I AM PLEASED TO WELCOME AUTHOR
Raina Kadavil is a freshman at Boston University majoring in International Relations. She is the co-founder and President of Global Ambassadors Interact and the REACT News series, and has interned with UNA-USA and acted as Programming Coordinator for the 2015 Youth Assemblies at the United Nations. She is a 2015 Coca-Cola scholar and the recipient of various awards for service including “ADO’s Youth in Philanthropy Award,” the “Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award,” and the ABC’s “Summer of Service” grant. She recently published her first novel, “The Voice of Thunder,” and hopes to continue using her passions for advocacy and writing to make a difference in the world. She loves writing, Bollywood dancing, and hiking. She hopes to continue writing novels, travel the world, and someday work in the United Nations.
For more information – rainakadavil.com @raina_kadavil
BANTER – STUFF ABOUT YOU
Q: How would you describe yourself as a color? Think personality here. Are you a light and airy pastel person, or more of a deep, dark, sultry and mysterious color?
A: I think I’m something like a shimmering Oreo cookie: most of my closet is full of black (black cardigans, black tank tops, black leggings, black heels), but my personality is just the opposite. I’m a huge believer in the power of positive energy to influence change in the world, so I try to keep my outlook upbeat and a smile on my face – I don’t think I’d be white, inside, but I think there’d be at least a few traces of gold. I say “shimmering” because I like to treat life like a novel: there’s no fun to it without a little bit of sporadicity…a little bit of magic.
Q: Tell me something you would like your readers (fans) to know about you.
A: I have very, very vivid dreams (complete with complex dialogue and intense imagery and scenery) that I rarely remember, but I also talk in my sleep (and have no idea whether the two are related). I first found out about my sleep-talking through some embarrassing encounters with my parents, but my college roommate informed me of it more recently, and we shared a laugh. I read up on it after that, and found that anything I say in my sleep isn’t credible enough to be held against me in a court of law, so if you ever happen to hear me – don’t take it to heart!
Q: Favorite color?
A: If I could acquire a dress woven out of the color of the universe as I see it in pictures of the galaxy, I don’t think I’d ever take it off. But to answer simply, black. I think black is so versatile: so easy and yet so powerful, comforting yet elegant. I feel like I can do anything when I’m dressed in all black (which reflects in one of my favorite characters in “The Voice of Thunder”). Everything in the world has a shade of black to it – both literally and figuratively.
Q: Texting, love it or hate it?
A: As a teenager, I’ll take this question and say I love it. I have friends all over the country and all over the world, and texting has allowed me to keep them very close, which means a lot to me. In the professional world, it’s made running conferences and events far easier, which communication right at the tip of our fingers. However, I will say this – perhaps my biggest pet peeve in the world is texting slang (“ur,” “u,” “thru”) and there’s no better way to get me to stop talking to you than using “your” instead of “you’re.” And there do come the times (more frequently, the older I get) when I wish we could shelf the emojis and just call, or meet up in person – there’s a meaningfulness to a whispered “I love you” or a long hug that that a yellow face with its tongue sticking out just can’t replace.
BOOKS – ABOUT THE CRAFT
Q: When did you start writing and why?
A: I think I was born with stories precrafted in my head, because I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I used to rip off characters from “The Boxcar Children” and “Pony Pals” and write my own little mysteries and adventures, complete with my second grade illustrations. I started writing my first fully original story in the sixth grade, and wrote and rewrote until, over the course of my sophomore year of high school, I was finally able to write “The Voice of Thunder.”
Q: Where do you get your ideas?
A: My inspiration comes primarily from current events and history. Writing novels is my way of funneling all of the frustrations I hold with the injustices of the world – gender inequality and class oppression and religious persecution and genocides – into pages and pages of fictional prose. I hope kids and young adults will be able to learn from my writing, and be inspired enough by these issues of fictional Asteria to care, and speak up about these issues in the real world around them.
Q: Describe your favorite heroine?
