Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"Untethered" by Katie Hayoz

by Katie Hayoz

Untethered by Katie Hayoz is currently on tour with Bewitching Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an interview with the author. You can also enter the giveaway for your chance to win some awesome prizes. Make sure you visit all of the other tour stops as well.

Sixteen-year-old Sylvie isn’t comfortable in her own skin. In fact, there are times she can’t even manage to stay inside it.  But if there is one thing she’s sure of, it’s her love for Kevin Phillips. She’s willing to stake everything on it –her family, her friends, and possibly her soul.
Sylvie has been best friends with Cassie forever.  But everything is turned around when the boy Sylvie’s loved since fifth grade falls for Cassie. Devastated, Sylvie intends to get Kevin by any means possible, even if it involves treachery, deceit, and the dark side of astral projection. She is positive her plans will give her what she wants, but she doesn’t count on it all spiraling out of control.
Runner-up in the 2012 Mslexia novel competition, Untethered by Katie Hayoz explores the intoxicating and dangerous world of jealousy and obsession when coupled with paranormal ability. It is a touching, sometimes funny, sometimes heart-breaking novel that speaks to the self-doubt lurking in us all. 

Chapter Nineteen
A Memory: Stupid Girls
The summer we were ten years old, Cassie and I held our fingers over my mother’s biggest, shiniest knife and looked into each other’s eyes.
“Ready?” Cassie asked. Her eyes shone. She dragged her front teeth across the plump cushion of her bottom lip.
The knife was her idea, not mine. I would have gone with a needle.
But a few hours earlier Cassie had come over to my place with tears in her eyes, upset about her parents drinking. As usual.
There was never any violence. Never anything to get too freaked out about. But sometimes it wore her out. Like this time. This time she wilted against the back of the couch and whispered, “They barely notice I’m there.”
I laced my fingers in hers. We sat a long time, dangling our flip-flops from our toes, the too-sweet smell of honeysuckle coming in from the open windows.
Suddenly, Cassie sat up straight. Her left flip-flop dropped to the floor. “You’re my best friend, right?”
“We’ve been through everything together.”
We had. From what everyone called my ‘fainting spells’, to getting our pants pulled down by the neighborhood boys, to an attempt at running away, to living through Sam’s practical jokes. And more.
“And we’ll be friends forever? We’ll always be able to count on each other, right?” Cassie spoke quickly now, her grip on my hand getting tighter.
Her intensity wasn’t exactly scaring me, but it did make me squirm just a little. “Forever.”
She narrowed her green eyes at me. “Prove it.”
So it came down to this: An extremely sharp knife and an oath to always be best friends. Which is why we were standing there, in my kitchen, my mom’s cutlery in our hands and why Cassie’s face was flushed with satisfaction and mine with fear.
“The oath,” Cassie prompted. We said it together, our two voices melding into one:
Blood Sisters, blood sisters as long as we live. Always together. We always forgive.
Best friends forever, best friends for life. As proof we share our blood with this knife.
“On the count of three,” Cassie said.
“Uhhh ... ”
“You can’t hesitate, Sylvie. If you hesitate that means you don’t take it seriously.” She fixed me a look that managed to be both demanding and pleading at the same time.
Where we gripped the handle, my palm was slick with sweat.
She started to count: “One ... two ... three ...”
Both of us slid the pad of our index fingers down the blade at the same time.
The blood came first. Bright, bright blood. And then the sharp, stinging bolt of pain. The knife dropped to the tile floor with a loud clang. Cassie sucked in a huge breath. I stared at the red dripping onto my feet and cried out.
We’d been intending to rub our blood into each other’s cut. But before we could, I felt a prickle of fear and then nothing. Nothing at all.
Dizziness seized me as I hovered near a cobweb in the corner, watching as my mom ran into the kitchen and took control, her voice strange and surreal from where I was.
“What are you girls thinking?” she shrieked. “Do you know what kind of infections and diseases you can get from doing this kind of thing? You’re lucky you didn’t cut your fingers off!” From above I saw my body go limp, my head pitching forward and my legs buckling. “Oh, my Lord, Sylvie! Don’t faint!” When Mom thrust our hands under cold water, I came back to my body with a jerk. “Stay with me!” pleaded Mom as she shoved my raw and aching finger further under the rushing tap.
Mom cleaned our cuts and wrapped them in Barbie Band-Aids. It was only then that Cassie and I touched fingers. We hooked them around each other and squeezed, the pain from the fresh cut throbbing up to our elbows. But no fluids were shared, so officially we were just two kids with deep cuts. Not blood sisters.
Even so, we took that oath — Band-Aids or not we took it. “We’re blood sisters,” Cassie says even now, six years later. “No matter how mad we get, we have to forgive.”
Or do we?

