Welcome to my stop for Four In The Morning Tour, hosted by Dark Mind Book Tours. Today I'll tell you a bit about the book, I'll share my interview with the author, Christi Goddard, and you'll have the chance to read an excerpt. And if you click on the banner above, you'll be directed to the tour page, in which you have the chance to enter the giveaway for a signed printed copy! So what are you waiting for?
Kathleen Hayson thinks her biggest problem is her mother. The only runner up—her mouth. With a wit sharper than her mother's perfectly manicured nails, her clever remarks create more problems than they solve. But it's not her clever remarks landing her knee-deep in trouble. This time, Josh Colby is to blame. Kathleen's former childhood friend has become the school's most stuck up jerk. Before, she'd have told him to piss off and write his own stupid letter to the town slut/minister's daughter. Now Kathleen's escalating problems at home force her to reevaluate how flexible her principles are. She agrees to write the controversial letter Josh has requested. Enter Rigel, a smartass magical creature who invades her room one night, promises he has come to help her. When a boy Kathleen hates turns up dead and her mother goes missing, the letter becomes a key piece of police evidence – implicating Kathleen. As she fights her way out of a web of lies, the trust she has in those closest to her shatters. In the end, she's pushed to a terrible choice: who lives, and who else dies.
Where to purchase Four In The Morning
My mom’s a liar.
What parents aren’t, right? They tell their kids lies about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. Even the Boogeyman who crouches in the shadows beneath beds has his legend whispered into the ears of young green bean-haters.
I wished my mom would use her power of deception for good. For one, I wouldn’t have to chase down people in the dark, braving the muggers and would-be rapists who lurk in the bushes on my street.
If she’d told the boy who came knocking I was upstairs in my room, then we could have had a quick—though unlikely civil—conversation on the front porch. Instead, she told him I was out with another boy.
And she didn’t just tell this to anyone. No, of course not. She told this to Josh Colby.
It was the equivalent of having some celebrity knock on your door after their car broke down. Except, as far as celebrities go, Josh’s status didn’t reach beyond the doors of our high school. We’d known each other for the many years of our educational careers, and mostly succeeded with our mutual effort to avoid speaking to one another.
Mocking doesn’t count.
I was too lazy to run for more than a block. To scream seemed an easier solution. When a male voice called back, I smiled at my small victory of intelligence over physical prowess.
He sounded close, within a block or so, but I couldn’t see him. The sliver of moon lacked radiance as it was smothered by dark clouds, but the streetlights were enough to confirm there was no silhouette of him on the sidewalk. He must have cut through a neighbor’s yard to head back to his house on the next street over.
“What did you want?” I winced at the sudden, sharp brilliance of lightning. Spots did flip-flops against the stretched shadows on the grass as my vision tried to recover. The scent of ozone carried on the cool breeze blended with that of a fresh cut lawn.
“That you, Elchubba?”
Elchubba is not my name. Not even close. Not that many of the kids at my school cared, and several might even be shocked to discover my real name was Kathleen. Not Kathy. Definitely not Elchubba. To my eternal frustration, I won that clever little nickname in junior high. Mostly because Ryan Dixon is a jerk, but also because I was horizontally challenged and usually clad in black from hair strand-to-toenail polish. It’s to do with Elvira. Lame, I know.
I just hoped Josh hadn’t asked my mother if Elchubba was home. I wouldn’t put it past him. Instead of correcting him, I turned on my heel and headed home. I didn’t answer him on principle.
My house was still a sadistic distance from me when I heard Josh stumble through some bushes near the sidewalk behind me. Oh, heavy black boots, how you’ve failed me again.
He mumbled a curse behind me after the distinct sound of his rubber soles tripping over a crack in the sidewalk. I didn’t slow down. Maybe he would follow me all the way back to my front door so I could slam it in his face.
He outpaced me to step into my path. I considered knocking him on his boney ass. I had the weight and momentum to do it. A whiff of whatever cheap, man-scent product he used to attract girls assaulted my nose. It reminded me of dish soap and burnt popcorn.
