Saturday, July 14, 2012

Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn: Character Interview & Excerpt

When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.

Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can't read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can't be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf's mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she's dragged deep into a hidden underworld of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her.

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Excerpt from Open Minds …

It was after lunch, and no one had died yet, so I took that as a good sign.

Raf was absent from Mr. Chance’s class, but he would be back soon. With Mama Santos clucking over him, he wouldn’t stay home any longer than necessary. His scrit from the hospital verified he would live: Head as thick as it seems. Doing ok.

It was just as well he wasn’t in school. I didn’t need to worry about him while I was concentrating on not knocking out people with my scary mind powers.

My teachers whispered through the new mini-mics that came with my hearing aid, which eased the ringing silence of school. Some could barely whisper and think at the same time, but Mr. Barkley was completely mesh about it in math. He took the mic patch and stuck it smoothly on the back of his ear in one quick motion. Maybe he had another zero in a previous class.

We tried it out as the other students drifted in and took their seats.

“Testing… testing…,” he whispered as he stood by the board a dozen feet away. I smiled to show that it worked fine. “I’m glad you got this, Kira.” His lips barely moved, and I only heard him through the mic. “I expect you to do even better on the exams this year.” The other students were all in range to hear his thoughts, even if they couldn’t hear his whisper. My cheeks ran hot, but if Mr. Barkley whispered everything he was thinking during class, I would finally have an equal footing and might actually pass his class.

The glow of Mr. Barkley’s praise carried me down the aisle. The class had filled, and the only open seat was directly in front of Simon Zagan. His brooding eyes captured me in their tractor beams again. Think good thoughts. Simon didn’t deserve to be the next victim of my uncontrollable brain surges, even if he and Shark Boy could start a Creep Club together.

As I willed my legs to move toward him, his face pinched in. He probably wondered why I wasn’t returning his glare. When I dropped into my seat, his stare burned a hot spot on the back of my head.

Mr. Barkley’s voice whispered in my ear, and once the class got under way, I forgot about the looming force of antagonism behind me. I had missed a lot the past two days and gave silent thanks for Mom and her eagerness. The tiny bud was barely visible once tucked in my ear, although the entire class had to know the zero had a new crutch. Those concerns were buried under my preoccupation with catching up and keeping everyone safe from my thoughts.

Near the end of class, the tap of a warm fingertip seeped through my t-shirt. It had to come from Simon. I seriously debated ignoring him, but then his breath fell on my ear. “I have something to show you.” A shiver ran down my back. Before I thought of something not-hostile to say, he was out of his seat and halfway to the door.

A piece of paper had appeared on my desk. As I unfolded the note, the chill settled into my stomach. In messy handprinting it said: Meet me in the chem lab next period.

I didn’t know what Simon was thinking, but there was no way I was meeting him in the empty chem lab. How did he know I had a free period anyway? Maybe he was stalking me. Maybe he was like Shark Boy and wanted to get me alone in a dark, empty classroom. Well, I might be coming unhinged in thinking I had strange mind powers, but I wasn’t stupid. Simon could find someone else to play with.

Raf is a regular mindreader in love with Kira, the only girl in school who doesn’t read minds. She’s convinced they can’t be together until she goes through “the change” to become a mindreader, but as time goes on, it seems less and less likely that is going to happen. This interview with Raf takes place between the end of Mind Games (the prequel short story to Open Minds) and the beginning of Open Minds.

Hi Raf. Thanks for doing an interview with us today!

*silence* Oh, right, we’re doing this out loud. Sorry. Thanks for having me!

Your soccer team, the Blue Devils, took the championship last fall. Do you think you’ll win again this year?

Coach is working us really hard to make sure we can do it again. I just spent the whole summer in Ohio, training with the Twisters, so I think we have a good chance.

What do you do when you’re not training?

We train a lot, so that and school take up most of my time. I like watching old sim-casts with my friend Kira. I’m working on my throwing arm, to see if I can win her another stuffed animal at the state carnival before the end of the summer. I’ve won her one each summer since we were kids, so I have a reputation to uphold.

What’s your favorite color?

