YAPC would like to welcome Carla Trueheart to the blog today. She is here to share some info about her book The Ritual of the Four as well as answer some of our questions. If this looks like something you would like to read, please go get a copy!
YAPC: How would you describe your book in 20 words or less without using the blurb?
Carla: A teenage boy has a dark and magical connection to an ancient gold dagger left behind by his father.
YAPC: When did you decide to become a writer?
Carla: After reading the Harry Potter series. I loved reading as a child, but I’d forgotten my love of books in my adult years. Harry Potter helped me remember the joy and magic of reading.
YAPC: When you made your first sale, how did you celebrate and with whom?
Carla: I woke up on Christmas Eve morning to an email from my publisher, offering me a contract. I actually thought I was still dreaming, so I hopped out of bed and tossed my phone to my family for confirmation! Then I told my entire family at Christmas Eve dinner. It was a Christmas I will never forget.
YAPC: Do you listen to music while writing?
Carla: Yes! I have specific playlists for each of my writing projects. I don’t feel I can write a character well until I know their favorite song, so I make sure to add that to my playlist. The music I write to is normally new age without lyrics to distract me, but sometimes it’s period music. The music keeps me focused and in the right mindset and mood.
YAPC: Did you know the title before you started writing?
Carla: My working title was Slicer but that had more of a horror story feel, so I changed it to The Dagger of the Four. When the story was complete, I ended up changing the title to The Ritual of the Four and that seemed the best fit.
YAPC: What was your favorite scene?
Carla: The snowy mountains scene toward the end of the book, when Shaw and Melody work on finding the final map clue and the gravesite. This was just before the climax, when both Shaw and Melody knew they had to face whatever came next, and that it was all going to end one way or another. I also enjoyed writing the scenes with Fraser when he explained the Ritual of the Four to Shaw and Melody and gave them the first clue to the map.
YAPC: How did you come up with your premise for your book?
Carla: Initially, it was just a loose idea I jotted down in a notebook about a boy who could slice things using only the power of his mind. Looking back, it probably stemmed, subconsciously, from the sectumsempra spell in Harry Potter. I was also reading Dan Brown at the time, which led me to add in the puzzles, clues, and connections to the magic elements fire, water, earth, and air. I ended up making connections with the Ritual of the Four objects, fire/dagger, goblet/water, earth/pentacle, and air/wand. I especially loved the wand with the crystal quartz and blue diamond.
YAPC: Your favorite books and authors?
Carla: The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is my favorite. Some of my other favorite authors include Stephen King, Katherine Howe, Jennifer Egan, Dan Brown, Amanda Stevens, and Suzanne Collins. My favorite classic stories include A Christmas Carol by Dickens, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
YAPC: Where can readers find your book?
Carla: My book is available at all major bookstores, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and smaller online retailers. You may also order the Silver Seal Edition exclusively through my Facebook page or contact me through my website: carlatrueheart.com.
YAPC: If I give you a time machine, what time period and in what place would you travel to?
Carla: I would make a few stops, if possible! I would love to visit Colonial America or be present at the Salem Witch Trials. I would then hop to The Civil War era and meet Abraham Lincoln, then off to the 1920s around Prohibition. I’m a huge fan of history and even minored in it at Southern New Hampshire University.
YAPC: What projects are you currently working on right now?
Carla: I just signed a contract for an adult contemporary novel called Back to Blueberry Pond, about three friends who grew up in the 80s and placed their most valuable possession inside a Tupperware bowl as part of a friendship pact. I’m hoping for a 2017 release for that book. I’m also halfway finished with another YA novel with elements of sci-fi, which is a bit of a challenge as I have not written the genre before. I’m excited to see where it goes!
Thank you for these questions! I appreciate the opportunity to talk about my writing projects and connect with readers!
