by Susan Kaye Quinn
My new middle grade fantasy, Faery Swap, is about a fourteen-year-old boy who is tricked into swapping places with a warrior faery prince and has to find his way back home before the dimensional window between their worlds slams shut.
2 minute book trailer
In my prior life, I worked for NASA and got a lot of degrees in engineering. (Yes, I really am a rocket scientist and have the Ph.D. to prove it!) I used the logical-left-side of my brain to design aircraft engines and study global warming. Now that I write fiction, I love using the creative-right-side of my brain to create compelling characters and dramatic adventures as well as the logical-left-side to weave math, science, and technology into my stories. Math and science have always seemed wondrous to me, so it made sense to me that the warrior faeries in Faery Swap would steal mathematical knowledge from humans in order to enhance their magickal faery powers.
In my story, knowledge is literally power.
I'm passionate about this message - that knowledge is power and math is magick - and the ethical use of that knowledge is a key theme throughout the story. I wanted to share this message, so I created a Virtual Author Visit, Common-Core-based Teacher's Guide, and a card-based game, so any teacher, anywhere on the planet, could share this message with their students.
9 minute Virtual Author Visit
In this video, I share my background in science and engineering and talk about the book, then show how humans use math in the real world to do amazing things... even without magick to help them. The Teacher's Guide, activities, card game, and videos are meant flexible - teachers and librarians can spend as little as 2 minutes sharing the trailer or they can use the materials to create a whole unit around the book and the Knowledge is Power When Math is Magick theme. My hope is that some of my love for math and science will rub off on young readers, and that kids will see they each have an inner warrior faery capable of seeking knowledge and performing great deeds with it!
(Click here to find out more about the Virtual Author Visit).
March 3rd - March 21st
Warrior faery princes can be very stubborn. Especially when they possess your body. Fourteen-year-old Finn just wants to keep his little sister out of Child Protective Services--an epic challenge with their parentally-missing-in-action dad moving them to England, near the famous Stonehenge rocks. Warrior faery Prince Zaneyr just wants to escape his father's reckless plan to repair the Rift--a catastrophe that ripped the faery realm from Earth 4,000 years ago and set it adrift in an alternate, timeless dimension. When Zaneyr tricks Finn into swapping places, Finn becomes a bodiless soul stuck in the Otherworld, and Zaneyr uses Finn's body to fight off his father's seekers on Earth. Between them, they have two souls and only one body... and both worlds to save before the dimensional window between them slams shut.
NOTE TO TEACHERS: Check out the Virtual Author visit video and Common-Core-Aligned Teacher's Guide for Faery Swap here.
[Author's Note: Faery Swap is told in alternating points of view, between Finn, the human boy, and Zaneyr, the faery prince who tricks him into swapping places.]
He looked up at the blanket of haze hiding the sun. The sky had been blue when he had dropped off Erin. How long had he been out? He wrestled his arm around to look at his watch
The second hand was dead still, frozen between the five and the six. Whatever McFreaky did to knock him out broke his watch, too. The watch his mom gave him. She had strapped it on his wrist that day he was late for the bus and told him that being on time was important. Part of growing up. She drove him to school. The wreck happened on the way home.
It was the last thing she ever gave him. And McFreaky broke it. Finn clenched his fist and slammed it into the grass.
Then the grass punched him back.
The hit to his shoulder was so hard, it flipped him onto his back. A tinkling of glass sounded all around him.
What the ? Finn scrambled to sit up. The grass couldnt have punched him. That didnt make any sense. Something under the grass then. He jumped up to his feet and stared at the ground, frozen, waiting for it to move again.
Finn stomped his foot on the grass where hed been lying a moment before, just to be sure. The grass kicked back, knocking him off his feet and landing him with a thump on his backside. The tinkling glass sound rushed up, like a thousand tiny voices laughing.
