Hi guys! We have Pearl Love popping in today with her upcoming young adult urban fantasy Salvation’s Song, we have a brilliant guest post where Pearl talks about the inspiration for the story and we have a great excerpt, so check out the post and enjoy! <3 ~Pixie~
Only a chosen few can prevent an ancient evil from overtaking the world: the Singers, the Seekers, and the Saviors….
Tyrell Hughes and Jeremy Michalak are both juniors at Winton Yowell High School in Chicago, and aside from sharing a homeroom, they couldn’t be more different. Tyrell is well-liked, surrounded by friends, popular with girls, and looking forward to a bright future. Jeremy transfers to Winton Yowell to escape the troubles of his past. He’s hoping to survive his last two years of high school by flying under his new classmates’ gaydar and indulging in his passion: playing clarinet.
Tyrell and Jeremy struggle to ignore their attraction to each other. But that becomes increasingly difficult as young people across the city start dying. Both teens realize they alone know the true cause of the tragedies—and have the ability to put a stop to them. They’re the city’s only chance to defeat the dark forces threatening it, but to succeed, they’ll need to find common ground and reconcile the desires they’re trying to deny.
This book is entirely the fault of my morning commute.
I was riding the train one morning, trying to stay awake and minding my own business. Out of the corner of my barely open eyes, I saw two young men standing in the middle of the train car, holding on to the same pole. They looked to be about fifteen or sixteen years old, so they were obviously on their way to school. They struck me for several reasons. The first was their visual impact. People of different races and ethnicities hanging out together barely rates a glance, but these two were polar opposites. One had a medium-dark complexion with a tight, neat afro while the other was just-after-winter pale with the longest blond hair I’ve ever seen on a guy. And he wore his hair in ringlets. Ringlets!
The second thing I noticed is that they were obviously together and friends. Many people are forced into close proximity on crowded trains, but that morning, there was plenty of open space. Yet here were these two young men standing close together, holding onto the same pole for balance against the motion of the train. Okay, I thought. Now I’m paying attention. This was a couple of years ago, before the uglier aspects of our political and social climate reached their currently despicable level, but still. It’s not every day you see black and white teenagers hanging out. As someone who believes with all her heart that we are all one race—the human race—I was thrilled to see them.
And then it happened. The black kid gently brushed his friend’s blond hair away from where it was cling to his face. Nope, that was it. I was gone. After everything else, they were (or very likely were) a couple! Joyous rapture! That was all I needed. The seeds of “Salvation’s Song” were planted!
I never had any plans to write a young adult story, but after having such beautiful motivation dropped in my lap as it were, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass me by. But what story to give them? Honestly, I was never interested in teenage relationship drama, not even when I was a teenager. Listening to my friends go on and on about who they liked did nothing but bore me to tears. But I wanted to write this story. The adorable couple on the train demanded it!
My first idea was to make the book about band geeks who fall in love. In fact, the original title I’d chosen was “A Different Beat.” They say you should write what you know, and after spending eleven years of my life in various school bands, I could write about that in my sleep. Playing team sports as a kid is certainly a deep bonding experience, but I would put it up against the hours of practice necessary to create a cohesive sound from an ensemble of musicians together any day of the week. If you ever played in band or orchestra as a child or teenager, you know what I mean. You see your band mates often and work together closely.
It seemed the perfect set up. Two kids in band discover their love for each other and have to navigate the seas of prejudice as they come to terms with their sexuality. The problem was I cannot write contemporary to save my life. I am an aromantic asexual and have no personal experience with relationships or romance. At a complete loss for how to proceed, I ended up falling back into my comfort zone: fantasy. Maybe I couldn’t write a sweet romance on its own, but I could certainly do so if the stakes were the fate of the world!
And so, I ended up with “Salvation’s Song,” a story about two young men who discover their shared love of music has a deeper meaning than either could imagine, and a developing bond that could mean, well, salvation for everyone. I hope you enjoy my first attempt at writing YA!
“This is Madison and Halsted. This stop is Madison and Halsted.”
