Saturday, August 18, 2012

Spotlight on Sacred by Elana Arnold

Hello lovelies!  I am delighted to welcome author Elana Arnold to the blog today.  Her debut novel, Sacred, is scheduled to release November 13th, so Elana asked me to do a spotlight of her book.  And I was all to happy to do so.  So today I have an awesome interview, guest post and excerpt for you!!! :)



Sacred
by Elana K. Arnold
Release Date: November 13, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 368

Pre-Order / Goodreads
Growing up on Catalina Island, off the California coast, Scarlett Wenderoth has led a fairly isolated life. After her brother dies, her isolation deepens as she withdraws into herself, shutting out her friends and boyfriend. Her parents, shattered by their own sorrow, fail to notice Scarlett's pain and sudden alarming thinness. Scarlett finds pleasure only on her horse, escaping to the heart of the island on long, solitary rides. One day, as she races around a bend, Scarlett is startled by a boy who raises his hand in warning and says one word: "Stop."

The boy—intense, beautiful—is Will Cohen, a newcomer to the island. For reasons he can't or won't explain, he's drawn to Scarlett and feels compelled to keep her safe. To keep her from wasting away. His meddling irritates Scarlett, though she can't deny her attraction to him. As their relationship blossoms into love, Scarlett's body slowly awakens at Will's touch. But just when her grief begins to ebb, she makes a startling discovery about Will, a discovery he's been grappling with himself. A discovery that threatens to force them apart. And if it does, Scarlett fears she will unravel all over again.


AUTHOR INTERVIEW



1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
My driver’s license says I am 5’6” tall (I may be slightly shorter), weigh 125 pounds (I may be slightly heavier), have blonde hair (after my highlights) and blue eyes (this one’s true).
It also says I live in Long Beach, California and that I’m born in October. These are facts, as well. It doesn’t say that I collect pets (but I’m not a hoarder… really!), that I love chocolate chips straight out of the freezer, and that I dress up every year in a scarf and hat to go to the pumpkin patch, even if it’s eighty-five degrees. But it could… these things are all true, too.
2.    Why did you decide to become a writer?
I don’t think I decided to become a writer, really. I was always a writer. For a while, after some aspects of writing workshops kind of ripped out my heart a little, I tried to fool myself into believing that I was a reader, but not a writer. I am a reader, a voracious one, but I’m glad that I licked my wounds and returned to the metaphorical pen.

3.    Who were your biggest influences?
Growing up, my Nana told me the most wonderful stories. When she ran her car into a curb while looking for the address of a yard sale in the Classifieds section of the newspaper, she told me she’d been attacked by an enormous boa constrictor, and that’s why she was bruised.
Among writers, I have to say that Phillip Pullman strongly influences me. I admire how he talks about really big things without sacrificing plot. Also, I love John Irving. You can tell that he really loves his characters.

4.    Do you have a special place you like to write?
I usually write smack dab in the middle of the ruckus that is my life. Right now I’m in my favorite spot, tucked up against the arm of the couch. My dog Sherman is sleeping next to me, and my kids are within eyesight. Hairless cats (two of them) swarm by occasionally. Sometimes Bird, our little parrot, hangs out on the edge of my laptop’s screen.

5.    What's your favorite food?
Coffee. That’s a food, right?

6.    Favorite show/movie?
The Princess Bride.

7.    Favorite color?
  Blue.

8.    When and how did you get the idea for SACRED?
Less than two years ago, a good friend of mine told me I should write a novel about a superhero, but I guess I never do exactly what people tell me to do, because though SACRED’s Will Cohen does have a sort of superpower, and though he is in some ways heroic, things are way more complicated than that.

9.    Is there another book in the works?  If so, what can we expect?
I’m so excited to share that I have two more books that are slated to be published after SACRED.
In June of 2013, Random House/Delacorte will release BURNING. Here’s its premise:

Ben: Having just graduated from high school, Ben is set to leave Gypsum, Nevada. It’s good timing, since the gypsum mine that is the lifeblood of the area is closing, shutting the whole town down with it. Ben is lucky; he’s headed to San Diego, where he’s got a track scholarship at the University of California. His best friends, Pete and Hog Boy, aren’t as fortunate; they don’t have college to look forward to. So to make his friends happy during their last days in town, Ben goes with them to check out the hot chick parked on the side of Highway 447.

Lala: She and her Gypsy family make money the way her people have been earning it for centuries—by telling fortunes. Some customers choose Tarot cards; others have their palms read. The thousands of people attending the nearby Burning Man festival spend lots of cash—especially as Lala gives uncanny readings. But lately Lala’s been questioning whether there might be more to life than her upcoming arranged marriage. And the day she reads Ben’s cards is the day everything changes for her . . . and for him.

Told from alternating points of view, Burning brims with the passion of its two protagonists, both at crossroads in their lives, and both forever altered by a moment in time.

And guess what? SACRED has a sequel—SPLENDOR—which will be published a year after SACRED, in November of 2013.

 

GUEST POST



“Ah, Kabbalah. It is sometimes easier to define something by what it is not. Kabbalah is not a book . . . it is not a single answer . . . it is not supposed to be easy.”