“Please, would you just stop?” Josh said.
“Fine. What do you want?”
A car horn blared a few blocks away, followed by the squeal of tires. Josh glanced around like a super-secret spy.
My response was an eye roll and crossed arms. If he didn’t want to be seen talking to me, then he shouldn’t have answered me. For that matter, he shouldn’t have come over.
Josh said, “I need you to do me a favor.”
The laugh that escaped me sounded more maniacal than I expected. “You’re high.”
Great. I wound up chasing a boy I hated down the street to do a favor for him. It was not the pinnacle of my existence. At least I hope not.
“No, I’m serious.” Josh leaned closer and dropped his voice. “I’ll pay you.”
“Then it’s not a favor. It’s a business proposition,” I said. “If you’re going to pay me for services—of the non-prostitutional variety—then it’s a business arrangement, not a favor. A favor I’d do for free.”
The hopeful look that passed his face prompted me to add, “For friends, not for you.”
“Okay, whatever.” Josh fished in a pocket of his too-baggy jeans and pulled out a folded bill. It was too dark for me to see which president. He smiled, his teeth a perfect picket fence of glaring white. “I want you to write a letter for me.”
My eyebrows lifted without my permission. “A letter? To who?” I didn’t ask why me. I was editor for the school paper and wrote for the quarterly lit magazine.
“I’m not telling you unless you agree to do it.”
My eyes narrowed. “I’m not going to be suckered into writing a bomb threat or some stalker letter to a model you masturbate to.”
“No, no. It’s nothing like that.” Josh slouched and lowered the hand which held the bill to his side. “I was watching some old movie on TV tonight, and it got me thinking—”
“I’m serious, stop it. Well, this guy writes letters for a girl, but they’re from another guy who likes her.”
“You watched Cyrano de Bergerac?”
“Who? No, it was Roxy or Roseanne or something.”
“Roxanne?” I shook my head. “You were inspired by Steve Martin. Of course. You noticed that didn’t end well for the one guy, right?”
“Well, yeah. But that’s because the guy writing the letters steals her away. That won’t happen with us because you’re a girl. I mean, unless you’re a lezbo.”
My frown was so deep, my brows nearly touched. “How politically correct of you.”
“Oh. . . you mean you are?” He stepped away as if he’d just realized I was Typhoid Mary.
I was offended on behalf of sexual libertines everywhere. “Yes, and we’re highly contagious. You better leave before you start wanting love letters for Ryan instead of whichever girl gets your mangina tingling.”
For the record, I’m not a lesbian, but I didn’t care what he thought.
“Well, she’s not,” Josh said. “So it wouldn’t matter if you liked her or not.” He lifted up the bill again. “I’ll give you twenty dollars to write a letter that a girl would like, and make it sound like me.”
I chuckled. “Those two concepts don’t mesh.”
“Just take it, all right?”
“No, I’m pretty sure my morals exclude this . . . escapade of falsehood.”
“What? Jesus, why can’t you talk like other people?”
“My intellect prevents it, sadly.” My wry smile belied any regret.
“No, you just like being freaky little Elchubba,” he shot back. “Only not so little.” He glared at me as he stuffed the money back in his pocket, and then strode away in a huff.
He couldn’t have been more wrong. I didn’t like being Elchubba at all. I didn’t like being called that, I didn’t like being overweight, and I didn’t like that I had to go back into my house and explain to Darth Mother who Josh was and why I chased him down the street.
Sometimes, I feel like life is trying to swallow me whole. I do my best to flail about and get caught in its throat. More than once I’ve been sure I was hanging onto life’s uvula by my fingernails. Which, of course, just tickles life’s throat until it coughs me back out.
God, I’m tired of being coated in life’s phlegm.
But my curiosity was piqued. What girl could Josh possibly think was worth all this trouble?