A: My biggest role model, growing up, was (and is) Hermione Granger (and, by extension, J.K. Rowling). Close friends actually called me “Hermione” as a joke. She was everything I was – nerdy-smart, bushy-haired, and most of all, obsessed with books – and she made me feel good about that. But as I grew older and grew out of my shell – grew less shy, and more outspoken – so did she. She was the first to tell me that books and brains aren’t everything; that friendship and love and the courage to be radically and proudly oneself and to use this to change the world are the most important things of all.
Q: Have your characters ever taken the story in a different direction than you had originally planned? Do you have a for instance, for us?
A: Yes – In the process of writing my first and second books, I fell in love with one of my originally minor characters so much that this character is now hindering me from progressing the love story between two of my major characters that I had originally planned! This is causing issues as I write my sequel, but I’m doing my best to work around it. The secondary character in question may even get a sequel all to themselves, from their point of view (in the long run).
Q: What geographical locations are your favorite and why?
A: One of the earliest images in “The Voice of Thunder” – even back when I was writing the baseline story back in the sixth grade – is a beautiful, serene meadow with an enormous waterfall crashing down in its center. This location will continue to hold immense significance as the series goes on. Few people know that this meadow is based on a real place – a beautiful waterfall about an hour from home that I came across during summer camp at the Greenburg Nature Center in the summer before sixth grade. Even then, the place enchanted me – the writer part of me felt that there was something special about it: it was the kind of place where spells should be cast and prophecies should be told and ordinary men should become heroes. I visited it again this summer, six years later, right before leaving for college, and was no less enchanted.
BOOKS - NOW LETS PROMOTE – STRUT YOUR STUFF
Q: What are you working on now? Would you like to share anything about it?
A: I have a few projects that I’m working on right now. Number one among them is the sequel to “The Voice of Thunder.” Because I left the first hundred pages or so that I wrote of that one at home when I left for college, and am now stuck in a rut that I can’t reference myself out of, I went back to a very old project, a love story that I began writing years ago, and keep trashing over and over. It follows the idea that everyone gets at least one great love story in their lives, whether it ends happily or not…a love story that rears its head when you least expect it and complements the rest of your life. Currently, it’s just a series of fragmented scenes (I’m not a fan of conventional love stories, so writing this is difficult at times). There’s also another story that I’m playing with that I was first inspired for when I was twelve – a story about life on Mars. With the new discovery of water on Mars, it seems that I may be facing a deadline to write and release this one before NASA actually finds life on Mars and my story loses its fantastical fascination. However, please don’t expect a release of either one of these for at least a decade or two.
Q: Do you have a new book coming out soon? Tell us about it.
A: As I previously mentioned, I’m currently working on a sequel for “The Voice of Thunder.” It’s called “The Dying of Empires,” and will pick up on the lives of Zaara and Jay where its prequel left off: they leave Asteria to find the heir of Andromache in the world beyond. Sneak peak: they do, in fact, make it to the world beyond (our world) and I introduce a whole new host of characters who help them along the way as they undertake their wild goose chase. They learn more about one another and their pasts, and find that the people of this world have lessons to teach them that Asteria would benefit from heeding…and Zaara begins to uncover more about her strange affinity for the fifth element, spirit. Meanwhile, Asteria descends into deeper and deeper chaos, as more players join the game for power. Blythe attempts to keep King Haemon and his forces at bay, and in doing so is forced to grapple with the demons of her past.
This book likely won’t be released for a while, either: there’s still lots of editing to be done! However, the skeleton of the story has been put together, and I’d like to unleash it to the world as soon as possible.
Q: How can we find you? Do you have a web page, FaceBook page or any buy links?
A: Yes, I do. Here are the links.
