Author Chat with Katherine Laurin (These Vengeful Hearts), Excerpt, Plus Giveaway! ~ (US Only)

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 Today we're excited to chat with Katherine Laurin author of

These Vengeful Hearts.

Read on for more about Katherine and her book, plus a giveaway!

 

 

 

Meet Katherine Laurin!

 

Katherine Laurin lives in Colorado with her husband, two sons, and tiny dog. When she's not writing, Katherine enjoys reading, traveling, hiking, and listening to true crime podcasts. These Vengeful Hearts is her first young adult novel.

 

 

 Website * Twitter * Instagram

 

 

 

 

Meet These Vengeful Hearts!

Anyone can ask the Red Court for a favor...but every request comes at a cost. And once the deed is done, you're forever in their debt.

Whenever something scandalous happens at Heller High, the Red Court is the name on everyone's lips. Its members--the most elite female students in the school--deal out social ruin and favors in equal measure, their true identities a secret known only to their ruthless leader: the Queen of Hearts.

Sixteen-year-old Ember Williams has seen firsthand the damage the Red Court can do. Two years ago, they caused the accident that left her older sister paralyzed. Now, Ember is determined to hold them accountable...by taking the Red Court down from the inside.

But crossing enemy lines will mean crossing moral boundaries, too--ones Ember may never be able to come back from. She always knew taking on the Red Court would come at a price, but will the cost of revenge be more than she's willing to sacrifice?

 

 

Amazon * B & N Indiebound

 

 

 

 

~ Author Chat ~

 

YABC:  What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

I love secret societies, and this book came from the idea that there could be a group of girls behind the scenes pulling the strings at their high school. When I was younger, things like grades and relationships and student council elections felt so big. The Red Court’s manipulation of these same things was an interesting concept to play with. I also love a good revenge story and pushing characters to into morally gray spaces. Ember, the main character, is seeking revenge against the Red Court for hurting her sister, and the journey she goes through forces her to face the darker parts of herself.

 

YABC:  Who is your favorite character in the book?

I have a soft spot for Ember. I identify with her the most. She’s determined and fierce in everything she does. But, I have to say I enjoyed writing her interactions with her best friend Gideon the most. I stan their friendship so hard. Having a best friend who sees you and knows your story is worth more than all the coffee in world. Plus, they snark at each other constantly, which is just fun to write.

     

YABC:  Which came first, the title or the novel?

The novel! I queried the project to my now agent Tess Callero with one title, then we changed it before we went on submission, and then ultimately changed it again once it sold. I actually love all the titles we came up with, but I’m so happy with THESE VENGEFUL HEARTS.

     

YABC:  Do you have a favorite writing snack?

Of course. I drink sparkling water constantly. It’s bad. I always need to have a drink next to me when I’m working. I love to munch on almonds as I write. Only the natural ones. I know. It’s very specific.

     

YABC:  Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?

I think I’ve learned to tell the story I want to tell. The market is hard to predict, and you never know what will be trending in a year or two. When I’m writing, it has to be a book that has my heart all the way or it will never ring true. It’s kind of an extension of some of the best advice I got about writing: keep your eyes on your own paper. Don’t worry about who is doing what. If you focus on your work and what you love to write, you’re always going to feel better about it.

     

YABC:  What do you like most about the cover of the book?

ALL. OF. IT. I love how mysterious the Queen of Hearts is on the front cover. You only gets hints at who she is. It’s an amazing play on the Red Court’s unknown leader. The back of the cover has a stylized playing card, which I also love. Playing cards are important to the Red Court and having one on the cover felt so right.

     

YABC:  What’s on your TBR pile?

I just got BURN OUR BODIES DOWN by Rory Power. I thought WILDER GIRLS was absolutely stunning. Rory is an amazing talent with an innovative horror lens and a gift for atmospheric settings. I hope she writes a book a year forever!

     

YABC:  What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved?

I loved Diana Urban’s ALL YOUR TWISTED SECRETS. It was such a fun locked room thriller. Imagine an escape room that can actually kill you, and you’re trapped in there with your boyfriend, your crush, your old best friend and your best frenemy.

     

    YABC:  Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?

My main character Ember! I always struggle to let characters make their own mistakes, even when I know that their choices make sense for them. I’m an ENFJ, so I naturally want to run everyone lives for them.