So says Martin Cohen, Kabbalah scholar and Will’s father. He’s speaking to the main character of Sacred, Scarlett Wenderoth—a girl torn apart by grief and searching for answers.
I knew some things about Scarlett and Will right away—I knew how she feels when he touches her hand. I knew about the tension between them, her desire to lean forward into his kiss counterbalanced against her growing need to deny herself pleasure. I knew the searing green shade of his eyes.
And I knew Will was on Catalina Island for a reason… but I turned to Kabbalah to find answers about the mystical powers he possesses. I wanted to ground his abilities in something learned, something ancient, something… sacred.
Do you know what I love? Bookstores. A quick perusal of my bookcase gives you a general idea of how much money I’ve dedicated to my Kabbalah collection. Here’s an abbreviated list of titles:
On the Mystic Shape of the Godhead
The Essential Kabbalah
A Guide to the Zohar
Omens of Millennium
The Thirteen-Petalled Rose
Kabbalah Revealed
Kabbalah: The Way of the Jewish Mystic
Kabbalah for Teens
Radical Judaism: Rethinking God and Religion
God in Your Body
And there are more. Plus all the books I bought doing research for Sacred’s sequel, Splendor. I also purchased my weight in sticky tabs and highlighters.
Ultimately, only a fraction of my research ended up on the pages of Sacred. But everything I learned infused the novel, informing the characters, the setting, the symbols, all the choices I consciously made—and probably also tons of choices I made unconsciously.
Then there are the scholars I’ve spoken with—rabbis, Orthodox and Reform, men and women alike. The research for this book forced me to look inward, at my own beliefs and preconceptions.
But Sacred isn’t all about Kabbalah. I don’t think it’s even primarily about Kabbalah. Really it’s about Scarlett—her pain, and her journey. And her connection to Will Cohen, the central mystery (and swoon-worthy hero) of the story.
As I’ve reread the drafts of Sacred as it gets closer to its publication date of November 13th, I find myself listening to the sage words of Martin Cohen—his warnings as well as his encouragements. It’s easy to forget that, in a way, like all the characters, Martin is a piece of me. He knows more than I do, it seems, he’s older and wiser and a guide I’d like to have in my “real” life.
When I was a high school student, I detested research. But this project ate me up, and I loved every minute of it. Apparently the trick is to research the things you’re curious about rather than topics assigned to you.
What about you? Have you ever gotten lost in research?


EXCERPT

His face was white with fear as Delilah came at him at a full-out gallop, but he stayed stock-still and as solidly rooted to the ground as the oak tree that had hidden him from my view.
His nostrils flared, not unlike Delilah’s, and even as my mare and I barreled toward him, his gaze did not waver. At his sides were his hands, clenched into fists.
Unflinchingly, he stared at me and held up one of his hands. “Stop.”
It was just one word, and though his voice was not raised, it resonated somehow, and without consciously deciding to, I obeyed. I leaned back in my saddle and pulled firmly on the reins. “Whoa!” I told Delilah. She tossed her head, unwilling, but I increased the pressure on the reins. In front of me, the boy didn’t move. Good thing Delilah stopped, or we would have collided.
“What the hell are you doing out here in the middle of the trail?” I snapped, throwing my right leg across the saddle and sliding to the ground. “You could have gotten both of us hurt.”
“I’m sorry,” he murmured. “I didn’t mean to cause you trouble. That is the last thing I want to do.”
He fixed his eyes on me. “I’m Will,” he said, offering his hand. “Will Cohen.”
Will tilted his head slightly to one side, waiting with his hand extended while I tried to diagnose his motives before I finally gave up and thrust my hand toward his.
“Scarlett Wenderoth,” I murmured in the second before our hands connected. Then our fingers touched, and I don’t think I could have told anyone my name at all.
His grip was warm and firm, and he held my hand rather than shook it, as if sealing a promise. His other hand came up to grasp mine too.
Then Delilah nudged me with her muzzle, her warm breath sending shivers down my body, and I felt a colder breeze than I’d felt all summer. Fall was coming. I smelled it all around me. I pulled my hand free.
“I’m really sorry,” Will said, his eyes pleading. “But I thought . . . I thought you were in some kind of trouble.”
I snorted. “Trouble? I don’t think so. I’ve been riding these trails all my life. I know this island better than my bedroom.”
Somehow, saying “bedroom” to this boy sent a blush across my cheeks, though he didn’t seem to notice.
“Yeah,” he said softly, as if contemplating something very important. “You did seem in complete control . . . and I don’t see anyone else nearby.” His eyes scanned the terrain as if searching for predators.
“What’s the matter with you?”

Will shook his head. “I don’t know. Something . . .”
He stopped abruptly and walked away, stumbling as if drunk, his head bowed in what looked like pain, his hand massaging his temple.
I watched him as he wandered back along the trail and rounded the corner of the large oak tree. Then he disappeared from view.

3 comments:

  1. My dad would DEFINITELY back you up that coffee is a food! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Elisabeth, I think coffee especially qualifies as a food the way I consume it--heavy with cream and sugar!

    ReplyDelete
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