Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Paint My Body Red by Heidi R. King

Paint My Body Red
Release Date: 11/02/15
Entangled Teen

They think I'll be number seven. Unlucky number seven.

Dead teenager number seven. With the rash of suicides at my school, I've been shipped off to my dad's Wyoming ranch for “my own safety.” My mom worries I'll be next—another depressed teenager whose blood will end up on the train tracks. But she doesn't know my secrets...or what I did.

Everything has changed at the ranch since I was there last. The staff is gone, and there aren’t any visitors. The place is struggling, and ALS is destroying my dad. The one bright spot in this mess is his new—and only—ranch hand, Jake. He’s gorgeous, cheerful, healthy and sane. Shadows don't haunt his eyes and eat away at him in the night.

But the ranch and Jake can't save me from the darkness inside, or the knowledge of what I've done. This time, it's up to me to save myself...

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"I blink, looking into the midnight abyss. 'If I tell you what happened, you'll hate me.'

'I doubt that.'
I swallow and scratch at the dirt.

'Look, I get that something bad went down at school, Paige. I get that your dad is dying. I get that the ranch is falling apart and we're scrambling and you're away from home. But I also know that part of you, the part of you that left this place behind, is beginning to find it again. This land'  ̶ he stabs at the dirt   ̶ 'these animals   ̶  this is your blood. I remember that hotheaded girl down at the fishing hole and she's still in there. Whatever happened in California is back in California. You have another chance here. Here with us.'

It is more than he's ever said at once. It's smart and true and mirrors exactly what I was thinking before he walked up. 

I tip my head back, gaze into the endless sky, the countless stars   ̶ How can I begin to explain to Jake what I can't understand myself?

'Come here.' He lies back and pats the spot where his shoulder meets his chest. I curl into him, and he holds me close with a strong arm so warm, so alive, that I can't help but close my eyes. I breathe in the campfire and his cowboy wisdom and let myself hope he's right. He doesn't try to kiss me. He doesn't take my hand. He doesn't ask for something I'm not ready to give. 

Instead he offers exactly what I need." 

Authors often come up with playlists for their books, either before the writing process begins to help them get into the writing of it or afterward to share the emotional arc of the book. When it comes to the Paint My Body Red playlist, each of the songs goes with a scene and/or a theme of the book.

"If I Die Young" by The Band Perry
"Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys" by Willie Nelson
"Landslide" by The Dixie Chicks*
"Landslide" by Smashing Pumpkins*
"Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac* 
"I Lived" One Republic 
"Photograph" by  Ed Sheeran
"Be Still" by The Killers

* (whole lotta "Landslide"! Listen to all the versions, which is your favorite?)

WARNING: Author's Note may contain spoilers. Read only after you've finished the book!

Author Note: As mentioned above, each of these songs goes with a scene and/or theme in Paint My Body Red. "If I Die Young," for instance, is the song playing in the rowdy post-rodeo bar when Jake and Paige dance for the first time. It haunts Paige as it reminds her of the suicides back home, and her troubled relationship with Ty. It makes her realize she doesn't want to die young at all; that she wants to live, and has so much to live for. "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys" is the song Paige chooses to do her routine with Scout at the rodeo as a tribute to her dad, Gus Mason. "I Lived" is an upbeat song at the point of the book when Paige is remembering the spirit inside of her and willing herself to go on. I also imagine this song playing when they are riding their horses together across the snow mountain, a scene from the Epilogue. "Photograph" is a song I imagine Paige listening to over and over and over again while thinking about Jake from college. "Be Still" captures the theme of the book, and is a song I first heard in yoga. It always chokes me up as I think about my own kids growing up, and what I wish for them. I imagine these are the words Gus wishes for his daughter Paige and that she, in turns, thinks about her dad.  "Landslide" is a beautiful, moving song about change, about growing older, about growing wiser, and eventually letting go, even if you aren't ready. I'm not sure which version is my favorite; they are all special in their own way. If Paint My Body Red had just one song, "Landslide" would be it. Enjoy listening! 

Heidi Kling writes fantasy novels set in a contemporary world and contemporary novels about girls in fantastic situations. The bestselling Spellspinners series (Coliloquy/Vook), is 9-book series leading with Witch's Brew. The Gleaning, Devil's Frost and Beautiful Monster are out now with more adventures to follow. Her debut contemporary, Sea (Penguin), was an IndieNext Pick, Northern California Book of the Year nominee, Gateway Reader’s Award choice and Scholastic Readers Pick. Her forthcoming contemporary novel, Paint My Body Red, launches with Entangled Teen Fall, 2015.

Told in dual narratives, several more installments are planned in this "Romeo and Juliet with magic" series readers compare to stories by  LJ Smith, Cassandra Clare and Melissa de la Cruz.

After earning her MFA in Writing for Children from the New School, she returned to her native California. She lives with her husband, two children and the cutest accidental puppy mix ever, Sailor Lily, just over the coastal mountains from the sea. 

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