Sunday, November 17, 2013

Book Blitz! Excerpt, Interview and Giveaway Drawn by Cecilia Gray



Publication date: November 13th 2013
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

Take a journey into the gritty world of political espionage through the eyes – and lies – of one extraordinary girl. A wholly original tale of friendship and betrayal from the author of The Jane Austen Academy series….

Sasha has a secret – that she can make you spill your secret with nothing more than a question. Her strange gift makes her a burden to her foster family and a total freak of nature. Not that Sasha cares. Why should she when no one cares about her?

Then the CIA knocks on her door. They want to give Sasha a new identity and drop her into a foreign country to infiltrate a ring of zealous graffiti terrorists. They want to give Sasha something to care about.

To survive a world where no one is who they seem, Sasha needs to make people trust her. But when that trust blossoms into love, Sasha is forced to decide between duty and friendship, between her mind and her heart, and whether to tell the truth or keep her secrets.


Authors's Amazon and Barnes and Noble pages.



FBI Field Office, Atlanta, Georgia

I've studied Chelsea since the FBI teamed us up when I was twelve. She has a move…classic Chelsea. She turns the doorknob and her body stiffens, a metal rod shoved down her spine. As she sets a high heel inside the interrogation room, her southern accent and soft manners are buried beneath a terrifyingly sleek, blond exterior in a perfectly pressed pinstriped suit.
Four years of practice, two custom-cut suits of my own, and I still look epileptic when I try to project that sense of total control. Of I've got this. Even though I don't have her drawl and my posture's not bad.
I follow Chelsea, stiff as can be, into the room with the bright white walls. Our sicko suspect glances up from the steel table in its center. I flinch at his chilling stare. Flinching already, see. A slow smile bulges his cheeks as he studies me. Attention from a guy in an orange jumpsuit sitting at a steel table—to which he is handcuffed—is what Chelsea would officially term an undesirable outcome. More undesirable—me showing I care. Like she always says, "Don't let 'em see you sweat, hon."
No way am I giving this psycho the satisfaction. I suppress a shiver as the air conditioning kicks on with a groan. Tiny goosebumps break out on my forearms, raising the fine hairs to attention. Can't rub myself warm—that's a tell. Instead, when Chelsea slides into one of the fold-out metal chairs across from him, I follow her lead and take comfort in her giraffe-like posture in the chair next to mine.
Chelsea tosses a manila folder so that its contents spill across the table. The file details his alleged heinous crimes, the FBI's efforts to track him, and the blood evidence in his garage that matches that of the latest missing girl—Georgia State art major, vegetarian, and more important to the suits, daughter of a local bigwig. Funny, the things you remember from a file when they have nothing to do with the case, like how she specialized in collages. They'd found cut-up pieces of magazines littered across the desk and floor of her dorm room. The pieces trailed into the hall like flower petals down a church aisle.
The strewn high-gloss photos of his suspected victims—his own personal collage of the young, female, and carved—don't solicit a cringe from him when I can barely hold down my water and I've been staring at them for weeks. My gaze flickers to the one-way mirror—a silent promise: We're gonna nail this freak.
"I'm FBI Agent Chelsea Tanner. This is my partner. How are you this evening?"
This is normally when a suspect will ask, with understandable outrage, why I'm party to the interrogation because aren't I, at almost sixteen, too young to be in the FBI? Pinstriped suit or not, I look my age, maybe even a year or two younger because I've always been small—childhood malnutrition will do that to a girl.
It's the suspects who don't care that I'm in the room who worry me. Like this guy, whose pale eyes flicker to my throat.
I fight the urge to shift, even to clench my fingers tight into a fist. I don't blink.
"Fine weather we're having this winter." Chelsea manages not to smirk at our sitting in a windowless room. Her face is unbreakable. "These are perfect skies for a getaway. Do you have plans for the weekend?"
When he doesn't answer, she shares our itinerary—a leisurely drive to Savannah to visit her mother at their family wintering home. Yes, that's a thing. The trip always involves mint juleps and wide-brimmed hats, not that Chelsea shares the finer details. A genteel background rarely earns cred with criminals.
She chit-chats as if he's not imagining the slice of his boning knife into my neck. The careful incision he would carve against the clavicle, removing the flat bone from the ligaments attached to the shoulder. I don't need my unique magic to know what's on his mind. Some things in the case file stick for a reason.
My bone structure fascinates him. His gaze caresses my cheekbones, roams over the bridge of my nose, dips into the hollow of my neck, and brushes the stray dark corkscrew curls that drape over my sternum.
Don't move. Don't blink. Don't even breathe.
"Savannah's so beautiful this time of year. Any time of year. I go as often as I can. Don't you think you should make time for family?" The word rolls off her tongue in three syllables, a rare ray of southern shining through her otherwise stiff facade.
Fah. Mil. Lee.
He closes his eyes as though in prayer. When he opens them, his pupils dilate to nearly black and he rubs his thumbs over his knuckles. He does not take the bait.
Come on, Chelsea. You work your magic and I'll work mine.
That's our deal. She gets them talking. I make them spill their guts.