   

YABC:  Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?

Whichever one I’m not doing. Actually, although drafting is harder for me, I do enjoy it more. I’m a plotter with intense outlines to follow, but there are always surprises for me to uncover as I write. I have to say that a story surprising me as I’m writing is my absolute favorite thing.

 

 

 

 

~Excerpt~

 

chapter one

Of the ways I’d want to start a Monday, finding a car cov­ered in blood was not one of them. The murmurs began just after first period, and fragments of muted conversation led me out to the Heller High parking lot. I was curious to see the spectacle drawing so much attention.

               

The crush of students flowing out of the school buoyed me along in a tide of bodies. Between gaps in the crowd, I caught glimpses of the word smeared across the car’s wind­shield in blood red relief.

LIAR

Gray clouds hung low, casting the macabre tableau in wa­tery light. The chill that slithered up my spine had nothing to do with the brisk October morning. I skirted a group of girls in front of me, recognizing familiar faces from my ge­ometry class, and found myself staring down at the thick crimson streaks. The letters looked nearly dry, and I couldn’t fight the morbid impulse to touch them. A distinct tackiness remained. Was it corn syrup or actual blood? I didn’t care to investigate further.

There was no proof that the infamous secret organization made up of Heller High’s elite even existed, but this exhibi­tion had all the makings of a Red Court takedown. Whis­pers from the ring of students surrounding the car reached me and I stepped backward, edging away from notice until I was part of the throng gathered to witness the scene. It didn’t seem like anyone was paying attention to plain old jeans-and-a-tee-every-day Ember Williams. Good.

Other words, some so ugly I couldn’t look at them for more than a moment, marred the rest of the car’s windowed sur­faces. My eyes skipped to the girl huddled beside a tree next to the parking lot. Tears stained with mascara ran in inky rivulets down her cheeks. Two of her friends rallied around her, whispering softly.

No amount of consolation was going to wash away the stain from this one. More than a few heads from the crowd were turned in her direction. I didn’t know her name, but I had a feeling she’d be remembered as that girl, the one whose car was vandalized with blood. She’d been marked by the words we’d all seen: liar, cheater, tramp.

Why did the Red Court target her? Who wanted this girl humiliated—to be brought so low in front of the whole school? Or had she been reckless enough to throw in with them and ask for a favor she couldn’t repay? No. The vulner­ability in her expression was too raw to fake. This girl was a pawn in the Red Court’s game. The pull to learn more about the group known for dealing out ruin and favors in equal measure went beyond cursory interest. I needed to know more.

My stomach gave an uncomfortable tug, as if my body was eager to put distance between me and the girl now that I’d seen the damage. A sob shuddered through her, and I tore my gaze away, shifting my feet and noticing a stickiness below my sneakers. A thick coat of red clung to the bottom of my shoes, marking me too. Ugh. I must have stepped in a pool of the blood. I told myself it was fake blood because I couldn’t stomach the alternative. I’d have to go change into my run­ning shoes before next period.

“Everyone back inside,” a teacher called from the main doors. His tone left no room for argument.

The mass of students quickly dissolved, moving back into the school. The whispers rose to chatter as theories were passed around like mono on prom night. I trailed behind a couple holding hands as they maneuvered through the crowd.

“This is the worst one so far,” the girl said.

Her boyfriend scoffed. “Worse than the video of Brett Shultz’s keg stand? No way. He got kicked off the football team for that. Brett had Division I schools scouting him, too.”

A rogue Facebook account cropped up just after the school year began with some incriminating footage of the varsity running back at a party in a stunning display of upper body strength and chugging technique. The video made it all the way to Principal McGovern, who reluctantly had him re­moved from the team, along with the school’s shot at a state title.

“Do you really think she cheated on her boyfriend?” some­one behind me asked.

“Does it matter?” his friend responded.

I shook my head in silent reply. It didn’t matter. That was the power of the Red Court; gossip and innuendo were all it took for a star student to fall from grace after accusations of cheating.

As I passed a small cluster of teachers just inside the doors, I stepped nearer to catch the edges of their hushed exchange.

“—needs to do something.”

“The district’s policy on bullying—”

“I know the policy, but this is beyond ‘bullying.’ It’s the third time since the school year began.”

