Wednesday, December 18, 2013

THE OTHER ME by Suzanne van Rooyen



Today I'm proud to introduce you to Suzanne van Rooyen, and her new novel, The Other Me. Suzanne is a lovely writer-friend who's lived all over the world, from South Africa to Finland. (How cool is that?)


The Other Me
by Suzanne van Rooyen

Title: The Other Me
Author: Suzanne van Rooyen
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Release Date: 19 Dec, 2013
Length: 216 pages
Genre: YA, LGBT, contemporary
Blurb:

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.



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Excerpts:

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
 now.
“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.
 Bridget’s.”
“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....”
“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
 attention.
 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
 staves.

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?”
“Yup.”
“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
 bed.
“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.

About the Author:

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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