“The Voice of Thunder” Website: rainakadavil.com/vot
Blog: https://rainakadavil.wordpress.com/, the-voice-of-thunder.tumblr.com
Publisher’s Site: http://ravenswoodpublishing.com/bookpages/voiceofthunder.html
Virtual Tour: http://ravenswoodpublishing.blogspot.com/p/raina-kadavil-voice-of-thunder-virtual.html
The Story of Jay
He stalked the streets, unaware that it was well past midnight. Night, encompassing, settled against his shoulders, swathed his disheveled hair. He felt like a spider, tiny but stealthy, body and limbs wrapped in a dark cloak that blended smoothly with the blackness around him. The sword alone gleamed - blade cast of the moon's same silver sheen, hilt wrapped around a stone that shined like pooled moonlight. It was what his victim's eyes always settled upon last before it extinguished their light.
Rounding a corner, he came across just what he prowled the filthy streets in search of. A quick glance upward told him he'd arrived in the alleyway outside an ancient-looking tavern. A man, tall and sturdy, with a shock of thick hair the color of freshly sliced ginger jutting from his scalp bent over another, substantially smaller figure, cloaked in the safety of the dead end's darkness. The man's shadow loomed menacingly toward him by the light of a tiny, sputtering candle mounted into a lantern beside a disintegrating sign that read, The Oracle's Eye. But shadows, he knew, were misleading: they changed themselves by dusk and dawn, after all.
He continued to move forward, barely bothering to keep his back pressed to the crumbling brick walls at his sides; this man was distracted enough that detection was improbable. When he was within a few paces of him, the man's victim came into view. It was a girl – tiny, frail, no match for this large bull of a man. Not that it would have done her any good if she had been: she lay on the cold, filthy floor, shuddering silently, unable even to scream, eyes trained on the man's sneering face.
It took only a single motion. Before the man could even turn to register just what it was that had suddenly replaced anticipation with fear, the blade had passed cleanly through the heart - dead-on, his aim never failed - and out the other side. The light faded quickly from the man's eyes; a speedy death was more than was deserved.
He pulled the blade back out carefully, painstakingly, not wanting to cover it in any more gore than necessary. The lower quarter of it emerged dripping crimson, nevertheless. He began to bend, meaning to wipe the blade on the ground, then remembered the stone floors and silently cursed them; he despised the lack of grass, of fresh, clean, soil. Disgruntled, he shifted the sword to a better position and then turned his attention to the figure before him.
He could see her properly now; the whites of her eyes gleamed in the darkness. Why, she must have been even younger than he. A waitress at the tavern, he supposed, by the apron tied around her waist. She was trembling, the poor thing, quaking as if the earth would swallow her up. She kept looking toward the man he'd just slain - now lying motionless across the pathway beside them - then to his blade, and back to his face with an expression of pure terror. She feared him, too, he supposed. He couldn't help but smile at the raw irony in that, and, hoping that the smile touched his eyes, held out a hand to her, the hand that was free of the sword. She wouldn’t move; the shaking picked up pace. Shrugging, he withdrew his hand and took a slow step backward, then another, cautiously, as he might with an injured animal. She still didn't move. After a few backward paces, he simply turned on his heel and left the alley, sword hanging at his side, the man's vile blood still clinging to its blade like a sinister sort of scarlet dew.
No companionship. No thanks. No problems. That was how he liked it. He didn't do this for the tearful gratitude.
He knew these streets better than he knew himself, he reflected as he strode aimlessly down the path. Far better, in fact. He'd taken this, the title of justice's unnamed grim reaper, up when all else had failed him. He'd felt as if his life were leading to nowhere, so rather than sit back and ride that train to failure crowned by boredom, he'd left, hoping to deviate that path from nowhere to somewhere. Where this was taking him, he had no clue; at least he knew he was doing good, and if not good, at least it was justice, though what they called justice, he knew, wasn't always "good."
He'd learned early on that he was special - no, that he was different. And being different, that he was better off alone. Yes, all he needed was the blade, his guardian, and the moon, his shepherd. He followed it through the darkest recesses of the night, and it took him to wherever it was that he was needed. He always found, somehow, what was necessary for him to survive, because he was one of those people. The people who always seemed to survive, and survive against odds that vied tirelessly against them.
