by Majanka Verstraete
Published: November 11, 2014
Genre: YA, Paranormal
When sixteen-year-old Riley is injured in a car crash and sees a girl stealing a boy’s soul, she’s convinced she’s hallucinating. But when she sees the same girl at the hospital later, she knows she wasn’t dreaming. That’s when Riley learns her secret heritage and who she really is: a halfling Angel of Death.
Riley must come to terms with her new reality and supernatural abilities, but before she can do this, girls her age start dying in mysterious circumstances. It’s up to Riley to figure out why, what the innocent victims have in common, and what she can do to stop them.
THE WORLD EXPLODED IN a chaos of fire, debris, and noise. Sirens screamed and low voices mumbled in the background. I lifted up my head and groaned. My head weighed about a thousand pounds and throbbed as if someone had hit me with a hammer. The interior of the car swayed from left to right.
A dark fog rose up in front of the car. Vague specters moved back and forth in the mist. I squinted and the specters turned into paramedics dressed in white clothes with stains all over them, who ran from one patient to another. Four or more cars had collided and mine was the last in line. Two cars burned with tall, flickering flames. A woman crawled out of one of the burning cars, half of her face blackened.
My stomach twisted and bile rose up in my throat. I searched for the door handle without turning away from the apocalypse happening in front of me.
The woman with the burnt face started screaming. The sound shattered my eardrums. A paramedic rushed toward her and pulled her away from the searing car wreck.
My fingers found the door handle and I pushed the car door open. A gush of fresh air entered the car and I took a deep breath. The air filled my lungs, and even though my surroundings still swirled around as if on a carousel, they started to slow down. I fiddled with the lock of my seatbelt, trembling like a leaf. Eventually the lock clicked and I tumbled out of the car. I gripped the door handle so hard my knuckles turned white while I pulled myself up, leaning on the car.
“Are you okay?” Someone grabbed my arm and helped me to stand up.
My savior was a forty-something woman with a round face, large eyes, and a red flush on her cheeks as if she’d just run a mile. She was tall and chubby, and while she appeared friendly enough, she stared at me wide-eyed, the chaos of burning car wrecks and wounded people reflected in her irises.
“I don’t know,” I said. “My head hurts and the world is spinning.” She nodded and helped me to the nearest ambulance. “Sit down.” She waited until I’d sat down and then looked at my injuries. She dabbed a wet cloth on my forehead and when she pulled it back the cloth was stained red.
My gaze fixed on the scene unfolding behind her. Two paramedics took turns performing heart massage on a young boy, whose broken body was spread out on the ground. His skin was the color of a bridal gown and his lips had turned a faint blue. He couldn’t be older than eight or nine. Broken glasses lay next to his body.
Right when the paramedics switched places, a girl appeared behind them. She popped up out of nowhere. One second there was no trace of her, the next she stood there, as if she’d been there all along.
My heart raced in my chest. I wanted to say something but the words got stuck in my throat.
The girl’s red hair with black extensions reached to her shoulders. She wore a short checkered skirt, black combat boots, a venom-green tank top, and black stockings. A chain dangled from her skirt. She chewed bubblegum with her mouth open. Everything about her screamed wrong; from the way she’d suddenly appeared to how she carried herself, as if she was strolling around in the park on a summer’s day, not standing at the scene of a gruesome accident in the middle of autumn. Even her clothes didn’t match the weather.
She knelt down and put her hand on the chest of the injured boy. For a while, nothing happened. But then a see-through, shiny form rose above the boy’s body. The specter looked exactly like the boy — same age, same height, same clothes, but it shone like a diamond.
- What is your favorite genre to write?
I write a mix of genres – children’s books, middle grade, young adult, and sometimes even horror or paranormal books for adults. My favorite genre however is young adult paranormal. There’s that great mix of young adult protagonists and a paranormal threat lingering above their heads.
- Which genre have you never tried before, but would you like to try out?
I’d like to try out epic fantasy. I got my love for reading from reading epic fantasy series like the books by Robin Hobb, Raymond E. Feist, and the Lord of the Rings series. Nowadays I’m totally addicted to the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin. So I’d love to give epic fantasy a try.
- Please tell us about your book.
