I’m very happy to introduce M Pepper Langlinais, who has a new book, Changers: Manifesting Destiny, coming out with Evernight Teen on August 5th. Here is a little bit about the book, an exciting excerpt and some thoughts on Romance, Relationships, and the Messages that are Important for Teens Today.
Changers: Manifesting Destiny
Sixteen-year-old Cee has a crush on her best friend Marcus. Unfortunately for her, he’s gay. In the wake of Marcus’s older brother leaving home to join the Aerie, Marcus has become increasingly distant. Then, when Cee discovers she has a troublesome dragon named Livian living inside her things grow even more complicated.
Marcus urges Cee to go to the Magi to have Livian removed, but the more used to Livian Cee becomes, the less certain she is about letting him go. Should she change her natural self for the crush who will never love her anyway?
Heat spread through her. Cee’s face elongated, her arms extended, her nails formed into claws, and her feet became suddenly very heavy. The boy spires erupted from her shoulders, and Cee was compelled to double over to allow the wings to grow.
Throughout, Cee fought the urge to resist, though her instinct was to do just that. She wondered what she looked like, caught a glimpse of red scales, and realized her eyesight had become sharper. All the details of the trees around her impressed themselves upon her brain: the cracks and flakes in the bark, the saw-tooth edges of the leaves, and every little spot and insect thereupon.
How big was she? Cee realized she was at eye level with the middle of the trees. She looked down and saw her friends pushing themselves even harder against the trunks–making way for Cee’s–or Livian’s, she supposed–tail as it snaked by.
Yes, we’re very pretty, said Livian impatiently, but we don’t have time for showing off just now.
The massive wings began to move, slowly at first, gathering speed that put the force of the helicopter’s artificial wind to shame. Cee realized she had no control over what was happening. It was all Livian, and she was housed inside him, somehow, along for the ride.
It was equal parts thrilling and petrifying, bursting through the treetops and being free of gravity. Cee would have liked to spend more time experiencing it, but there was the helicopter, like a massive black bug, and Livian went right for it.
Some Thoughts on Romance, Relationships and the Messages that are Important for Teens Today.
I’m not a romance writer, per se. I like romance–the idea of it–and I feel it has its place in the world of literature and the world at large. Certainly, to look at book sales, it’s clear there is a huge appetite for romance. (So maybe I should start writing more of it.)
But I believe it is best for an author to write to his or her strengths, and romance is not mine. For me, romance is the start of something. It’s the surface. And I like to go deeper. I write relationships.
There may be a bit of romance involved, but that’s never the sole focus for me. I enjoy exploring the connective tissue between people. I go under the skin and into the meat of the story. Because I believe stories come from characters and how they behave when faced with certain situations. And a large part of that behavior–their motivations–are informed by those relationships, those connections with other characters.
Now might be the time to mention I took a lot of psychology in college.
My forthcoming book Changers: Manifesting Destiny (available of Evernight Teen on August 5th) has a somewhat complicate relationship structure. Sixteen-year-old Cee has a crush on her best friend Marcus. But Marcus is gay. So this isn’t a story of winning the boy over. It’s a story of friendship strained by extenuating circumstances that include a) a snarky dragon that lives inside Cee, and b) Marcus’s alternate personality Diodoric who is not gay and has all the interest in Cee she wishes Marcus did.
Yet love, even friendship, is not so easily transferable. Manifesting Destiny is about how to endure when the person you love doesn’t love you back. And it’s about being true to yourself–loving yourself–when everyone else tells you to be someone else.
I think these are important messages for today’s teens. Romance is wonderful, a great escape. But sometimes it’s nice to see a main character who doesn’t get the guy, and who stands up for herself when the pressure is on to conform. And who values friendship above all things. I hope you’ll make room for Manifesting Destiny on your bookshelf. (And I promise a bit more romance in the sequel–I’m just building it on the foundation of relationships.)
M Pepper Langlinais is the author of numerous Sherlock Holmes stories and the creator of gay British spy Peter Stoller. She is also a produce playwright and screenwriter. She lives in northern California with her family, cat and hamster.