Title: The Mind’s Eye
Series: Synsk #1
Author: K.C. Finn
Audience: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal/ Historical/ Romance
Formats: E-book and paperback
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Cover by: Marya Heiman for Cleen Teen Publishing
Pages: 350 pages
Date Published: April 1st 2014
At fifteen, Kit Cavendish is one of the oldest evacuees to escape London at the start of the Second World War due to a long term illness that sees her stuck in a wheelchair most of the time. But Kit has an extraordinary psychic power: she can put herself into the minds of others, see through their eyes, feel their emotions, even talk to them – though she dares not speak out for fear of her secret ability being exposed.
As Kit settles into her new life in the North Wales village of Bryn Eira Bach, solitude and curiosity encourage her to gain better control of her gift. Until one day her search for information on the developing war leads her to the mind of Henri, a seventeen-year-old Norwegian boy witnessing the German occupation of his beloved city, Oslo. As Henri discovers more about the English girl occupying his mind, the psychic and emotional bonds between them strengthen and Kit guides him through an oppressive and dangerous time.
There are secrets to be uncovered, both at home and abroad, and it’s up to Kit and Henri to come together and fight their own battles in the depths of the world’s greatest war.
“Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you; you look like a monkey and you smell like one too!”
Henri laughed for the first time in what seemed like forever and a warmth settled in my chest, like things were finally going to get back to normal. When Leighton went to get more pop, Henri came to the tree and sat down beside me, putting a long arm around my shoulders and pulling me in. He kissed the side of my head gently, his warm breath sinking into my hair. He hadn’t tried to kiss me properly again even when there had been opportunity for it, and I was sort of grateful for that. As much as I wanted to feel that tingling, only-us-in-the-world sensation again, right now the atmosphere just wasn’t right. But we were always close to one another when we had the chance, I had gotten so used to his arms around me that it felt like some part of me was missing when he wasn’t there.
“I’ll have to go into the village tomorrow,” he whispered, “to pass my enlistment papers to the right people.”
An invisible blade sank slowly into my fragile heart, but I had always known this day was coming.
“It’ll take them a while to process it,” I said hopefully, “I bet they’ve already got loads of boys waiting to go to basic training.”
“Perhaps,” he said softly, his lips still resting against my head.
I turned sharply to face him, searching his deep brown eyes. “I don’t want you to go,” I said, racing to find his hand to hold it tightly.
“I won’t really be gone,” he replied, “You’ll always be able to find me.”
“That’s not the point,” I said, my curls shaking as I trembled, “This is dangerous Henri, this is war.”
“You forget where I’ve been already,” he said, turning his face away to focus hard on the distance. He kept a firm hold of my hand and gave it a good squeeze. “You came to my head in the quiet times, the safe times. But I’ve already seen the destruction, the danger and the death, Kit. I think there are two types of people during war: those who see the horror happening and run away, never looking back, and those who want to do something about it.” I felt his other arm pull me in closer against his strong body. “You know which type I am, so you know I have to go.”
I couldn’t say anything, because it was all true.
Kit is the central character of The Mind’s Eye, a girl with secret psychic abilities who can step into other people’s heads, look through their eyes and feel their emotions. She suffers from what was known in 1939 as Still’s Disease, which is actually a form of juvenile arthritis. This means that she has suffered a period of physical deterioration, so when we see her at the start of the book she is bound to a wheelchair and wishing that her life could be very different to the situation she’s trapped in. The Mind’s Eye is just as much about Kit’s war with her body as it is about the actual war surrounding the story. Kit’s condition is based on my own debilitating long term physical illness (M.E.) which presents a lot of very similar symptoms and difficulties in my everyday life. My dream cast pick for Kit is Georgie Henley, famous for playing Lucy in the Chronicles of Narnia movies. I chose her because she has a subtle but classic beauty that could easily sit in the period of the 1940s and she is a youthful teenager rather than a mature-looking one.