Tyrell sat up in his seat as the bus slowed to a halt in front of the bus shelter sitting on the corner. Though they’d had to hustle, he’d managed to get Kevin to school and still catch his bus on time. He had to transfer downtown to the #20 Madison, and he enjoyed watching the bustling crowds, imagining what it would be like when he someday joined the ranks of the gainfully employed. He still needed to finish high school and get through college, but he greatly looked forward to the day when he was no longer living under his mother’s roof. Jesus could be a really tedious housemate.
The woman in the seat next to him got up, and Tyrell breathed a sigh of relief, only to groan in dismay a second later when a much larger woman took her place. Tyrell grimaced as he was crushed between the woman and the side of the bus. Luckily, he was only four blocks from his stop. Maybe he’d just stand the rest of the way. It would be a lot more comfortable than dying of suffocation. He was contemplating the least offensive way to ask the woman to let him by so he could stand in the aisle when he heard a light male voice shouting from outside his window. He looked out but saw only a streak as the caller ran toward the closing doors.
“Wait!” the voice repeated from the sidewalk near the front of the bus.
Through the rearview mirror, Tyrell saw the bus driver roll his eyes upward. For half a second, the bastard clearly contemplated ignoring the request before he finally pressed the button to reopen the doors. “Thanks,” the voice said, breathy with exertion and relief.
The bus driver shook his head as he glanced at the newcomer. “Son, it’s dangerous to run for the bus. Best to just wait for the next one. They run pretty frequently on this route this time of day.”
“Yes, sir,” the voice said, the words growing more distinct as the speaker mounted the steps toward the driver and the fare box.
When Tyrell saw the kid who’d barely missed becoming the latest victim of the driver’s passive aggressiveness, he had two simultaneous thoughts. The first was what a fag. The second was so pretty. Both thoughts made him extremely uncomfortable, though he was hard-pressed to say which one disturbed him more.
Tyrell guessed the kid was around his age going by his general height and build. That lanky, scrawny look was common among teenage guys and could be hiding either extreme weakness or an incongruous whippy strength. Any similarities between them ended there, though. Tyrell, like many of his friends, did everything he could to be as individualistic as possible while taking great pains to look like everyone else. This guy on the other hand apparently didn’t give a shit what other people thought of him.
The kid was wearing battered jeans and a T-shirt that boasted a picture of some guy in a wig with frilly clothes, which was half-hidden behind the gaudy pendant hanging from his neck. Below the face, the words “If It Ain’t Baroque” appeared in a barely readable font. His skin was fair and showed signs of a mild acne breakout that was mostly healed. Tyrell caught a flash of brilliant green eyes as the kid searched around idly for a seat, but his hair was the feature that had prompted Tyrell’s knee-jerk assessment of his orientation. He was blond, which wasn’t unusual, but the way he wore it….
How fair art thou, my bonnie lass.
“What the hell?” Tyrell mumbled. He’d never had reason to regret his infatuation with English poets until that very moment.
The kid’s hair fell in an elaborate series of spiral ringlets that reached past his shoulders. They bounced and shimmied every time he moved his head and whenever the bus hit a patch of rough pavement. Tyrell had never seen anything like it, and he couldn’t look away, fascinated by the unusual coiffure. Of all the times for his mother’s insistence that he start studying for the PSATs over the summer to come in handy. Of course it was right when Tyrell was staring that the strange kid chose to look in his direction. Or maybe the guy had felt him staring. Either way, Tyrell found himself caught like a deer in headlights when the kid’s verdant gaze met his stare head-on. Damn PSATs.
Tyrell wanted to look away. He shouldn’t be staring. There was absolutely no reason for him to be staring. Except he had never seen such amazing eyes in his life. They were the color of trees right at the end of spring when their leaves were lush and green, unscorched by the onrush of summer’s intense heat. Something about that gaze reached deep into Tyrell and refused to let go. And then he heard music, soft and ethereal like nothing he’d ever listened to but so profound he felt his chest tighten with emotion.
Disturbed by his peculiar reaction, Tyrell shut his eyes briefly and shook his head, attempting to clear it of wayward thoughts. When he looked up again, the kid was still looking at him, albeit curiously, as though Tyrell was the one who’d done something odd. The music had vanished, and the kid once again seemed to be nothing more complex than an utter weirdo.