This may have been the third public display of destruc­tion in the last six weeks, but it was hardly the third time the Red Court had struck. Their takedowns were legendary and highly visible to ensure maximum exposure, but they also excelled in the small things no one would notice unless they were looking for anomalies. My eyes were wide open.

For as long as anyone could remember, there have been ru­mors that the mysterious Red Court was pulling the strings behind the scenes at Heller High School. Its ranks were shrouded in mystery, but its influence was undeniable. Rigged Student Council elections, changed grades, and ruined repu­tations were all in their repertoire.

Half of the school treated them like the Boogeyman, the near mythical thing that was out to get you. It was easier to deny their existence than to acknowledge the specter of their presence. Takedowns like the one outside were as likely to be attributed to the Red Court as they were to be pinned on anonymous wannabes posing as the Red Court to allay sus­picion. It seemed like the other half of the over two thousand students at Heller made a sport of trying to guess which members of the prom court were legitimate and which ones owed their wins to the Red Court.

But I knew the truth.

The Red Court was real, and I needed in.

I pushed my way through the crowded halls to get to my locker. All around me a chorus of voices carried the news of the Red Court’s latest victim, the story spreading faster than I could move.

My phone buzzed in my pocket. It was probably my best friend. I ducked into an alcove to check my texts.

Gideon: Did you hear?

Me: I saw, actually

Gideon: And?

Me: It was probably them. Who else would mess around with that much blood?

Gideon: Ew. Was it real blood?

I thought of my shoes again and shuddered.

Me: Who cares? The car looked like the prom scene from Carrie. They got their point across.

Gideon: I saw Mrs. Martin leading the girl into her office.

If something like that ever happened to me, I’d want to be put in the hands of the nicest—and most capable—guid­ance counselor, too.

Me: Yeah, I saw her outside.

Gideon: It’s too bad. She looked wrecked.

We were reaching the point in the conversation at which I was supposed to condemn the monsters who did this. I wasn’t ready to go there with Gideon. Revealing the true depth of my disgust at everything the Red Court stood for was not something I could do over text. Truthfully, my feelings about the Red Court were this gnarled mass inside of me, too big to start talking about at all.

Me: I gotta run. Lit is calling.

Gideon: Ok, see you after.

Before I’d made it halfway across the school, the warning bell rang. I gave up the attempt to change my shoes and turned to book it upstairs so I could suffer through American Lit with a room full of disenchanted sophomores. Oh joy. On an ordi­nary day, class was a chore to get through. On a day like today, with my mind busy dissecting the latest Red Court takedown, it seemed like my school would live up to its nickname after all. Welcome to Hell High.

“Ember?” Mr. Carson called my name like a question.

Crap. I must have missed something. I couldn’t seem to concentrate on Mr. Carson’s analysis of Leaves of Grass, which was a shame. Whitman had some serious 19th century game going on. “I sing the body electric” gave me chills the first time I read it.

           

“Yes, Mr. Carson?”

He sighed impatiently. Or perhaps disappointedly. “Do you have any thoughts on the final section?”

I glanced at my notes from the night before to read the scribbles aloud, but a mocking voice cut in.

“Whitman’s talking about the physicality of the body and how it is part of the soul or is the soul. Like it’s just as impor­tant as the soul, which at the time was elevated above a per­son’s body in significance.”

I threw a baleful look toward Chase Merriman—insuffer­able know-it-all—and was given a smug half-smile in return. He just loved to one-up me. Mr. Carson turned his gaze to me for more input, but my premeditated discussion points wouldn’t add anything to the dialogue. I gave my Lit teacher as unaffected a shrug as I could manage even though a sharp retort branded with Chase’s name tried to claw its way out of my throat. I pushed it down, not deigning to give Chase the satisfaction of knowing he got under my skin.

Mr. Carson continued droning on, asking for our “thoughts” and “feelings” about the poem. Poor guy didn’t seem to un­derstand his audience. Disengaged was our default setting. It really took some doing to rouse us. Though Whitman’s work was taboo back in the day, most of the students here had prob­ably seen something more risqué in their Instagram feeds over breakfast this morning.

The bell rang and Mr. Carson’s shoulders slumped. An­ other day of not making a difference. I almost felt bad for him, but this was his chosen career path. He had to know what he was getting into when he signed up to teach freak­ing poetry at a public school.

