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Monday, December 23, 2013

The Other Me Blog Tour {Interview, Excerpts, Giveaway}

I'm thrilled to have The Other Me Blog Tour stopping by today with my interview with author Suzanne van Rooyen. You can also check out a few excerpts and enter the giveaway...

The Other Me
by Suzanne van Rooyen
Harmony Ink Press
216 pages
YA LGBT Contemporary

Fifteen-year-old Treasa Prescott thinks she’s an alien. She doesn’t fit in with the preppy South African private school crowd and feels claustrophobic in her own skin. Treasa is worried she might spend life as a social pariah when she meets Gabriel du Preez. Gabriel plays the piano better than Beethoven, has a black belt in karate, and would look good wearing a garbage bag. Treasa thinks he’s perfect. It might even be love, as long as Gabriel doesn’t find out she’s a freak. 

As Treasa spends time with Gabriel, she realizes she might not love him as much as she wants to be him, and that the reason she feels uncomfortable in her skin might have less to do with extra-terrestrial origins and more to do with being born in the wrong body.

But Gabriel is not the perfect boy Treasa imagines. He harbors dark secrets and self-destructive tendencies. Still, Treasa might be able to accept Gabriel’s baggage if he can accept who she longs to be.

Find the book: 

What three words best describe The Other Me?

Raw, honest, unapologetic

Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers, to give The Other Me a try?

For fifteen-year-old Treasa Prescott, it takes falling in love with a broken boy for her to realise that the reason she thinks she's an alien has nothing to do with being from Mars, and everything to do with being born in the wrong body.

Grab a copy of The Other Me and answer the following:
Favorite chapter? 
Trick question, there are no chapters in TheOther Me ;)

Favorite page? 
Every one featuring Jordan - she cracks me up

Hardest chapter and/or page to write?
 Can't really say without giving too much away, suffice it to say the hardest scene to write happens late in the book between Gabriel and his dad. It was tough from an emotional perspective. I needed to take a break after that. It was the first time I've ever cried while writing.

Flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentence teaser: 
Despite how fierce Treasa’s fiery hair made her look, I caught a glimpse of something else in her eyes. They’re blue and brittle, and there’s sadness in them like she’s drowning in unshed tears. - Gabriel

What inspired The Other Me? Was any part of the story or any of the characters based on real people or events?

Oh yes. This story is deeply personal and was inspired by many of my own high school experiences growing up in South Africa. Like Treasa, I also went to an all-girls Catholic school, and also like Treasa, I never really managed to fit in. I drew from some college experiences as well, especially when it came to character creation. I've borrowed traits and quirks from many of the people I knew as a teen to make my cast - Treasa, Gabriel, Jordan and Dirk - more real, multidimensional and relatable.  

Why do you think it’s so important for LGBT characters to be represented in YA? And what do you hope to convey or hope readers walk away with from Treasa’s story?

Authenticity. We live in a culturally diverse world and I want to see that in literature. I don't want to read about the same sorts of characters from the same sorts of socio-economic, religious and ethnic backgrounds in every book, and I certainly don't want to write about that. Why specifically should LGBT characters be in YA? Because teens are our future and are so impressionable. If books consistently present straight and white as the ideal to which to aspire, it can cause serious self-esteem issues and propagate prejudice, never mind self-loathing amongst LGBT teens already struggling against marginalization. Given the changing political, religious and ideological climate of the 21st Century, I find it sad that we're still lacking an LGBT Katniss Everdeen or Harry Potter. The lack of diverse role models in teen literature might make kids think that because they're gay or black or overweight or dyslexic, that they can't be heroes, that they don't have the power to evince change in the world and in their own lives, and that's a very dangerous message.
What I hope readers will walk away with from Treasa's story is that as hard as it is being honest with yourself, and others, about who you are, it's even harder not being who you truly are. Life is way too short not to live the type of life you want to, even if it means some people won't understand or support you.
Are there any Young Adult, Middle-Grade, or New Adult LGBT books that you would recommend or that you love?

Coda by Emma Trevayne. It's a dystopian novel about a musically manipulated society and stars a bisexual protagonist. This is one of my favourite books of 2013 and possibly of all time. I can't recommend this book enough.

This OR That
Print OR Ebooks 

Starting a book OR Finishing a book 
Starting if I'm writing it. Finishing if I'm reading it ;)

Falling for the hero OR Falling for the villain 
Oooh, tricky. Falling for the villain

A night out OR A night in 
Night in

Stuck in a Dystopian book OR Stuck in a Post-Apocalyptic Book

Fill in the blanks
I’m really awesome at procrastinating.
I’m really embarrassed to admit that I've never ridden a roller-coaster.
The last great book I read was Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman.

If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by TheOther Me what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?
Oh my goodness, what an interesting question! *puts on thinking hat* 

It would have to be a rainbow coloured vanilla sponge cake topped with a multi-coloured buttercream frosting and decorated with plastic icing music notes, since music plays a major role in this novel. And I'd call my cupcake 'Sweet Notes' ;) Look I even found a picture... 

Thank you so much, Suzanne, for stopping by today and giving us a chance to get to know you and your book a little better! And those cupcakes looks so yummy!!!

1. Treasa

We sit at a table in the back. I head for the corner seat and so does
Gabriel. Propriety wins, and he pulls the chair out for me. He orders a latte
and asks me if I want to share a muffin. I’d share anything with him right

So, tell me something.” He gouges his fork through the colossal
blueberry cake.

Like what?” I take a sip of cappuccino.

Something about you. I know you sing in the choir and that you like
aliens.” He smiles, revealing a sliver of inner lip stained blueberry purple.
 “You read about composers, and I guess you’re Catholic, being at St.