The adjectives vied in Tyrell’s brain for prominence, and he’d just about made up his mind that the former was the better response. He didn’t necessarily care that some guys found other guys attractive. He just wasn’t particularly interested in being one of them.
Feeling confident in his decision, Tyrell hurriedly fixed his face, adjusting his expression from slightly nervous awe to a cool glare into which he injected just the right hint of nastiness. The kid blinked, apparently caught off guard by Tyrell’s show of hostility, but in the next instant, he’d clearly moved on, sliding his gaze away as he continued his hunt for an empty seat.
Tyrell didn’t know if the kid was successful in his search. He stared determinedly out the window, refusing to look at the weirdo any longer. It wasn’t his concern whether some fag had to stand for the rest of his ride. Tyrell moved his shoulders in an uneasy shrug, that word sitting less easily in his thoughts than it had a second ago. Whatever, he grumbled silently. It wasn’t like he’d ever have to see the kid again to be concerned about his conflicting reactions. Keeping his gaze firmly glued to the passing scenery, Tyrell prepared himself to maneuver past the large woman next to him so he’d be ready when it was his turn to get off the bus.
“Next stop, Madison and Aberdeen.”
“Excuse me, ma’am.” Tyrell thought his grandmother would be proud of him, even though politeness was the last sentiment he was feeling toward the lady who’d tried to turn him into a pancake in his seat.
The woman shot him an annoyed glance, but she apparently couldn’t find a legitimate reason to object. She maneuvered her bulk so he could slide past her. He’d been sitting toward the front and made his way to the door, two years of practice helping him keep perfect balance as the bus hit a pothole with bone-jarring force. Movement near the rear door caught his eye, and he glanced over to see the strange kid standing there. Was he about to get off too? Shit, Tyrell thought. He sincerely hoped that wasn’t the case. There wasn’t much at the next intersection except….
“This is Madison and Racine. This is the stop for Winton Yowell High School.”
Tyrell knew the bus driver had shared that information only to accommodate any new students who might be getting off there for the first time. As soon as the doors opened, he pounded down the steps and alighted on the concrete sidewalk, which was baked from the brutal summer that was finally coming to an end. The bus stop was on the northeast corner of the intersection, and the school was situated on a large patch of land immediately to the southwest. Tyrell was walking toward the corner so he could cross the first of the two streets he needed to navigate when something in the periphery of his gaze distracted him.
“Shit,” Tyrell repeated, this time aloud.
The weirdo had indeed gotten off at the same stop, which meant he was most likely a new student at Winton Yowell. Tyrell couldn’t claim he knew everyone in the nonfreshman classes, but he sure as heck had never seen this kid before. He definitely looked too old to have just graduated from grammar school, unless he was like Dunce and had been held back. Tyrell doubted that was the case. No one who’d had to repeat a grade wore T-shirts with frilly old dudes on them, which meant he was most likely a transfer student.
The kid was looking around, clearly trying to orient himself to his new surroundings. He spied the school sitting kitty-corner across the street and turned to head to the curb where Tyrell waited for the light to change.
For some reason he couldn’t name, Tyrell decided it was best to avoid the new student. He quickly checked both ways for traffic and, seeing the coast was relatively clear, indulged in that favorite Chicago pastime: jaywalking. Bolting diagonally across the street to save time—straight lines and all he remembered from last year’s geometry class—Tyrell sighed as his feet landed on the safe territory of the grass surrounding the school. “Our very own urban oasis,” the principal liked to call it. Tyrell was just glad to be back on familiar territory. It had been a long summer. He headed for the main entrance, never looking back to see whether he was being followed by bouncing blond ringlets.
Writing Manly Romance From The Heart! Pearl Love has been writing since she was a kid, but it was the pretty boys who frolic around in her head who finally convinced her to pursue it seriously. She’s a mid-west transplant who current thrives in the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capital. She enjoys any type of story so long as the boy gets the boy. Pearl is a Marvel fan girl and owns a ridiculous stash of knitting supplies.