Thursday, 19 July 2012

Press Release: Will Hill Signs New Book Deal With HarperCollins



HarperCollins signs three more books from Department 19 author Will Hill
HarperCollins is delighted to be continuing its relationship with YA author Will Hill by acquiring three new titles. Fiction Editorial Director Nick Lake secured UK & Commonwealth rights to two final books in the Department 19 series, plus one untitled YA novel. The deal was concluded by Nick and Charlie Campbell at Ed Victor Ltd.

First launched by HarperCollins in 2011, Department 19 was the number one bestselling YA hardback debut of the year and the series has acquired more than 7,000 fans on Facebook (www.facebook.com/department19exists). The books have also enjoyed sales success as ebooks, with Department 19: The Rising becoming HarperCollins' bestselling children's ebook launch in April. Hill’s writing has also been acclaimed in the press. "High action, fast plot, original and gripping, this is vampire writing without the sparkle – but with lots of blood!" said the Sun, while the Telegraph pronounced that, “Bram Stoker can stop turning in his grave: his 21st-century legacy extends beyond Twilight.”

Nick Lake said: "Will Hill is an incredible talent and we’re tremendously excited to have these new books to look forward to. With The Rising, he achieved that rare feat - a sequel that is richer and more gripping than its predecessor - and the strength of his writing is certain to garner him many, many more fans over the coming years."
Will himself said: "I'm absolutely delighted to have signed with HarperCollins for three more novels - the experience of publishing the Department 19 books with them has been an absolute pleasure. I'm looking forward to continuing to work with my amazing editor Nick and the fantastic sales, marketing and publicity teams, and I'm so thrilled that the Department 19 series will finish where it started; on the best list in the business."

About Will:
Before quitting his job in publishing to write Department 19, Will Hill worked as a bartender, a bookseller and a door-to-door charity worker. He grew up in the north-east of England, is scared of spiders, and is a big fan of cats. He lives in east London with his girlfriend.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Andy Briggs - The Jungle Warrior Blog Tour




Welcome to the very first stop of Andy's Blog Tour and to Andy's post. Although, technically, this post hasn't actually been written by Andy, but you'll understand more once you read on. Excitingly this first post swings us into my 500th blog post, so I hope that you'll go bananas and enjoy this jungle treat. Just remember that you'll need to take the jungle climb each day to a new post. If you're feeling brave you might like to look down and admire the breathtaking view . . . . . Happy touring! 

Here we go! The launch of TARZAN: THE JUNGLE WARRIOR blog tour. However, author Andy Briggs was unable to write this blog due to... unforeseen circumstances, so I have been asked to step in. 

I know Andy Briggs had planned a psychological evaluation of the inner working of Tarzan, how a child, raised by wild gorillas coped when he was introduced to civilization. But I didn’t have a clue where to start. Luckily I found an audio file that had been left on Andy’s computer, so I have transcribed it for you now. It turns out that it’s a conversation with Tarzan and the author.

Sounds of parrots cawing from the trees, the gentle patter of rain on the jungle canopy above, and the constant chittering of a billion unseen insects.

ANDY: So, I’m here with Tarzan...

TARZAN: Me Tarzan.

ANDY: Um, yes... you are Tarzan. Quite right. So... (the sound of index cards being switched through so he can find the first question).  You have had an exciting life, what does it mean to be Lord of the Jungle?

The soft crunch of leaves as Tarzan gently leaps from the boulder he was perched on and circles interviewer. The faint sound of sniffing...

TARZAN: You smell strange...

ANDY: Ah, yes... that’s Lynx for you. So, Lord of the Jungle...?

TARZAN: It is good for Tarzan to be lord of all this. Tarzan keep family safe. The jungle a dangerous place, especially for the weak. Like you.

ANDY: That’s nice. (shifts uncomfortably) So you were raised in the wild and forced to eat raw meat. Surely that’s disgusting?

