emerged from the blue and was pulled roughly onto a board, my leg shoved over so that I straddled it. I had the fleeting thought that this board was much sleeker and more substantial looking than the one I’d just lost before my rescuer settled pretty much on top of me and started paddling toward the shore.
With him in command, we crested waves and glided down the other side with apparent ease, though I seemed unable to match the rhythm of our motion and kept taking in great gulps of brine. Over the sound of the waves and the wind and the splash of powerful arms cutting into the water to propel us along, I picked out low, irate grumblings.
‘… idiot tourists… total waste of… all we need… another bloody drama…’

Finally, we reached the shallow waters and he slid off the board and pulled me off to walk to the beach. But my legs didn’t seem willing to respond to basic instructions like ‘walk’ or even ‘stand’ and breathing between wrenching gasps had become a challenge, so he threw an arm around me and half-carried, half-walked me, dragging his board with his spare hand.
Ten steps up the beach he let me down onto the sand.
‘Head down,’ he commanded. ‘Between your legs. Cough it out.’
I did as I was told. Liquid spilled out of me with each retching cough, and the cool air I gulped in burned my throat. I fought the panic, I fought the pain, focusing instead on the shells and stones strewn around. Finally, breathing won out.
‘You okay?’
I was reluctant to look up. For starters, I knew I must look a mess – long hair plastered to my head rat-tail style, face flushed and salt-burned, eyes teary and bloodshot. And then there was the fact that this guy, whoever he was, had just saved my life, and was evidently pretty mad about having had to do so.
‘Hey, you okay?’
I lifted my head slowly. Took in broad thighs clad in black neoprene; hands reaching out, palms raised; a wide, muscular chest; a striking face – rugged, square jaw, full lips, ruddy cheeks, Grecian nose bearing a thin scar across the bridge, thick black lashes framing eyes… oh, his eyes.
I opened my mouth, tried to speak, but I was paralysed by his gaze. All at once I was home in the cottage, tucked up beneath the blue patchwork quilt of my childhood; I was watching my grandmother remove vanilla-scented fairy cakes from her powder-blue Aga; I was running through a meadow of sky-blue forget-me-nots with my sister – free, exhilarated, happy. The memories took my breath away. I felt the familiar burn in my tear ducts.
His eyebrows pulled together and he placed a hand on my trembling knee.
‘Are. You. Okay?’ he said with exaggerated care, as if he were speaking to an elderly lady having a turn at a bus stop.
I blinked, cleared my throat and managed a husky, ‘Yes. Th-thank you.’
Concern melted into exasperation.
‘What’s the deal,’ he demanded, ‘out there on your own, clearly no idea what you’re doing, children’s play surfboard… you got a death wish or something?’
I cringed. I’d known the board was short, but I’d thought it was me-sized – at five foot three, what use was some enormous board?
‘I’m sorry.’
‘You would’ve been sorry if I hadn’t seen you.’
‘I just wanted to get a feel for it. I didn’t realise it was so rough out there.’
‘Rough? That’s not rough. Not even optimum surfing weather. Piece of cake for someone who actually knows how to surf…’
He paused when he saw a tear escape my eye and roll traitorously down my cheek. Furrowed his brow, combed his fingers roughly through dark hair that was drying fast in the breeze.
‘Listen, I didn’t mean to…’
I brushed the tear away furiously. Enough with the vulnerability.

‘Right, well, thank you…’
‘Luke. My name’s Luke.’ The stress lines in his face smoothed out and his lips curved. Like this, smiling and relaxed, his scrutiny was a touch less unsettling. ‘And you are…?’
‘Thank you, Luke, for your, um, help, but I’m sure you’ve better things to do, so I’ll just be…’
Before he could protest, I launched myself to my feet. He instinctively rose with me, and my water-fogged mind registered belatedly that my rescuer was a giant of a guy – my head was at the level of his chest. As I looked up to take in his stature I staggered slightly and he reached out to right me, but I stepped backwards. I didn’t need his kindness.
He looked awkward, unsure of himself, as he towered over me. ‘Hey, will you be okay?’
‘Yes, yes, I’m fine. I’ll just head home.’
‘You live close?’
I pointed vaguely west. ‘Yes, not far.’
‘Up there?’ He looked puzzled, and then interest sparked in his eyes. ‘You mean the Blake place?’

Busted. Of course being vague was pointless. My grandparents’ ramshackle cottage on the western cliff was the only building up there.
I made a noncommittal mnnnhnnn noise, but Luke was not to be deterred.

‘But that place has been empty since…’
He was looking at me now with such scrutiny that I took a further step back. I saw the cogs turning in his mind as he took in the classic green Blake eyes and then compared her – short, spiky red hair, eternally crimson lips, tall and impossibly slender – with me – petite and curvy, hair more blond than auburn reaching to the base of my spine and a pallor worthy of a vampire. His eyes widened.

‘Scarlett? Scarlett Blake!’
There was shock in his tone, and then sympathy.

Q.  What inspires your writing?
A. I have many inspirations, from settings to culture to books. Often, the idea for a story comes to me when I let my mind wander – usually while I’m out walking or just about to fall asleep. When I’m in a particularly creative flow, I’m an insomniac, and once the muse was being so pushy my husband banned me from walking anywhere for a week, because whenever I walked anywhere I came home all het up about a new idea. It can be a little exhausting when the ideas flood me like that, but with a notebook close at hand I try to capture everything, and often the jumble of ideas crystallises into something over time.

