April 7, 2015

Suped Feature: Death Wish by Megan Tayte + YA Tropes & Giveaway

Death Wish
Ceruleans 1
Megan Tayte
YA Fantasy
Heaven Afire
February 7, 2015


Seventeen-year-old Scarlett Blake is haunted by death. Her estranged sister has made the ultimate dramatic exit. Running away from school, joining a surfing fraternity, partying hard: that sounds like Sienna. But suicide? It makes no sense.

Following in her sister’s footsteps, Scarlett comes to the isolated cove of Twycombe, Devon, with grand plans to uncover the truth. Alone. But she hasn’t reckoned on meeting two boys who are determined to help her. Luke: the blue-eyed surfer who’ll see the real Scarlett, who’ll challenge her, who’ll save her. And Jude: the elusive drifter with a knack for turning up whenever Scarlett’s in need.

As Scarlett’s quest for the truth unravels, so too does her grip on reality as she’s always known it. Because there’s something strange going on in this little cove. A dead magpie circles the skies. A dead deer watches from the undergrowth. Hands glow with light. Warmth. Power.

What transpires is a summer of discovery. Of what it means to conquer fear. To fall in love. To choose life. To choose death.

To believe the impossible.

Waves everywhere, swirling, surging, seething – a raging melange of foam and salt and inky water biting at me, pulling at me, thrusting upon me a solitary invitation:

As I fought to remain on the flimsy polystyrene surfboard that seemed more bucking bronco than wave rider, I thought: That’s how easy it is – you just let go. Just release the grip on this world that in recent months had seemed so much an effort, and sink into the blue, beneath the waves, where chaos and fury turned to quiet and calm. Like she did.

Was drowning as they claim? I wondered. The easiest way to die – peaceful? How would it feel to give up all the dragging myself through the day, all the struggle to evade the aching void inside? A relief?
Another wave rose me up and slammed me down with breathtaking power. Its force stirred me. You could say a lot of things about Scarlett Blake – she’s a loner, she’s a wallflower, she’s a menace in the kitchen – but no way was ‘she’s a quitter’ on the list of character flaws.
‘Screw you!’ I shouted through the spray.
Funny, sounded like someone shouted back. But who else would be out in this tumultuous sea at six a.m. on a summer’s morning? Solitude was the entire point of hauling myself out of bed in the still-dark and picking my way down the cliff path to the beach just in time to see the horizon light up with the first burnt-orange glow of the rising sun. No one to see me make a damn fool of myself on my first surfing attempt.
‘Trying… yourself killed?’
Definitely a voice. Male. Angry.
Scanning the surroundings for the source proved difficult while lying stomach-to-board. On an upward surge I got a glimpse of the Devonshire cliffs that fringed the cove, all dark, jutting rocks topped by bushes of gorse, and then a flash of the beach. On a downward plummet there was nothing but eye-burning, throat-choking seawater.
‘Forward… next wave!’
The voice was closer now. There was an edge to it beyond the anger. Something raw.
My eyes picked out a black form between the waves. Someone on a surfboard, paddling it expertly seaward. I took one hand off the board to push sticky tendrils of hair from my eyes. Rookie mistake. Turned out holding on one-handed was impossible. The board shot upwards, out of my feeble grip, and then it was just me and Old Man Sea.
Kicking frantically, I tried to keep my head above the surface, but the waves were burying me, one after the other, only a second or two to come up for air before the next one hit. Far away now were thoughts of letting go – I was fighting furiously for life. Never in my seventeen years had I been so desperate. But my legs were tingling with effort, and I knew it was just a matter of time.
When the final wave broke me all I could think was, Sienna. With her name on my lips I inhaled a lungful of water and I sank…

… for all of a second before something grabbed the back of my t-shirt and hauled me upward. Coughing and spluttering, I emerged from the blue and was pulled roughly onto a board, my leg shoved over so that I straddled it. I had the fleeting thought that this board was much sleeker and more substantial looking than the one I’d just lost before my rescuer settled pretty much on top of me and started paddling toward the shore.
With him in command, we crested waves and glided down the other side with apparent ease, though I seemed unable to match the rhythm of our motion and kept taking in great gulps of brine. Over the sound of the waves and the wind and the splash of powerful arms cutting into the water to propel us along, I picked out low, irate grumblings.
‘… idiot tourists… total waste of… all we need… another bloody drama…’