TARZAN: Flesh taste good. You ruin meat by burning! You are stupid to do this.

ANDY: OK, OK... calm down. I only asked... how about... um, Jane. She’s lovely, right? I mean you and her...

A deep guttural rumbling drowns the interviewer out.

ANDY: Ah, OK then. How about... (rapidly flicking through question cards) Um... what was it like to be raised by wild apes?

TARZAN: Apes teach Tarzan that jungle gives life to the world.

ANDY: Ah, you mean through photosynthesis releasing oxygen to the planet....?

Silence.

ANDY: Ahem. I wish you would stop glaring at me like that... So in your new book, Tarzan: The Jungle Warrior, you are faced with your greatest opponent yet, Nikola Rokoff. How did you two get along?

TARZAN: Rokoff take Karnath! Rokoff must pay the price of Tarzan’s wrath. He will be hunted to the ends of the world!! 

Sound of index cards being furiously knocked from interviewer’s hand.
ANDY: And now you’ve thrown my questions everywhere... (muttering: talk about anger management...) So, um, what is it like being in your own book?

TARZAN: Tarzan no prisoner in book! No page strong enough to hold him! Tarzan real! Tarzan change the world!

ANDY: Indeed. Mr. Burroughs wrote 26 books about you and I am about to embark on my third, which I can exclusively announce is entitled: TARZAN: THE S--

TARZAN: You chatter like Manu!

ANDY: I do? Er... do you enjoy the jungle? I believe in Jungle Warrior you leave all of this behind and enter the city for the first time...

TARZAN: Cities are dangerous places. Wild and untamed...

ANDY: Deep... mmm... deep... I suppose with your primitive understanding of the world you --

TARZAN: You make fun of Tarzan?

ANDY: Huh? No, not at all... um, you can put that stick down. You don’t need - AAAARRRGH!! NO!! NO!!

TARZAN: GRRRAAAAGGH!!

The sound of screaming recedes with breaking branches and the recording abruptly ends.
TARZAN: THE JUNGLE WARRIOR is out now, published by Faber.


Friday, 6 July 2012

Guest Post: Allan Jones - Codename QuickSilver - Blog Tour



FREE-RUNNING/PARKOUR

When I first discussed with the publisher the idea of a new spy series aimed at boys, they wanted the hero to be special. Not just special as in brave and bold and honest and trustworthy and good in a tight corner. They wanted something a bit extra. Something extraordinary.

I was first introduced to the world of Parkour and Free-Running when I went to the cinema to see the James Bond movie Casino Royale. I expect a lot of people had the same experience of stunned disbelief, amazement and pure excitement as Sebastien Foucan, playing the role of Mollaka, ran and jumped across the building site with Bond in hot pursuit. Since then, the stunts and disciplines of Free-Running and Parkour have appeared much more frequently, and there are now plenty of YouTube videos and online groups discussing this topic.

The word Parkour comes originally from the French: ‘parcours du combatant’ which is the way of training military personnel by giving them obstacle courses to get across. So, Parkour’s main object was to get across tricky terrain as quickly as possible using whatever methods got the job done. Being able to run fast was an obvious advantage, but to do it well you needed a quick eye and a high level of gymnastic and athletic ability. And a very speedy brain. You have to be able to think five or ten moves ahead – to see obstacles and instantly to be able to figure out how to get over, under or through them at the highest possible speed.

And you have to have the courage and the training to know what your body is capable of. In Parkour, you don’t always get the chance of a second attempt. For instance, if you’re involved in a rooftop chase, you have to be able to judge the distance between buildings. If you jump, will you make it to the other side? If not, what can you do instead? 

The most important basics of Parkour and Free-Running are expert jumping and landing techniques and the use of the roll on landing to protect the spine from jarring and to keep the momentum of your run going. But highly developed gymnastic and athletic skills are also vital if you’re not going to do yourself some serious damage. This is a discipline that demands hard work and training –and a sharp enough brain to know your own limits and not take unnecessary risks. This isn’t Jackass TV – it’s the absolute opposite.