Let me just start by saying that Untethered really took me by surprise. I was interested in reading it, sure, but I had no idea what kind of greatness I was in for. I am still blown away by the extent to which I LOVED this book! It is pure awesomeness. Period.
I'm not sure which moral I would apply to this story: be careful what you wish for, or you don't know what you've got until it's gone. It's actually a perfect blend of both, wrapped up in a superbly written paranormal twist. When I first started reading, throughout the first several chapters or so, I thought, "OK, this is a good book," but there wasn't any real WOW factor yet. But once this story ramped up there was no stopping it! I stayed up until four in the morning to finish it. It was so awesome, I didn't even regret losing sleep. After three hours of blissful slumber, I grabbed myself two X-large coffees from Timmy Ho's and kept moving right along. This has been the best book hangover ever. I didn't even have the desire to start another book. I wasn't ready to swim out of the Untethered world and dive into something else just yet.
Sylvie Sydell is your typical [paranormal tendency-sporting] awkward teenager with only one friend to her name - her neighbor and childhood friend, Cassie. Sylvie spends her days being tortured by the cool kids in school, and drooling over the boy she's loved since he stuck up for her in fifth grade, Kevin Phillips. Unfortunately Kevin is one of the cool kids now and rarely looks in Sylvie's direction. Between that horrific adolescent tragedy, and the fact that her parents have split up, which she thinks is her fault, Sylvie thinks her life sucks and would rather be anywhere, or anyone, else. As if that isn't enough, Sylvie's emotions are thrown into overdrive when her best friend, Cassie, blossoms into a beautiful girl over the summer and Kevin, the boy that Sylvie would do anything to be with, starts falling for her. Even Sylvie's little brother, Sam - a freshman at their high school who is small and dorky - becomes popular in the "cool kids" circle. What other choice does Sylvie have but to go off the deep end?
She commandeers every weapon at the local K-mart and just starts hacking people up. It's a bloody mess! They turn into zombies ... No, I'm kidding! There are no zombies in this book. I don't even recall there being a K-mart. But the plan she comes up with in order to gain control of her life will blow your freaking mind. Sylvie's paranormal ability, added to her jealous rage and insecurity, makes her dangerous to everyone, including herself.
I read a lot of books that focus on badass heroines, so in the beginning of the book I remember thinking, "Jeez, this girl is so pathetic, and she's doing it all wrong! Everything. She's failing miserably at the game of life." Sylvie had Nelson, a sweet blue-haired guy with black painted fingernails fawning all over her in Art class, but she was so obsessed with Kevin she couldn't see it. I wanted to strangle her. I lost track of how many times I shouted at her during the course of this story. Her character development was incredible though. I quickly grew to love her, and was rooting her on as she made her transition to "the other side." What that means, well... you'll have to read it to find out. There are many sides to Sylvie Sydell and in the end I enjoyed every one of them.
Untethered is a book for everyone. This is a true YA novel that I will let my young teen read. It's a coming of age story in a way I've never experienced before. It's a no-brainer to give this book a five star rating. Katie Hayoz has made my list of favorite authors!

