by Kitty Keswick
High school is hard enough when you’re normal. There’s peer pressure, book reports, the in crowd and the enormous zit that has a life of its own. Having a family whose skeletons in the closet lean toward the paranormal is not a topper on anyone’s list. Sophomore Kasey Maxwell is busy juggling the typical teen angst. Add visions, ghosts and hairy four-legged monsters into the mix and you get FREAKSVILLE. It’s a wonder Kasey has survived.
Every woman in the Maxwell family has the gift of sight. A talent sixteen-year-old Kasey would gladly give up. All she wants is a normal life. Shopping and talking about boys with her best friend and long-time sidekick Gillie Godshall consume her days. Until Kasey has a vision about Josh Johnstone, the foreign exchange student from England. The vision leads her into new waters, a lead in a play, a haunted theater…and into the arms of the Josh. Yet, both Kasey and Josh have secrets lurking in dark corners. Can Kasey’s new romance survive FREAKSVILLE?
When I started this book I was a bit skeptical. The first 50 or so pages take place on one day – in that day you discover Kasey has visions, so when she randomly touches the hot British guy in front of her, she has a vision of him in pain. So she follows him for the rest of the day, thinking she can prevent him from getting hurt. He confronts her a few times, but she insists she is not following him. Then, they end up at the theatre where she is forced to try out for Juliet and ends up with the role on the spot. And.. Josh, the hot exchange student from England.. snogs her. After this first part, you can maybe see why I was skeptical. It's a little too perfect and I really enjoy having realism, even in my paranormal reads.
That being said, it got better. Kasey proves to be her own person, ditching Josh on a date to save her friend Gillie. The added aspect of Josh being a werewolf (you get it with all the hints dropped right off, I'm not spoiling anything) also moved the plot right along. If you need all things werewolf right now, this is the book for you. I like Kasey and Gillie's personalities, they're teenagers who are fairly girly and driven by fashion, but their friendship is rooted deep and they're pretty strong in general as events unfold.
I like the format of it being a blog, although it didn't read like a real blog I thought, more like a story with the added comments. I liked how you could see the characters commenting on her blog at the end and could figure them out by their screennames. Probably not what you'd see on a regular blog, but a cool concept nonetheless.
Researching with Kitty Keswick
If I could get a job where all I did was dream up plots and characters and got to research that world, I’d be a happy girl. I love writing, but my favorite part of the journey is the research. Digging around discovering little tidbits of information, finding that one piece of gold that marries the entire story together is magical.
Freaksville, although written rather quickly, I can safely say was a long time coming. The general idea arrived whilst I slumbered warm in my bed. I do my best plotting in my dreams. (Now, if only I could translate doing laundry and other tedious household chores from my dreams to reality, I’d be set.) Turning the dream into a finished book, however, involved research.
Many moons before I wrote Freaksville, I had written a historical novel (It will never see the light of day and is safely filed away in my what-the-heck-were-you-thinking? box. So don’t even ask!) I’d spent countless hours researching the year 1571 and the events that had transpired on the borders of Scotland and England. It was during those early library-filled days, I was first introduced to the Maxwells and the Johnstones, who became the main families in that dead book that’ll never come out of its dark box.
I’m a green girl and like to recycle, take care of Mother Earth, so what better way than to recycle my research. I’d spent YEARS working on that novel…mostly researching it, and I really liked the Maxwells. I have a huge five-inch-thick binder filled with research from that book. That was before I started saving files on my computer (I might have to rethink that, though. My main computer was stolen last week…urgh!) Anyhow, back to my other ramblings…research.
So I saved one little thread from that story. Grannie Maxwell had visions. And in my twenty-first-century story, her great, great, great granddaughter Kasey Maxwell had them, too. Only I threw in an extra twist:
I so needed a filter between my brain and my body, one with big flashy lights and blaring sirens that ruptured my eardrums if I was about to do anything stupid.
The last six months had been a regular freak show, as if being me wasn’t already strange enough. On my sixteenth birthday, I got the gift. Not a gift, but The Gift, as in the gift of sight. Now that was something I totally wished I had a receipt for, so I could return to sender. Unfortunately for me, it was in the family genes. Every female of the Maxwell clan had the gift. My great, great, great, a million-times-back grandmother—in the sixteenth century—Grannie Maxwell was the first to have the gift of sight, premonition, the sixth sense. Whatever way you spun it, it still ranked big time, as in stunk.
That was last July. Now, luckily, the January cold gave me an excuse to wear gloves. The kicker was if my fingertips touched something, I got hit with a whammy of a vision, not to mention a killer migraine. The school nurse wouldn’t let me keep aspirin in my purse or locker anymore. Let’s just say life’s peachy when your head’s splitting in four directions. I kept my hands to myself. There’s such a thing as TMI. Believe me.
I was minding my own business, praying fourth period would end, because fifth period was my Photography class and sixth period was Yearbook. Anyhow, that was when I made my mistake. I had taken off my gloves because I was in the classroom. In the seat in front of me, inches from my touch, sat Josh Johnstone, the English hottie foreign-exchange student. The highlights in his jet-black hair shifted from blue to black. It looked so silky, like the fur of a black cat. I reached my hand out to run my fingers through the softness before my brain registered what my fingers were about to do. I stopped with my fingers inches from him.
Suddenly, Josh dropped his pencil. The darn thing rolled right under my foot.
“My pencil is under your shoe,” Josh said.
I tried to ignore him, which was about as easy as ignoring a zit on the middle of your forehead, but far more enjoyable. He was totally drool worthy—broad shoulders, dark hair that shaded beautiful blue eyes, and his accent! I’d seen enough British movies that it made my toes curl.
I stopped taking notes, and, before I knew what I was doing, I had my hot little hands on his pencil. And that’s when it hit me, full force like a hurricane.
They were usually much clearer than what I saw for Josh. I had choppy little fragmented images all jumbled up together. Josh. Josh smiling. He had a great smile, cute dimples. Josh sprawled out on his back on the floor. Not smiling. In a lot of pain. I couldn’t tell what had happened to him, when, where, or by whom. All I knew was I had to help him. I waited for the bell to ring and slunk around the corner to follow him.
I didn’t just research the Maxwells and Johnstones for Freaksville. I dove in and read Norse mythology, perused fashion books from the 1940’s, sat at mall and people watched, and devoured books on the supernatural. I even interviewed three firefighters to get a scene in the book correct. Every page of Freaksville contains the fruits of my research. I hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.