Title: Our Souls to Keep
Author: Gary Caruso
Genre: Dark YA, Romantic Thriller 15+
Tour Host: Lady Amber's Tours
After seventeen-year-old Wake Reynolds agrees to sacrifice his soul to protect his suicidal mother from the fiery tortures of Hell, Satan strips him of his humanity and forces him to become a demonic collector of souls. With no memory of his human existence, Wake spends years in loyal service—but something within him is changing. His stolen human emotions are beginning to return.
As Wake struggles to keep his new sensations hidden, Satan orders him to corrupt the soul of a pregnant girl, Annemarie. Beautiful, gentle Annemarie. From the moment Wake sees her, she brings lightness to his blackened heart, dampening his loneliness, fueling his passion. If he chooses to defy Satan and spare the lives of Annemarie and her unborn child, his mother’s soul will writhe in Hell’s deepest pit for eternity. Annemarie or his mother? It’s a choice no one should have to make.
The crowd thins, eventually leaving Annemarie and me alone in the hallway. She gathers her books and turns, quicker than I expect. I can’t maneuver out of her way. Our collision is mild, but jarring enough to dislodge the books from her hands.
“I’m so sorry,” she says as she kneels to pick up her scattered books.
I should be helping her, but my eyes are fixed on her graceful movements. Her long brown hair has fallen to the side, exposing the back of her softly curved neck, and every reach for a stray book lengthens her back and shoulders, inviting my touch. From the lowest point, just above the waist of her jeans, the tip of my finger would snake upward, navigating the gentle ridge of her spine until my hand laces through the richness of her flowing hair.
She tilts her head upward and grins at me. “Are you okay?”
Her voice snaps me from my fantasy. “Me? Yeah, I’m…fine. Oh, god. I’m so sorry. I should be picking up your books. You’re…you know.” I point feeble-mindedly at her extended stomach.
“Pregnant,” she says as she stands and straightens her blouse. “It’s all right to say it. I already know.”
The tip of her tongue unknowingly caresses her lower lip and the gentle arc of her full upper lip stretches, the smallest amount, as a smile slowly radiates across her flushed cheeks. These emotions, human, raw and…hormonal, forgotten for so long, now my only hope for clear thought is to suppress them. This has to be one of Satan’s sadistic jokes.
I laugh from embarrassment, but it’s the first time, in too long, that the sound of untempered, unrestrained joy bubbles from my heart. How can she have this warming effect on me? I want to say something cute and funny, but my mind is a hornet’s nest of scrambled thoughts.
“You look familiar,” she says. “Do we have a class together?”
I gaze into her hazel eyes. I must appear flustered because she tilts her head and grins.
“No. I mean, I don’t know. Today is my first day at this school.”
“Great. Welcome to Roosevelt High School. My name is Annemarie.”
“Wake? That’s an interesting name.”
“Yeah, I know. It sounds like a funeral.”
“I like it. But I have to go. My little guy keeps pushing on my bladder. Lately, I have to use the restroom between every class.” She covers her mouth as if she gave too much information to someone she just met, but her joyful eyes can’t hide the smile hidden behind her hand.
“I can’t believe I just told you that.” She starts to hurry away, but looks over her shoulder. “See you later, Wake.”
I wave like an embarrassed adolescent. What a lousy first impression. I sounded like a bumbling, immature little boy.
I watch as she continues down the hall. I’ve seen other pregnant women before. They were clumsy, out of balance from carrying extra weight in front. But not Annemarie. Her steps are graceful and refined, like she’s gliding on a frozen pond. The gentle curves of her hips have remained slender, and sway hypnotically side-to-side in a rhythm that matches the drumming of my heart.
What am I thinking? Mooning about like a lovesick teenager. I can’t let my physical attraction for Annemarie erode the resolve I’ll need to complete this assignment. Yet, she’s the most beautiful… Does she even know how she makes me feel…how human? I’m stuck in a moment reserved for young love. There’s nothing merciful about denying the uninhibited excitement coursing through every inch of my body, but my plan is already in motion. The fate of my mother’s soul is in my hands. As much as I hate myself for thinking it, Annemarie’s beauty has to be extinguished. I have to collect her. I know Satan is convinced these human emotions will help, but right now, I wish I was a stone-cold demon. It would make it a lot easier to incinerate her goodness from the earth.
GR link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17608363-our-souls-to-keep
Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Our-Souls-to-Keep-ebook/dp/B00CBPPML4/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1367683787&sr=1-1
B&N link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/our-souls-to-keep-gary-caruso/1115147101?ean=2940016431963
Gary Caruso lives in northern Virginia with his wife Jill, but their favorite place is in Ohio with their three beautiful grandchildren. Although Gary is exhilarated when he sits down to write, teaching middle school science is his first love. He’s passionate about empowering students to make thoughtful decisions and positive choices in life. Gary enjoys reading, especially fiction that blurs the line between what’s real and what’s fantasy. He never imagined becoming a writer until an ordinary car ride on a spring day jolted an unlikely thought into his head. Gary’s early experience writing is a reminder that no matter how intimidating the challenge, action and determination are the foundations for fulfilling any dream. Gary has an insatiable love for writing, a blessing he’s excited to share with his readers.