Interview With the Author
Hi Katie, thanks for joining me today to discuss your new book, Untethered. Thank you for having me!
Which writers have influenced you the most? I’d have to start with Lois Duncan, since she was the author whose work I read religiously when I was a teen. Then there’s Margaret Atwood for the feminist literary lover in me, Stephen King for his ease at making anything scary, and Anne Rice for making the paranormal cool.
What age group do you recommend your book for? Thirteen on up. I think both teens and adults can enjoy it. Untethered isn’t just a story about astral projection; one of the main themes is self-acceptance. Many girls and women struggle with this. Learning to love ourselves for who we are, as we are, is not always easy.
What sparked the idea for this book? I read the book Stranger with My Face by Lois Duncan when I was in high school. It involved astral projection and that was the first I’d ever read about out-of-body experience, astral projection or the like. I was fascinated. I knew right away I had to write something involving astral projection.
Which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel? For me, a novel starts out with an idea, but changes completely as I write it due to the character’s story. I never end up writing what I set out writing.
What was the hardest part to write in this book? The main character, Sylvie, is not your usual YA heroine. She’s not drop-dead gorgeous, isn’t a kick-ass warrior, doesn’t have some ancient supernatural secret to hide. She astral projects, but it makes her an outcast. She sees herself as a loser of sorts and is somewhat self-centered. All of these things add up to making it extremely difficult to write her as a character the reader wants to root for in the end, despite her flaws. Getting her to the point where we might begin to sympathize with her took me forever.
How do you hope this book affects its readers? Of course I want readers to enjoy it, have a good time. But I also hope it provokes thought on body image, friendship, self-acceptance and family.
How long did it take you to write this book? I wrote it on and off for about four years, focusing more on my family and job during that time. But the very first draft was written as a short story over twenty years ago.
What is your writing routine? I whine. I pout. I eat way too much. I write. Shred it. Rewrite. Rewrite again. I go in spurts. One day I’ll write for hours, then the next two I can barely get anything out.
How did you get your book published? When I send Untethered out to my agent, she loved the book and told me she thought it would be easy to sell. We had bad timing, though, and despite great comments on the story, 35 publishers decided they couldn’t sell it because according to them, the paranormal YA novel was dead. Even after it took 2nd place in the Mslexia novel competition, I couldn’t get Untethered traditionally published. So I decided to take the indie author route.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer? If it’s really what you want to do, never give up. Ever.
What do you like to do when you're not writing? I eat popcorn, read, dance, watch home improvement shows on TV, and try my best to be a decent mom.
What does your family think of your writing? So far, they’ve been really supportive. But it’s not always easy to make writing a priority.
Please tell us a bit about your childhood. I grew up in Wisconsin, the youngest of six kids. My parents had thought they were done having kids when I showed up, so there’s a fairly large age gap between me and my siblings. For example, my oldest sister is 17 years older than I am. But I love that. It was like being both a sister and an only child at the same time. Plus, my parents were tired by the time I came along. I got away with everything. J
Did you enjoy school? For the most part, yeah, I did. I liked it because I knew exactly what was expected of me. I’m geeky like that.
Did you like reading when you were a child? As a child, somewhat. But as a teen, I adored reading. I think that’s where my love of young adult literature comes from.
What was your favorite book as a child? The Ice-Cream Cone Coot and Other Rare Birds by Arnold Lobel.
Who were your favorite authors as a child? As a young child, Dr. Seuss. But once I was a little older I loved Judy Blume, Lois Duncan, Beverly Cleary.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? I don’t know the exact moment when I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I remember going to the career counselor in high school and saying that’s what I wanted to do. She discouraged me and said, “You’d do wonderfully as a psychologist. Why don’t you think about that?” Good advice. All writers should spend their first year of college studying psychiatry. It shows you how insane you are to still want to be a writer.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing? I don’t know how my parents did it with six children. My mom worked non-stop around the house all day. But in the evenings, she would sit in her recliner with a bowl of popcorn and a book. No matter how much noise was around her, no matter what kind of chaos we’d create, she was lost to the world in her novel.  She always looked so interested - enraptured even – that I needed to try out reading novels for myself. The reading right away took me into writing. Authors were (and still are) my rock stars.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? I’d love to hear from them more often. What I get most is surprise – I think some readers picked up the book not thinking they would enjoy it as much as they did.
What can we look forward to from you in the future? I’ve sent my next novel out to beta readers to get some feedback for my final rewrite. It’s darker than Untethered, for a slightly older audience. I’d tell you the title but that is the part I’m having the hardest time with! Look for it in February. Anyone who signs up for my newsletter on my website, will receive the info as I have it, and maybe some extras, too.
Thanks so much for stopping by today, Katie. Best of luck with your new book.

About the Author
Katie Hayoz was born in Racine, Wisconsin, the youngest of six kids. Originally, she wanted to become Pope (for the awesome hat and fancy robes), but quickly realized reading was her true religion. Writing was always a hobby, but she decided to go at it seriously when she ended up in Geneva, Switzerland. Now she's constantly at her laptop in the small apartment she shares with her husband, two daughters, and two fuzzy cats. She devours young adult novels like she does popcorn and black licorice: quickly and in large quantities.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of five ebook copies of Untethered, one paperback copy of Untethered (US only), one pendant (US only), or one charm (US only).