EskieMama & Dragon Lady Reads Saturday Spotlight w/Giveaway: Soul Search by A.L. Marchant
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by A. L. Marchant
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from A.L. Marchant
Just when Reagan Harbin though she had her life planned out-bam-the creator smacker her in the head with something else. He must have been laughing somewhere when he heard her plans. She didn’t get the quiet, soft, and polite kind of laugh. Nah, she got the rolling on the floor, with tears that streamed out of his eyes as he laughs hysterically. Then, when she thought she might have gotten grasp on her new reality, she became the punchline of a new joke. When Reagan turned sixteen, her life changed to experiencing a minimum of fifteen messed up situations per hour. Reagan doesn’t understand how her sane life spiraled out of control so fast. One day, she will look back on this and laugh with the creator. For now, Reagan must stitch the pieces of her life back together and look through he misshapen quilt of her life.
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Tell us about Soul Search.
Soul Search is the first of a Young Adult Urban Fantasy series. This particular series follows a sixteen-year-old protagonist, Reagan Harbin, as she not only comes into her own magically, but she also must live the life of a normal teenager. Reagan thought that she wouldn’t have any powers, due to the amount of time she had to wait for them to develop. As her powers came alive, she stumbled across a horrific crime in her small southern town making her the only witness. Her first adventure follows her as she learns her gifts, solve a crime and finish High School.
What initially inspired you to write Soul Search?
Our pseudonym, A.L. Marchant, are two writers-sisters. Neither of us can remember to tell you the book, but we specifically remember hating the ending. We both talked about the book and what the author could have done differently. From there, we started plotting and creating our own world. Soul Search, was born.
Tell us a little about the characters in Soul Search.
Each of our characters have very distinct personalities and, in their own way, demand their own voices to be heard.
Reagan Harbin, our main female lead, is incredibly loyal to those that she deems is worthy. As long as she respects you, she will do anything in her power to be there for you. She has wild curly red hair and silver/blue angelic eyes. Reagan loves eighties rock music and has an outright obsession with combat boots.
Rebekah, Reagan’s ex-best friend, is half succubus coming into her own powers. Before this school year, the two of them were inseparable. Over the summer, Rebekah told Reagan that she outgrew their relationship. That should have been the end of the two of them, but neither is ready to move on. Rebekah, well Rebekah is there for you as long as it suits her needs.
Colon is Reagan’s first boyfriend. He is new to Reagan’s world and very quickly became her rock.
Patrick was chosen to be Reagan’s mentor. They both the same age physically, but mentally Patrick acts years older than all of them combined. Patrick and Reagan have a hot/cold relationship.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
You would think the fact there are two of us writing would make it difficult, but that was the easy part. Both of us think so much alike, that sometimes ideas floated onto the page and we were able to pick up exactly where the other left off-no words needed. The hardest part for us, was to decide what genre Soul Search should fall under. We initially wrote this novel for Adult Fantasy. After two years, and several rounds of edits between the two of us the story still felt forced. So, we took the Reagan and started her at the beginning. That was the hardest part. We kept pieces of the original concept, but wrote the new story line geared toward Reagan first discovering her powers. Once we did that, the story didn’t stop. We definitely feel on the right path now, because we now have several spin offs in the works that would have never been possible had we not decided to take Reagan back to the beginning. We learned not to force the plot.
What was your favorite character (or Part) to write and why?
That is so hard to choose, because we both have dug deep to create this plot. Between the two of us, Reagan would have to be our favorite so far because she carries pieces of both of us in her actions and personality. And, she would our first. We never forget the first.
What are your future projects?
We are finishing book two now. We have several novels left for Reagan’s adventure, but we have already plotted spin-offs for some of the other characters. We plan on, especially as our characters age, move from the Y.A. audience to more of a new adult/adult genre.
Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers about this book/series?
We just want to thank everyone who has purchased, read and supported Reagan’s first adventure. It means so much to us. As our character develop and mature, there will be a character for everyone to love. Maybe hate too, but mostly love.
The ground was incredibly soft. I reached down to touch the grass and it was damp. It was odd as I looked around. The area looked familiar, but I couldn’t remember how I got here in these woods or where, exactly, I was. I looked down and saw that I had on the same clothes that I wore on the first day of school, but I am not wearing any shoes. The grass was almost like walking on cotton, it was so soft.