INTERVIEW

Tell us about DRAWN.

DRAWN is about Sasha, a girl who has the strange ability to make people tell the truth and because of that ability, she's been abandoned by her parents and studied and used by the government. When the story opens, she's being reassigned to work overseas with an undercover CIA agent who has a daughter – Sasha's age – who doesn't know the truth about her CIA father or what Sasha does. Sasha has to use this girl in order to complete her mission and lines start to blur between her mission and her cover, between what is real and true and what is a lie, and what Sasha is willing to do in order to complete her mission.
It has comic illustrations at the start of each chapter, a fiercely intelligent and independent heroine and despite the paranormal bent to the premise, quite a bit of realistic spy craft.

You've also written The Jane Austen Academy series of lighthearted romance-heavy contemporary novels but DRAWN is a dark spy thriller – why the change?

I love stories about girlfriends and girl dynamics, so while The Jane Austen Academy series is romantic contemporary and Drawn is a spy thriller, both stories deal with complicated female relationships and navigating girl dynamics where you aren't sure how much of yourself to share or how much to trust new friends.

What kind of research did you do to prepare for DRAWN?

In Drawn, Sasha is assigned to find local graffiti artists and convince them do jobs for her so I took a how-to-graffiti class. It was taught by a real graffiti artist Jeremy Novy who does the coi fish sidewalk graffiti in San Francisco.

He taught negative stencil graffiti which finds the picture by spraying its negative space. So for example, if you want to stencil a donut, you would do it by painting what is NOT the donut. It's kind of a mind boggling thing for me because I'm a terrible artist and can barely draw what I want to draw, much less not draw what it is I want to draw.

It was also great to get a sense of the teaher's political feelings and priorities which came out a bit during class and that led me to read up on graffiti artists and watch a few documentaries. While Sasha isn't a graffiti artist, she interacts with some in the book and I wanted to represent their commitment to this way of life and self-expression.

It was also kind of fun, if nerve racking, to be incognito with a can of spray paint.
Drawn also takes place mostly in Brussels, Belgium and I lived there for a few years when I was the same age as Sasha. A lot of the culture shock she goes through is stolen straight from my life.

How did you get the idea for DRAWN?

Drawn has a real mix of inspirations. I wanted to write a spy thriller – that was first – and I wanted to write one because I like spy thrillers. I basically wanted Tom Clancy for teenagers, where there was a focus on the mission but also on the character.
My first draft for Drawn had her involved on the ground in infiltrating this foreign country but it became a little too unrealistic. I had to give her ground training that might be fun and exciting, but drew the story away from being a realistic contemporary to a more fantasize spy story. I didn't want Sasha to be good at martial arts or shooting people.

At the same time, I was developing a little bit of an obsession with graffiti. I live in San Francisco, and there are tons of beautiful graffiti displays around the city – particularly in the Mission District of San Francisco where two entire streets are set aside for graffiti. Sasha happens to not be very in touch with her emotions, so I got to thinking, what if Sasha liked to express her feelings through drawings?

Then, in real life, Egypt was underdoing political turmoil as a result of public reaction to graffiti. One of the subsequent riots even resulted in public takedown of their leader. Those three things combined nailed it for me – that Sasha would draw, that the government would want to take advantage of graffiti artists to incite political turmoil – and that these two elements would clash in Drawn.

Who did the illustrations for DRAWN?

Not me! I'm a terrible artist. I can't even draw a circle. The comic book illustrations for Drawn were created by Sherry Leak, an incredibly talented artist. I gave her the script as well as scene descriptions and she made all the sketches happen. I also think she did a great job of creating a bit of an unfinished look because the idea is that Drawn's heroine, Sasha, created the drawings herself in between going to school and working for the FBI, so they aren't perfectly polished and inked.

Is there a sequel to Drawn? What's next for you?

Drawn was imagined and written as a standalone, and I really like where I left Sasha at the end of the book, but I have had some grumblings for more stories in this universe so I could see doing a spin-off although I haven't planned one.
My next release will be the final two books in The Jane Austen Academy series and I'm also working on a dark contemporary thriller for 2015, which thankfully feels like an eternity away.



Cecilia Gray lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where she reads, writes and breaks for food. She also pens her biographies in the third person. Like this. As if to trick you into thinking someone else wrote it because she is important. Alas, this is not the case.

Cecilia has been praised for “instilling a warmth and weight into her characters” (Romancing The Book Reviews) and her books have been praised for being “well-written, original, realistic and witty” (Quills & Zebras Reviews).

Her latest series of young-adult contemporary Jane Austen retellings was named a What’s Hot pick (RT Book Reviews magazine) and is a Best of 2012 pick (Kirkus Reviews) where it was praised for being a “unique twist on a classic” and offering “a compelling mix of action, drama and love.”

She’s rather enamored of being contacted by readers and hopes you’ll oblige.


One (1) ebook copy of Drawn. Open internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Grand prize giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway


1 comment:

salena said...

Thanks for the chance to win this great giveaway! :) Happy Reading

Si soarele e o stea