Parkour evolved into Free Running in London about 2003. It used Parkour as a foundation but added new levels of acrobatics and focused on elements such as the cat crawl and the pop vault and the dash bomb. While these new techniques don’t necessarily help you get from point A to point Z as quickly as possible, they are great at confusing and bewildering anyone trying to chase you.

So, when the publishers told me that the hero of Codename Quicksilver should have some special abilities, Parkour and Free Running were the first things that popped into my mind. And then something else occurred to me – something to make Agent Quicksilver even more extraordinary... But you’ll have to read the books to learn what that is.


When Zak Archer accidentally witnesses a murder he immediately finds himself in the firing line. Now some very dangerous people want him dead and he is on the run.


Luckily, running is something Zak is good at. In fact, when he's 'in the zone' he can run faster, jump further and fly higher than should be humanly possible. But will those skills be enough to save him? What exactly is the truth behind his friend's death? And in a world of spies, secrets and lies - who can he trust?




Zak's training is cut short when he is sent on his first mission. The King of Montevisto and his family have been threatened and the secret services believe the attack will take place on the family's forthcoming visit to the UK. It's vital that the trip goes smoothly and Zak is in charge of protecting the king's son. He soon finds he needs all his training and talents to outwit the enemy and save lives. 

Thanks Allan for such a great post. This is one that will surely entice some of you blog readers to grab this action packed book and give it a read. Published 5th July 2012 by Orion Children's.




Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Jim Eldrige - The Invisible Assassin: The Malichea Quest - Guest Review


book cover of 

The Invisible Assassin 

 (Malichea Quest, book 1)

by

Jim Eldridge
                                        


  • Paperback: 272 pages
      • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (12 April 2012)
      • Language: English
      • ISBN-10: 1408817195
      • Book Review by Christopher Todd (Twitter @campertodd) 

      The Invisible Assassin is a book in which a new press officer (Jake Wells) is sent to cover a meaningless story, but an incident leaves a construction worker dead and covered in a strange fungus, Jake realises there is much more to the story. His life on the line, he and his ex-girlfriend try and solve the puzzle about what killed the man and why the Government are trying to cover it up.

       At first glance, this book did not seem to be one that I would generally enjoy reading since the book cover just had two people on a motorbike. I didn’t really know what to expect, but after finishing it I was proved quite wrong indeed. From start to finish I was enticed to keep reading. It didn’t take loads of pages to get into it, in fact from the first couple of pages I was already trying to solve the puzzles, which I just couldn’t do! Therefore, I had to keep reading and every time I kept getting closer there were more twists and turns to grab the reader’s attention.

       It’s like a mash up of The Da Vinci Code, the way that the secret organisations keep trying to keep the secrets quiet, whilst some try to expose the truth. However, the book comes together giving a sense of mystery and a sense of action.

       The Invisible Assassin is the first, within a series of books, from The Malichea Quest series. From the look of the very first one, I hope that the rest of the series live up to the potential of a great teen thriller like this one.

    Tuesday, 3 July 2012

    Mr Ripley's Children's New Book Picks: July 2012

    book cover of 

The Wishing Spell 

 (Land of Stories, book 1)

by

Chris Colfer
                                         
    Chris Colfer - The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell - Published by Atom - 17 July 2012 

    Alex and Conner Bailey's world is about to change....

    Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, twins Alex and Connor leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about.