“Could you hang back a minute, Ember?” Mr. Carson’s words caught me six inches from the door and freedom.

I smiled tightly. The next period was my off-hour, but Gideon would be waiting. Every moment I wasted in the classroom diminished the chances of running out for my caf­feine fix, which were already slim since I had to trek back across the school to change my sneakers first. I would not spend a moment longer than necessary in these shoes.

“What’s up, Carson?” He was one of those teachers who thought using “Mr.” in his title meant he was uncool, so I dropped it whenever I needed extra brownie points. Not that my brownie point bank account was in that much need.

“It’s unlike you to space out during an epic poetry discus­sion. Everything ok?”

Mr. Carson was probably my favorite teacher, and we had a strong rapport, but I couldn’t tell if his use of “epic” was sincere. I hoped for his sake he was being cheeky.

“Just having one of those days, you know?” Vague, Ember, be vague. “I’m sure I’ll be back to contributing the only mean­ingful insight tomorrow,” I added with a rueful smile, which he returned.

“Sounds like a plan. So you know, I’m always here if you need an ear.” He shut his copy of Leaves of Grass with a snap, effectively ending our conversation.

“Thanks!” I bolted out the door as fast as I could without seeming rude.

Running down the steps two at a time, I nearly crashed into Gideon as he waited at the foot of the stairs near the school’s main entry.

“What’s the rush, Em?” His words came out in a whoosh as he caught me.

“I need to stop by my locker before we get coffee. Let’s go!”

“Seriously? There isn’t time for a detour if we’re going to make it back before the hour is up. Let’s just hit the library instead.”

He was right of course, but I was in desperate need of a large Americano. I wanted to argue, but once Gideon made a decision, there was no way he’d change his mind. If only there was someone as bullheaded as him on the debate team with me.

Gideon broke down what he’d heard about the takedown this morning as we walked through the halls. I was too busy sulking to add to the commentary. I spun the combination on my locker, wondering how in the world I could explain the bloody shoes to my mom. The door swung open, and I tossed my bag to the ground. I was already toeing off my sneakers when a flash of red caught my eye.

The Queen of Hearts sat alone on the top shelf of my locker, the coy smile on her face said she knew something I didn’t. If the rumors were to be believed, she did. A Queen of Hearts was the eponymous calling card of the Red Court’s leader, and its presence could only mean one thing: my invi­tation had finally come.

Excerpted from These Vengeful Hearts by Katherine Laurin, Copyright © 2020 by Katherine Laurin. Published by Inkyard Press.

 

 

These Vengeful Hearts

By: Katherine Laurin

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Release Date: September 8th, 2020

 

  

 

 

*GIVEAWAY DETAILS* 

Three winners will receive a copy of These Vengeful Hearts (Katherine Laurin) ~ (US Only)

 

 

*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*

 

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Comments 15

Already Registered? Login Here
Zachary Snyder on Tuesday, 01 September 2020 11:38

Book sounds great, love the cover!

0
Book sounds great, love the cover!
vendingshop on Wednesday, 02 September 2020 05:57

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Andrea Cerda on Friday, 04 September 2020 17:08

Looking foward to read it! love the cover

0
Looking foward to read it! love the cover
Abigail Lowry on Wednesday, 09 September 2020 07:51

What a beautiful cover! Can’t wait to read!

0
What a beautiful cover! Can’t wait to read!
Candice Gigous on Wednesday, 09 September 2020 13:18

The cover is eye-catching. The synopsis is very intriguing. Sounds like a great read.

0
The cover is eye-catching. The synopsis is very intriguing. Sounds like a great read.
Brittany on Sunday, 13 September 2020 12:15

Beautiful cover and sounds like a great read for Halloween/fall in general.

0
Beautiful cover and sounds like a great read for Halloween/fall in general.
Alex Colpitts on Sunday, 13 September 2020 14:42

added to my list!

0
added to my list!
John Clark on Wednesday, 23 September 2020 19:26

On my TBR list

0
On my TBR list
Danielle Hammelef on Sunday, 27 September 2020 17:12

The cover is beautiful. This book sounds so exciting!

0
The cover is beautiful. This book sounds so exciting!
Autumn on Sunday, 27 September 2020 22:00

The crown is a nice touch!

0
The crown is a nice touch!

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