Author Interview: Sydney Paige Richardson + Excerpt

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Twin Sisters: one destined to rule, one cursed to destroy.

Some say blood is thicker than water. But for twin sisters, Adie and Aura, their connection runs even deeper than blood.
After investigating a surprise attack carried out by dark souls controlled by the Wicked Willow, an evil  residing in a neighboring region, Aura uncovers a family secret: she is the fulfillment of a curse placed upon her family centuries ago.

While Aura is destined to destroy their planet, Thindoral, Adie is fated to follow in their mother’s footsteps and become Ruler, but even Adie’s path comes with revelations. Dangerous premonitions plague her dreams, all depicting Thindoral’s demise at the hand of her sister.

As darkness takes control of her mind, Aura must determine whether defying fate and time is the choice that will seal her destruction, or if self-sacrifice will save all she holds dear. Meanwhile, Adie is faced with an impossible decision: save her sister, or protect their world?

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Author Interview:

What gave you the idea for The Halves of Us?

Honestly, it came from my dreams. I have suffered from night terrors since I was a little girl. I was going through a super stressful time in my early twenties, which makes the night terrors worse and come more often. I started to write them down because it felt like I could have some sort of control over the situation. Slowly, on the advice of a dear friend of mine, I started to merge them together and build a story.

I know there’s twins in the story, do you have a favorite?

Oh my goodness! I don’t think I can choose. I relate to them each so much. Adie has night terrors and loves whole heartedly, and Aura is headstrong and fights for what she wants and those that she loves. There are pieces of me in each of them. I can relate to them both so much.

When you write, do you outline or just go with the flow?

I think it’s a mixture. With book 1, it really was about just merging all these dreams into a story. And then I realized this was going to be more than one book. With book 2 and book 3, I outlined some of my ideas. But when I started writing book 2 of the series it really took off in a direction I wasn’t expecting in some areas (including the death of a character I didn’t even know was coming – and resulted in my crying in my cubicle on my lunch break). So, I think I do both.

If you could describe The Halves of Us in three words what would they be?

Sisterhood, choice, and darkness.

When did you first start writing?

When I was a child. I wrote my first ‘book’ in second grade called Girls. My second grade teacher laminated it for me! It was when I knew I wanted to write stories. I kept a diary/journal and mostly did terrible poetry in those in my teenage years. I always knew I wanted to write – but I needed time to grow into my voice and aesthetic. I think I am still growing and learning every day from myself and the writing community– but I am so excited about sharing my stories with the world! I think that is my next step in continuing to mature as a writer.

Did you always know where the story would go for The Halves of Us?

With this book (part one of the trilogy), I definitely knew where most of it was going. Many of the scenes are based on my actual dreams/night terrors. But just like when you are dreaming, you start in one place and then go to another – and forget how you got there, I had to fill in the blanks and build the story. I felt that I always knew how it had to end, but it didn’t really hit me how the end would play out until I was in my car listening to Pandora. This song came on called In Reverence by David Tolk. It has no words to it, but the entire music just filled me and I began crying in my car because I knew exactly what I had to write.

What’s the hardest part about writing?

I think that changes from day to day. Some days it’s self-doubt. Some days it’s finding time. Some days your creativity leaves you and you feel stuck. Some days it’s forgetting where you saved that last file and having a panic attack. I think my main struggle now is really just self-doubt and worrying that no one will love it as much as I do.

If you could become any book character for a day, who would it be and why?

Any book character EVER? Oh man I am giving two answers. Maybe three…ahh crap. This is a tough question! Here is two, a new one I just met and an old one I have loved for a while:

NEW character I have just met: Well, I just finished reading Blinding Night by Chantal Gadoury, and it was such as beautiful story – and I find myself still thinking about it. I would love to be Summer for a day. Mostly because Darce and Morpheus, but also because I love the story. ;]

OLD character I love so much: Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter because she’s weird and says random things, but she’s oddly smart and compassionate – and I think we have that in common, plus HOGWARTS.

What’s your favorite color?

I love black. It is a majority of my wardrobe. But I also love purple, various shades of blue, and emerald green [basically just all the jewel tones ever].

What other books do you have planned next?

Well book 2 and 3 of The Halves of Us trilogy come out next year through Parliament House! I hope everyone continues to follow Adie and Aura’s journey.

I am also working on another YA fantasy called The Chains that Bind about djinn that live in a parallel world to Earth and a girl that gets stuck there after a wish goes wrong. It has a few re-telling factors of old fairy tales, but has the story stands on its own.

I have a two other WIPs that are top secret! ;]

Do you have any advice for other writers?

To just keep at it. It’s tough. Some days suck. The best thing you can do is find like-minded writers who help build you up and also offer you constructive criticism. Take it all in, listen to their advice – it’s the only way you can grow.

 

Excerpt:

[Scene in Adie’s perspective] Twin sisters Adie and Aura, along with the other final year students, are being escorted down to the Room of Papers by their Uncle Gossamer. There, in the Room of Papers, they will each discover their Fates…

“We’re headed down to the former dungeon area. It hasn’t been used as a prison in hundreds of years. It’s more of an archive area now, deep inside the mountain connected to the Dome.”