"Hello..." I shouted. I heard nothing but a quiet trickle of what sounded like a slow moving creek nearby. From a very young age I had been taught to follow water if I’m ever lost because civilization usually follows water. The other survival lesson that my dad taught me was to stay calm. I just needed to concentrate on breathing, and then maybe I could start to figure out what’s going on and how I got here.
The sound of the water was getting close and I saw what looked like an old bridge up ahead. I couldn't tell for sure since it was pretty dark, but there did look like some kind of light on what might be the top of the bridge. As I moved closer, a car came down the road, its headlights illuminating the bridge. I was glad to see the road. Now I could follow it to find some help.
As I got closer to the bridge, I noticed that the source of light was small candle shoved into a crumbling gap in the bridge wall. On the other side of the bridge stood a girl who looked to be about twelve years old. Excited to have some company and genuinely worried for her, I ran the relatively short distance between us.
"Hey, are you ok?" I asked her, even though she looked comfortable in the gentle light of the candles on the stone ledge of the bridge. She didn't even look in my direction. Truthfully, she didn't even acknowledge my existence. Feeling pretty pissed at how rude she was I said, "Excuse me, are you ok?!"
And, yet again, I got absolutely no response. So, just in case she was hard of hearing, I reached out to touch her shoulder and tried to say excuse me again. But my hand passed right through her shoulder. I waved my hand in front of her face and she didn't even blink.
I have read enough books to know that there are different kinds of apparitions in the worlds. This one, apparently, is just a residual with no knowledge that I am here. I always thought that if I came across something like this that I would freak the heck out, but I am actually ok. This apparition is even a lot clearer and in better detail than I ever thought one could be. She has a modern wardrobe with her printed jeans and U.S.C. sweatshirt and her multicolored punk asymmetrical bob haircut. I’m digging this haircut, but I know my curls would make me look like I had a red pompom on the top of my head.
She nervously looked down at her phone and checked the time. "Come on, Mikey, it’s chilly tonight and I got to get home before mom catches me outside again," she muttered under her breath. She started pacing and muttered a few more choice phrases of how she was going to leave his ass if he didn’t show in the next ten minutes.
The few leaves on the ground started rustling around and a small breeze picked up. The girl shrunk into her hoodie as she tried to use her own body heat to stay warm. It struck me odd that I was barefoot on the wet grass, and wearing the same short sleeved t-shirt I wore to school, yet I wasn’t cold and couldn’t feel the breeze, while the girl shivered...
As the breeze picked up, the girl finally looked in my direction. I said "Hey, I’m glad you have finally decided to acknowledge me..." before noticing that she was actually looking straight through me. Feeling stupid again, I looked back to see what had snagged her attention.
Right at the edge of the woods swirled a strange circular pattern of pure energy. It was not like a twister, but more like waves on the ocean. Directly behind the energy pattern was total darkness. Granted, this was a dark night, but this darkness just did not blend with the dark of the night. I stepped toward the black and reached out to touch it. I figured that since the girl couldn’t see me, then this black couldn’t hurt me, either.
As I touched the black, it rippled like water. When I pushed my hand through, it came back dry. With my heart pounding in my chest, I closed my eyes and stuck my head into the darkness.
Inhaling deeply, I opened my eyes. Interestingly enough, on the other side of the black was a long hallway. Since there was nobody in the hallway, I decided to be braver still, and step through. This could be the stupidest thing I have ever done, but it just felt like the right thing to do.
The hallway was narrow and about fifty feet long. In it were thirteen paintings. The paintings were tall rather than wide, and they all were shaped like doorways. Each painting showed distinctly different scenes. One was a beautiful green field with the beginnings of a forest in the background. Behind the forest was a house with smoke puffing out of the chimney. One of the paintings was what I have always imagined medieval Europe to look like. I turned around and looked at the painting I had stepped out of, and realized for the first time that I must be having a wicked dream. That would be the only explanation. Feeling more in control and a whole lot calmer, I took a deeper look at the scene I had stepped out of.