Finally, we reached the shallow waters and he slid off the board and pulled me off to walk to the beach. But my legs didn’t seem willing to respond to basic instructions like ‘walk’ or even ‘stand’ and breathing between wrenching gasps had become a challenge, so he threw an arm around me and half-carried, half-walked me, dragging his board with his spare hand.
Ten steps up the beach he let me down onto the sand.
‘Head down,’ he commanded. ‘Between your legs. Cough it out.’
I did as I was told. Liquid spilled out of me with each retching cough, and the cool air I gulped in burned my throat. I fought the panic, I fought the pain, focusing instead on the shells and stones strewn around. Finally, breathing won out.
‘You okay?’
I was reluctant to look up. For starters, I knew I must look a mess – long hair plastered to my head rat-tail style, face flushed and salt-burned, eyes teary and bloodshot. And then there was the fact that this guy, whoever he was, had just saved my life, and was evidently pretty mad about having had to do so.
‘Hey, you okay?’
I lifted my head slowly. Took in broad thighs clad in black neoprene; hands reaching out, palms raised; a wide, muscular chest; a striking face – rugged, square jaw, full lips, ruddy cheeks, Grecian nose bearing a thin scar across the bridge, thick black lashes framing eyes… oh, his eyes.
I opened my mouth, tried to speak, but I was paralysed by his gaze. All at once I was home in the cottage, tucked up beneath the blue patchwork quilt of my childhood; I was watching my grandmother remove vanilla-scented fairy cakes from her powder-blue Aga; I was running through a meadow of sky-blue forget-me-nots with my sister – free, exhilarated, happy. The memories took my breath away. I felt the familiar burn in my tear ducts.
His eyebrows pulled together and he placed a hand on my trembling knee.
‘Are. You. Okay?’ he said with exaggerated care, as if he were speaking to an elderly lady having a turn at a bus stop.
I blinked, cleared my throat and managed a husky, ‘Yes. Th-thank you.’
Concern melted into exasperation.
‘What’s the deal,’ he demanded, ‘out there on your own, clearly no idea what you’re doing, children’s play surfboard… you got a death wish or something?’
I cringed. I’d known the board was short, but I’d thought it was me-sized – at five foot three, what use was some enormous board?
‘I’m sorry.’
‘You would’ve been sorry if I hadn’t seen you.’
‘I just wanted to get a feel for it. I didn’t realise it was so rough out there.’
‘Rough? That’s not rough. Not even optimum surfing weather. Piece of cake for someone who actually knows how to surf…’
He paused when he saw a tear escape my eye and roll traitorously down my cheek. Furrowed his brow, combed his fingers roughly through dark hair that was drying fast in the breeze.
‘Listen, I didn’t mean to…’
I brushed the tear away furiously. Enough with the vulnerability.

‘Right, well, thank you…’
‘Luke. My name’s Luke.’ The stress lines in his face smoothed out and his lips curved. Like this, smiling and relaxed, his scrutiny was a touch less unsettling. ‘And you are…?’
‘Thank you, Luke, for your, um, help, but I’m sure you’ve better things to do, so I’ll just be…’
Before he could protest, I launched myself to my feet. He instinctively rose with me, and my water-fogged mind registered belatedly that my rescuer was a giant of a guy – my head was at the level of his chest. As I looked up to take in his stature I staggered slightly and he reached out to right me, but I stepped backwards. I didn’t need his kindness.
He looked awkward, unsure of himself, as he towered over me. ‘Hey, will you be okay?’
‘Yes, yes, I’m fine. I’ll just head home.’
‘You live close?’
I pointed vaguely west. ‘Yes, not far.’
‘Up there?’ He looked puzzled, and then interest sparked in his eyes. ‘You mean the Blake place?’

Busted. Of course being vague was pointless. My grandparents’ ramshackle cottage on the western cliff was the only building up there.
I made a noncommittal mnnnhnnn noise, but Luke was not to be deterred.

‘But that place has been empty since…’
He was looking at me now with such scrutiny that I took a further step back. I saw the cogs turning in his mind as he took in the classic green Blake eyes and then compared her – short, spiky red hair, eternally crimson lips, tall and impossibly slender – with me – petite and curvy, hair more blond than auburn reaching to the base of my spine and a pallor worthy of a vampire. His eyes widened.

‘Scarlett? Scarlett Blake!’

There was shock in his tone, and then sympathy.

Only 99pennies y'all!
Dealing with YA tropes
by Megan Tayte

Any author has to find a balance between writing the book that s/he wants, needs, to write and writing a book that readers hopefully want to read.

“What?” I hear some fellow authors cry. “You admit to considering marketability in your writing? You don’t just write for yourself, whatever strikes your fancy, and then expect readers to jump on board?”

I hold my hands up: I do think carefully about the market. About the young adult genre, and its tropes. About what readers expect when they pick up a young adult novel. And I don’t think that’s to the detriment to my craft. I think it gives me a framework within which to work, and a means by which to build a relationship with readers.

