Book Tour Stop
Title: The Shepherd
Genre: YA Paranormal Thriller
Book Length: 236 PAGES
Publisher: Travis Luedke
Skate punks, kleptomaniacs, clairvoyant visions and reincarnation…
…THE SHEPHERD is unlike any other Young Adult novel you have ever read.
Mike Evans here. Sixteen year old skate punk squatting in a white-trash trailer park with my loser drunk Dad. Seems I lost most of my friends when Dad lost our home in foreclosure. Only Anita stuck by me. Worse, I keep having strange clairvoyant visions of things that always come true.
Then I almost ran over Nadia in my Geo. A passing truck finished the job – left a crumpled heap of skin and bone on the road. I fixed her. Me.
Now this fourteen year old girl won’t leave me alone. I sorta let her sneak in my window when she needs a place to crash.
I have a double life: daytime at school, Anita, skating, and then my nights with Nadia. She’s my secret friend, gives me money and listens to my problems when nobody else will.
My world is spinning out of control. Old friends have turned enemy, my grisly visions of death won’t quit, and Anita’s intentions make my head spin. Even with all that, I’ve got bigger stuff to worry about.
Nadia’s hiding something.
Advanced reviews:“I could not put this book down. All I keep thinking about is what could possibly happen next. I felt as if I was back in high school with them!” “It’s almost a love triangle of epic proportions or so you think….Travis blew me away with this book, I never saw what was coming.” “Amazing, I loved Mike and Anita. The characters that I didn’t feel could redeem themselves did in ways I never thought possible. I loved the ending and so not what I thought would happen. I love the element of surprise.”
Sharp, witty, dark and gritty, The Shepherd is the must read YA paranormal thriller of 2013.
Get your copy now!
I’m happy to bring you another interview with Travis, though this one will be distinctly less naughty than the last time! Following our interview, you can read an excerpt from The Shepherd and get an opportunity to win one of five eBooks!
Gen: Thank you for coming back to my blog, Travis! Last time we were naughty, this time we will be pure as the driven snow…or at least snow before we let the pets out. Ready?
Travis: Well, I have been known to do a little snow writing on occasion. Come what may, I’m ready for it, pure or otherwise.
Gen: Is The Shepherd your first foray into young adult literature or have you written other ones?
Travis: Honestly, I had entertained the idea that Nightlife New York could be a YA novel. I discarded that idea after writing the first sex scene, at about chapter five. So, yes, The Shepherd is truly my first YA novel, and it was a little bit difficult trying to tone down the perverse side of my nature. But I have excellent editors, and they walked that tightrope with me, the fine line between teen and adult fiction.
Gen: Before we go on, try to squeeze a description of the book into one line, ok, maybe two.
Travis: 16 yr old skatepunk Mike thought he had big problems with his ex-girl and ex-best-friend slashing his tires and perfume-bombing his locker. Then along came Nadia, nailed by a passing car on the highway, and nothing would ever be the same again…
Gen: You know I have this quirk where I ask my author friends to describe their characters as a flavor of ice cream. Go!
Travis: Ahh, Nadia is like pralines and cream, sweet and smooth, deliciously decadent, but then there’s a crunch that lets you know there’s something else in this recipe, and suddenly you’re not quite sure of the ingredients in your ice cream.
Gen: Ummmm, not sure why I find that hot and creepy all at the same time. Ha! Way to get me off task already, Travis.
Gen: Back to the interview, why Paranormal versus coming of age or other young adult themes?
Travis: This novel is really a combination of many themes and genres. Paranormal, YA, coming of age, jocks vs. skaters, antisocial memes, the difficulties of single parent upbringing, dysfunctional friendships, mutually obsessive relationships, and loads of denial. The paranormal aspect is subtly drawn, building with gradual thriller intensity.
And, I suspect I will always be a “Paranormal” author, that’s what I read, what I write, what I prefer in films. It’s kinda my thing.
Gen: Oh, I totally get that as a fellow author. I’ve got a “thing” for cops and gangsters…don’t know if you’ve noticed…*wink* Ahem, speaking of, as an author what are your biggest pet peeves when writing in the young adult fantasy genre?
Travis: My focus is on realism of teen behavior and motivations. Teens are a walking contradiction. They are children in the bodies of adults, complete with raging hormones, newly emerging responsibilities, and a language and culture all their own. Delving into the speech patterns and thought processes of teenagers is like visiting a foreign country, you can see what they are doing and saying, but you don’t really understand what it means to live there.
