Guardians of the Angels
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Number of pages: 446 pages
Word Count: 85000 words
Cover Artist: Caroline Wimmer Streiflicht Fotografie
It could be worse for Sylva Lark. She could be dead. A coma was nothing to that. Or her family moving across country for the treatment, leaving her with a big blue mark on her back.
She can handle it.
Except the mark glows and tingles, especially whenever transition helper Atticus Plot (Attic) is close by. She suspects he’s hiding something, and when she stumbles across a torn body bearing the same spiral marking as her own, that suspicion is confirmed.
After a few shaves with death, the truth finally comes out and the battles begin.
But not all her fights are external; her biggest one is the decision she has to make between doing the right thing for the world and giving up her beloved family for good.
DAYTIME TELEVISION SOAPS are funny. Brain transplants, lovers that turn out to be related, and characters that slip into comas. Yeah, I'd thought soaps pretty darn hilarious until the day I woke up from a coma.
And into this drama. I bit my bottom lip and looked at the doctor (Albelin, as he’d introduced himself seconds ago). Although Albelin stood next to the bed, his voice echoed like he was at the other end of a tunnel. “. . . coma . . . much sooner than anticipated.”
Goose bumps dotted my skin and I tucked the hospital sheet—the only thing covering my body save a pair of ungenerous undies that were giving me a wedgie—tightly under my arms.
My thoughts spiraled. I strained to recall how I’d arrived here in the first place, but I couldn't remember much. There had been a flash of color, and then—blank.
Albelin's curly black hair swished as he moved his gaze away from me and toward his vibrating pocket. Something on the side of his neck caught my attention. A black tattoo, like the wing of an eagle. But it disappeared behind his collar as he pulled out his phone. He scanned the screen, and then stuffed the phone back into his pocket. “Your family is on their way,” he said.
My family. Faces and partial memories popped up like a black-and-white film, with someone slowly winding the crank. A blonde woman unraveling a kite—Mom. A man in a police uniform—Dad. And a boy building a Lego tower—Jeffrey.
“Right.” The word felt hollow and scratched the inside of my throat. Using the corner of the sheet to cover my mouth, I coughed. It hurt my chest and sounded wet.
With watery eyes, I scanned the room. I’d been so stuck on the word coma, I’d failed to notice my basic surroundings. My coughing came to an abrupt stop, but my thoughts continued to gallop. It wasn’t as though I knew what coming out of a coma should feel like, but I had an idea what it should look like. Where was the respirator? The drip? Heart monitor? In fact, the only features of the room that indicated hospital were the green walls and linoleum flooring.
Albelin must have read my panicky expression as I’d surveyed the room, because he started to explain, “We used a new method involving electro-magnetism to bring you back to consciousness. That’s why you aren’t wearing anything and why you shouldn’t have any issues with muscle deterioration. That, and we’ve given you protein supplements.”
Electro-magnetism? That sounded like something I’d hear in a physics class. My stomach flipped and I swallowed the awkward laugh that rose to my throat and caused a gurgling sound. This wasn’t just some run-of-the-mill hospital at all. Maybe it was experimental, maybe there'd been no other option. Oh, God, what happened to me?
I craned my neck from side to side. My muscles were stiff, but at least I was conscious. I let out a shuddering breath and blinked back the water pooling in my eyes. I didn't care that I was seventeen and supposed act big and brave and something close to an adult. Right now all I wanted was my mom.
Albelin smiled, barely crinkling the skin at the sides of his eyes, but his smile didn't soothe the erratic butterflies in my belly. If anything, it made them worse; he was so young to be a doctor. He couldn’t have been more than twenty-five.
Reaching under the bed, he pulled out a duffel bag and handed it to me. My duffel bag. The one I took to gymnastics trainings. “Here are some clothes for you to change into.”
I twisted the familiar canvas handles around my palm.
“Showers aren’t far,” he added, “just out those doors, second on the left. Towel’s in the bag. Let me help you there.”
