Tuesday, August 28, 2012

At First Touch by Mattie Dunman : Interview, Review, Excerpt


At First Touch focuses on the struggles of sixteen-year old Liz Hannigan, a sharply intelligent and strong-willed girl with a secret; she can download the mind of anyone she touches, making her a target for government agencies and a shadowy organization known as the Coalition. With her freedom at stake, and the opportunity to put down roots and experience a longed-for normal life, Liz must use all her abilities to break away from her past. 


Liz Hannigan has been on the run since she was twelve years old.

Her mother is dead. Her father has lost his job. And thanks to an experimental procedure, Liz is now able to ‘download’ the contents of every brain around her with a simple touch. Forced to hide from both the federal government and a darkling group of morally deficient scientists known as the Coalition determined to exploit her abilities, she moves with her father to the bucolic coal town of Pound, West Virginia. 

But the hunt for Liz and her abilities hasn’t ended, and her hopes for peace are shattered when she inadvertently downloads the enigmatic Carey Drake, whose unusual good looks and charm conceal a secret as shocking as her own. Stunned by the knowledge that she has found someone else who has extraordinary abilities, Liz finds herself drawn to Carey, discovering a deep attraction, and dares to hope for the first time she might find love. 

But when an agent of the Coalition begins stalking her, Liz must find a way to work with the government agency she most mistrusts as she strives to build a longed-for normal life and take down the agent who has tracked her down. Caught up in a struggle to save herself and those she loves, the girl who sees all is blind to true danger until it is too late.


I was out on the main road and about twenty minutes into my run when I heard the sound of a motor gunning and the beep of a horn. I slowed my pace and turned around to see Preston’s truck chugging along about two hundred yards behind me. His head was out of the window and he was screaming at me; I couldn’t understand what he was saying, but I felt pretty confident that it wasn’t complimentary.
I came to a stop, wondering if I should do something. I wasn’t really concerned; it wasn’t as though he would run me over or anything, but the blind hatred on his face made me a little nervous. Finally, I decided to ignore him and let him get his fill of throwing abuse my way and then drive on past.  Picking up the pace again, I resolutely faced forward, pretending that the continued screeching behind me was a trick of the wind.
Suddenly the engine gave an almighty roar and I heard the unwelcome sound of squealing tires. With only a second to register that I had vastly underestimated Preston’s anger and mental instability, I swirled around in time to see the grille of the truck just a few feet from my face. I made to jump out of the way, but all my knowledge and stolen tricks didn’t make me fly, or move faster, or be any less breakable than any other human being. I knew in that moment how useless my ability really was. In the face of the giant metal monster brimming with torque, my mind was of no matter, it just screamed out with the desire to live, to keep going.
There was a blow like a train hitting me, but strangely there was no pain, and I was moving faster than I could have imagined away from the truck and into the field next to the road. I was sure that the truck had hit me and I was just flying through the air to my death, by some fortunate stroke lucky enough to be spared the pain of impact. In another instant the movement had stopped and I realized I was being held in a pair of strong arms against a rock-hard chest.
Carey looked down at me, his eyes frantic. “Are you alright? He didn’t hit you, did he?”
“N-no,” I stuttered. Having downloaded Carey I was aware of his incredible speed, but there’s something very different about knowing something theoretically and experiencing it firsthand.
He put me down gently in the grass and I just sat there, too dumbfounded to speak.  Even as he anxiously surveyed me for damage, we heard the rending scream of out of control tires and the heavy metal sound of Preston’s truck crashing into something.
“I’ll be right back,” Carey said and then I blinked and he was gone. 

5 Stars

I was pulled into Liz’s story from the very first page.  The story flows smoothly with an engaging, likable protagonist who is pitted against forces that conspire to harness her power and use her talents for their own purposes.  With terrific pacing, believable dialogue, and a mesmerizing voice, this book rises well above the norm in its Young Adult Paranormal Fiction genre. Read my Full Review on Night Owl Reviews.


How did you start your writing career?