The girl was still sitting there threatening Mikey's life if he didn't show soon, no longer paying any attention to the dark energy. For some reason, I think she actually couldn’t see it; therefore, she wasn’t moving. Since I felt a lot less threatened, I decided to step back through the painting and see where this dream would take me. When I stepped back through the painting, the girl gasped. I started to say hey again, thinking that maybe she had heard me, but stopped myself when two different entities walked through me.
One was dressed professionally, in a suit and tie and close cropped hair. He looked like an average banker-type, except that he was missing both his pinkie fingers, and when he turned around, I could see he had a rather long scar across his left cheek. The light of the one candle did not allow me to see any more detail. The other body was covered from head to toe in a dark robe. Every part of the being was covered. As it walked through me, it turned around as if it had felt me. For the first time since this dream had started, I felt a vague sense of danger, and thought that I could actually get hurt.
The guy in the suit said in a gravelly voice, "Hey man, why are you stopping? We got to go."
The being in the cloak leaned toward where I was standing and audibly inhaled a deep breath, as if it were breathing in and enjoying my scent. The girl then decided to show some false bravado and said with a childish attitude, "Where the hell did y'all come from?" It stopped inhaling and slowly turned its head around. In comparison to how slow it had been moving, it walked relatively swiftly to the girl. It almost looked as if it were floating slightly above the ground.
"I wasna told I was gonna be fed," the cloaked figure said with a very distinct Olde Irish or possibly Scottish accent. It sounded excited at the prospect.
The other guy moved toward him and put his hand on the cloak of one shoulder. "This isn't Obyri, man. If you kill, O.A.T. will come after you." He pronounced O.A.T in three separate drawn out letters. It sounded familiar. What the hell was O.A.T.?
"O.A.T. will tremble at me feet," said the cloaked figure.
"Whatever, man. If you insist...Just don’t leave too much of a mess," said the guy in the suit. He shrugged his shoulders and started to walk across the bridge toward the road.
The guy in the cloak leaned down and picked the girl up by her throat from her seated position. She started struggling by kicking and clawing at his hands. Somehow, she sounded oddly quiet as she was gasping for air. He pulled her towards him, and I couldn’t see what he was doing to her, so I moved closer.
I moved closer because it looked as if the pervert was going to try to kiss her. But when I moved closer to her, there was an iridescent glow leaving her body. His inhale was pretty audible, and he inhaled that glow deeply, quickly into his body. Feeling nauseated by this sudden turn in my dream, but still a little curious, I reached out to touch the glow he hadn’t quite yet inhaled. Once again, my hand moved through the glow and her. My hand did, however, touch the being’s cloak. In fact, I could feel the solid, muscular form underneath the cloak.
The cloaked figure never stopped what he was doing. He just kept inhaling the glow from the girl. It probably took less than a minute for the glow to stop, but the cloaked guy kept on inhaling. The girl’s body, obviously dead, started to collapse in on itself. Her bone structure became more and more defined to the point of looking like a skeleton. The cloaked figure stopped inhaling, and touched the body's cheek, and it disintegrated to grey powder, clothes and all. Other than what looked like ash from a fire pit, there was no evidence of the girl.
The figure grabbed my hand that was still resting on his arm. I jumped, not expecting to be a player in this dream. "Who are ye?" the voice demanded. Not wanting to end up like the girl I tried to pull away from his grasp.
"Natalya," a squeaky voice that had obviously just started puberty shouted from the road. There was a bouncy beam of light from a flashlight breaking the glow from the candle, and the heavy sound of running footsteps.
The boy shouted again, "Don't kill me Nat. I had to wait until everybody was asleep. The counselors decided to have late night s’mores." The boy kept on running towards us with his bouncy flashlight continuing to interrupt the darkness.
He stopped just shy of the bridge when he realized that Natalya was not there. Instead he pointed his flashlight on the cloaked figure. "Who are you?" He said this rather confidently for someone of his age.
The cloaked man just laughed and moved swiftly toward him dragging me along behind. My efforts to get out of his grasp weren’t doing any good at all. I even tried to dig my heels in the ground and he just dragged me along.
The boy, who I assumed was Mikey, was just standing there in what looked like a Scout uniform. Either he doesn't believe that this thing holding my wrist will kill him or he naively believes that he can fight this guy, I thought to myself.
Feeling as if I should do something, anything, I shouted, “RUN, MIKEY!!” Neither he nor the cloaked guy acknowledged that I had said anything, which made me think that the cloaked guy instinctively knew I was there, but couldn’t see or hear me.