Holding the sheet, I stood up. My legs felt like jelly, but I shook my head at Albelin’s offer. “I think I can manage.” I wobbled my way toward the swing doors.
Albelin raced to my side. “I insist on helping you.”
He attempted to brace my elbow, but I pulled away. “Thanks, but—but—” I needed alone time. To think. And I didn’t want anyone touching me while I was wearing practically nothing but a sheet. "I'll be fine, really. I'll yell if I need help."
As soon as I was in the hall, I rested one hand against the wall and used it as a crutch. I was doing all right considering I’d not used my legs in weeks.
Light filtered through the windows, imprinting squares on the opposite wall. I pressed my hand in the center of one as I looked outside onto the street. Mom, Dad and Jeffrey would be coming soon.
I jumped, dropping the duffel bag when a flash of black whizzed by. A tall guy wearing a green T-shirt and tight black gloves up to his elbows was striding down the hall. I lunged to grab the bag, but my foot caught in the sheet, ripping it from under my arms. My head jerked up as the scratchy cotton sunk to my feet and I chased after it.
Palms sweating, I wrapped the sheet tightly around me, heat swelling my cheeks. At least he'd jerked his head away. Still, it didn't stop my heart from thumping double-to-one in embarrassment.
Pick up the bag and move. Go shower.
He glanced back, sweeping his hair to the side. With a chuckle, Gloved Guy passed by and pushed through the swinging doors of my room. As soon as he was behind them, Albelin greeted him. It sounded like they knew each other well. I reached to pick up the duffel bag and stopped.
“Her name’s Lark?” Gloved Guy’s voice sounded amused by my name. “Like the bird?”
I crept closer. Why was Albelin talking about me?
“Sylva Lark,” Albelin corrected.
“And she’s veined.” . . .
Guardians of the Angels
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Number of pages: 418 pages
Word Count: 75000 words
Cover Artist: Caroline Wimmer Streiflicht Fotografie
Sylva Lark made her choice.
Now she has to adjust to Guardian life. Training. Killing demons. Controlling her powers.
If only giving up her family wouldn’t hurt so damn much, . . . and if there wasn’t a strange attraction to the betrothed Prince Atticus she just met . . .
Amongst murder and mayhem, and toeing an unclear line between right and wrong, Sylva and her fellow Guardians must find a way to secure Eirene.
But it’s not easy going up against underworld Queen Furie when those on Sylva’s side are hiding secrets . . .
Will they succeed in protecting the home of the angels? Or will they fail, submitting the heavens to the fate of Furie?
And will Sylva and Attic ever remember what they mean to each other?
Or will they stay forever Lethed?
SOMETHING WATCHED ME. I sensed its sadistic presence. Tingles of anticipation snaked from the nape of my neck down my spine.
With one hand pressed firmly on my rickety, white-picket side gate, I glanced over my shoulder.
The tree-lined street stared back at me. Snow-dusted branches accentuated the silky navy sky, and meager yellow light leaked from the lampposts.
I strained to hear the telltale crunching of snow. Nothing. Breathing in, I sought the sour smell of evil in the breeze or the tinny smell of blood—a scent I’d become familiar with in the last few months.
Just a sharp cold that promised winter would linger this year.
My shoulders sagged in relief. I wasn’t supposed to be out alone—I promised Albelin I’d always take another Guardian with me if I left the motel premises. Perhaps my guilty conscience was responsible for this strange sensation of evil.
I hadn’t wanted to disobey him. Not really.
I clutched the gate, its splintered edges digging into my palms, and studied the house in front of me.
Steadying my breath, I opened the latch and pushed through to the path. Frosty stalks of lavender brushed the back of my hand in a light, swirling breeze as I took in the large acorn tree. Beyond it, the luminescent windows radiated warmth and beckoned me home.
No, I didn’t want to disobey Albelin.
I needed to.
Like every week, I crept to the side of the house and peered into the living room. Slouched on the couch watching TV, Mom sat with her head resting on Dad’s shoulder, and Mottle was tucked into the small space between them. My brother Jeffrey wasn’t in the room—but it was near midnight, so he probably lay tucked up in bed.