I’ve been reading young adult fiction since the dawn of the genre, and in recent years I’ve worked on plenty of titles in my job as an editor and ghostwriter. So I’m well familiar with the tropes and the discussions that spring up around them. Fascinating discussions which I wholeheartedly welcome, because we should keep thinking about the young adult genre and challenging its authors, so that the genre continues to innovate and inspire and grow.

Here’s one argument: Tropes are clichéd. Tropes are unoriginal. Tropes are stifling. Ditch ’em all and write new, new, new.

(Yes! Yes! Yes! Sorry, I have to insert my thought bubble here)

And in the opposing camp: Tropes are essential to the genre: they’re its backbone. All young adult literature must include several and stay true to their interpretations.

Personally, I sit in the middle.

In my own writing, I bring in several tropes that will be recognisable to readers. For example, in The Ceruleans the heroine, Scarlett, is seventeen and summering alone in her grandparents’ cottage: lots of freedom with no interfering parents about. Familiar? Yes. Unrealistic? No. In fact it’s authentic because it’s based on my own summer between school and university, when I lived independently – and those three months were the making of me.

Beyond the tropes I happily embrace there are those I challenge. The biggest one is the heroine’s reaction to discovering the existence of a supernatural world and her place in it. Readers are familiar with this journey: There’s something odd going on > Holy cow, xxx exist! > I’m ‘special’ too/want to be one of them/am in love with one of them > I’m transformed and so happy in my supe skin. In The Ceruleans, Scarlett reacts differently. She’s sucked into a life where she’s supposed to be ‘special’ and delighted by it, but truth be told, she’s not. She’d really rather just have a simple life as a human – she doesn’t cope well with the responsibilities and limitations of being other than human. And as for who she falls in love with… well, I wouldn’t want to spoil the story, but certainly the kind of strength she most values in a guy isn’t of the supernatural sort.

For me, writing in a genre comes down to following the maxim ‘the same, only different’. By ‘the same’ I don’t mean copying other authors; I mean following enough of the conventions of the genre so that my books belong within it. And as for ‘different’ – well, that’s what makes the books worth reading, what makes them memorable, what makes a difference to readers.

Once upon a time a little girl told her grandmother that when she grew up she wanted to be a writer. Or a lollipop lady. Or a fairy princess fireman. 'Write, Megan,' her grandmother advised. So that's what she did.

Thirty-odd years later, Megan writes the kinds of books she loves to read: young-adult paranormal romance fiction. Young adult, because it's the time of life that most embodies freedom and discovery and first love. Paranormal, because she's always believed that there are more things in heaven and on earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy. And romance, because she's a misty-eyed dreamer who lives for those 'life is so breathtakingly beautiful' moments.

Megan grew up in the Royal County, a hop, skip and a (very long) jump from Windsor Castle, but these days she makes her home in Robin Hood's county, Nottingham. She lives with her husband, a proud Scot who occasionally kicks back in a kilt; her son, a budding artist with the soul of a paleontologist; and her baby daughter, a keen pan-and-spoon drummer who sings in her sleep. When she's not writing, you'll find her walking someplace green, reading by the fire, or creating carnage in the kitchen as she pursues her impossible dream: of baking something edible.

Follow Megan
Website | Facebook | @megantayte | Goodreads | Pinterest


  1. I feel like checking for tropes that would go well with the story you are wanting to write is a strong plan. Breaking the norm from some of them just gives it a bit of spice. Great post!

    1. As I read a lot of books, I find myself deviating a lot from the popular books. It starts running together when you read too much of the same things.

  2. Wonderful post! I love the author's bio =) I've seen several good reviews for Death Wish. I'll have to check it out.

  3. Oh it's an interesting post, it's the first time I hear about this one. thanks for sharing!

    1. You're welcome. I try my best to feature the offbeat stuff

  4. Great post. I think it's all how the author handles it. Everyone has their favorite tropes. I love antagonistic romances, but some authors knock it out of the ballpark, while it falls flat with some. So tropes are fine, it's just up to the author to take them to another level.

    This sounds like an interesting book!

    1. That's true. There's enough readers to follow and like a certain flavor, I guess.

  5. The balance is hard. I want to write what I want, but there is some basics everything author should follow.

    1. In a way I think that's true hence when FSoG came out, the romance genre was suddenly flushed with crazy billionaires who gets off hitting women.

  6. It's true that some of the tropes kind of have to be followed for a story to actually fit into the genre it's supposed to be, and I am sure it has to be hard to figure out which tropes can work, and which can't when it comes to each particular story, and especially the main character and her reactions to everything. There are some YA tropes I don't enjoy anymore, but that doesn't mean other readers feel the same way!
    Death Wish sounds like a good story, and for an 'older' teen to find herself by being on her own during the whole summer is definitely different - the parents are not present, but there's a good reason for it...
    Sorry I've been MIA lately, Braine, no internet for a whole week, but now I'm back... Trying to catch up on everything all at once.
    I hope you're having a fantastic week!

