Today, I would like to introduce you to a fellow YA Fantasy author, Christi J. Whitney. Christy is in the middle of writing her series, “The Romany Outcasts”. The first book, Grey, came out at the end of the year, and the latest installment, Shadow, will released on June 2nd. In the blog post below, you will learn about both of Christi’s books, get to know a bit about Christi, and read a mini-interview I conducted with her. Enjoy!
Released: Grey, Book 1 of “The Romany Outcasts”:
YA urban fantasy
Available with: HarperCollins, HarperCollinsUK, Amazon, AmazonUK, Barnes and Noble, iBooks
Sebastian Grey always thought he was a fairly normal teenager – good friends, decent grades, and a pretty sweet job in his foster brother’s tattoo shop.
But when Romany gypsies arrive in town, Sebastian discovers his world is not what it seems. There is an age-old feud between his family and the gypsies – and this isn’t the only secret his brother has been keeping from him. His life is not his own. The girl he’s been dreaming about has just turned up at school, and he feels compelled to protect her at all costs.
Even if that means life might never be normal again.
‘Sebastian, are you still there?’
I transferred my phone to my other hand as I buckled the seatbelt. ‘Yeah, I’m here.’
‘Weren’t you listening to me?’ Katie asked.
I paused, trying to remember what we’d been talking about. The two hours since lunch had been a blur, and my brain was mush. ‘Um . . . ’
Katie sighed on the other end. ‘The project Ms Lucian talked about in class today,’ she continued impatiently. ‘When are we going to work on it?’
‘I’m sorry,’ I replied, starting the engine. ‘The pounding in my head’s making it difficult to think.’
‘You know me and sunny days,’ I said dismissively. I stepped on the gas and coaxed my old van onto the road. ‘But about the project. I don’t know if I can do it this week. Can I get back to you?’
‘Yeah, just don’t wait too long. I know we’ve got almost a month to work on it, so Ms Lucian’s not going to cut us any slack, and the rest of our group is totally avoiding me about the whole thing.’
Katie hated procrastinating on anything related to schoolwork. This was probably killing her. ‘Look, don’t worry about it. I’ll talk to the guys, and we’ll come up with a day to work on it. I promise, we won’t let you down.’
‘Thanks, Sebastian,’ she replied, sounding relieved. ‘You’re not nearly as much of an idiot as the rest of your species.’
I chuckled. ‘I think you mean gender.’
She giggled. ‘No, I don’t.’
‘Talk to you later, Katie.’
I tossed the phone on the passenger seat and rubbed my temples. By the time I made it through town and steered my van into the parking lot of the Gypsy Ink, my headache had traveled, setting up residence between my shoulder blades. The last thing I felt like doing was homework.
I shuffled through the waiting room, giving a brief wave to Kris, who was busy behind the counter. I’d grab a quick snack and then lay out flat on the floor of the apartment for a while. Just until the aching eased. I paused in the hallway just outside the door of Hugo’s workspace. I didn’t have to say anything. My brother knew I was there.
‘Hey, Sebastian.’ He glanced up from his sketchbook. ‘What’s up?’
‘Do you have any sports cream?’ I leaned against the wall and squinted as a sharp pain lanced through my shoulders. ‘My back’s killing me.’
Hugo’s brows settled low over his dark eyes. ‘In the drawer beside my bed.’
I continued down the hallway, followed by the weight of my brother’s stare. He probably thought I was trying to get out of work, which wasn’t a bad idea. I chucked my bag on the bed and rummaged through Hugo’s nightstand until I located the tube of medicine. I worked the cream into my back, but it felt as if someone was digging long fingers between my shoulder blades, attempting to separate muscle from bone.
I gave up with the cream and stumbled to the bathroom on a quest for aspirin. Just as I reached for the medicine cabinet, another shock of pain doubled me over. I gripped the edge of the counter and straightened. My gaze flicked to the mirror. For a moment, I almost didn’t recognize the face staring back. I was crazy pale, even for me, and my skin made the hazel color of my eyes look dull. But then I noticed something else. Another chunk of gray was poking through my disheveled hair.
Coming Soon: Shadow, Book 2 of “The Romany Outcasts”
Digital release date: June 2, 2016
The second volume in this incredible YA trilogy.
When stone hearts break they shatter.
Sebastian Grey used to be a normal teenager. Now he’s a creature whose sole purpose is to be a guardian for secretive gypsy clans.
When the Romany gypsies need his help, Sebastian is given a second chance to protect Josephine Romany – the girl he loves. But this is no easy task when some of them think he’s as bad as the shadow creatures attacking their camp.
Yet to keep Josephine safe, Sebastian might have to embrace his darker side. Even if that means choosing between his humanity and becoming the monster everyone believes him to be.
Available for Pre-Order:
Barnes and Noble
‘My apologies if Caliban hurt you,’ said the man. ‘It’s what he’s trained to do.’
