I absolutely LOVE Rhiannon Frater’s world of characters in her books. She is always able to build a wonderful team of supporting characters that will almost surpass the wonderfulness of the protagonist… almost. Ms. Frater has teamed up with her bestie, Kody Boye, to pen her first young adult targeted urban fantasy, The Midnight Spell. Due out tomorrow, I have my review for you today, along with an inside look at the collaboration between two authors and what it took to get this book written.
The Midnight Spell
By Rhiannon Frater & Kody Boye
Expected Publication February 26th, 2013
Young Adult | Urban Fantasy
Source: Received an eARC from the authors and Xpresso Book Tours in return for an unbiased review
Rating: 4 out of 5
About the book:
Adam and Christy have been best friends since kindergarten. Always the perpetual outsiders in their small town in Texas, they’ve always had to deal with nasty comments from their classmates. Adam is called “gay” while Christy is called “witch.”
On both counts the bullies are right.
Their junior year in high school seems destined to be the same old same old until Christy decides to cast a love spell for Adam at the midnight hour. The next day an alluring and mysterious new boy enrolls at school and sets hearts a flutter, including Adam’s. Meanwhile, Christy’s mad crush on the handsome Ian seems to be going nowhere fast. Struggling to capture the heart of Ian while trying to come into her full witch powers is tough enough, but when a great evil arrives in town that threatens everything they hold dear, she realizes that finding a boyfriend is the least of her and Adam’s worries.
Soon Adam, Christy, their potential love interests, and their good friends Drifter and Olivia, will have to battle a force of darkness that has killed in their town before and will again.
Collaboration: How To Survive Writing With Your Best Friend
I swore to God and all that is Holy that I would never, ever collaborate with anyone on a novel. I consider myself a lone practitioner in that regard. Yet, when Kody Boye proposed writing this story together, I found myself jumping at the chance. The idea for THE MIDNIGHT SPELL was born out of a brainstorming session we had together one night, and I realized I wanted to be part of it. The way we kept sane when writing the story was by alternating the POV between the two major characters, Christy and Adam. I wrote for Christy and Kody wrote for Adam. We discussed all major plot points together and basically worked off of each others scenes. Though we had a general outline, we were excited when the story took on a life of its own.
I honestly think what kept us from not killing each other is that we wrote in Google Documents, we took the time to outline, we wrote our own sections for our characters, and we were actually sitting across from each other. If we had an argument it was easy to resolve because we weren’t in separate towns or even states. We were able to rely on our friendship to keep us glued together throughout the project.
From previous experience, the hardest thing about collaborating is not totally having a ‘feel’ for that person. Before, I’d written with people whom seemed to have one certain idea in mind when we started out a story, then decided to switch it up somewhere in the middle. Then, when I’d start in for my next part, there would be a completely new twist that we hadn’t discussed. The ‘What?’ factor only begins to increase after that point.
Any writer will tell you that direction is important, even when you’re writing alone. You have to have some idea where point A starts and B begins, and then where all the little A1, A2, A3 points come in between them. Since those micro points are never always visible, it’s almost impossible to predict what’s coming next. When you have two people, that becomes a much larger problem and, ultimately, can lead to conflict.
I believe Rhiannon and I only had one instance where we had what people would consider an ‘argument’ during the process, and it wasn’t an argument so much as a, ‘What is going on? I don’t understand! My life is a tragedy!’ (and then insert more incoherent rambling from both of us until one point sticks.) We got through it when we realized it was because we’d stumbled over something we’d already established when we thought we hadn’t, but had we been in two different states (or, forbid, even countries,) that might not have come to light until much later, when we’d already made a mistake that would cost us hours of revision.
About Rhiannon Frater:
Rhiannon Frater is the award-winning author of the As the World Dies trilogy (The First Days, Fighting to Survive, Siege,) and the author of three other books: the vampire novels Pretty When She Dies and The Tale of the Vampire Bride and the young-adult zombie novel The Living Dead Boy and the Zombie Hunters. Inspired to independently produce her work from the urging of her fans, she published The First Days in late 2008 and quickly gathered a cult following. She won the Dead Letter Award back-to-back for both The First Days and Fighting to Survive, the former of which the Harrisburg Book Examiner called ‘one of the best zombie books of the decade.’ Rhiannon is currently represented by Hannah Gordon of the Foundry + Literary Media agency. You may contact her by sending an email to email@example.com.