Um....” I take a moment to collect my thoughts, to quash the
impulse to tell him I think I’m an alien, to resist the urge to ask him if mybeing a Catholic schoolgirl is the only reason I’m here. Although the idea
of fulfilling some sordid fantasy of his doesn’t sound too bad. Bobby
socks and pigtails? For Gabriel, I’d do that.

I used to play piano,” I say.

How far did you get?”

Twinkle Twinkle.”

He laughs, and the tension keeping his shoulders bunched seems to
drain, letting him slide lower in his chair.

You going to study music next year?” I stab a blueberry with my
fork, hoping they won’t become permanent fixtures in the wires on my
teeth. Gabriel doesn’t say anything, his expression clouded by ineffable
emotion. “Sorry, did I say the wrong thing?”

No, it’s just....” He slurps up latte and licks froth from his upper lip
dusted with the shadow of stubble. Damn, he’s gorgeous. “I’d love to
study music, but....”


My father doesn’t approve.”

But you’re like the next Ashkenazy!”

I’d rather be the next Horowitz.” He fiddles with his serviette,
shredding the logo printed on the corner.

So, what are you going to do, then?”

Engineering, probably.” He doesn’t look happy about it, and I don’t
know him well enough to press the issue.

I’m thinking of doing a BA.”

Bugger all?” He grins.

I snort my coffee and cough up a blueberry. So sexy. Don’t think
I’ve ever laughed this much with anyone, let alone a guy.

Is that what they call it?”

So I hear.” He takes another bite of muffin before pushing the plate
and last few pieces across the table to me.

I’d love to do astronomy, it’s fascinating, but I suck at actual
science. I’m good at history and languages, though.” Don’t want to sound
like a complete idiot in front of Mr. Academic Colors here.

So BA history, then?”

Anthropology, maybe.”

You want to study people?” He seems surprised.
It might help me understand why we’re all so messed up.”

2. Gabriel

Five years ago today, my mom died, and it seems I’m the only one in the family who remembers. Even after all this time, I feel her absence, the ache physical, kind of how I imagine an amputee must feel after losing a leg. You think the missing bit is still a part of you, and it comes as a shock every time you realize it’s gone. Only I lost an internal part of me no one can see is even missing. Only I feel the loss, feel that huge gaping wound that might suck me right down into the abyss, if I let it. Mom probably wouldn’t want me chucking myself out of the car or getting stoned with Dirk or shagging a girl like Karla. She’d like a girl like Treasa, though. Mom was a singer too.

“You know, she’s been dead for years, and I still half expect her to
waltz into my bedroom in the mornings with a cup of condensed milk
coffee.” I watch the family with the dog and the Frisbee, watch the mother
pick the little kid up when he bails into the grass.

“Man, that was the best coffee ever,” Dirk says.

Last time I had condensed milk coffee was the morning before Mom
died. If only I’d known it was the last cup she’d ever make me, I would’ve
savored it and not left half behind, too busy playing piano to pay proper

Damn Klippies, now I’m getting all dronkverdriet. I backhand
unwanted moisture from my eyes, and the snatch of a melody spins loose
from my imagination. It’s simple yet beautiful, music in a minor. If only I
had my notebook with me. I’ll probably forget the tune by the time I get
home, even though I try to catch it, humming the notes under my breath in
the hopes of remembering. This’ll be the first theme of my sonata. Finally,
I have something to work with. Maybe this is how all those great
composers did it; maybe I should do this more often: get wasted, get
morbid, rip the scabs off old wounds, and let myself bleed all over the
3. Treasa

“You haven't been on a first date yet, and you’re worried about
kissing him?” Jordan sits on my bed, watching me fight with my hair.

“How do you know if you’re a good kisser?”

“People tell you.”
“I’ve only ever kissed one guy.” I twist and pin a strand into place.

“Really?” She looks at me in mirror. “Trent in grade eight?”


“That’s depressing.”

“Tell me about it.” I examine my makeup. It’s not much, but at least
the foundation quiets the riot of freckles across my face, and the mascara
accentuates my otherwise pale eyes.

“You need to practice.” Jordan swings her legs over the edge of the

“On who?”

“Me, of course.”

“You want me to kiss you?” I do a final twist at the back and jam in
half a dozen pins.

“Not particularly, but I’m willing to do this for the good cause of
improving your kissing skills.”

“Are you serious?”

She rolls her eyes and spins me around on the wheelie chair. “Stand
up.” Jordan places a hand on my waist and another on my neck. “Lean in
slowly and just let your lips touch.”  She does, and her lips are sticky with
gloss. “Then you pull back a little and gaze into each other’s eyes.” We
do, and a startling warmth spreads up from my belly as she places my
hands on her waist. “Then you go in for the real deal.”

She kisses me, her lips slightly parted, and then her tongue slips
between my teeth and she tastes of toothpaste and strawberry lip gloss. I
pull her closer and kiss her back. Her fingers tighten on my neck, and
we’re getting really into it. Too into it. I’m not sure who freaks out first.
We both pull away and don’t say anything for a few awkward moments.

“You’ll be fine,” Jordan says as she twirls a strand of dark hair
around her finger. “You’re not a bad kisser. Definitely room for
improvement, but certainly not bad.”  Her face is uncharacteristically flushed, and her hands are shaking as she reapplies lip gloss.

Suzanne is an author and peanut-butter addict from South Africa. She currently lives in Finland and finds the cold, dark forests nothing if not inspiring. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When not writing you can find her teaching dance and music to middle-schoolers or playing in the snow with her shiba inu. She is rep'd by Jordy Albert of the Booker Albert Agency.

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1 comment:

karin said...

I really love books with sweet characters,so I will have to say Anna and the French kiss