About the author
Christi was born in Arlington, Texas in the early seventies. Her earliest memories are of seeing Jaws and Star Trek: The Motion Picture in the theater. The first was a bit much for a pre-K kid to take, and the second has much to do with what has inspired her imagination. Her father is a bit of nomad, and they moved a lot when she was a kid. She inherited this trait, and has lived many places and been just about everywhere in America. She hit puberty in Colorado, got married in Las Vegas, had her first child in Kansas, her second in Illinois. She returned to Texas just shy of turning thirty and has been there ever since. Books are Christi's first love, followed closely by movies. She loves to be told stories, and for most of her literate life, she's been a storyteller as well. Christi is in her thirties, a mother of two awesome teenage girls, and a geek on many levels. Comic books, Victorian manga, science fiction, fantasy, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Star Wars, and renaissance festivals are her greatest loves. She lives in Waco, Texas (keep Waco Whacko) with her family and lovable dog, Nelly. She has a cat named Snape who is black, full of bad attitude, and thinks he runs the place. He was deftly named.
Where to find Christi:
Where did you find the inspiration to write Four In The Morning?
I’d left a comment on another blog’s post regarding things we did in our youth. I’d said to them I used to write poetry for a boy to give to another girl as his own, and the blogger replied with, “Sounds like material for a book,” or something along those lines. It took a couple days, but eventually the story started to form in my head. Granted, what happens in my book is a far cry from what happened in my own experience.
Was there a scene in the book you found particularly hard to write?
I would have to say the most difficult scene for me was writing Kathleen’s interactions with the police. I wanted it to be authentic-sounding, but also it’s from the perspective of a teenager who had never been in trouble before. I wanted to her sound genuinely confused and believably naïve about things.
Did you get inspiration from someone specific to write your characters?
There isn’t anyone in my life that I can truly say is inspiration for anyone in the books I write. They are all just make-believe people. The only one I can legitimately say is similar (which I want to argue, but my friends say I’m wrong) is Kathleen being somewhat like me. Not in very many ways, but I hear she inherited my sarcasm.
How did you become a writer?
I’ve written since I was a kid, and even flirted with the idea of being a writer when I was younger. But then I had different goals towards the end of high school. Years later, I found a fan fiction website and read a story I enjoyed that was never finished. I decided how it should end and wrote my own version, and then I wrote another story. Eventually, I decided to go ahead and write one that was my original work.
Do you have a writing process/schedule?
I have absolutely nothing resembling a schedule. I write when the mood strikes. I might write nothing for a while, and then write a whole bunch for a few weeks. I tried to have a schedule, but the pressure of having to be creative on demand did not suit me.
Is there a particular place you feel more inspired to write?
I used to do a lot of my writing—and this will sound strange, I’m sure—at a renaissance festival. There was this one particular picnic table in the shade I would sit at near one of the shows. For hours, people would sit at my table briefly and we’d talk while they were there, but then I’d start writing again when they’d wander off. Even though it was bustling with people, I felt really inspired there and got a lot of writing done. Unfortunately, renaissance festivals are seasonal things, so I’ve learned to just write in my office these days.
What is the most satisfying part of being an author?
The most satisfying thing for me is reading reviews written by people who enjoyed my story. I didn’t become an author for fame or fortune (since those goals are exceedingly unrealistic), but to be able to tell stories and hopefully make people smile. I love to entertain people, and writing books gives me that opportunity.
What do you usually do when you're not writing?
Being completely honest, I read a lot of manga lately, something new I acquired this year. If I’m not doing that, I’m generally online in some capacity doing research, watching programs, or browsing a particular video website. I’m trying to not name-drop here.
Are you working on any new projects at the moment?
I’m editing my second book, Lesser Evils, for the umpteenth time. It’s due out this winter. The sequel to, Four in the Morning, is already completed, so once, Lesser Evils, is finalized, I’ll be diving into, Two by Day, again for additional editing.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start writing?
Do it because you love it. Do it because you have to write. Don’t expect to be the next big thing, and most especially don’t expect fame or fortune. The old cliché is also true: practice makes perfect. The more you write, the more you will become comfortable in your ‘voice.’ Don’t imitate others, just be yourself. Okay, so that was more than one bit of advice.