About Kody Boye:
Kody Boye was born and raised in Southeastern Idaho. Since his initial publication in the Yellow Mama Webzine in 2007, he has gone on to sell nearly three-dozen stories to various markets. He is the author of the short story collection Amorous Things, the novella The Diary of Dakota Hammell, the zombie novel Sunrise and the dark fantasy novel Blood. His fiction has been described as ‘Surreal, beautiful and harrowing’ (Fantastic Horror), while he himself has been heralded as a writer beyond his years (Bitten by Books). He currently lives and writes in the Austin, Texas area.
Rhiannon Frater is known for her horror and zombie tales of the scary, adult variety. When she announced her forthcoming YA story written with Kody Boye, I wondered if she could pull it off and make her magic happen with her friend. Yes, she could and yes they did.
As you read above in Rhiannon and Kody’s guest post, this was a collaborative effort. I specifically asked for this post because I couldn’t imagine how two people could write one story and not end up with a disjointed plot, unbalanced characters that don’t relate to each other, and a hot mess of story flow and world building. But it seems that knowing each other and actually working side by side with each other during the process can deliver stellar results. What they delivered was a high school tale of first loves with a paranormal twist that I felt was extremely appropriate for the young adult audience.
Story / Tempo / World Building
No disjointed plot here! I really believe Ms. Frater and Mr. Boye were totally in sync when they wrote their characters, Christy and Adam (respectively). I could not tell for one second that the book was written by two different authors. The plot flowed beautifully from the “world establishing” first few chapters to the heart of the matter (no pun intended), Adam and Christy’s love lives. It was Christy’s attempt at trying to “force” a love life on Adam that brought down the hot-mess of the last half of the book that sped quickly all the way to the very last quick Epilogue chapter (*sigh* – I want more already). I was pleasantly surprised by the lightness (for lack of a better word) of the story. It really was a fun read for me!! None of that heavy, downer stuff here!!!
The only slight flaw I could see that prevented me from giving this read a 5 was the big difference between the first half of the book and the second half of the book. Now, granted, I was reading an uncorrected eARC so perhaps this was fixed, but there seemed to be a huge difference in the personalities of the two halves of the books. Personally, it doesn’t bother me. The first half read like an angsty high school love story and second half read like one of my favorite fast paced urban fantasy books. Some readers might be turned off by this. Me? I call it the best of both worlds.
Christy and Adam have had each other’s backs for so long, they’d do anything for each other. All Christy wants for Adam is to be happy and in love for once in his life. You see, in their small town, Adam is the only gay boy around and it doesn’t help that he’s been targeted by bullies. So Christy, also in the closet but for being a witch, comes up with a spell to bring Adam’s true love to town for him. Christy hasn’t come into her full witch powers yet but she tries anyways. Oh, and the time they do the spell? Yep, it’s around midnight.
Next day, two new students show up in school. Mark Black, the new guy, is hot and doing some major “pinging on their gay-dars”. Is he Adam’s true love? Duh! I’m not telling you! But Rhiannon and Kody have THE team to help figure Mark Black out.
I had said earlier that Ms. Frater is great at developing her secondary/supporting characters in her stories. I think she and Kody have some of the best ones yet this time around in The Midnight Spell. We meet Drifter, Olivia, and Ian, Christy’s crush for the last 10 or so years. There’s Adam’s mom, Ashley (who bears a striking resemblance to Ashley the Bookish Brunette) and little sister, Amelia. And best of all are Christy’s family: her mom (a high witch), her dad (literally an ancient warrior as best as I can tell) who wears the best t-shirts known to man (you’ll have to discover that on your own), her mom’s cat, Callie (her mom’s familiar) and one heck of nosey broom (just so fun, a broom that does the work for you – oh, wait… that’s a vacuum in real life). It sounds like a lot of characters but it really doesn’t overwhelm you. You’re never swimming in too many characters. Each one fits into the landscape perfectly and drives the plot along.
What more can I say? I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this story! If you love unique characters set in urban fantasy with a dose of high school angsty love of the young adult variety, this is the book for you!!!
Speaking of which…
Want to read more about the book, check out an excerpt, learn more about the authors? Would you like even more chances to win eCopies of The Midnight Spell? Please check out all the awesome blogs participating in the tour this week!!
–At Random >> Review + Interview
–Bookish >> Review
–Book Twirps >> Review + Guest Post
–Paranormal & Urban Fantasy Reviews >> Excerpt
–The Infinite Curio >> Review
–Mother/Gamer/Writer >> Review