    But after a series of encounters with witches, wolves, goblins, and trolls alike, getting back home is going to be harder than they thought.


    book cover of 

Deep Oblivion 

 (Mortal Chaos, book 2)

by

Matt Dickinson
                                      
    Matt Dickinson - Mortal Chaos: Deep Oblivion - Published by OUP Oxford - 5 July 2012
    Butterfly effect: The scientific theory that a single occurrence, no matter how small, can change the course of the universe forever. Hannah, homeless and on the run. Gwen and Tehpoe, kidnapped by violent rebels. Todd and Isabella, threatened by piranha attack. Wai Yan, hunted by a cruel dictator. Stian Olberg, fighting to save his vessel from imminent destruction. For them, and many others, things will never be the same again. Some will live. Many will die. All are connected. The action is non-stop in this tense and compelling adventure.

    book cover of 

Icespell 

 (Frogspell, book 3)

by

C J Busby
                                        
    C . J  Busby & David Wyatt - Icespell (Frogspell) - Published by Templar Publishing - 1 July 2012
    Join Max and Olivia for more magical thrills, spills and spells in their third hilarious adventure. Max and Olivia are loving life in Camelot - not only is Max having magic lessons with the great wizard Merlin, Olivia is finally in training for the Squire's Challenge. But disaster strikes when Camelot is frozen inside a magical mountain of ice and it's all Max's fault! Can he and Olivia rescue Arthur and Merlin from their icy prison before evil Lady Morgana gets to Camelot and seals their doom?

    book cover of 

The Doom Rider 

by

David Gatward
                                    
    David Gatward - Doom Rider - Published by Hodder Children's - 5 July 2012 
    Seth Crow has lived a thousand lives, and in each one he's been murdered before he turns thirteen.
    And now he's being hunted again. But this time it's different.
    Enter Lily, who tells him of his fate: Seth is CONQUEST. The first of the four riders of the Apocalypse. And people want him dead, before he can fulfil his destiny.
    Seth's only hope lies in finding the other riders - Strife, Famine and Death.
    Together, the fate of the world lies in their hands ...

    Grymm by Keith Austin
                                                
    Keith Austin - GRYMM - Published by Red Fox - 5 July 2012
    Something stirred in the gravelly yard beneath their window . . . A soft slippery nuzzle, the sort of sounds you'd expect a pig to make with its snout in a trough . . .

    The small mining town of Grymm perched on the very edge of the Great Desert is the kind of town you leave - but when Dad gets a three-month contract in the mine there, Mina and Jacob, unwilling stepbrother and sister, are reluctantly arriving.

    From a grotesque letting agent who seems to want to eat their baby brother, a cafe owner whose milkshakes contain actual maggots and the horribly creepy butcher, baker and candlestick-maker, Mina and Jacob soon realize that nothing in Grymm is what is appears to be.

    And then things get seriously weird when their baby brother disappears - and no one seems to even notice! In Grymm, your worst nightmares really do come true . . .

    Friday, 29 June 2012

    Patrick Carman - Sequel Book Recommendations - 3 Below/Eve of Destruction


                                                    book cover of 

3 Below 

 (Floors, book 2)

by

Patrick Carman
    Here are two brilliant sequels which are as good as the very first books in the series. I would recommend both books to any type of reader as you will absolutely love them!


    3 Below (Floors, book 2)  Published by Scholastic Press (Sept 2012)
    Charlie had his chocolate factory. Stanley Yelnats had his holes. Leo has the wacky, amazing Whippet Hotel.
    Now that Leo has uncovered a few secrets behind the wacky Whippet Hotel, he'll have to save it!
    Leo has explored the zany, wonderful Whippet Hotel from basement to top floor, with trains, flying goats, and mazes (among other things) in between. But even Leo doesn't know every secret of the Whippet - and when he discovers that there's more beneath the hotel than he'd thought, it doesn't take long for more adventures to unfold!


    Eve of Destruction (Dark Eden Book 2) Published by Katherine Tegen Books (24 April 2012)

    Will Besting and the other teens whose phobias were "cured" at Fort Eden have been summoned back by Mrs. Goring. Her dying wish is to see them together one last time. Or is it?
    Ensnared in a dangerous, ever-deepening mystery, Will must lead his friends through a perilous underground trap masterminded by two devious souls at war with each other. It's a game of cat and mouse, and not everyone will be alive when it's over. Can Will outwit both Rainsford and Goring, ending their reign of fear forever?
    Patrick Carman'sDark Eden: Eve of Destruction offers a harrowing journey into the depths of fear, love, revenge, and—ultimately—redemption.