My Interview with Gary:
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I was driving home from work, stuck in traffic. My mind was wandering because I had an urge to do something different with my spare time. Then it just popped into my head, “Why not write?” It was really a radical thought. I watch football, but it doesn’t mean I can run onto the field and play pro football. I read books, and I considered becoming a professional writer. It was a leap of faith. I had no writing experience—none! But I decided it would an adventure. That was three years ago. It took me a year to write and edit my first novel, Benjamin Drake and the Stones of Oberon. It was a fun story with lively characters, but I was a terrible writer. Thankfully, I enjoy writing more than I ever thought I would, so I was able to stick with it through the ugly times. I pushed that novel aside, burying it deep in some unknown place so no one would ever find it. I worked very hard to improve as quickly as possible so I could share my work without being too embarrassed. Now, I can’t imagine my life without writing.
How long did it take you to write your book?
The process for Our Souls to Keep wasn’t a straight path. I wrote the first couple chapters and sent it to my editor. She warned me that it was too dark, and the YA market wasn’t ready for difficult topics. So I started writing a YA murder mystery called The Dark Side of Truth which is due for release in September, 2013. After a year and 25 revisions, I was ready to let it rest for a while. My friends had been urging me to continue writing Our Souls to Keep. Nine months later it was finished, but had been rolling around in my head for about two years.
What genre is your book? What made you choose to write in that category?
Our Souls to Keep is a romantic paranormal thriller. The first book I wrote was a cross-worlds medieval fantasy. Even though I wasn’t happy with the final product, it felt natural to continue with that path. I just don’t think real growth happens within too much comfort. So I took away the safety net and wrote a genre that I’d read, but feared writing. Actually, my biggest fear was the romantic content, especially between two seventeen year-olds. That age is filled with desire and uncertainty. Because of the risk, my skill as a writer improved substantially.
What was your work schedule like when you were writing?
I teach science full time, so finding time to write takes planning and less sleep than I’d like. After school, I’d come home, do my teacher homework, say hello to my wife, and write for 4-5 hours. On weekends, I write 10 -12 hours a day unless I have other activities planned. The summer is the same 10-12 hour writing schedule. It’s a lot, but I love writing so it doesn’t usually feel like work.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I think any good quirk is one you don’t know you have because it seems perfectly normal. For example, I walk lap after lap around the inside of my house. I talk to myself, groan, even yell at my characters for not cooperating, but there’s nothing quirky about that, is there?
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I have to know the very end of a story before I start writing it. If it isn’t a powerful ending then there doesn’t seem to be a good reason to continue. In the case of Our Souls to Keep, I knew the ending first. Soon after, a clear understanding of Wake and Annemarie followed. Then the challenge was crafting a story around them. It took quite a few laps around my house, but I had a rough plot in a weekend. It changed quite a bit in the writing process, but the ending and the core characters remained true.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
Our Souls to Keep is my first published novel, but my second novel, The Dark Side of Truth will release in September. My favorite between the two? Each book has its distinct appeal for me. I don’t think I can choose. Our Souls to Keep is my first. Like a first kiss, it gets placed in its own category. But I am extremely excited to share The Dark Side of Truth with readers!
Are you currently working on another book? If so, is it part of a series or something different?
Like I mentioned earlier, The Dark Side of Truth will release in September. It’s the first book in a YA murder mystery series. But very soon, I’ll start an outline to the sequel to Our Souls to Keep, called Souls on Fire.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
During the day, I teach 8th grade science. I love teaching kids. That takes a lot of my time, but I enjoy developing positive relationships and helping students reach their potential. As much as I love writing and teaching, my favorite time is being with my family. It really doesn’t matter what we do. I’m always happiest when I’m with them.
What does your family think of your writing?
I would have never had a book published without the support of my family and friends. To say they are happy and proud of me is an understatement. Mostly, I’m blessed to have a warm and caring wife. It makes all the difference in the world!
What was one of the most surprising things you learned about yourself in creating your books?
The honest answer is that I’m surprised that I could write a book that people enjoy as much as they do. I remember reading my first review from someone I didn’t know. I was floored by all the positive comments. Since then, the reviews have been fantastic. I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to it.
The other thing that surprised me was how my words struck an emotional chord with many of my readers. I’ve had readers tell me that there were moments when they cried or screamed at their book. I never thought my words would invoke that kind of emotion in others.
Do you have any suggestions to help others become a better writer? If so, what are they?
It’s really one of my favorite things. I love hearing from readers. Everyone one of them has been excited and positive. They often have questions about the characters, but mostly they ask about the ending and when the sequel will be released.
What do you think makes a good story?
Engaging characters that show growth as the story progresses. A fast-paced plot, with complex and relatable themes. If you don’t shake your head at a character because you don’t understand why they did something so stupid, or illogical, then the book took a short cut. You should want to stop and question their motivations. What are they thinking that they aren’t saying?
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Definitely a pro football player!
Are you self published or do you have a publisher? If self published, what made you decide to go that route?
I decided to self publish through my own publishing company very early in the process. The biggest reasons were time and creativity. The time required to publish through an agent and traditional publisher is about two years. I couldn’t wait that long to share my work. I also didn’t want to be in a situation where a publisher wanted me to alter the book so that it fit into someone else’s creative vision instead of my own.
Do you have a website, fan page, blog or twitter we can pass on to your fans?
Sure, my web page is www.garycarusobooks.com. My Facebook fan page is www.facebook.com/GaryCarusoBooks, and my Goodreads page is www.Goodreads.com/GaryACaruso
Where can your books be found? Please list Your author page from Amazon and links to your books anywhere else they can be purchased. Thank you
It’s available in print and e-book on Amazon and an e-book on Barnes & Noble and iTunes.