It’s hard to say. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and as a kid I entered every contest I could find, made up stories to entertain myself and my friends. I got serious about it about four years ago when I wrote my first book during a bout of pneumonia. Nothing like being trapped indoors for a month and bored out of your mind for motivation. 

Do you use a pen name? If so, how did you come up with it?

 I do use a pen name, Mattie Dunman. It’s my maternal grandmother’s first name and my paternal grandmother’s maiden name. I loved them both and they are no longer with us, so I thought it would be a good way to remember them. I think they’d both be pleased. 

What was the scariest moment of your life?

 I’ve had a few close brushes, but I think one of the worst moments was when I was nearly killed by a Christmas tree. I was driving home on I-79 and a beat-up pickup truck with a fully decorated Christmas tree (I mean lights and ornaments and everything) in its bed, swerved in front of me and slammed on the brakes. The tree just flew off the truck and headed right for me. I was really lucky no one was in the lane next to me and managed to get out of the way, but I’ve always felt really uncomfortable around tinsel ever since. 

How do you develop your plots and your characters? Do you use any set formula? 

I have kind of an odd process for writing scenes. I sometimes go to sleep thinking about what needs to happen next in the story and if I’m lucky, I dream about it, which gives me some ideas. Most of the time I let my characters have a conversation in my head, let them act out the scene, and then I just start writing. I know ahead of time that certain things have to be accomplished, but most of the action and plot comes straight from the characters.  

What songs are most played on your IPod?

My playlist is pretty eclectic. When I write, I tend to listen to soothing music so I don’t sing along and get distracted. So typically it’s a blend of Rachmaninoff, Puccini, and Ralph Vaughn Williams. But writing certain scenes requires a different energy, and The Black Keyes’s “Sinister Kid” and “I’m Not the One” usually provoke the right atmosphere. I’ve also had AWOL Nation’s “It’s Not Your Fault” on repeat for the last month.

Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go? 

I have a long, long list of places I’d like to go, but if I had the opportunity I’d really like to go to the Orkney Islands in Scotland. There’s a phenomenal blend of culture from the Picts, the Celts, and Norse mythologies there. One of the projects I’m working on has derived a lot of inspiration from the area and history, so I’d love to go there in person. Pictures only go so far. 

Have any of your characters been modeled after yourself? 

I don’t think it’s possible to write a character that doesn’t reflect me in some way; after all, you write what you know. But I think it’s more accurate to say that my experiences have helped shape the way my characters react to stress or romance. Some characters resemble me more than others. For instance, the heroine in a project I’m working on is an exaggerated version of me and my history of clumsiness; the poor thing walks into way more walls than I really do. On the other hand, in AT FIRST TOUCH, Liz tends to weigh her decisions carefully, which is something I don’t do as often as I should. And I wish I had superpowers..

Do you have a favorite quote, quip, or saying? What is it? 

If I have a motto, it’s probably “You pays your money, and you takes your choice.” My mom told me that years ago; it’s apparently something my great-grandfather said a lot after going to the races. It’s always seemed eminently sensible to me.

Mattie Dunman is a lifelong resident of "Wild & Wonderful" West Virginia, and has dreamed of being a writer since she first held a pen in hand.

Mattie has pursued several useless degrees to support this dream, and presently enjoys teaching (or tormenting, as the case may be) college students the dying art of public speaking. She spends most of her free time writing, but also indulges in reading and traveling.

She is the proud owner of an adorably insane American Eskimo named Finn, and a tyrant cat named Bella, who take up more of her attention than they probably should.

Mattie is currently working on the second book in the First Touch series, and is ecstatic about her new release, 
At First Touch.

For more information on Mattie or At First Touch, please check out www.mattiedunman.com!

Enter for a chance to win a .mobi or PDF copy of At First Touch.
Comment on this post for a bonus entry.
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Giveaway ends September 15th 11:59 PM Central Time.


1 comment:

Karen Arrowood said...

I don't think I would like to have poor Liz' ability, but Carey's sounds good. I look forward to reading this book! Thank you for the opportunity!