In The Soul Thief, we meet sixteen-year-old Riley, who witnessed a girl her age stealing a younger boy’s soul at the scene of an accident. Of course she thinks she’s hallucinating, but once she wakes up at the hospital and sees the girl again, she realizes she wasn’t dreaming. So she chases the girl, who reveals she’s an Angel of Death, and the only reason why Riley can see her, is because she’s an Angel of Death as well.
Riley must then come to terms with her new life, with belonging to the world of angels and the rules she must obey now. But while she’s trying to control her brand new abilities, girls her age start dying in mysterious circumstances and Riley has to figure out who is behind it, and stop them before any more girls get hurt.
- Which character was your favorite, and why? Which character was your least favorite, and why?
Riley would be my favorite character. I love her – everything about her. She’s the kind of heroine I’ve always wanted to read about. She’s independent and strong, would do anything for her friends, and she’s not afraid to stand up for things she believes in. Of course she has flaws too, but I’d love to be her friend, and I love writing about her.
My least favorite character, that’s a difficult question though. All of the characters are quite likeable, and even if they’re not, they tend to have their reasons. At this point, it would be Seraphyn, one of the minor characters.
- What was the hardest part about writing your book?
Trying to balance the romance. At first, I didn’t want to include any romance at all, not even a hint of attraction between any of the characters. But then I decided to add some of it anyway, but I didn’t want the focus to be on the romance. I wanted the book to focus on the characters, on Riley and her friends in particular.
- What is your writing routine? Are there things you absolutely need to start writing?
I usually write on the train, so I don’t need anything but my laptop. I try to write regularly, about 2,000 words a day, and when I have a train ride to and from university (which is about four hours) then I tend to go above and beyond that goal. But some days I’m at home, and then it’s trickier to read my word count goal.
- How long did it take you to write your book from start to finish?
I wrote a first draft for The Soul Thief in 2012. Then I planned more books in the series, read a lot more YA books, worked on improving my craft, reworked the plot and characters, and wrote a second but completely different draft in January of 2014.
Then I didn’t look at it again until during the summer holidays, when I edited the book, and then I submitted it to a publisher. So, if you look at the general timeline, it took over two years. But in terms of actual writing time, when I was actually focusing on this manuscript, three to four months.
- Can you tell us about your editing process?
I’ve worked with a few editors before who edited my books, so I’m starting to grasp what I need to look for when editing. I work on my manuscript, typically one or two chapters a day depending on the chapter length. My first drafts tend to be pretty clean, so I only need one or two rounds of edits tops before the book is ready for beta readers.
- Is this book part of a series? If so, how many installments do you have planned?
The Soul Thief is the first book in the Angel of Death series. At the moment, I have six installments planned, but the world of this book continues expanding, so there might be more. But those six books I’m quite certain of – they’re planned and outlined, so now all I have to do is write them.
- Are you working on something at the moment? If so, can you tell us more about it?
I’m working on a new adult paranormal romance “Ghostslayer”, which is my NaNoWriMo project for this year. I’m at 32k words, and I estimate the final project will be 70-75k words.
At the same time, I’m working on edits for the first part in the Allegro Academy series, a novel I wrote back in 2012 as well, but I never got around to editing it. At this point, it’s more of a rewrite than actual editing.
Then I’m also waiting to hear back on edits for two of my chapter books, which should be this month, and on the edits for another one of my young adult novels, “Reflected”. That book releases in summer 2015, and I should get the edits about now.
Of course, I’m also working on the sequel to The Soul Thief, “Demonic Pact”. I’m still working on tightening the outline before I can start writing, but once I finish my NaNoWriMo project, this is next on my list.
About the Author:
Majanka Verstraete begged her Mom to teach her how to read while she was still in kindergarten. By the time she finished fifth grade, she had read through the entire children’s section of her hometown library.
She wrote her first story when she was seven years old, and hasn’t stopped writing since. With an imagination that never sleeps, and hundreds of possible book characters screaming for her attention, writing is more than a passion for her.
She writes about all things supernatural for children of all ages. She’s tried to write contemporary novels before, but something paranormal always manages to crawl in.
Majanka is currently studying for her Master of Laws degree, and hopes one day to be able to combine her passions for law and writing. When she’s not writing, reading or studying, she likes watching “The Vampire Diaries” and “Game of Thrones,” spending time with her friends, or playing “World of Warcraft.”