Q.  What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
A. The moments when you read back something you wrote later - after the high of creation has passed and you’ve bumped back down to earth - and decide that you love it; creating something that you truly love makes all the work of writing worthwhile.

Q.  What is the toughest part of being a writer?
A. The way it consumes me. When I’m in the concept, first draft and rewrite stages, the story takes me over. I love the feeling, but it can make focusing in other areas of my life tricky. The day job becomes more challenging, and at times I find I’m washing up/cooking/building Lego towers/finger-painting with the kids in a dreamy haze. At its worst, that can mean slightly charred dinners and Technicoloured children. Thankfully, my family is very understanding!

Q.  If you could not be writer, what would you do/be?
A. My day job is ghostwriting and editing, so I guess when I’m not writing I’m still pretty much writing! If I had to do something completely different, I think I’d go back to uni and do a Ph.D. and then research and teach. I love academia, and the permission you have in that world to be buried in books.

Q.  What would the story of your life be entitled?
A. She Was Too Fond of Books

Q.  What is your favorite book of all time?
A. So hard to choose just one! The oldest and most well-thumbed books on my shelf are Wuthering Heights, Oliver Twist and To Kill a Mockingbird; my go-to young adult read is Jenny Downham’s Before I Die; my favourite non-fiction is Autobiography of a One-Year-Old by Rohan Candappa because it makes me laugh out loud every time I read it. But if I had to pick just one book, it would be The Color Purple by Alice Walker – because when I read it in my early teens it was completely life changing; it’s certainly the book that most inspired me in wanting to write, and it had a big part to play in my choice of degree at university.

Q.  Which character from ANY book are you most like?
A. I think my friends and family would say Bridget Jones (from the first book). Not for her obsession with blokes and her weight etc. - that’s not me at all - but for her astonishing ability to embarrass herself. I’ve lost track of the number of times a friend or family member has said to me, ‘Why do these things always happen to you?’ What can I say? It’s a gift.

Q.  What character from all of your books are you most like?
A. Scarlett, the protagonist of the Ceruleans. Some of her experiences are my own – for example, in her last summer before adulthood, between leaving school and going to university, she lives alone, independently, and that’s something I did at her age, which I found difficult but also hugely empowering. I’m also, like Scarlett, happiest someplace calm with a view, and more likely to prefer a meal cooked at home and a DVD than living it up at a rowdy party. I don’t think I’m quite as courageous as Scarlett, though: she conquers her fear of the ocean and becomes a pretty kick-ass surfer, but I’d probably always remain as Scarlett is at the start of Death Wish: bobbing about on the waves, clinging to a surfboard for dear life and in dire need of rescue. Ideally, by a very hot surfer, of course.

Q.  Which book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside of?
A. Ed Sheeran’s A Visual Journey - his recent autobiographical work. I’d love to stand backstage and watch him perform.

Q.  What is your favorite season?
A. Spring. I feel the cold keenly in winter, and miss the light mornings and evenings, and spring is a relief and so energising. I love how this time of year makes you feel: the first glimpse of a daffodil, the first scent of blossom on the air, the first day it’s warm enough to cast off the winter woollies and sit out in the sunshine. I also love Easter, watching my kids scramble about hunting for eggs in the garden, so enchanted by the idea of the magical bunny who left them.

Q.  What inspired your book cover(s)? 
A. The cover for Death Wish depicts a scene in the book; for Forget Me Not the cover conveys several themes – loneliness and sadness, a tunnel of light, and a clustering of wildflowers. I wanted covers that had strong central images, their own signature colours, and concepts readily understood but with the potential for deeper interpretation after reading the text.

Q. Tell me something funny that happened while promoting your book.
A. Well, my son (aged six) found my dancing at the launch party for Death Wish he threw pretty hysterical. Clearly, he’s too young to appreciate my expert execution of Will Smith’s ‘Men in Black’ routine. My daughter, at least, was respectful. Well, if you can call chewing a party hat in her highchair respectful. At least she refrained from throwing cake at me until I moved on to the ‘Time Warp’.

Q.  Are you working on something new?
A. I just published the second book in the Ceruleans series, Forget Me Not, and I’m busy editing the remaining three books for publication. Then I’ll be starting work on my next novel. After that, I’ll be writing another story. Which, if the Ceruleans is anything to go by, will end up being an intricate, epic one that spans several books and consumes me for many, many months!

Q.  Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?
A. Thanks for reading, and if you’d like to find out more about me and my books, you can find me at

Megan Tayte

Author bio

Once upon a time a little girl told her grandmother that when she grew up she wanted to be a writer. Or a lollipop lady. Or a fairy princess fireman. 'Write, Megan,' her grandmother advised. So that's what she did.
Thirty-odd years later, Megan writes the kinds of books she loves to read: young-adult paranormal romance fiction. Young adult, because it's the time of life that most embodies freedom and discovery and first love. Paranormal, because she's always believed that there are more things in heaven and on earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy. And romance, because she's a misty-eyed dreamer who lives for those 'life is so breathtakingly beautiful' moments.
Megan grew up in the Royal County, a hop, skip and a (very long) jump from Windsor
Castle, but these days she makes her home in Robin Hood's county, Nottingham. She lives with her husband, a proud Scot who occasionally kicks back in a kilt; her son, a budding artist with the soul of a paleontologist; and her baby daughter, a keen pan-and-spoon drummer who sings in her sleep. When she's not writing, you'll find her walking someplace green, reading by the fire, or creating carnage in the kitchen as she pursues her impossible dream: of baking something edible.

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