    Thursday, 28 June 2012

    JK Rowling: Celebrating 15 Years of Harry Potter Magic



    Celebrating 15 years of Harry Potter Magic....
    The search for UK and Ireland’s biggest HARRY POTTER fan!

    From an idea born on a train journey, to its creation in a small cafe in Edinburgh Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is the book that started a global phenomenon.  Rejected by many publishers and with an initial hardback print run of 500 copies, it has now sold over 90 million copies worldwide. It is the book that put Harry’s destiny in motion and created a whole new generation of readers. It is hard to think now that before 1997 none of us knew about Hogwarts, Quidditch or Voldemort (who was voted as the favourite literary villain in a recent Bloomsbury poll).

    To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Bloomsbury is launching a nationwide competition to find the UK’s biggest HARRY POTTER fan.

    Bloomsbury is inviting fans to write a letter of no more than 50 words explaining why they love HARRY POTTER. We are looking for the most creative, clever and entertaining reasons and, while the word limit is set to a strict 50 words, entrants are encouraged to draw, doodle and make their letters as elaborate as possible.

    HARRY POTTER fans can only enter by visiting a local bookshop or library and posting their letter in the specially designed postboxes. Over 1800 bookshops and libraries have already signed up to take part. The competition will run from Tuesday 26th June to Tuesday 31st July 2012 after which we will name the UK and Ireland’s biggest HARRY POTTER fan. The winner and runners up will be announced on Saturday 1stSeptember.*

    The competition is an ideal opportunity for fans to show how much they love HARRY POTTER as well as supporting their local bookshop or library. Details of how to enter and a list of participating bookshops and libraries can be found on the website:www.bloomsbury.com/harrypottercompetition




    Sunday, 24 June 2012

    Jeff Norton - MetaWars - Book Review



    book cover of 

MetaWars 

 (MetaWars, book 1)

by

Ryan Hunter and 

Jeff Norton
                                                           


    This is Jeff’s first book, Metawars, due to be published in August 2012 by Orchard. I was actually very surprised to receive this book as I don't usually get anything from this particular publishing company. I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I first started reading the book. However, I was soon bowled over and captivated.


    The story came from a culmination of events such as the Icelandic ash cloud and a speech that David Miliband gave in 2006 about climate change. These are voiced and sited through both the characters and plot. However, not everyone is in agreement with the role of the virtual world even though this could be one possible answer to solving climate change. 

    I was particularly impressed by the settings; the vibrant virtual Metasphere world and the bleak futuristic world. Both worlds encompass the storyline in different ways, but the way it interchanges between the two is very sophisticated and effective. The description within both settings enables the reader to become immersed within each world and feel apart of them.

    This book is an epic fantasy read between two warring factions; both fighting for control. Matthew Granger and his Millennials are the founders and the creators of the Virtual Sphere. They are also the Guardians who want it to be ruled by the 'users' and not just one Government. This is the modern take on the internet supremacy between the big companies such as Google and Apple; both of which have a massive stake in our digital world. A very thought provoking element which becomes embedded within the story to influence the final outcome with a twist at the end.

    This is a fast paced story which is full of exciting action sequences that will have any reluctant reader wanting to read more. I really loved the Guardians attack and the use of land yachts as they stormed Ayers Rock to gain control of one of the four corners. This is particularly well written and is very original. Although I did have a slight issue with part of the ending as it felt as if didn't quite fit with the rest of the story. However, I don't want to delve into this any further as it really would spoil it for you. Nevertheless it really doesn't detract from the fact that this book is a superb read. The images that are created within the book reflect that of a cinematic quality. Jeff is definitely both the producer and director of this book.

    Whose side are you on?

    Wednesday, 20 June 2012

    FESTIVAL IN TALES ON MOON LANE BOOKSHOP, LONDON!