Adie turned to speak to Aura, but she was no longer by her side. How does she always disappear like that? We were supposed to do this together. They reached a large door she’d never been through but had always made her curious. Or more, it had always made Aura curious.

Don’t tell Aura not to touch something, because then all she wants to do is touch it.

The Forbidden Door.

It remained locked at all times. Long, thick bars of brass bolted the silver door, crisscrossing at different angles, making the door impenetrable. Adie shuddered as she heard her mother’s voice in her head. Behind this door lies the Fates of our people, guarded by a creature most foul.

Years ago, when she and Aura would sneak through the Dome and find all the secret tunnels, no matter how hard they searched, they couldn’t find another way past this door. The only ones allowed to enter were those in their final year of Teachings. They’d always discussed going through this door together.

Gossamer shuffled with his keys, but Adie’s eyes caught a quick slide of his hand as he pulled a key from his pocket she’d never seen before. The pale key had a soft glow. Adie gazed around, wondering if anyone else had noticed.

As Gossamer turned the key, he took a step back, and they watched the brass bars shift around the door, clicking as they each moved to the side. The door shuddered as it eased open. Following Gossamer’s lead, the students shuffled in, forcing Adie forward without Aura. The dark tunnel had white vines trembling along the walls and creeping beside them as they walked through.

As they reached a spacious open room, Gossamer fumbled through his array of keys until he reached a wooden one with an elongated and bent torso. He inserted the key in the only door in the room and turned it with ease. The door creaked, and all the students watched with wide eyes.

A humpback creature unlike any Adie had seen on Thindoral, stood in the doorway, towering over Gossamer. Peachy rugged skin covered him except for the tousled hair on his large round head. A sharp beak protruded from his face, and a thin opening stretched across it, creating what Adie assumed was a smile. Sharp, silver teeth lined his grin in multiple rows, and a foul rotten smell filled the air around him as he panted breathlessly.

Gossamer faced the students. “This is Mister Dilip. He will escort you, one at a time, into the Room of Papers.”

Mister Dilip looked about the main room of the dungeon with his beady pink eyes. He clasped his hands in front of him, revealing three wrinkly fingers on each hand, and sighed with anticipation. Adie stepped forward to get a better look and listened to his gruff voice.

“You will each enter individually. It’ll seem but an instant to those who remain waiting out here, but remember, time doesn’t bind this room. There are rows. There are stacks. There are thousands of papers.” His eyes grew wider with excitement as he gazed at the students surrounding him. In a deep, raspy voice, he continued, “You’re searching for one sheet of paper. The one that’s not blank. That one will reveal your Fate. Your destiny. Welcome to the Room of Papers.”

The students peered behind him, but all they saw was darkness. “Who’s first?” he asked as one eye spun around in its socket, making his pink iris vanish. All the students stepped back in a hushed gasp, except one.

Aura.

Her distraction was obvious. Her eyes remained glued to the floor and her hands were in fists. Her gaze broke when Voke croaked loudly. An Ogre next to him grunted and hunched his shoulders, trying to disappear into the crowd.

Mister Dilip’s three fingers motioned her forward. Adie watched as Aura held her head high as she walked toward the dark room. She paused only momentarily and glanced over her shoulder. Adie forced a smile and prayed Aura would come back with a pleasing Fate. Gossamer motioned for Aura to continue, and she entered the room, disappearing into darkness as he shut the door behind her.

What seemed like only thirty seconds later, a pale-faced Aura walked out of the room. Within her trembling hands, she held a large, rectangular white sheet of paper. She walked toward Adie quickly and stood next to her sister.

“How long was I gone?”

“About thirty seconds or so,” Adie whispered.

“Seemed like an hour.” Aura said, showing Adie her paper.

“I don’t see anything.”

“And you won’t,” Mister Dilip interjected. His eye rotated again. “You alone will see the image on your own paper. You alone will see your Fate. You can’t see the Fate of others. You may only share your Fate with those it involves.” He looked around at the crowd, all the students hesitant to be next.

Adie stepped forward, nominating herself.

“Come. Come, Future Ruler.”

Adie took a deep breath and straightened her shoulders. She walked forward and into the dark room, stealing a quick glance behind her to get reassurance from Aura, but the door had disappeared. Mister Dilip, Gossamer, Aura . . . everyone was gone.

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Author bio:

Even before I could hold a pencil in my hand, I was making up stories in my head. I wrote my first book in the second grade, Girls [sorry Lena Dunham], about me and my best friends in college [because college was super cool when you were 8] who went on treasure hunts and fought bad guys with our super powers. My second grade teacher was so impressed with me, she laminated a cover and bound it. That will forever be the moment I dreamed of holding a copy of my own book and placing it on a shelf.

Now all grown up, my head still stays in the fantasy world, fashioning worlds where the power of a star can be harnessed and used for time travel, flying is just as easy as walking here on earth – and my best friends are fairies. My characters are dark and lost individuals, but your love for them will grow when you realize not everything is black and white. I am represented by Rebecca Angus at Golden Wheat Literary.

Connect with Sydney:

Facebook: @sydneypaigeauthor

Instagram: @sydneypaigedecides

Twitter: @sydsayingthings

Website: sydneypaigerichardson.com

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