Henri Haugen, age 17
When Kit first connects her mind to Henri’s she finds him in Oslo, Norway on the day that the Nazis first arrive to take control of the city. Henri is a kind and brave soul but he can be impetuous and make snap decisions without thinking; not a clever move to make when you’re surrounded by the occupying forces. Kit takes it upon herself to counsel Henri through his troubles and eventually help him to escape the terror in Oslo so that he can do his part for the war effort. During this time the two youngsters develop a strong bond of friendship and romance. I was inspired to create Henri’s character after visiting the Resistance Museum in Oslo, Norway whilst on a holiday cruise. I was amazed by the stories of very young men who took it upon themselves to traverse the frozen mountains of Norway in order to cross the sea and join the British Army via Scotland. My choice for Henri is a bit of an obscure one since he’s not actually an actor, but here I present Aljaz Skorjanec, star of ballroom dancing show Strictly Come Dancing! He has a typically European look (although he is Slavic rather than Nordic) but his cute little dimples and flyaway hair made him a perfect candidate for Henri.
There’s actually a YouTube video from Strictly Come Dancing where you can see Aljaz dancing with model Abbey Clancy to the song Dear Darlin’ by Olly Murs. To me this performance really captures the spirit of Kit and Henri’s relationship and the song was very influential in channelling the kind of love they share: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riXwYKM-ggY
Blodwyn Price, age 20, and Steven Bickerstaff, age 29
Blod is not a character I expect you to like the first time you meet her, but I hope that as you read on in The Mind’s Eye you will come to understand her attitude and the life events that have shaped her into the moody, guarded young beauty that she is. Doctor Bickerstaff forms a kind of enemy for Kit at the start of the tale, his harsh words and unsmiling attitude aren’t what she needs when she’s struggling enough already… or are they? Blod and Bickerstaff are my secondary main characters and I genuinely love the way their story unfolds as Kit learns to understand why they behave the way they do and discovers secrets about them she never thought possible. My dream cast picks for them are Dominique Swain for Blod (star of the Jeremy Irons version of Lolita) and Dan Stevens for Bickerstaff (whom you will all recognise as Matthew in Downton Abbey). I chose Dominique for Blod because I think she is a natural beauty and a typical teenage temptress. I picked Dan for Bickerstaff because I really needed someone who could still look sexy when he was miserable!
Series: Synsk #2
Pages: 308 pages
Date Published: April 14, 2014
A teenage boy with something to prove gets caught up in a web of crime and deceit in England, 1945.
In the weeks leading up to his sixteenth birthday, gifted psychic Leighton Cavendish finds himself suddenly packed off to Blackpool, a glittering, teenage paradise filled with plenty of opportunities for amusement—and trouble. With only a preoccupied grandmother to keep an eye on him, Leighton’s desperation for adventure leads him out into a world of holidaymakers, candy, and carnival rides—the ideal place to spend six weeks away from home.
But Leighton’s psychic visions are encroaching on his fun, trying to warn him of the danger that lurks beyond the shimmering lights of the Golden Mile. Who are the mysterious thieves Leighton sees in his head, and what do they want with the children they seek? A girl called Faye holds the answer, but she has enough problems of her own.
Amid the climate of a tourist town recovering from the impact of the Second World War, two lost teenagers will discover a shocking truth about human greed. Together, they will try to fight against it. For Leighton and Faye, this will be a summer to remember—one filled with challenges that must be overcome.
A summer that turns a boy into a man.
Leighton Cavendish, age 15
Charming, cheeky and full of mischief, Leighton has grown into a handsome young man by the time the war ends. He has also learned how to use his psychic skills to get exactly what he wants from life. In Leighton’s Summer, his easygoing nature and carefree smile attract all the wrong kinds of attention from Sid Webb and his criminal counterparts. Whilst Leighton struggles to save face without caving in to peer pressure, he realises that being a bad boy isn’t as cool as it looks, and that the girl of his dreams isn’t interested in getting mixed up with the wrong kind of lad. My dream cast choice for Leighton would be Freddie Stroma (famed for playing Cormac McClaggan in the later Harry Potter movies). His tousled blonde locks and charming face make him a perfect candidate for a young man who can be both strong and sensitive.
Faye Cartwright, age 15
Obsessive, nervous and truly unique, Faye is an orphan who has been through an extensive array of children’s homes because of her strange behaviour. A powerful psychic at a tender young age, Faye finds it hard to balance her emotions alongside her incredible mindreading powers. When she meets Leighton, Faye has a deep desire to trust him, but her analytical nature forces her to examine his whole persona, unpicking the layers of pride and bravado to find the boy beneath them. Another Harry Potter actor makes the cut for my dream cast, as Evanna Lynch has all the ethereal and peculiar qualities to her look that Faye
Sidney and Victor Webb, age 18 and 36
The villainous father and son team of Victor and Sidney Webb provide the darkest elements of the story of Leighton’s Summer. Sid’s brutal desire for status and control forces Leighton to do things he regrets, whilst Vic Webb is brewing up a truly evil scheme as children go missing in the quiet seaside town of Blackpool. Will Poulter is my dream choice for Sid, because he brings a thuggish kind of charm to the bad boy persona. As for Victor, nobody could compare with the menace and savagery that Robert Carlyle would bring to this role.