Dad kissed the top of Mom’s head and her lips moved. Love you too, honey.
I wondered if Dad heard Mom’s whispered words. It seemed cruel that I could hear the words meant for him when I wanted them to be meant for me.
But they couldn’t ever be for me anymore. Not since I’d chosen to give them up to become an angel-protecting, demon-killing Guardian.
My stomach roiled and I stifled a cry.
I slunk back into the shadows, waiting for the warm weight of darkness to smother me into numbness again. It worked the last three months.
Digging each jagged fingernail into my sweaty palms, I counted down from ten. I looked forward to replacing the frustration and hurt with dull throbbing. But at “one,” nothing changed. I backed up harder against the corrugated fencing behind me, the cold seeping through my shirt.
Dad’s head jerked back in laughter that verged on maniacal. It used to make me laugh, too—at Dad. But now it made me want to bang on the windowpane until it shattered, and with it the thick wall of memories they couldn’t see between us.
I twisted the ring on my little finger, hoping the comforting tic would help me.
It stopped me from yelling out, but it didn’t curb the tears. Sizable drops splashed onto my hand as I wiped a sniffle from my nose.
I instantly forgot about the tears as a ripping pain sliced down my forearm. Blood seeped through my light-blue sleeve. I whistled in a breath as I clutched the cut. Usually, I relied on the semi-regular cuts and stabbing burns to snap me to a keen sense of reality, but now the pain inside me did the job well enough.
Mottle jumped off the couch and trotted to the window. She pawed at the glass and meowed.
I sighed. At least Mots remembered me. Her gray fur pressed up against the window as if begging me to pat her. She butted her head, rattling the glass, and I suddenly couldn’t bear her leaving me alone.
She was one member of my family I could still have.
“I’m coming to get you,” I whispered.
As if she understood me, she leaped off the sill and padded out of the living room.
I moved with purpose to the front of the house, my feet lightly treading the leaf-covered path. I searched the potted-plants for a spare key. Surely there’d be one here somewhere. . . .
First pot. Second.
Where could they have hidden it? Or had they moved it after Dad worked the Guardian homicide cases a few months ago? Flashes of torn Guardian bodies flickered in my mind, eliciting waves of goose bumps over my skin.
For a small city, Foxtin’s high death rate . . . I shuddered. Demons—Keres and Arae—slaughtered us Guardians as if they drew hot knives through butter. I saw it.
I also saw them turn my friend Marcus and ex-boyfriend Jason part-demon.
Saw them kill Maddy, my best friend. . . .
Did you always wanted to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I remember when I was eight, my mum was studying at university and she’d have these long essays to write, and I was fascinated by all the text. I think that’s where my first fascination came from.
And then, when I was eleven, I had this amazing teacher who was brutally honest with me and basically said I needed to buckle down and do some work (I was very lazy until then), and so I started thing book reading assignment and I really got into it.
After that, I started writing short stories. My very first one actually won first place in a local competition. My teacher recognized that I was interested in this and so she started bringing me books from home that she thought I’d be interested in reading. And I LOVED them. I remember she lent me all of The Axis Trilogy by Sara Douglas, and I ripped through these, loving every moment of them.
My interest for writing only ever picked up from there. I wrote a few more short stories (quite terrible, now I read over them, LOL) over the years, and I had a friend with whom we’d work weekends trying to write romance novels. We only ever got twenty or so pages in, and I think we used every cliché that could have existed. I wish I still had those now, if just for laughs.
When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?
Ohh, this is a toughie. My husband has always considered me a “writer” even when I was writing my first book (which will NEVER see the light of day. It’s pretty bad, LOL). But for me, I didn’t really feel like a true “writer” until . . . I actually don’t know. Maybe until I went to my first professional writer’s workshop, which was run by Donald Maas.
How long did it take to get your first book published?