The attack came from nowhere. The first rays of dawn were just beginning to infiltrate his coveted darkness when a blade crept toward his sword, and in the process of twisting to face his attacker, the sword was thrown from his hand. Rolling sideways, he ducked out of the way of the shadow that was throwing itself at him and plunged forward to catch his sword, plucking it perfectly from the air by its moonstone hilt. Falling back into position, he faced his mystery opponent, narrowing his eyes, bracing himself. Someone clearly knew what they were doing.
The two circled one another for a moment before he went in once more on the offensive. His opponent parried easily and he was thrown off balance. Halfway through tumbling backward, he fell onto one knee and righted himself once more. But before he could so much as take another breath, he found himself staggered backward with a blade at his throat.
"Who are you?" he rasped, his own sword thrown uselessly to the ground. He'd been in worse situations, and he'd made it out of them…but there was something about this person, this night-like assailant, that screamed fatality.
The attacker didn’t speak, or make any move to remove the scarf that covered everything but the eyes. Startling eyes, they were, he thought, as he was forced to stare into them - a black so deep they seemed to encapsulate the night itself. Instead, the person raised a wrist, and with a quick flourish, let a thin piece of black cloth tied around it fall to the ground. Previously concealed by it, and now open for him to see, was a strange mark on his attacker's wrist:
Almost as if entranced, his arms fell limp. He knew that mark.
Words, from a voice long lost, echoed in his mind: "This mark is your safety. Stay alive…stay true to yourself. I love you, Jay. Remember that."
As he let his guard down, the assailant dropped the weapon held to his throat and reached up to remove the black cloth from the rest of the face. To his surprise, the attacker was not a man, as he'd expected, but a woman - a jarringly lovely woman with skin the color of mahogany. What astonished him most were the strands of black ink that wound from her jaw and across the right side of her face into the tattoo of a dragon breathing fire across her eye.
"Who are you?" he asked, immediately set back on the offensive, shocked that he'd been attacked and bested by someone so feminine.
"I've seen what you do," the woman said, "and I've seen what you can do."
"You followed me."
The words came out hollow, and as a statement, not a question.
"I am many peoples' shadow. Tonight, I have been yours."
He simply gaped at her.
"You've brought a degree of justice to a world where justice is nearly a myth. Why?"
He shook his head. Her voice was like the trees - strong and sturdy, pragmatic…but there was inherent compassion in them when she spoke of justice.
"What is your name?"
Again, he shook his head. If there was one thing he knew, it was that he didn’t answer such questions, even in defeat…even faced with death.
She chuckled; it was a musical sound, like bells. Too pretty to be associated with this lethal panther of a woman. How long had it been since he'd last heard a woman's laugh?
"What does 'freedom' mean to you?" she asked, then.
Freedom…the word rolled off his mind's tongue, leaving sparks. The word intrigued him.
She bent to retrieve his sword and began to hand it back to him, but caught sight of the blood, now beginning to form a rusty red crust upon the normally resplendent metal. She paused. Taking the piece of cloth she'd shaken from her wrist, she wiped the blade clean, and then proceeded to hand it back to him. Then, though she had to reach up because of her diminutive height - he wondered vaguely why he hadn't noticed it before - she placed a hand on his shoulder and steered him toward the path, urging him to walk with her. As if he had a choice in the matter.
The sparrows counted the hours with song: when the sun's golden crown had begun to peek above the horizon, she was nodding and outstretching her hand to shake his. If anyone had been watching closely, they would have caught sight of imprints of twin stars of five prongs each, moving in conformity, imprinted upon the wrists, marking the formation of a bond.
He left after that, wandering back until the pavement gave way to grass. There, he dropped down at the base of an old elm and, thrusting the blade of his sword, the weapon he was tied to, into the ground beside him, leaned himself back against the tree’s thick, rough trunk and settled in for the day. He'd wait there until the sun sank again, and dusk came once more to greet him with its bloody, bonfire fingers, signaling that night, in all its dark, cloaking glory and refuge, was to be born again.
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