Series: Synsk #3
Pages: 325 pages
A struggling psychic girl steps out into the big wide world amidst the murky depths of racial segregation in England, 1961.
As a teenage psychic, Josephine Fontaine knows what it’s like to be different. At Peregrine Place, a school full of youngsters with gifts just like hers, sixteen-year-old Josie is growing tired of her life and looking for more excitement in the world beyond the grand manor house’s walls. When an opportunity arises to work in a local music bar, Josie jumps at the chance, learning to balance her new job with the pressures of studying the ways of the Synsk.
There she meets the charming Tommy Asher, a fellow psychic with a talent for music, and Jake Bolton, a handsome, surly stranger with coffee-coloured skin. Throw in the return of her old crush Dai Bickerstaff, and Josie finds herself embroiled in a drama much bigger than she could have imagined, especially when certain parties take issue to her developing a friendship with a boy who isn’t white-skinned. When a mysterious record mogul offers Josie help to improve her psychic gifts, her world turns totally upside down and Josie begins to question everything she thought she knew about the world, her family and even herself.
Coming of age was never so intense as it will be for Josie in the winter of 1961.
Josie’s story takes place in 1961, and this is a girl who has already decided that the psychic life doesn’t suit her. Struggling to master her powers at school Jodie longs to step out into the wider world and experience the kinds of things her heroes croon about on the radio. An avid music fan and follower of sixties fashion, Josie yearns to leave her obligations behind, but she doesn’t yet realise how dangerous the outside world can be for a girl of just sixteen. Doctor Who’s Karen Gillan would be a perfect choice for this feisty teen, since she can deliver the conflicted emotions that Josie feels, whilst also presenting a pretty, but naïve and vulnerable girl to the big wide world.
Jake Bolton, age 16
Growing up as a mixed raced child in 1961 is a tough task, and Jake Bolton has already grown bitter with the way life is treating him. His secret dreams of being a famous singer have only got him as far as washing dishes in a local music club, where he’s not allowed to show his face when white people are partying on the other side of the wall. A recent and terrible tragedy has sent Jake into a downward spiral, and it’s only his new friendship with Josie that can pull him through. Spending time with a white girl, however, might get him into more trouble than he’s bargained for. Alfred Enoch is currently finding fame as the lead in the ABC drama How To Get Away With Murder, and his double-sided character portrayal has inspired me to choose him for the role of Jake in this dream cast.
Tommy Asher, age 15, and Hanne Haugen, age 14
The loveable sidekicks to Josie and Jake are Tommy and Hanne, whose luckless puppy love plagues their young lives. Tommy is a confident musician who dreams of instant stardom, but he can’t put his money where his mouth is when it comes to telling a girl how he feels. Hanne Haugen is Kit’s eldest daughter, and she’s been raised to be a diligent student and a well-behaved girl, but her crush on Tommy is driving her to distraction. Will her father Henri’s influence keep these young lovers apart, or will the power of music unite them in the end? Game of Thrones’s Thomas Brodie-Sangster is just the cutie needed to bring Tommy Asher’s charm and talent to life, and the stunning Abigail Breslin could play Hanne’s role with all the teenage crisis it deserves.
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I always wrote, but I didn’t think about writing as a serious career until I was about 23, when my medical condition began to take a serious toll on my working life. When I became too ill to work, I wondered if I could turn my writing into something more serious to help me get though the difficult times.
How long did it take to get your first book published?
Five days. I had some self-published books out, but my first real publishing contract took five days to negotiate, from sending the manuscript to agreeing to publication. It was a dream come true, and something that I’m sure rarely happens to other writers!
Do you do another job except for writing and can you tell us more about it?
Up until very recently, I was still a teacher, but I am now in a period of rest and recovery as my condition has made it impossible to hold down a full time job. I got into teaching because I have a knack for it and I have all the right qualifications, but in truth it’s a highly stressful and demanding job that I wouldn’t recommend to anybody!