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    1. Don't worry about it, Lexie. It happens to the best of us. Thanks for dropping by!

  7. I like her candor. Few writers admit to keeping an eye on the trends, but I think everyone does. Whether they choose to take them into account or not when they write is a different story, but every writer has a sense of how the wind blows, so to speak. Ideally, you would write because you've got a story that HAS to be told, but if you want to sell that story as well, the prudent path is the one that takes the market into account. It's actually easier said than done, but that's life, lol. Excellent guest post, loved it!

    1. I think you have to stay on "trend" if you want to seel your books. M. Pierce did that with his trilogy. The first book had a lot of sex, bit of rough foreplay, basically what's popular. He got followers because we got hooked. Then he did his own thing after that. It's a brilliant move IMO, it was impossible to quit after that so as a reader, I didn't have much of a choice but to follow where he's taking the story.

  8. Oh, this was a fabulous guest post. I do agree that tropes serve as the framework of the book--all of the best books have them. If readers are annoyed by them, it's probably because they personally haven't experienced it and are bothered by how different the character is from them. (Ex: the absent parent trope. Personally, I've been with my parents for my whole life and am really dependent on them.)

    I like that Megan thinks about the balance of marketability as well as her own wants and wishes. I mean, you can write an amazing book but no one would read it because it's way out of what they'd normally read.

    Aimee @ Deadly Darlings

    1. Book selling is like any other business. For your product to seel, you have to sort of know what your potential buyers like.

  9. Great post! I think if you surveyed many authors, they'd say they don't consider marketability when writing but if they took a moment to really consider, they'd realize they do. Surely you can write what you want and have it be marketable, right? I also liked her comments on using common tropes but making them her own. I always enjoy when an author really puts their own spin on a common theme. And now I'm off to check out this series, Braine. That excerpt rather hooked me. ;)

    1. Of course they do! Why write a book for sale if they're not thinking of maybe making bank? I

  10. As a reader of young adult, I tend to agree that an author has to find a comfortable balance between popular troupes and new and original. While I originality is important, if you write something that is so far away from what young adults swill ever read, then what is the point? I have this book sitting in my ARC piles on my Nook. I'll have to get it out soon!

    1. that's true. It's a fine line but one has to try and straddle both originality and popular book culture.

  11. Awesome post about clichés. Honestly, I agree that there are some tropes out there that actually do define the young adult genre, and one can argue that without them, there is no foundation. However, I'd really rather read someone make something new than do the same thing I've read over and over and over again. There are clichés that are overused, and like any other field, everything has to grow and evolve and mature some time. I do like it when an author takes hold of a particular trope and molds it into something new. That's when I see that an author is someone who listens to its readers and allows themselves to be challenged.

    Faye at The Social Potato

    1. Exactly! Only a few writers can put a convincingly new spin on the same thing. Some follow the blue print too much. Like after Hungery Games, almost every other dystopic novel I read was so similar to it I gave up looking for something new.

  12. I do find myself looking for the totally new and not seen before kind of books, but there are some tropes that work or I just don't mind them. As long as some uniqueness is thrown in, of course.

    1. I think it's the human story that puts a unique spin on the usual tropes. Like how would the character handle the same situation, etc.

  13. I really don't understand much about tropes and what nots. For me is very simple, If I enjoy the story and the author manages to sucked me in, take me away and makes me live the characters emotions, it's a winner for me. It doesn't matter to me if it has been done before, if it's common plot.
    This sounds fantastic, I'll will definitely check it out!

    1. There are some "formula" that just works. Personally I am very tired of that stupid love triangle when it comes to YA.

    2. Me too! I hate love triangles. If a book has one, most probably I won't read it.

  14. I don't think its a big deal to write a book with an audience (market) in mind. I can only imagine one thing- a diary- is written for just the writer's benefit. As to tropes, I don't mind their presence though I reserve the right to not like a handful of them that aren't my thing. ;)

    This story sounds good.

    1. Writing a book takes up a lot of personal resources so sales and marketability is definitely in the equation here and should be taken into consideration at some point.

  15. It must be tough as a writer to come up with an idea that hasn't been done to death before, and so long as I feel that an author has really made an effort to put his/her own spin on something, I'm cool with that.

    1. Right? Which is why I'm a happy reader. They write, we judge LOL

  16. Oooh... love the excerpt!! The cover is gorgeous too, I think I'll have to check this out!!

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace

  17. What a nice guest post! A wonderful introduction to a new-to-me author.


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