Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Island by Jen Minkman Spotlight...

Title:  The Island
Author:  Jen Minkman
Genre:  YA Dystopian (80 page Novella)
Expected Publication Date:  June 1, 2013


I walk toward the sea.  The endless surface of the water extends to the water extends to the horizon, whichever way I look.

Our world is small.  We are on our own, and we only have ourselves to depend on.  We rely on the Force deep within us, as taught to us by our forefathers.

If I were to walk westward from here, I would come across a barrier - the Wall.  Behind it, there are Fools.  At least, that's what everyone says.  I have never seen one.

Leia lives on the Island, a world in which children leave their parents to take care of themselves when they are ten years old.  Across this Island runs a wall that no one has ever crossed.  The Fools living behind it are not amenable to reason - they believe in illusions.  That's what The Book says, the only thing left to the Eastern Islanders by their ancestors.

But when a strange man washes ashore and Leia meets a Fool face to face, her life will never be the same.  Is what she and her friends believe about the Island really true?

                                                                Or is everyone in their world, in fact, a Fool?

When I step out of my bedroom door, mother and father are waiting for me in the hallway.
The clothes I am wearing feel uncomfortable.  They're grown-up clothes:  rough-textured and of practical cut.  Made to last for a long time.
"I go my own way,"  I say softly.  The words that every child utters at age ten - the words my brother will say after me today - don't sound as if I'm sure of them.  But I am, because I know this is right.  I clear my throat and speak up.  "I stand on my own two feet.  No one takes care of me but me."
Father nods solemnly.  Mother looks pale and is staring down at her hands.  why won't she look at me?  Is this her way of saying she wants nothing more to do with me?  I haven't even moved out yet.  Dull disappointment grows in my stomach like a heavy brick.
The door next to mine swings open, and Colin steps over the threshold.  My twin brother.  He's wearing brown pants and a simple shirt.  Slung across his shoulder is a bag containing a few possessions he doesn't want to leave behind.  Almost all of our things will be destroyed after our departure, our rooms cleared, so we won't ever be tempted to return.  Not that I would want to.  I'm done here.  Colin coughs.  "I go my own way," he says with a quiver in his voice.  His eyes search our mother's.  "I stand on my own two feet."  A tear rolls down his cheek.  He's having a hard time with this.  Oh well - he's the youngest, after all.  There's a half hour between us.
"No one takes care of you but you," father finishes the speech, when Colin can't go on.
When I pass my mother, she suddenly puts a hand on my shoulder.  "Leia," she says, pulling a simple bead necklace from her dress pocket.  It has a painted and glazed walnut for a pendant. "For you."
My heart skips a beat.  That's the necklace my mother got from her mother when she moved out.  And now she's giving it to me.
"Thanks," I whisper.  Just for a moment, I imagine her giving me so much more than this.  I feel this can't be the end, but just then my father pushes open the front door for us.  I walk out after my brother, into the early daylight, away from my mother.
Colin is waiting for me and grabs my hand.  "You coming?" he mumbles.
We walk down the path without looking back.  We're going to the manor, where we will live until we get married and have children ourselves.
The front door slams shut.  A new life has begun.


Jen Minkman (1978) was born in Holland, in the town of Alphen aan den Rijn.  When she was 19, she
moved between The Hague, Salzburg (Austria), Brussels (Blegium) and Cambridge (UK) to complete her studies in intercultural communication.  She is currently a teacher of English, career counselor and teenage coach at a secondary school in Voorburg, Holland.  She tries to read at least 100 books a year (and write a few, too!).  She is a published author in her own country, and translates her own books from Dutch to English for self-publication.  In her spare time, she plays the piano, the guitar and the violin.  For every novel she writes, she creates a soundtrack.

I have always been drawn to writing.  My first book was a sci-fi novel at the age of eight, which I painstakingly typed out on my dad's typewriter and illustrated myself.  Nowadays, I stick to poetry, paranormal romance, chicklit and/or fantasy.  In my home country, I am the first-ever published writer of paranormal romance, and I will gradually make my books also available in English (seeing I have to re-write and translate the books myself, this will take some time!).

Walt is the boy Leia meets one night when she's running away from Sol.  He lives on the other side of the Wall and is called a 'Fool' by the eastern islanders because he comes from a different kind of society.


Can you share your rainy day playlist with us?

I think staying indoors on a rainy day, and reading or writing on such days can be very cozy!  Whenever I hole up in my study to 'do my own stuff'' as my husband calls it, I listen to old sixties records - The Beatles, the Doors or the Moody Blues.  My favorite weather-related songs by the Beatles are 'Here Comes the Sun' and 'Rain', but I also really like 'Riders on the Storm' by the Doors (it even has those rain sound effects at the beginning!).  My favorite Moody Blues record is 'In Search of the Lost Chord'; I must have listened to that record a million times.  It used to belong to my parents, but since they don't have a turntable anymore, I stole it from them and gave them a CD with the album on it. :)

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