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
I have two books that have just been released on October 24th, so here goes:
A Place Halfway (Synsk Book 3) – A tale of love, music race and prejudice in 1961.
Sinister Sentiments (A Horror Collection) – Ten chilling tales to tingle your spine and boggle your mind.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
No more than three months. The quickest book I’ve ever written was The Book Of Shade (78,000 words in 15 days) which will be released next March by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Press. I work very hard on my books, and if I took longer than 12 weeks to complete one, I’d probably lose the atmosphere and the passion of it. Keep it fresh and work hard and fast, that’s my technique.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
In the YA Paranormal/Historical genre, there will be three more books in the Synsk series, plus a fair few novellas. 2015 will see the much anticipated re-release of my Shadeborn fantasy series, plus you can look out for a thrilling new YA zombie adventure with Clean Teen Publishing, called The Skin Revolt. I’m looking forward to expanding into the realms of horror, steampunk and dystopian fiction in the next year.
What genre would you place your books into?
I am a multi-genre writer, so I would say that all of my books contain Adventure, Romance, Mystery and Suspense, then they branch off into other genres from there. The Synsk series are Paranormal Historical books, but I also write fantasy, science fiction, steampunk and horror.
What made you decide to write in multi-genre?
Because single genres bore me. I think the writing world is finished with single genres, and to really make a mark nowadays, you need to be mixing genres to find new ways of telling your story. I’m also a big fan of historical fiction, which I think gets given a very bad name for being boring, so I always mix it with other genres like paranormal, steampunk and horror to give it new flavor.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I find music highly inspiring when I want to sit and make notes or form ideas, but I never ever play it whilst I’m writing. My newest ritual, which is due to back pain and posture mainly, is to write chapters by hand, then type them up later on my Chromebook. I’ve been finding this a really useful process because it feels much more free than staring at the blank screen of my computer, plus I always tend to underestimate what I’ve written by hand, so it gives you a good boost when you see the total shooting up!
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
I do try to read the Amazon reviews, yes. I don’t have time to check all the interaction on Goodreads, and it does seem to be a place where the trolls like to hang out too, so I stay away from that for my own sanity. But yes, I love to see new feedback on Amazon in particular, so if you want to make sure I’ve seen your reaction, post it up there!
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
It varies from project to project. I’d say about 75% of the time I have the title (or some similar version of it) first, but occasionally I just blast off writing something new, then get to 10,000 words and say “Hmm, I should probably name this!”
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
Sometimes the character names come from real people, like the Hogan family in Leighton’s Summer (Hogan is my grandfather’s surname). In the Synsk series, most of the places are real places that you can still visit today, but occasionally I make up something that’s like and in-joke for me, or that translates into something nice. For example, the village in The Mind’s Eye is called Bryn Eira Bach, which is Welsh for ‘Little Snow Hill’.
Are character names and place names decided after their creation? Or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
My characters usually have names before I start writing them. I find it very important to make sure my characters are fully formed human beings before they go down on the page, so that I know what they’re about and how they’re supposed to behave in a scene, and the name is a big part of that. Place names aren’t quite as important to me, and I sometimes go back and flesh those things out later if I’m too gripped by the scene to stop and invent them on the spot.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
I always know what my character is struggling with, and that dictates a lot of their attitude towards life. That element is always there at the start, but then other things do come along to surprise you as you go along. For example Victor Webb is the villain in Leighton’s Summer, but by the time I’d gotten to the end of that book, I discovered a lot of sympathy for him, so I wanted to bring him back in A Place Halfway and have people observe him from another angle.
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
I don’t think they’re all that hidden really. Kit’s struggle to walk again in The Mind’s Eye is a very obvious message about personal strength and adversity. Leighton’s Summer has a lot of undertones about peer pressure and looking before you leap. A Place Halfway is totally steeped in issues of race, discrimination, and a message to not really care what the wider world thinks of you, so long as you’re happy. I think YA books in particular should have uplifting messages that readers can take away with them and apply to their own lives.
K.C. Finn has also recently been welcomed into the fold at Clean Teen Publishing as a debut Young Adult author for 2014, beginning her run of publications with the paranormal/historical series SYNSK. 2015 will see K.C. release her epic urban fantasy series Shadeborn with Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Press.
As a sufferer with the medical condition M.E./C.F.S., Kim works part time as a private tutor and a teacher of creative writing, devoting the remainder of her time to writing novels and studying for an MA in Education and Linguistics.