The men lowered their hoods. It was Phillipe and Stephan – two of Quentin’s Marksmen. They watched me with disgusted expressions as I forced myself to stand. My muscles felt like iron cords.
‘You’ve trained him to attack innocent people?’ I snarled, brushing myself off.
‘Of course not,’ Phillipe sneered. ‘He’s trained to attack your kind.’
I really hated that phrase.
I examined my arm. The sleeve of my jacket was ripped, but there wasn’t a mark on my gray skin. My eyes widened. Not even a scratch. But it still hurt like crazy, and I rubbed my arm gingerly.
‘It’s fortunate we weren’t out with the rest of the dogs,’ said Stephan with a cold smile. ‘Caliban here is relatively mild-tempered.’
As if on cue, the dog’s muzzle flashed with sharp teeth.
‘Nicolas asked me to come,’ I said evenly.
Stephan tilted his chin. ‘Yes, we know.’
I was about to get an escort, I realized.
‘Come with us,’ Phillipe ordered.
Stephan slid his bow from his shoulder and fitted an arrow to the string. ‘Caliban and I will follow behind. Just as a precaution, of course – in case you start getting any ideas in that ugly gray head of yours.’
Quentin Marks’ welcoming committee was not something I’d anticipated. I gathered my bags, and Phillipe led our unpleasant little party across the Sutallee Bridge. I unconsciously slowed as we passed over the abandoned mine shaft where Josephine and I had taken refuge so long ago. There was a sharp poke in the middle of my back, right between my pent wings.
‘Move it,’ Stephan said, jabbing me again. ‘We’re already late for lunch.’
I fought the insanely strong desire to whirl around and shove the arrow down his throat. Instead, I bit my lip, tasting blood, and picked up my pace. We reached the iron fence that surrounded the Fairgrounds. Phillipe pulled out a ring of keys and opened the I’d assumed everything would look as it had the last time I’d been within the walls of the Circe de Romany. But there were no tents or pavilions. No rides or decorations, either. Only trailers – along with several RVs, trucks, and buses – arranged in a tight circle, right in the middle of the property.
Their configuration created a large open space in the center of the caravan. Tarps were arranged over tables and chairs. A fire pit had been built, and laundry hung from clotheslines spread between trailers. People bustled around the clearing, preparing for the approaching storm. Another peal of thunder echoed overhead. The clouds had thickened, and the sky looked ready to split apart at any moment.
‘Hurry it up,’ said Stephan with another jab to my back. ‘I don’t intend to get wet.’
Lightning flashed. Women scurried to get the clothes off the lines while men anchored the tarps more securely in the ground. Phillipe led me to a small trailer and flung open the door.
The howling wind was motivation enough – even without Stephan’s sharp arrow in my back – and I scampered up the steps. My nose instantly wrinkled at the unpleasant smell. Phillipe caught my look.
‘The dog trailer,’ he said.
‘Just be glad they’re out on patrol,’ said Stephan with a malicious laugh. ‘They’re quite territorial.’
The Marksmen backed me into the stinky enclosure, weapons drawn.
‘We’ll come for you when Nicolas returns,’ said Phillipe. ‘Until then, welcome home.’
With that, he slammed the door, locking me inside.
Christi J. Whitney is a former high school theatre director with a love for the dramatic. She lives just outside Atlanta with her husband and two sons. When not spending time with them or taking a ridiculous number of trips to Disney World, she can be found directing plays, making costumes for sci-fi/fantasy conventions, geeking out over Doctor Who, and watching superhero movies.
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Mini-Interview with Christy J. Whitney:
Q: What drew you to writing?
A: I’ve always loved making up stories in my head, and I used to write quite a bit when I was younger. When I became a high school theatre director, I set writing aside, but I always kept stories in the back of my head. I shared one with some of my students one day, and it rekindled my passion for writing. Being an author and being a theatre director are very similar – both careers have allowed me to create stories and bring them to life, either on the stage or on the page.
Q: Tell us one thing you learned, during research or about craft, while writing your latest book.
A: I learned so much about the Roma culture while doing research for The Romany Outcasts Series, but I also learned how to write for YA. I began as a pretty wordy author in my early days – bogged down with way too much detail. Writing young adult fiction has taught me how to streamline and move the plot and characters along.
Q: What’s next on your To Be Read list?
A: I have way too many books in my TBR pile, but at the top would be An Ember in the Ashes, Mistborn: The Final Empire, Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, and Thorn Jack.
Q: What inspires you?
A: I was definitely inspired by my former students while writing the first two books of this trilogy. But I love sitting down to read or watch good fantasy and science fiction stories. It always recharges me.
Q: What makes a story interesting to you?
A: Stories with unusual, but believable characters always interest me. I’m a sucker for underdog heroes and endearing, slightly awkward sidekicks. I adore transformation tales and stories of self-discovery. At the end of the day, if I can relate to the characters, then I’m going to keep turning the pages.
I hope you had fun meeting Christi J. Whitney! Stay tuned for more posts from me and Author Spotlights in the weeks to come!