TOKEN OF DARKNESS BY AMEDLIA ATWATER-RHODES
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (February 9, 2010)
Cooper Blake has everything going for him—until he wakes from a car accident with his football career in ruins and a mysterious, attractive girl by his side. Cooper doesn’t know how Samantha got there or why he can see her; all he knows is that she’s a ghost, and the shadows that surround her seem intent on destroying her.
No one from Cooper’s old life would understand what he can barely grasp himself. . . . But Delilah, the captain of the cheerleading squad, has secrets of her own, like her ability to see beyond the physical world, and her tangled history with Brent, a loner from a neighboring school who can hear strangers’ most intimate thoughts. Delilah and Brent know that Cooper is in more trouble than he realizes, and that Samantha may not be as innocent as she has led Cooper to believe. But the only way to figure out where Samantha came from will put them all in more danger than they ever dreamed possible.
In Token of Darkness, a car crash leaves high school senior Cooper Blake with the ability to see a brightly clothed teenage ghost named Samantha. Soon he discovers other teens with unusual gifts, such as spell casting and mind reading. If you had the opportunity to try out one of their supernatural abilities for a day, whose would you select and why?
Many of the supernatural abilities in my books are double-edged swords. I know I would not ever like to be a telepath; I don’t want to see behind the curtain, so to speak. I would like to be able to shapeshift and fly (preferably as a large, EPA-protected bird of prey of some sort, so nothing would try to eat me or shoot at me), or to survive under great depths of water so I could explore.
Can you tantalize us with a favorite scene, piece of dialogue or moment from Token of Darkness?
Hmm… I suppose I should pick a new scene every time someone asks me this, so people searching around online are not disappointed. That said…There are a lot of characters in Nyeusigrube who exist, and who I consider canon, but who have very little page-time. Their appearances tend to get cut in revision. They are behind-the-scenes characters, often with a great deal of power, who drive me crazy by refusing to ever get caught in published text. Ryan le Coire is one such character, so I was incredibly excited when he showed up in Token of Darkness.The problem with these characters, of course, is that they all tend to be ridiculous scene-stealers. Ryan le Coire is, hands down, probably the most powerful human sorcerer in Nyeusigrube- and he knows it. He is arrogant, with high standards and little patience. Most of the time, putting him in a story would be like using an uzi to deal with a mouse problem… which is why he was the only guy who could possibly help with the kind of trouble Cooper and company get into.
From the vampires and witches Persistence of Memory to the shape shifters in The Kiesha’ra series, your novels often have protagonists with strong supernatural abilities, tough exteriors and unpredictable pasts. Out of all your characters, who do you think would be the most dangerous to meet up with in a dark alley?
The answer to that would depend a great deal on the circumstances. Many of my most dangerous characters also have scruples; in the right situation, meeting with them would not be dangerous at all. In the wrong situation… well, I’m just a human author. Yes, Aubrey might be ridiculously more powerful than someone like Daryl, or Turquoise, but there is only so dead a human could be and most of my characters could manage that if they wanted to.
Some of your books like Wolfcry and Persistence of Memory explore art and architecture. Can you discuss this with us? Any desire to pursue a course of study in these avenues?
Given an infinite amount of time and money, I would pursue a course of study in almost anything one can study. I took two majors (English and psychology) and almost added a philosophy minor as an undergraduate; I added studio art classes on drawing and painting, a course on relativistic physics, a course on entomology, a course on archaeology, a criminal justice curse on serial killers, a course on ancient Rome, and a course on linguistics. I chose my English major because I decided I wanted to teach and I needed something that would provide a path toward that, and my psychology major because I loved the subject and wanted to study it in depth, but I chose my electives because I wanted to learn everything. Art and architecture are part of that very long list.
As a published author since the age of fourteen, what type of feedback do you receive from readers and aspiring authors your own age? Has there been any one sentiment that really stayed with you in particular?
When I was fourteen and first realized my novel was going to be published, my main thought was, “Cool.” (Okay, it was a lot longer, more incoherent, and excited, but it boiled down to “cool.”) It never occurred to me that my books could have a strong impact on anyone, beyond mere enjoyment.The first time I received a piece of mail saying, “Your book was the first book I ever read cover-to-cover” it rocked my world. People write to me sometimes to tell me that my books inspired them to read, or that my story inspired them to write, and to me that is simply incredible. When Teen People magazine named me a teen who would change the world, I was fourteen, and I thought the idea was fun but a bit silly. I didn’t realize at the time that my books really would have that ability.
And it isn’t just reading and writing- though those are two skills I believe are absolutely crucial vehicles for personal freedom in the modern world. I had someone write to me after reading Midnight Predator; she was an abuse survivor, and had found Turquoise’s triumphs over her former abuser, Daryl, empowering and inspiring.So, what has stayed with me most is the knowledge that I have no way of knowing what my words will mean to someone.
Can you share with us any information about future projects you are working on?
The next project in line for publication is All Just Glass, a long-awaited follow-up to Shattered Mirror. I use the phrase “follow-up” instead of “sequel” because I tend to think of sequels as things that people write because they want to go back and add to a finished story (or just write more because people liked the first one, whether or not there is more to say). Shattered Mirror was never really finished, to me. There was a complete story arc in the book, and it made sense to end the book there, but I have always known there was more to tell… it just took me a long time to figure out how to get it all down on paper.After All Just Glass, I’m planning on another long-time-in-the-works story currently titled Poison Tree, which deals with both SingleEarth and the Bruja guilds- two major organizations, one introduced in Shattered Mirror and one in Midnight Predator, who are polar opposites when it comes to their philosophies. Poison Tree will also teach a little more about Tristes, a breed referenced briefly in In the Forests of the Night and Midnight Predator, but never discussed in detail.After that… well, I have some exciting stories I am playing with, but I have not decided for certain what will happen with them.
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Amelia Atwater-Rhodes was born in Maryland in 1984 and grew up in Concord, Massachusetts. Her first novel was written when she was thirteen. She currently attends the University of Massachusetts, where she is studying English.
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