My own teen years were a wild ride of loose inhibitions, bad decisions and several hard lessons (definitely an adult novel–if I ever told that story). But those were some of the best times of my life. I think adult authors often get too absorbed in the idealistic portion of their YA writing and lose sight of the not-so-idealistic realities of teenagers today.
Gen: Fair enough, how about as a reader in the YA genre, name your biggest pet peeve and/or your favorite trope/authors/style.
Travis: Though I will surely create havoc with this: I really did enjoy the Twilight novels. Despite enjoying them, I see the flaws. Teens do drugs, get pregnant, skip school, lie and cheat and steal. Where were those teens in Twilight?
For teenage paranormal fiction that really gets down to the gritty truth of that life, I think Holly Black and her Modern Fairie Tales series are phenomenal (Tithe, Valiant, Ironside). Holly does a wonderful job of blending dark paranormal events with strong-willed teens trying to face challenges and make the right choices, often times making the wrong choices along the way. Holly doesn’t sugar coat it. She brings hard-hitting tales of teens coming-of-age while mired in the deadly underworld of the paranormal. Gotta love it. *grin*
Gen: Since it really has been ages since we’ve talked, what have you been up to these days? Writing, being a dad, menace to society, all of the above?
Travis: All of the above and then some. I recently donated my body to science while writing another Nightlife Series novel, THE NIGHTLIFE LONDON. I participated in a medical study, peed in their cups, gave them my blood, ate their almost-jail food, and caught a paycheck, all while writing intense scenes of sex and violence involving vampires, werewolves, Albanians, and Russians who drink way too much Vodka.
I live very vicariously through my writings, even when trapped in the bowels of a medical facility.
Gen: Travis…honestly! And here I was being all chaste and such in this interview, what with the “young adult” and whatnotness…*shakes head* Anyway, back on topic, I haven’t gotten a chance to read The Shepherd, my TBR list is embarrassingly long right now, but do you have plans to expand it into a series?
Travis: There have been some fans who asked for another book, and who knows, it could happen, but my plans for the next YA novel are taking me down a different road. In 2014 I will write a YA paranormal thriller about a teenage girl who ends up in a tangled web of lies regarding the unintended consequences of identity theft.
So, I am definitely in the YA fiction genre to stay, and I plan to jump back and forth between YA and adult at my leisure, probably to the annoyance of my fans.
Gen: And I know you will rock the hell out of it, therefore, your legion of fans will forgive you anything. Thank you for coming by, Travis, if you’d like to take a second and grand stand for anything–seriously, anything at all–feel free to do so now:
Travis: If you’re looking for a gritty, witty, unusually realistic YA paranormal read, check out The Shepherd, it is not your mother’s YA novel.
If you’ve grown tired of the same old tropes in paranormal romance, and you yearn for the good ole days when vampires were violent, sexy, and violently sexy, then check out The Nightlife Series. Can’t go wrong with vampires, escorts, pimps, cartel, and jello-wrestling…
Gen: HA! Outstanding! Ladies and gents, grab a copy of The Shepherd at Amazon . If for some reason you’re still not sure, read the excerpt that follows!
Thursday, September 9th, 5:15 p.m.
Shit happens, life happens, but for some reason it happens to me a lot.
I was kinda hoping life would give me a break – maybe crap on somebody else for a while.
I mean, look at Justin Shelby. I’m sitting here in my car, in the McDonald’s drive through, and what is he doing? He’s climbing up the side of the damn playcenter. Probably faded on prescription pills he stole from his mom. This guy is begging for life to hit him upside the head. But it never does.
And then there’s his buddy, Tommy Schroeder, goading him on.
“Do it man! You’re almost there!”
One of the wrestling elite of Moses Lake High School, Tommy’s mere presence inspired Justin to new heights of idiocy. Justin scaled the side of the outdoor playcenter like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible.
Justin skated religiously, a regular at the downtown Moses Lake skatepark across from the Aquatic Center. Like most of us skaters, he was thin, moderately athletic, and had a strong sense of balance from endless hours busting his ass on the concrete. Climbing the playcenter wasn’t any more dangerous than the skate tricks we recorded and posted to YouTube.
He quickly reached the apex, damn spider monkey. He stood exalted atop the dome of the airplane-shaped plastic toy. An elementary kid inside gawked up at him from the Plexiglas window.
“This is classic!” Tommy whipped out his cell phone and started recording.
Looked like a good idea to me, so I did the same. You never know what folly you might catch on video. I mean, this was live action stuff. I could be ten seconds away from a viral Youtube video, Gangnam Style.