With his free hand, the cloaked guy grabbed Mikey's throat. An iridescent glow radiated from Mikey’s body, sending out bright tentacle-like edges that shot outward, shocking me like small bolts of electricity. Mikey's body was starting to implode but the cloaked figure released him, and he stiffly fell to the ground with his mouth open in a silent scream.
With the iridescent glow now attached to both me and the cloaked guy, he turned to me. "Now, I can see ye better." His accent was less pronounced than even a few minutes ago. He reached toward me and rubbed the back of his hand down my cheek. I shivered, continuing to fight his hold. Just like before, this did not seem to effect him at all.
"I wasn't expecting you so soon." Now his accent seemed to be almost completely gone. "What a lovely find. You will do perfectly." He put his free arm around me and pulled until we were chest to chest. Even this close to him I couldn't see his face, because the cloak covered him so completely. I put my free hand on his chest in a futile attempt to keep him at bay.
"Hey, man. We have to get going," said the guy in the suit, suddenly returning from the darkness. His footsteps got louder as he approached the bridge. "Dude, I told you not to make a mess...and where the hell did you find this boy? Congrats for finding food. Now you’ll be on O.A.T.s radar, though, so I hope they were worth it."
Growling, the cloaked man turned around, pushing me behind him so that I couldn't see the guy in the suit. "I told you that I didn't care. The master bought me to clean his mess. What did you think that entailed?" His accent was entirely gone, and his mannerisms had become more modern, as if he had suddenly become more acquainted with new speech patterns.
The guy in the suit said, "Alright man, whatever. Let’s just get going and I’ll try to come back and clean up this mess as soon as I can." He managed to sound impatient, condescending, and slightly scared all at once. He then walked away, again letting the cloaked one know that they really needed to go. The hand on my wrist squeezed harder, almost to the point of pain.
He finally turned back around to me, still hiding me from the view of the suited guy. He leaned toward me. "You will never escape from me," he whispered in my ear. He inhaled the last of the iridescent glow from the dead kid and brought his cloaked face closer to mine. As he exhaled, a brighter, bluish glow left his body, spearing into my body and filling me with warmth and a promise of power. Utterly relaxed, I felt myself leaning towards his body with a sudden absence of free will.
With what little strength I had left, I pushed myself away from him, and he let me go. As we split apart, the glow tore in half, some returning to him, some rushing into my body. I took of running away from him and back to the woods. Sudden laughter practically in my ear startled me, and I tripped, tumbling down to the creek below the bridge.
Panic set in when I realized that I was sinking. Somehow my body felt incredibly lethargic, and would not obey my mind’s commands to swim. I could not hold my breath anymore, and my lungs filled with rushing water. I blacked out. I felt my mouth being forced open and warm air being forced into my lungs several times. I opened my eyes to see a bright white shadow against the dark night of the woods.
I inhaled, gagging on the water in my lungs. I sat up spewing out water and everything else in my stomach. Suddenly, the light switched on completely startling me...
"Reagan, what's wrong honey." I was so relieved to see my mom. I was still gagging up the water and struggling to find air. She ran to my bed and helped me sit up and patted my back like she was burping a baby. My dad walked in and promptly asked, "Why does it smell of Obyri in here?"
I finally found air as it burned its way through my lungs. I was able to focus on my mom and dad, and instead of seeing just their familiar shapes, I could also see a glow illuminating their bodies. Dad had a deep royal blue glow and mom was almost pearl white.
Mom started inspecting my body and asked where all the blood had come from. I looked down and saw that I was covered in scratches from the fall, and had a huge bruise on my wrist where the cloaked guy had held me. Terrified, I looked at mom and dad and whispered coarsely from a raw throat, "Help me."
The author(s), A.L. Marchant, is actually two people, sisters to be exact. The A. Marchant has a Bachelor’s degree in biology, is an avid read and is usually anal about grammar. The L. Marchant is a Retail Manager and is also an avid reader in whatever she can get her hands on. They were raised in the setting of Soul Search, Upstate South Carolina. Both sisters have active imaginations and prefer reading than watching television. They created the thirteen gates series over ten years ago for fun, and then decided that it was a perfect world for Reagan.