Thursday, December 12, 2013

SP Library: A peek into OBSCURA BURNING + An Interview With Suzanne Van Rooyen

Welcome back to SP Library! Today's selection is a Small Press book from Etopia Press.

I've got lots of goodies for you today! A gorgeous book cover (y'all know how I feel about beautiful covers!), a book trailer, an emotional excerpt, AND an interview with the author about Obscura Burning, YA fiction, publishing, and more.

What else could you ask for?

Obscura Burning
Author: Suzanne van Rooyen

Published: 7 Dec, 2012 Etopia Press
Genre: YA, LGBT, science fiction

Blurb: 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...


Book Trailer

Closing my eyes, I imagine New Mexico burning, can almost smell it, the pungent pine, fireball mesquite, and smouldering cacti. I should be worried about the damage the UV’s doing to my scars, but after tonight, none of that will matter.

Just when you think it can’t possibly get any hotter or the mercury will explode, the temperature rises just a few more degrees. Today, Coyote’s Luck lies in a simmering mirage, hotter than any hell imaginable.

The crush of mesquite huddling between the tombstones offers little respite from the sun. Sticking to the dappled shade, I thread my way toward Danny’s grave. I’m not alone.

She looks like a ghost with the white sundress fanning around her legs, her long black hair teased by the warm breeze. For a moment, I think it’s one of the ch’iindi made flesh, until she turns at the sound of my step.

Gabriela, her face a teary-eyed frown. She folds her arms and returns her gaze to the grave. When did she get so thin? She was always so voluptuous, a shorter, less saggy version of her mother. Now she looks more like a sixteen-year-old kid, barely there in layers of cotton.

We stand in silence, both just staring at the grave. The rosaries dangle over the stone, tied in knots around the stems of already dead flowers. There’s a white and blue beaded one, the one that was attached to Danny’s bed, the one he’d kiss at night before going to sleep.

“I miss him so much,” Gabriela says eventually.

“So do I.”

“I blame you, you know.” She casts me a sidelong glance.

“Maybe you should.”

She nods and sniffs and fingers one of the blooms turned brown by the heat.

“Dead, all of it.” She tears the petals from the stalk. “Little Maria, now Daniel.” She turns her dark eyes on me, searching for something I wish I could give her.

“This is killing my parents. Daniel was their only son. They’ll never have more children. Once, I had a brother. Now I’m alone. Sister to dead siblings.”

That’s the most Gabriela’s ever said, to me at least. I’m stunned into uncomfortable silence. There’s nothing I can say that’ll make it right. But tonight, maybe there’ll be something I can do.

“I wish I could make it right.” My words sound so pathetic.

She harrumphs and digs her sandaled toe into the dirt. “Nothing can make Daniel dying right.”

“I’m sorry.” There is nothing else I can say without trying to explain the whole confusing story and Gabriela’s not the type to believe in rifts in reality.

“Tell Daniel you’re sorry. He’s the one who died because of you.” She takes a deliberate step away from me, crosses herself, offering prayers in Spanish to the ether.

“I loved him, you know.” Maybe I am to blame, but she makes it sound like I don’t give a crap that he’s dead.

“Obviously not enough.”

Find Obscura Burning at:

Interview with Suzanne Van Rooyen

Hi! Thanks for swinging by today. Can you give us the twitter pitch (140 characters or less) synopsis of Obscura Burning?

One of the toughest questions ever! Here goes...
After a strange, new planet appears in the sky, Kyle finds himself caught between realities and two dead friends as his world starts to burn.

Which character from Obscura Burning do you relate to the most, and why? 

Hm, interesting and tricky question. I think all my characters have a tiny part of me in them and I can relate to all of them on some level. That said, I think I can probably relate best to Mya - her candour and fearlessness, and her tendency to cover up her own vulnerabilities and insecurities with a 'tough girl' exterior.

What draws you to write YA specifically? 

I'm a big kid and think I'll always be 16 at heart. I love writing teenage characters because teens have so much room to grow. As a writer, I can really delve into my character and show their development, their transition from childhood to adulthood through experiences both good and bad. They are in the process of being shaped, and sometimes scarred, by their experiences, they are forging their identities and I love exploring those themes in my books.

What do you think makes a YA hero or heroine particularly believable and memorable?

Flaws and overcoming those flaws by making mistakes and learning from their experiences. I don't like heroes and heroines who have it easy. I want them to struggle, I want them to make difficult decisions and to make sacrifices. A memorable hero/heroine to me is a character that had to do something they never thought they could, or would, for the sake of loved ones or the greater good. The best heroes and heroines are those that triumphed in the face of extreme adversity but didn't emerge unscathed.  

It sounds as if Kyle is playing with fire both literally and metaphorically. How do you think this parallel represents his character?

Oh very much so. Fire is a major theme in the book, both literally and figuratively. Kyle bears the physical scars of having been on fire. He is also burning emotionally and psychologically while his relationships with his parents, with Danny, Shira and Mya are incendiary at best. The theme of fire pervades as a metaphor for destruction, but also renewal - a parallel with Kyle as he fights his inner demons, while trying to rise from the ashes of his life. 

What do you have to say to authors who write about other "risky" topics? 

Be authentic. Nothing is off limits provided the topic is handled with sensitivity and authenticity. The issue has to be real for the character, and not just sprinkled into the story for shock value - readers can sniff that out a mile away. 

What young adult book has affected you the most? 

The Voices of Silence by Bel Mooney. I was quite young when I read that book, and it opened my eyes to a world beyond the privileged one I knew. It exposed me to communism, prejudice, and a violence I'd never known or even contemplated despite growing up in Apartheid South Africa. It also showed me the hope that something as simple as a single flower can bring. That book had an indelible affect on my childhood and was likely the driving force behind my desire to write YA stories.

What's the one piece of advice that you'd like to give to YA writers?

Not really advice, nor specific to YA writers, since I'm not a fan of others telling me what to do so I won't impose my writerly opinions on others excerpt to say: be authentic, and don't be afraid to tell those stories buried deep in your soul.

What is the most challenging part of the writing/publication process for Obscura Burning? 

Publicity and finding readers for a YA science fiction novel that is essentially an interracial LGBT issue book. While I've had incredible feedback from readers, it's a tricky sell as most science fiction fans expect more of a speculative element than Obscura Burning presents, and those readers looking for a contemporary issue book may be put off by the speculative elements. Finding my audience has definitely been the hardest part of the process.

Do you have any recommendations for other YA books with LGBT main characters? 

Yes! Just this year I read an amazing YA dystopian novel featuring a bisexual protagonist. I strongly recommend Coda by Emma Trevayne for fans of dark dystopian novels, especially if you've got a penchant for music.

Other good LGBT reads for me recently have been Proxy by Alex London and The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson.

And we'll wrap up with a very important question: Dean or Sam Winchester?

Dean, without a doubt. There's no contest for me. I love my heroes stoic but flawed and with a sense of humor. Dean epitomizes that.

 I always choose Dean too. Sorry Sam. 

About Suzanne van Rooyen

Suzanne is an author and peanut-butter addict from South Africa. She currently lives in Finland and finds the cold, dark forests nothing if not inspiring. 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 and music to middle-schoolers or playing in the snow with her shiba inu.
Suzanne is represented by Jordy Albert of the Booker Albert Agency.
Suzanne is also Publicity Manager for Entranced Publishing.

Author Links
Pinterest -

Thanks for coming to chat with us today! Do any of y'all have questions for Suzanne?

1 comment:

  1. Great cover! Sounds like a great read. Adding it to my Goodreads TBR, and just downloaded a sample off Amazon.