It took six months to write and over Amazon, about 12 hours to publish. So, not very long. But . . . big but here, guys, I’ve learned a lot in the last five years of being a writer, and I would not recommend this as an approach if you are starting out as a self-published author. My biggest tip would be: after you’ve written it, if you believe in your story, then invest in a professional editor. Doesn’t matter how good you think you are at grammar and writing, one person (especially the author) simply can not spot all the issues. Now, I have a system where about ten people go through my books before it gets published. Beta readers, content editor, in-line editor, proofreaders, test readers. ;)
Do you do another job except for writing and can you tell us more about it?
I used to also work as a teacher for kids from 7 to 14. This job just wasn’t for me though, and once I had my son, I decided to concentrate on being a mom and writing.
Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
Anywhere from three to six months. But Phoenixed, the last in the Guardian of the Angels trilogy is taking me a wee bit longer, LOL!
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
My next novel to be released is Phoenixed. It’s under construction at the moment, but I intend to have a 2014 release. As I also write gay romance novels, I have a few books in the pipeline with enemies-to-lovers and friends-to-lovers themes.
For my straight fiction, I am in the process of finding an agent (fingers crossed) for a New Adult urban fantasy that I’ve written.
What genre would you place your books into?
My straight novels are generally paranormal romances, but my gay novels are mostly contemporary romances.
Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?
No, no, no! That question is much too hard! I love all my characters for different reasons. Yikes. But . . .if I had to be on character and live out their story role . . . Hmmm. In the Guardians of the Angels world, I would probably choose Attic. Mostly because I’d be curious as to what it would be like to portal anywhere I felt like.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
My routine involves a lot of groaning and forcing myself into the chair to just do it. As soon as I start, I love it of course, but that first push is always the hardest. Of course, then I hate having to stop. But, you know, life and all that!
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
LOL. I used to. I still do a lot. But I’m training myself to leave the reviews to the readers. I want readers to feel like they can be honest in their reviews and to go for it. But yeah, sometimes getting a good review is so inspiring and motivating, and it makes me want to write faster. Other times, reviews can make me see where readers weren’t so impressed with a book, and this helps me learn for subsequent novels. But there are a lot of ups and downs that come with this. I think you need quite a tough skin sometimes.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
Sometimes the title comes first, other times it comes as I write. Depends on the book. I knew the titles for Veined, Lethed, and Phoenixed right from the beginning. ;)
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
Street names are inspiring for character names, looking at author names in my bookshelves, searching names that are common in a certain country and/or era.
Are character names and place names decided after their creation? Or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
Usually once I have a character’s name, the character and it are one, there is no way Sylva Lark could have any other name; she just wouldn’t be the same! So they really are invented together.
Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?
eBooks! I love it. I can carry so much more when I’m on holiday, or even just when I go for a walk so my handbag isn’t so full. That being said, I do love to collect my favorites as paperbacks.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favorite/worst book to movie transfer?
Oh God. Sometimes. I loved Lord of the Rings. I’m liking The Hobbit. I pretty much love The Hunger Games. Ohhh, and I loved the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. These were/are all done well. But, yeah, some . . . let’s just say it’s better to read the book.
Your favorite food is?
This changes, depending on my mood. But chocolate is a staple. At the moment avocado is in season, and I love that. I also LOVE feijoas—but I can only ever find them when I go to New Zealand.
Your favorite color is?
Your favorite Author is?
Too hard. Sorry. There are just so many amazing ones. But a couple that immediately come to mind is Kristin Cashore (her stuff just keeps me riveted to the page) and Maggie Stiefvater—I’m really digging her Raven Boys series.
A born and raised New Zealander, Anyta Sunday has been exploring the literary world since she started reading Roald Dahl as a kid. Inspired, stories have been piling up in her head ever since. Fast forward to her mid-twenties and jump a few countries (Germany, America, and back again), and she started putting pen to paper. When she’s not writing or chasing her kid around, she’s reading, hiking, watching a Joss Whedon series, attempting pilates, or curling up with her two cats. Updates on her projects can be found at anytasunday.com.