Tommy encouraged Justin’s antics with loud catcalls. Justin proclaimed his status as king of the hill, arms held high.
“Yeah bitches, hell yeah!” Justin yelled and hooted at the top of his lungs, pumping his fists in the air.
I narrated to my potential audience of millions, “This is a flagrant violation of the rules.” I panned my cellphone camera over to the placard by the entry gate and zoomed in to catch a clear shot of the playcenter rules. “There it is folks, rule number three: No climbing outside the playcenter. And we can’t forget rule number four: No children over the age of fourteen allowed. For the record, Justin is sixteen.”
Returning to the action, I caught Tommy’s upturned face lit with excitement, and then slid the view up the playcenter to Justin. “There’s the big man, putting on a show for his new best friend.”
It kinda stung in a way I didn’t like to admit, that Justin was doing all this for Tommy. A couple months ago, Justin was my best friend, my idiot. Or so I had thought.
But Tommy was cool. Popular and wealthy, he also happened to be one of the biggest arrogant pricks in my class, and Justin’s ticket into the ‘cool crowd.’
“Always trying to prove something.” I shook my head.
Tommy and I don’t get along so well. It’s a Rachelle thing. One of those life things that happens to me so often.
I should just keep my mouth shut and catch some choice video, but you know what they say, the observer always affects the observed …
“Hey ass munch, get down before you break your neck!”
Justin’s head whipped around to the sound of my voice, causing his body to sway with the sudden movement. As soon as he spotted me parked in the drive-through a nasty smirk bloomed across his face. In a moment of sublime inspiration, Justin dropped his pants with a show of lily-white butt cheeks. He obviously hadn’t seen me recording with my cell phone.
Tommy noticed me too. “How about a double McAss burger Mikey?”
He loves to call me Mikey. He knows I hate it. No one but Tommy calls me Mikey.
The girl delivering my cheeseburger held her hand over her mouth to cover her braces as she giggled and snarfed at the sight of Justin’s naked rump shaking back and forth while he taunted, “It’s a full moon tonight Mikey. Hope you enjoy the view!”
Perfect. Now Justin’s calling me Mikey. God I hate that name.
“It’s Michael, asshole! And thanks for the killer video. Goin’ straight to Facebook.” I held my cell phone out the window for him.
Justin looked back over his shoulder in surprise, attempting to pull up his pants at the same time. The knee-jerk reaction caused him to lose his delicate balance atop the apex of the plastic airplane. He fell onto his right side, and slithered down the side of the playcenter. His hands shot out across the smooth surface, clawing, seeking a grip. There was nothing to grab.
I watched him slide inexorably down the outside of the playcenter, pants and underwear still down around his thighs. He tried rolling into position for a feet-first landing. The maneuver would’ve worked if not for the fence being so close to the playcenter. The bright yellow, powder-coated aluminum fence that had aided his climb to the top now blocked his landing on the way down.
Justin’s momentum came to an abrupt halt as he hit the top of the fence ass first.
I cringed and almost ruined the shot. “That’s gotta hurt.”
Justin’s blood-curdling scream of agony made my skin crawl. He sat there, squealing like a stuck pig. The top section of fence tubing had impaled him where the sun don’t shine. Pegged in the holiest of holies, he had two inches of aluminum post going in through the out door.
“Oh my god this is insane!”
I saved the ninety-three second video clip of Justin on my smart phone and posted it directly to my Facebook timeline. I had a momentary twinge of conscience. I mean, he was still crying, and Tommy was trying to climb the fence to help him. It looked really painful.
“I can always delete it later …”
I was gonna call for help, but Tommy already had his phone out as Justin yelled in his face, “Call 911!”
I only had a few minutes to get to work. As I drove off, I thought about taking that video down. I probably should have. But it only took fifteen minutes for my video clip to find its way to over 200 students at Moses Lake High School, shared over and over to dozens of Facebook profiles. My first ever viral video.
I guess life happens to Justin Shelby too.
–Copyright 2013, Travis Luedke.
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(5 copies available. Open to entries 12/02/2013 – 12/31/2013)
About the Author:
Travis Luedke is a husband, father, and author of Urban Fantasy Thriller, Paranormal Romance, Contemporary Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction, and Sci-fi. He is currently catching a 3rd degree sunburn in San Antonio, Texas, and loving every minute of it.
As the author of the Nightlife Series novels, Travis lives very vicariously through his writings. He invites you to enjoy his macabre flights of fancy, but be warned: The Nightlife Series is violent, sexy, and occasionally violently sexy.
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