For sixteen-year-old Shaw Huntley, a normal day includes running from two men who want to kill him. Shaw has a dark ability: using only the power of his mind, and visualizing a specific gold and jeweled dagger, he can telekinetically cut or slice objects. If he gets angry enough, he can even cut people. Unfortunately, the two men chasing him murdered his father in search of the physical gold dagger currently in Shaw’s possession—and they will stop at nothing to track him down and obtain it.
When Shaw ends up in Rockpoint, New York, he meets Melody Tufts, a gamer who finds a mysterious triangular symbol on the hilt of Shaw’s dagger. After some investigation, Shaw learns his connection with the dagger and his dark ability were the results of a secret ritual—The Ritual of the Four—performed centuries ago by his ancestors. His dagger is number one in a group of four unique items, each one representative of the four magic elements: fire, water, air, and earth. He also learns there’s a way to reverse the Ritual of the Four forever so he can stop running, settle into a school, and perhaps even begin a romance with Melody. But after the two embark on a dangerous quest to reverse the ritual, decoding clues and unearthing maps, Shaw questions if he wants to toss away his ability—or finally face his foes.
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I’m not sure when it will happen. It could be one minute or one month, and when it happens, it won’t be pretty. Not in the particular way they are going to kill me.
Right now, I’m hiding out in one of the few places a guy of sixteen can disappear from the eyes of the world—the top of a Ferris wheel. When I jumped on board, a couple of teenagers were getting a lift in the cart just behind me. A guy and a girl, laughing and snuggling. I’m sure they were hoping to get stuck on top, where I am now, so they could disappear from the world just like I’m trying to do. For once, I was the lucky one this time. I’m stuck up here, hidden, but with a pretty good view of the carnival below.
The autumn carnival in Fairchester, Massachusetts, is a pretty big deal. It’s not like I know this town all that great, because I just got here a month ago, but I did hear from some guys at school that most of the town shows up at the carnival at one point or another. From up here, at the top of the world, I can see why people in Fairchester like their autumn carnival so much. The air is icy, the leaves brown and dying, but smack in the middle are all these neon flashing lights and laughing kids. Game booths with huge stuffed animals. Fat clowns with balloons. The scent of fried dough and cotton candy.
I came here alone but soon had the feeling I wasn’t alone. That’s why I’m hiding out. It’s calm now—they can’t reach me up here if they did follow me to the carnival. And I’m pretty sure they found me, because I can smell the blood laced into the breeze. It comes along with them. It probably comes along with me, too. That’s how they always find me, even when my mother and I change our names and move around the coast. America is not the great hiding place it seems.
The Ferris wheel shifts and vibrates, and I start my decline. My hand shakes on the bar. On the ground, shadowy figures move around, but I don’t freak out because they could be anyone. Maybe some kid’s parents watching the wheel. Maybe some girls making a decision whether to board or try something a little scarier. But the scent of blood grows stronger, and as soon as my cart lands on the bottom, I hop off onto the metal platform, then dash through the back gates. I don’t stop until I’m hidden in a patch of black, between two old trailers.
A thick red hose rests on the ground before me, running toward the giant slide ride. Electricity hums in my ears as I pull out my cell and text my mother: “Come get me.” And then our code word: “lightsaber.” (Quick backstory: Star Wars fan, but please don’t tell anyone). I’m just about to find my way to the street when the smell of blood overpowers me, and my stomach pitches.
“Shaw Huntley,” a familiar male voice says. “We always seem to find each other in the strangest places.”
About the Author: Carla Trueheart is a New England-based writer who holds certificates in poetry, romance writing, copyediting, forensic science writing, historical fiction writing, and writing for young adults. She has studied writing at Gotham Writers’ Workshop and The Writers Studio and is currently working toward completion of her BA in Creative Writing and English through Southern New Hampshire University. She has worked as submissions editor for various online publications, and her poetry and short stories have been featured in The Litchfield Literary Review. Her first novel, The Ritual of the Four, won the Silver Seal from Readers’ Favorite and was a Finalist in the 2016 International Book Awards.
Carla currently works as a novelist with World Castle Publishing and as a professional book reviewer. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, listening to music, reading, and collecting books and candles.
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