We're delighted to welcome Kelly Haworth with
Read My Mind
Under The Empire #1
Welcome to the blog tour of Read My Mind, the first book of the Under the Empire series! I hope you’ll check out all the stops, where I explore the craft that goes into creating a fantasy series set in a contemporary era.
Long ago, a pantheon of ten gods gifted magic to the people of our world, changing the course of history as we know it. The Flavian Empire now reigns over what would have been America, led by a royalty of fire weavers. Frannesburg, the city by the bay, is a haven from the empire’s encroaching dictatorship, and its university is bustling with people of all magics, sexualities, genders, and races. As students study toward their degrees, they hope to find friendships across majors, and maybe even love under the fog and city lights.
Read My Mind follows two freshmen, Scott and Nick, who have just started at the University of Frannesburg. Magic, attraction, and too much homework await them on their journey to figure out who they are now that they are on their own, and how they fit into this magical world.
Scott Kensington lives happily without magic; prayer is all he needs to worship the gods. Then he starts his studies at the University of Frannesburg, and not only is he suddenly surrounded by eccentrics—those gifted with magic—but his own latent ability begins to surface, with consequences that could tear his soul and family apart.
Nick Barns is grieving for his lost mother and desperate for distraction—usually in the form of limited-edition action figures. As a telekinetic, he’s no stranger to magic, so he offers to help Scott adjust to his new powers. They quickly learn how their magics interact, their shared passions soon growing beyond superheroes and immortals. But Nick’s not taking his studies seriously, and his father threatens to pull him from the university. Overwhelmed by his own crumbling family, Scott’s convinced he can’t handle a relationship, but he doesn’t want to let Nick go.
With grief, guilt, and magic complicating everything between Nick and Scott, it seems that not even the gods—or a new comic book—can save their relationship now.
Sometimes, even reading someone’s mind won’t help you understand what they want.
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Writing Younger Characters
How sooner do I remember my age than when calculating what year my characters would have been born in to be going to college now? I know YA authors have this worse, but I’m still over here cringing and realizing I started college over a decade ago.
Which begs the question – what has changed? Can I still even remember what it was like to be that young, figuring out the world for the first time away from my parents?
While writing Read My Mind, there were several times where I had to channel my younger self. When thinking about how far away home was, when missing my mom’s cooking, when missing my room and my friends back home, when struggling to make new friends and find my classes and not get my bike stolen. My first year of college had a lot of ups and downs, including a long-distance relationship with my eventual husband, being afraid to have night classes, and the benefits of having a roommate who drove home every weekend.
I still remember the joy of independence, the frustration of difficult homework, the loneliness of feeling like I didn’t know anybody. I tried to channel these old feelings while I wrote about Scott fiercely missing his family and Nick feeling out of place. It was both a rewarding and difficult experience.
Also, when writing these younger characters, I tried to keep in mind the way they would think and act and speak in ways that reflected their age but wouldn’t sound too outdated or too young. I’m fortunate that my story is an alternate universe so if some of the slang is lacking we can just assume it didn’t exist. I tried to be light on the slang from our world and include in-world slang that plays off their religion and gods to add some dimension to the way they talk. But of course speech mannerisms isn’t just slang. I tried to have my characters say what they felt sometimes, and say what they absolutely didn’t feel other times, because I think that stress of not knowing the right thing to say is integral to the younger experience. (Honestly I think we all experience this throughout our lives.) You can say what you really think, or you can say what you think the other person is going to want to hear, or you can say what you think you should be saying, and all these decisions need to be made instantly and have consequences. Being a young adult can be really hard sometimes.
About the author:
Kelly Haworth grew up in San Francisco and has been reading science fiction and fantasy classics since she was a kid. She has way too active an imagination, thus she channels it into writing. Kelly is genderfluid and pansexual, and loves to write LGBTQIA characters into her work. In fact, she doesn’t know if she’s ever going to be able to write an allo-cishet couple again. Kelly has degrees in both genetics and psychology, and works as a project manager at a genetics lab. When not working or writing, she can be found wrangling her two toddlers, working on cosplay, or curled up on the couch with a good TV show or book.
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To celebrate the release of Read My Mind, one lucky winner will receive a $20 Riptide gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on October 7, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
Promotional post. Materials provided by the publisher.