Friday, August 8, 2014

"Twell and the Army of Powers" by Kate O'Leary

Twell and the Army of Powers
(The Como Chronicles Book 1)
by Kate O'Leary

Twell and the Army of Powers is currently on tour with Masquerade Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my interview with the author and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Twell lives in the new world of Como, and has always neglected her telekinetic gifts, desiring to be "normal". Her biggest drama in life is having to be genetically partnered with a boy she doesn’t know or love by her next birthday. Unfortunately she loves her best friend (Chaz), who loves the girl she hates most (Mira), and Twell is left frustrated and heartbroken.
When Twell is requested alongside several other teens to develop her skills for the protection of Como, she reluctantly agrees to the training, and finds herself thrown into all sorts of mental and physical challenges.
Handsome, charismatic Jonaz, is gifted with the power of healing. According to Twell he's an infuriating prat who delights in provoking her. But first impressions have always been her downfall.
When Como is attacked, life as Twell knows it is changed forever, with devastating consequences. With no choice but to fight, Twell risks her life to protect those who have survived, coming up against unexpected dangers she could never anticipate. Will she survive, and if so will she be matched to a stranger when the one she is growing to love is destined to another?

Featured Review
Twell and the Army Of Powers is a YA dystopian novel about a future in which the Governing Body dictates every choice in a person's life, including who they will marry. Twell is fast approaching the time for her partnering and she dreads it. She has a rebellious spirit she must constantly hide in a world where conformity and obedience are the only acceptable behaviors. But when the threat of war looms over Como and the Governing Body gathers up Twell and other young people with powers to train as soldiers, everything in her life is flipped upside down.
The titular character, Twell, goes from being a mostly ordinary teenager to a soldier over the course of the book. This is handled in a very believable manner. Her character grows and changes as the story progresses and each moment of it feels real and natural, not forced as is often seen in stories of this nature. As she learns truths about herself and those around her, as she suffers through traumatic experiences, she remains herself even as she changes. She's forced to grow up too fast, made to understand that people are not always as they seem to be, and there are two sides to every war.
This is a powerful book full of emotion, both negative and positive. Each character is unique, interesting, and believable. The story flows in a wonderfully natural way, with moments of levity interspersed with the harshness of reality. Scenes of romance and action are perfectly balanced to make this a nice roller coaster ride of ups and downs with a few surprising twists along the way.
I'm sorry to see this book end and I eagerly await the sequel. If you enjoy YA dystopian, you should definitely give this one a try. It's brilliant.

Interview With the Author
Hi Kate, thanks for joining me today to discuss your new book, Twell and the Army of Powers.
For what age group do you recommend your book?
12 and up.
What sparked the idea for this book?
The book was originally a short story I wrote for a children’s literature course. Years later I felt the urge to start writing again, and Twell started talking to me … having tantrums actually because she didn’t want to be genetically matched to a boy she didn’t know or love. From there I sat down and churned out the whole book in about two months. After that I have been improving and reshaping it and my writing skills all the way up to Twell being officially published!
So, which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel?
For me it was the character's personal situation speaking to me. From there, I was able to build a world around her.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
Probably the middle chapters, making sure they are relevant and advance the plot and are still as exciting and keeping in pace with the beginning and end chapters. The middle is where scenes need to be cut, and it can be very hard to let go of scenes you have become fond of. But if they are filler and do not advance or improve the plot, then they have to be cut!
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
I hope Twell makes young readers question their beliefs on what free will should entail as well as loyalty to Government. I hope readers ask themselves, "What would I do if I was in Twell’s position? Could I fight for the people I loved? Would I fight for love itself?"
How long did it take you to write this book?
The original manuscript came out in about two months. But I have honestly been working on it for years, leaving it, coming back to it, and persevering through rejections to become a better writer.
What is your writing routine?
Erm … I don’t have one … and probably need to be more disciplined! I tend to try and write a few sentences or paragraphs rather than nothing, just to see what comes out. But if it’s not flowing I will leave it until I am in the writing mood.
How did you get your book published?
I submitted to publishing houses after Twell received an award in a writing competition. I had some interest in Australia, but was offered contracts by two different publishers in America. I chose to go with Fire & Ice YA Books. They have already taken on Twell book two which comes out later this year and want to publish the third book in the trilogy, when I ever finish it!
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Learn from other writers, read different styles to see what inspires you, take criticism constructively, and attend a writing course or group where you can get feedback. I used authonomy site to hone my writing skills. I swapped manuscripts with other writers on the site I admired and listened to their advice on where I needed to improve. Most importantly I never gave up no matter how many rejections I got because I believed in my work and had others in my life who did too. Pursue the dream!
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Read, cook, drink good wine and spend time with friends and family.
What does your family think of your writing?
They are proud and encouraged me. They squealed when they saw the first print book. My Mum actually said "Wow, you’re a real author!" That was a trip!
Fantastic! Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I grew up in a small town at the bottom of Australia, with my twin sister. Dad was a shearer (of sheep) and Mum was a house wife. She read to us all the time, The Magic Faraway Tree series, The Wizard of Oz, The Chronicles of Narnia … I was a dreamer and so was Mum, so we loved disappearing into a book world together. I also played in the scrub a lot building cubbies with my sister and friends, and later on got into horses and ran amuck at Pony Club! I wrote stories all the time as a child, and my first novel when I was about 14 about a teenage girl and her horse and boys and mystery and such! Lots of teen angst written by a teen ha!
Did you like reading when you were a child?
I was obsessed! My nose was continually in a book, including car trips where Mum and Dad would remind me to look at the scenery and I would take a quick glance and then dive straight back into my book!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Probably as a teen I really thought that maybe I could write a full novel.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
I read a lot of fantasy, and mum encouraged me to dream, draw and create constantly. Writing was considered a very healthy way to spend spare time and anything I churned out was received with attentive enthusiasm!
Which writers have influenced you the most?
J. K. Rowling, John Marsden, Ally Condie, and Francine Rivers. They are all brilliant and captivating in their styles!
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I get people on my Facebook page popping by to tell me they loved Twell and are busting for the next book, and wonder when is it due! By October! Hearing one person loves my writing can make me smile for days and days!
That's great! What can we look forward to from you in the future?
Fire and Ice YA books are publishing book two in the series around October this year, Twell and The Rebellion. After that I have one more book to write to finish Twell's journey and complete the trilogy.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by today, Kate. Best of luck with your future projects.

About the Author
Kate O'Leary, has loved reading and writing ever since she was young enough to try and get through the back of her cupboard into Narnia, or through her mirror into Wonderland! In high school she entertained her homeroom reading out chapters of her first novel Miranda about a teenage girls adventures with her horse Rusty.
After school Kate studied Children's Literature, and her first drafts of Twell were awarded in writing competitions. Kate's writing interest is firmly embedded in dystopian fantasy, being continually fascinated with future direction of our world and the concepts of free will and moral vs. lawful obligations. Twell's adventures will continue to explore these ideas in the Como Chronicles Trilogy.
Kate lives in the beautiful Adelaide Hills of Australia, surrounded by rolling hills and wineries and horses, as well as some good rocks to climb when she feels like scaring herself!

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win some great prizes.