    STELLAR LINE-UP ANNOUNCED FOR WEEK-LONG CHILDREN’S BOOKS FESTIVAL IN TALES ON MOON LANE BOOKSHOP, LONDON! 

    Tales on Moon Lane Children's Bookshop, 25 Half Moon Lane, Herne Hill, London SE24 9JU TEL: 020 7274 5759 www.talesonmoonlane.co.uk/festival 2nd – 7th July 2012


    School's almost out - and the crew at Tales on Moon Lane bookshop are expecting some very special guests for their biggest ever children’s book festival, which will run from 2nd – 7th July 2012! The packed schedule of events promises hi-jinks and hullabaloo aplenty with some of the biggest names in books for kids of all ages. There’s something to suit everyone in this exciting line-up so head on down to Moon Lane and hear some spooky stories from Marcus Sedgwick and Will Hill – or take afternoon tea with the Queen of Teen Cathy Cassidy – or help some of the very best children’s illustrators turn the shop into a giant picture book – or parade around in fancy dress – or laugh yourself silly with Philip Ardagh and Guy Bass – or train your dragon with Cressida Cowell! The possibilities are endless, and it's the perfect chance to stock up on some fantastic summer reads too. The experts at Tales on Moon Lane are always ready to help you choose the perfect books to keep you reading all summer long! Festival tickets are available online now at www.talesonmoonlane.co.uk/festival. Book early to avoid disappointment.

    Tales on Moon Lane is a multi-award winning independent children’s bookshop in South London. Their friendly, knowledgeable and well-read staff – led by owner, author and impresario Tamara Macfarlane – ensure you will always receive the highest level of service. Committed to making books and reading fun, they will make sure the right book goes to the right child.
    Tamara Macfarlane, owner of Tales on Moon Lane Children's Bookshop, says:
    "Tales on Moon Lane are delighted to be working with the brilliant David Maybury of Inis Magazine and Carrie Anderson to provide an extraordinary line up of events. We look forward to seeing everybody for a week of literary mayhem and madness with some of the country's favourite writers."
    Carrie Anderson, Festival Organiser, says:
    "I'm really excited to be involved with such a great festival. It's a real pleasure to host such a dream line up of authors and illustrators in Moon Lane - it's going to be chaos - organised chaos if I do my job right!"

    Tuesday, 19 June 2012

    Charlie Higson - Offers fans a one-off opportunity to appear in the trailer for his new book



    Calling all Zombies!

    A one-off opportunity to appear as an extra in the trailer for
    Charlie Higson’s new zombie book – The Sacrifice


    Fans of The Enemy series by best-selling author Charlie Higson are being given the chance to be in the trailer for his new book, The Sacrifice.  Filming takes place on Saturday 30 June and a small army of zombie ‘sickos’ is required for filming at a secret location in South London.

    This is the fourth in a series of trailers for the cult zombie seriesand is written and directed by Charlie Higson himself. The Sacrifice is the fourth title in the series and will be published later this year on 20 September.

    To enter, zombie hopefuls must be over 16 and will need to send a photo of themselves and 50 words (or less) describing why they would make a good zombie topuffin@uk.penguingroup.com by Tuesday 26 June.  Spaces are limited and the lucky ones chosen to take part will be notified the following day. For full details and terms and conditions, go to www.the-enemy.co.uk/extras

    Set in and around London, the events in The Enemy series take place in a world where a mystery disease has broken out affecting only grown-ups.  Some survive, but those that do face a more terrifying fate – they turn into hideous zombies with an insatiable appetite for human flesh. Children form gangs and attempt to survive in an unrecognisable world where there are dangers around every corner.

    Previous trailers for the books in the series have had combined viewings of more than 100,000 on YouTube and have seen Charlie Higson transforming into a decaying zombie; chilling footage of a terrified boy posting a clip online of himself being attacked by diseased adults; and, last year, a rotting zombie (with an uncanny resemblance to Charlie Higson) attempting to break into a room full of terrified children.