Blue, of course. Go BLUE DEVILS!

Do you have someone special? A girlfriend? We’ve heard there’s lots of girls that would like the job, if it’s open …

Nah, I’m too busy right now. You know, training. I just hang out with my friends.

Friends like Kira Moore? Isn’t she a zero at your school?

Ok, that’s really not mesh, you know? Just because she hasn’t changed yet, doesn’t mean you need to call her names. Besides, it will happen eventually. People in her family just change late, that’s all.

Oh! Sorry about that. I didn’t mean any offense! You said you’ve been friends with her for a long time. When did you first meet?

My family moved here from Portugal when I was in Kindergarten, and I spoke about one word of English. I think it was “lunch” because Kira was always making sure I found my way to the cafeteria. We’ve been friends ever since. We actually used to play soccer together, before she went all band geek on me. *grins* Mostly I hung out at her house and try not to get trampled by her big brother Seamus. That guy is HUGE. Just sayin ...

Did your friendship change when you became a mindreader and she didn’t?

*pauses* Yeah. It was tough. I mean, once you get over the changeling part, where your mindreading ability flips on and off randomly - and always at the worst time, it seems - you become part of the world in a way you weren’t before. It’s like there’s all these things - these thoughts - going on that you never knew about before. I can totally see why it drives some people crazy. So, I could read everyone’s thoughts - all the embarrassing stuff, but also all the sweet things. Everyone except Kira. It’s like she’s walled up in high tower, as if she were some kind of princess from a fairy tale. Although Kira’s about as far from being a princess as any girl I can imagine.

Sounds like you really care for her.

*squirm* I’m her friend. Have been for a long time. I’m not a praver that likes to take advantage of girls before they change, I’m just looking out for her. Between Seamus and I, no one had better mess with Kira. We have her back.

That’s really sweet of you, to look out for someone that’s mentally disabled.

*scowls* She’s not disabled.

Right! Of course. Well, thank you for interviewing with us today. Go Blue Devils!

Yeah. Um, thanks.

Susan grew up in California, where she wrote snippets of stories and passed them to her friends during class. She pursued a bunch of engineering degrees and worked a lot of geeky jobs, including turns at GE Aircraft Engines, NASA, and NCAR. Now that she writes novels, her business card says "Author and Rocket Scientist" and she doesn't have to sneak her notes anymore. All that engineering comes in handy when dreaming up paranormal powers in future worlds or mixing science with fantasy to conjure slightly plausible inventions. Susan writes from the Chicago suburbs with her three boys, two cats, and one husband. Which, it turns out, is exactly as much as she can handle.

Susan is the author of the bestselling YA novel Open Minds, Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy. The sequel Closed Hearts was just released, and she’s busy writing the third book, Free Souls. Susan's business card says "Author and Rocket Scientist," but she mostly plays on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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Enter to win a digital copy of Open Games AND the prequel Mind Games.
Comment on this post for a bonus entry.
Like Susan's Facebook Page for another bonus entry.
Giveaway Ends August 4th 11:59PM Central Time.


Joanne said...

Thanks for the great interview and excerpt.This book sounds fantastic. Can't wait to read it.


Erynn said...

Great interview. I puffy heart Raf 4ever!

Dynie said...

I'm reading these books right now & love them. I hope that others will take the time to read them too. It's will definately be worth it. Thanks for the great stories. ;-)

Cecilia M. said...

Great Interview. Raf sounds like a great character. :)

Aldrea Alien said...

Wonderful character interview. That's right Raf, she ain't that different. No need for the names. ^_^

DANIELA said...

I read the prequel and really liked it. Thanks for the chance to win Open Minds.

dany7578 at hotmail dot com

wni said...

Thanks for the giveaway!

JennH said...

Thanks for the giveaway!

Jennifer Lane said...

Ohio enjoyed having you, Raf. We like our soccer in this state!

Erika said...

Mind control is a great concept! Thanks for the great giveaway!

R. E. Hunter said...

Looks like a very interesting book. YA is not my usual reading material (my YA years are too many decades ago to ponder 8^), but it's good to branch out, and your excerpt hooked me.