Friday, December 2, 2011

'Abandoned' (my first book written for teenagers)

I have always wanted to write for young people as throughout my years of teaching English as a foreign language in Greece, I would write short stories for my classes. As well as helping them with their English, the stories would also be great discussion starters and would allow me to address certain themes prevelant at the time. Relating to my students and their problems and issues allowed me to get them talking through stories about children of their own age and how they dealt with every day life. 
That is what I would like to continue, getting to the nitty-gritty of subjects, but in an entertaining and interesting way. Books should be friends~ they reassure people of all ages that they are not alone. They can inspire and comfort, just like Art. I hope my stories do that.
Here is my design for the cover and the basic synopsis for my first novelette. I don't want to give away much of the story as yet as  I will also include some chapters as tasters for you all to read and leave a comment on in the Blog section if you like! All comments, positive or negative, are very much appreciated as always. Enjoy!
abandoned cover

Abandoned~a teenager's journey of self discovery.
Casey is a spoiled sixteen year old. She does not appreciate her loving parents or other children who don’t dress like her or listen to the same music. When her father accepts a post as a village Doctor and they move into a beautiful old mansion in the countryside, she is determined to rebel. Bored and angry to have left her friends back in the city, she decides to defy her ‘selfish’ parents completely, refusing to make friends with neighbours Lee and Lisa, and determined to spend her days alone.
But her bad attitude is about to change. 
She discovers her punk rag doll under her bed, but it is not the Eliza she made with her own hands. This doll is sad and torn and makes Casey uneasy and afraid.  On a solitary walk she comes across a house that looks exactly like her own, but is deserted and burned out. It haunts her with terrifying feelings which will draw her back there again and again.This begins a rollercoaster ride of fear, intense emotions and self discovery.The house weaves the web which entangles Casey into a series of events connecting the doll, the boy called Lee and her fated future.
Why does Eliza the doll keep appearing in that house?
Who is the handsome boy wearing her Nirvana tshirt who hangs out in the burnt out attic bedroom and why is he petrified of her?
Gradually, Casey begins to piece together the sinister clues that manifest themselves in that house. Her journal entries and sketchbooks lead her to a terrifying discovery. Can she look deep into herself and mend her selfish ways before she destroys herself and all the people she loves?

Chapter 1
Something isn't right here
June 5th~11.35am
Casey hurled her i-phone towards the pile of crumpled clothes in the corner of her room. Angrily, she chose the loudest Rock song she could find on her MP3 and snatched the earphones from her bedside table. Her best friend Stella wasn't picking up and she really needed to talk to someone. Closing her eyes, she pushed the earphones into her ears and let herself fall back onto the unmade bed. Loud music always helped her block out the world around her and today she didn't want to be aware of anything or anyone at all. 
She hated the new house they had recently moved into. It wasn't as much the house itself, just the dread of what she would do all summer without her friends who were now hundreds of miles away. She had already seen the nearest neighbours, who were at least ten minutes walk away, sitting on their lawn listening to severly irritating chart hits. The girl, who was probably a year or so younger than Casey, seemed to her to be a bit dull in her floral dress and silly sandals. The boy, as far as she could remember, was about eighteen although it had been difficult to tell, not having stuck around long enough to catch their attention. There was no way that she was going to waste her time even talking to them as they obviously had nothing in common. She could hear mum's insistently gabbing voice in her head now,'Why don't you go and make friends with Lisa and lee, love? Lee's only a year older than you! And their parents are so nice, they came to welcome us to the village yesterday...'
'Nice'. How bland. Mum was disillusioned if she thought for one single second that she would hang out with them. It just proved to her that her parents didn't understand a thing about their own daughter. They were too busy fussing around all Dad's patients at the clinic and trying too hard to make friends with everyone. What about her? Did they care about her at all? Had they bothered asking her opinion as to whether she wanted to move or not? No. Plain and simple. Anyway, she didn't need them. She didn't need anyone.
Her Doc Marten boots felt heavy from trudging around in the woodland behind the house. They had left a muddy, wet line smudged across the pillowcase. She kicked the pillow and scraped her foot along it, spreading the mud even further. Mum would kill her but she didn't care.
She hung herself over the side of the bed, feeling the blood pumping in her temples. Twisting her head a little, she could just see dim outlines of boxes and junk under the bed, some of the things she hadn't even taken out the boxes.  Ther was the xbox that her parents had given her when they moved. She didn't want more things, she just craved someone to talk to, someone that understood her. She flipped over onto her stomach to reach further underneath and suddenly her hand touched something soft, something like wool. She laughed outloud as she pulled out Eliza by her hair. She thought mum had thrown her out ages before they moved, saying as always that she looked evil and manky. But here was the doll she had made all by herself from scraps of clothes and old socks. She pressed Eliza's dusty hair against her cheek and felt strangely comforted. She sat up and arranged Eliza so she perched, lifelike, on the edge of the bedside table, her striped, lanky legs bent up towards her chest. 
'Hi Eliza,' Casey whispered, pulling some fluff out of her bright yellow hair, 'I missed you. I guess it's just you and me now.'
Casey stared at Eliza's huge, uneven eyes that were outlined in thick black acrylic paint. She had hated all the other dolls that relatives had given her throughout the years. Stereotypical bodies and faces of 'beauty' that everyone was expected to adhere to. She had always prefered the misfits, the ones who were considered ugly for it would be them that came through as the strong ones, the ones who had good hearts and more than one brain cell in their heads.
Suddenly, Casey's eyes went blurred and a she swayed a little, overbalancing for a second. A feeling of unease gripped her chest as she tried to focus on Eliza. She turned down the volume on her MP3 and shook her head to try and clear it. Kneeling on the bed, she looked back at Eliza and what she saw sent a hot blazing stabbing sensation into her chest. She drew a breath but her lungs felt tight, too tight to breathe at all.
Eliza had moved.
Her legs were hanging down now, but not limply as a rag doll's legs would. They were bent at the knees, and her head had turned so her eyes fixed on the window. Eliza's head never moved, it was sewn too tightly!
That was not the worst. Her face had changed. Her mouth wasn't smiling as it had been when Casey made her. Her thin lips were curled down at the corners, the stitching loose and torn at one end. She had been smiling when she was pulled from under the bed. 
Casey realized she had been holding her breath for way too long and let it out with an almost deperate sigh. Something isn't right here, she realized with dread, and gasped as an icy finger slid up her spine. Without thinking any more, she jumped up knocking the bedside table against the wall with a thud, grabbed her bag and almost flew down the stairs, her hand covering her mouth so she wouldn't actually scream. She was screaming in her head though. She had to get away, as far away from her bedroom as possible.
Chapter 2 will follow shortly...............
These are some of my illustrations. I aim to totally emerse myself into Casey's world which has meant making 'Image & Mood boards', collecting pictures, researching the feel of the world and the atmosphere I wanted to portray. 

casey 1
Casey's style and clothes are important. They tell us she's not a fashionista, she's not 'girlie' and she is not taking any crap!

Ragdoll Eliza

skate lee
Skateboarder Lee

Some other initial 'concept' building images that inspired me..........
abandoned house caerleon wales

nice wall
I just LOVE LOVE LOVE abandoned buildings and URBEX.......


this inspired Casey's woodland walks

grunge man
Kurt Cobain, Casey's Muse and styler for 'Rocker Lee'

Sketchbook pages from Casey sets the style for the book's interior, with doodles and notes made by Casey. Song lyrics, outfit ideas, hair ideas....dreams she has.....
emo design
lees sketch
rob smith