    The Enemy series has now sold over 200,000 copies in the UK alone.

    Charlie Higson is a successful author, actor, comedian and writer for television and radio. 

    He wrote the phenomenally successful Young Bond series which has now sold over a million copies in the UK and has been translated into over 24 different languages.

    The first novel in his bestselling zombie-adventure series for teenagers, The Enemy, was published by Puffin in 2009 and was followed by The Dead (2010) and The Fear(2011).   Charlie is a huge fan of horror films and books, and even studied gothic literature at university.  With three sons of his own, Charlie knows exactly how to terrify and captivate teenagers in equal measure.

    Charlie was in a band, The Higsons, and was a decorator before turning to the world of television and going into partnership Paul Whitehouse.  His television successes have included Saturday Live, the Harry Enfield Television Programme, The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer, Shooting Stars, Randall and Hopkirk Deceased, the film Suite 16, Swiss Toni and of course, the Fast Show.

    Charlie and Paul co-produced the controversial and award-winning spoof radio series Down the Line for BBC Radio 4, in which they also both performed and which became the television comedy series Bellamy’s People on BBC 2.

    Charlie is also a successful adult novelist and has written four thrillers, King of the Ants (1992), Happy Now (1993), Full Whack (1995) and Getting Rid of Mr Kitchen (1996).
    Charlie lives in North London.

    Friday, 8 June 2012

    Maggie Stiefvater - The Raven Boys - Animated Book Trailer & Preview

                                             
    Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she’d been told that she would kill her true love. Her family traded in predictions. These predictions
    tended, however, to run toward the nonspecific. Things like:
    Something terrible will happen to you today. It might involve the number six. Or: Money is coming. Open your hand for it. Or: You have a big decision and it will not make itself.

    The people who came to the little, bright blue house at 300 Fox Way didn’t mind the imprecise nature of their fortunes. It became a game, a challenge, to realize the exact moment that the predictions came true. When a van carrying six people wheeled into a client’s car two hours after his psychic reading, he could nod with a sense of accomplishment and release. When a neigh- bor offered to buy another client’s old lawn mower if she was looking for a bit of extra cash, she could recall the promise of money coming and sell it with the sense that the transaction had been foretold. Or when a third client heard his wife say, This is a decision that has to be made, he could remember the same words being said by Maura Sargent over a spread of tarot cards and then leap decisively to action.

    But the imprecise nature of the fortunes stole some of their power. The predictions could be dismissed as coincidences, hunches. They were a chuckle in the Walmart parking lot when you ran into an old friend as promised. A shiver when the number seventeen appeared on an electric bill. A realization that even if you had discovered the future, it really didn’t change how you lived in the present. They were truth, but they weren’t all of the truth.
    “I should tell you,” Maura always advised her new clients, “that this reading will be accurate, but not specific.”
    It was easier that way.

    But this was not what Blue was told. Again and again, she had her fingers spread wide, her palm examined, her cards plucked from velvet-edged decks and spread across the fuzz of a family friend’s living room carpet. Thumbs were pressed to the mystical, invisible third eye that was said to lie between everyone’s eyebrows. Runes were cast and dreams interpreted, tea leaves scrutinized and séances conducted.
    All the women came to the same conclusion, blunt and inex- plicably specific. What they all agreed on, in many different clairvoyant languages, was this:
    If Blue was to kiss her true love, he would die.

    For a long time, this bothered Blue. The warning was spe- cific, certainly, but in the way of a fairy tale. It didn’t say how her true love would die. It didn’t say how long after the kiss he would survive. Did it have to be a kiss on the lips? Would a chaste peck on the back of his palm prove as deadly?
    Until she was eleven, Blue was convinced she would silently contract an infectious disease. One press of her lips to her hypo- thetical soulmate and he, too, would die in a consumptive battle untreatable by modern medicine.