Ahhh! Finn jerked up off the ground. A narrow dirt path was just a dozen feet away, so he ran toward it. Tiny insects rose up wherever he stepped, making the tinkling sound, then falling back down. He teetered on the safety of the path, which seemed clear of the insects. The path was just wide enough for a sheep to pass. A very small sheep.
What was this crazy place?
Zaneyr peered at the young sister of Finn. He vowed to respect that kin bond, as a brother would. It was the least he could do, having banished her brother to the eternal changelessness of the Otherworld. And perhaps the House of Finn would serve as good a hiding place as any.
She awaited his answer with an impatience too large for such a small thing.
No, lass, you cannot stay home with me. He gestured to the loud guardian of the stone structure. You need to stay here. But I will be back at the appointed time for you.
Erins shoulders sagged with defeat.
But I think I will return home now. Zaneyr looked around at the many dwellings that crowded the path. Which one would that be?
Erin fixed that glare upon him again. I memorized our address, already! When are you going to stop quizzing me?
It is the sickness, Zaneyr said with a smile. It is stealing my memory like a thief.
Dude, you are sick. She suddenly shot her hand toward his face. Reflexively, Zaneyr leaned away, but she managed to land a tiny, warm hand on his cheek. He froze. What sort of magick was she working by touch? Then he remembered she was only a child, and a human one at that. It had been so long since he had felt the warmth of any touch.
The tension flew away.
Youre not running a fever. Her face was a picture of seriousness. But I should go home with you.
Erin! the woman called again, closer now. You all right, love? Im closing the gates.
You are summoned. You must go. Zaneyr glanced again at the dwellings, stacked like cubes on top of one another. He pointed to one. Is that our home? I dont believe you truly recall.
Erins shoulders drooped again. Its 842 on Earls Court. She speared his chest with a small finger.
Dont forget to come back and get me.
I could hardly refuse an order so imperiously given.
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Susan Kaye Quinnis the author of the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, which is young adult science fiction. Faery Swap is her foray into middle grade, which is her first writing love. Her business card says "Author and Rocket Scientist" and she always has more speculative fiction fun in the works. You can subscribe to her newsletter (hint: new subscribers get a free short story!) or stop by her blog to see what she's up to.
Fourteen-year-old Finn is tricked into swapping places with a warrior faery prince and has to find his way back home before the dimensional window between their worlds slams shut.
Thanks for visiting, Susan! I loved Faery Swap, and hope we get more stories about the Faery realm soon!
Meanwhile, there are only three weeks left in A Round of Words in 80 Days - and last week I veered away from my vignette submission and went back to my 2012 NaNo story, Captive of the Sea, which I typed up last autumn.
I'd typed it up on PlainText on the iPad - love being able to lounge on the sofa while getting things done - so I had to move it from PlainText into Scrivener, where I had fun sorting the scenes into chapters. 60 scenes, 20 chapters, and 61500 words. Lots of room to add words, which is good, because as usual I'm missing an ending and many scenes need fleshing out. I might read this one on the plane if we plan a spring trip.
While we're sharing excerpts, I thought I'd share my prologue to Captive of the Sea:
I was born on King Arthur's grave.
My earliest memory is of Father telling me stories of the court of the king, who reigned over 500 years ago. Each tale started with daring knight who, peradventure, fell afoul of a lovely maiden, and fought his way through perils back into grace and favour. The stories were scarfed by the mists of time, and my father ended them all with the words, "you are a daughter of Snowdonia, of the mountain whence Arthur will rise again."
Then the battles of the kings of our time began anew, and my father packed up our household and brought us to the teeming, reeking city of London. He disappeared every day into the milling crowds, seeking his fortune, and I hardly ever saw him except for an hour or so at sunset.
The fogs and smoke choked me, and I stayed as much as I could indoors. I'd look out my window early in the morning, seeking green sloping hills and purple-headed mountain ranges. Yet I could not look long; the fog and surrounding walls shut off all farsight, and my mother's strident tones soon summoned me to my duties.
My father returned home later and later of nights, and he did not tell me stories anymore.
If you've got an excerpt or two, please share!