Obscura Burning by Suzanne van Rooyen - December 7th 2012 / Etopia Press
The world's going to end in fire…and it's all Kyle's fault.
Kyle Wolfe's world is about to crash and burn. Just weeks away from graduation, a fire kills Kyle's two best friends and leaves him permanently scarred. A fire that Kyle accidentally set the night he cheated on his boyfriend Danny with their female friend, Shira. That same day, a strange new planet, Obscura, appears in the sky. And suddenly Kyle's friends aren't all that dead anymore.
Each time Kyle goes to sleep, he awakens to two different realities. In one, his boyfriend Danny is still alive, but Shira is dead. In the other, it's Shira who's alive...and now they're friends with benefits. Shifting between realities is slowly killing him, and he's not the only one dying. The world is dying with him. He's pretty sure Obscura has something to do with it, but with his parents' marriage imploding and realities shifting each time he closes his eyes, Kyle has problems enough without being the one in charge of saving the world...
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Suzanne van Rooyen:Suzanne is a freelance writer and author from South Africa. She currently lives in Finland and finds the cold, dark forests nothing if not inspiring. Suzanne is the author of the cyberpunk novel Dragon’s Teeth (Divertir), the YA science fiction novel Obscura Burning (Etopia) and has had several short stories published by Golden Visions Magazine, Space and Time and Niteblade. Niteblade nominated her short story Where dreams are grown for the Pushcart Prize. Her non-fiction articles on travel, music and other topics can be found scattered throughout the Internet. 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 to ninth graders or playing in the snow with her shiba inu.
Suzanne is represented by Jordy Albert of the Booker Albert Agency.
Character interview with Kyle Wolfe
1. What do you want to do with your life?
Which one? That’s the problem. In a perfect reality I’d be going off to Rice to study art and literature and I’d start doing my own comics and become an underground sensation and have kids dressing up as my characters on Halloween - that’s what I want; that’s what I probably don’t deserve.
2. What do you fear most?
That the world will end because of me, that it’ll be my fault that everyone will end up dead. I think maybe I fear the world not ending even more, fear me being stuck in one of these crappy realities and not able to do a damn thing about it.
3. Are you presently in love, or do you hope to find someone special?
I thought I was, thought I loved Danny but now I’m not so sure. Dan is special but I think he deserves better than me, someone who isn’t afraid to be with him, to kiss him and dance with him in public.
4. Sum up your life in the last few weeks in 150 words or less.
Can I use four letter words? No? Horrific, confusing, devastating, frustrating, unbelievable, terrifying – Do you really need another 144 words? The world’s gone crazy, man. And I think it’s all my fault.
5. If you could change one thing of your past would you? If so, what would it be and why?
I’d change everything. Change what I said to Danny, how I treated him. I’d change how I dealt with the parents too. Also, I’d like to go back to that very first fire, to that moment when I lit my first match and just not do it, just never fall in love with flames.
6. If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
That’s easy, a wolf – just like my name. Why? Because wolves do just fine all by themselves. They’re badass and not afraid of anything – I wish I could be like that.
Kyle’s Last Christmas
Some thought the world would end earlier this year thanks to a limited Mayan calendar and a healthy dose of paranoia. It’s not the first time people have thought the world will end, and it certainly won’t be the last. The apocalypse continues to capture the imagination of writers as evidenced by the numerous end of days scenarios - everything from supervolcanoes and rogue viruses turning us into zombies to nuclear war and malevolent aliens.
In Obscura Burning, my main character Kyle gets tangled up in a quantum event that may or may not bring about Armageddon. His world degrades as does his psyche with the world all but guaranteed to end in fire. No zombies or germ warfare here - just a boy struggling with reality and his penchant for flames. Writing this book got me thinking about what I would do if I knew without a doubt that the world was going to end. Would I stay home with family? Would I splurge on plane tickets and get in some last minute travelling before the world goes boom? Would I even stick around for the fiery end or check-out early on my own terms?
Although Kyle’s story centres around the Fourth of July, I wonder what he would’ve done had he had one last Christmas to spend with his loved ones. I imagine it would've gone something like this:
We’ve gone all out this year, stringing every ribbon of tinsel we can scrounge from attic boxes around the house. All that gold and silver - it makes my eyes hurt. Dad’s doing the lights too, strangling our house and the oak tree outside my window with blinking LEDs. Mom’s on a mission with dinner. She’s getting ready to feed the whole state of New Mexico. Not that any of us can eat with the knots in our stomachs as we wait to expire. I wonder if it’ll be slow and painful. If I’ll even know it’s happening or if it’ll be like flicking a switch from light to dark, life to death. Mom and Dad hold hands and reach for mine. This is the way the world ends, families coming together at the last supper with bowed heads and sweaty palms, mumbling prayers to gods with iron fists. I just wish it was over already, so that my atoms could spread across the void to make new stars.
Closing my eyes, I imagine New Mexico burning, can almost smell it, the pungent pine, fireball mesquite, and smouldering cacti. I should be worried about the damage the UV’s doing to my scars, but after tonight, none of that will matter.
Just when you think it can’t possibly get any hotter or the mercury will explode, the temperature rises just a few more degrees. Today, Coyote’s Luck lies in a simmering mirage, hotter than any hell imaginable.
The crush of mesquite huddling between the tombstones offers little respite from the sun. Sticking to the dappled shade, I thread my way toward Danny’s grave. I’m not alone.
She looks like a ghost with the white sundress fanning around her legs, her long black hair teased by the warm breeze. For a moment, I think it’s one of the ch’iindi made flesh, until she turns at the sound of my step.
Gabriela, her face a teary-eyed frown. She folds her arms and returns her gaze to the grave. When did she get so thin? She was always so voluptuous, a shorter, less saggy version of her mother. Now she looks more like a sixteen-year-old kid, barely there in layers of cotton.
We stand in silence, both just staring at the grave. The rosaries dangle over the stone, tied in knots around the stems of already dead flowers. There’s a white and blue beaded one, the one that was attached to Danny’s bed, the one he’d kiss at night before going to sleep.
“I miss him so much,” Gabriela says eventually.
“So do I.”
“I blame you, you know.” She casts me a sidelong glance.
“Maybe you should.”
She nods and sniffs and fingers one of the blooms turned brown by the heat.
“Dead, all of it.” She tears the petals from the stalk. “Little Maria, now Daniel.” She turns her dark eyes on me, searching for something I wish I could give her.
“This is killing my parents. Daniel was their only son. They’ll never have more children. Once, I had a brother. Now I’m alone. Sister to dead siblings.”
That’s the most Gabriela’s ever said, to me at least. I’m stunned into uncomfortable silence. There’s nothing I can say that’ll make it right. But tonight, maybe there’ll be something I can do.
“I wish I could make it right.” My words sound so pathetic.
She harrumphs and digs her sandaled toe into the dirt. “Nothing can make Daniel dying right.”
“I’m sorry.” There is nothing else I can say without trying to explain the whole confusing story and Gabriela’s not the type to believe in rifts in reality.
“Tell Daniel you’re sorry. He’s the one who died because of you.” She takes a deliberate step away from me, crosses herself, offering prayers in Spanish to the ether.
“I loved him, you know.” Maybe I am to blame, but she makes it sound like I don’t give a crap that he’s dead.
“Obviously not enough.”
-1 autographed paperback of Obscura Burning
-1 ebook of Dragon's Teeth (epub, mobi or pdf)
-1 $10 GC for Amazon
-3 surprise items from each of the main charactersa Rafflecopter giveaway