Title: The Mind’s Eye
Series: Synsk #1
Author: K.C. Finn
Audience: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal/ Historical/ Romance
Formats: E-book and paperback
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Cover by: Marya Heiman for Clean Teen Publishing
Pages: 350 pages
ASIN: B00JDPXCWGDate Published: April 1st 2014
BLURB supplied by Sparkle Book Tours
A girl with a telepathic gift finds a boy clinging to his last hope during the war-torn climate of Europe, 1940.
At fifteen, Kit Cavendish is one of the oldest evacuees to escape London at the start of the Second World War due to a long term illness that sees her stuck in a wheelchair most of the time. But Kit has an extraordinary psychic power: she can put herself into the minds of others, see through their eyes, feel their emotions, even talk to them – though she dares not speak out for fear of her secret ability being exposed.
As Kit settles into her new life in the North Wales village of Bryn Eira Bach, solitude and curiosity encourage her to gain better control of her gift. Until one day her search for information on the developing war leads her to the mind of Henri, a seventeen-year-old Norwegian boy witnessing the German occupation of his beloved city, Oslo. As Henri discovers more about the English girl occupying his mind, the psychic and emotional bonds between them strengthen and Kit guides him through an oppressive and dangerous time.
There are secrets to be uncovered, both at home and abroad, and it’s up to Kit and Henri to come together and fight their own battles in the depths of the world’s greatest war.
Book Links -
We spent Henri’s birthday under a tree drinking orange pop and trying to talk about subjects that didn’t lead back to the war. The news of Clive and Ieuan had shaken Leigh out of his selfish reverie, so if one good thing had come from the darkness it was the fact that my brother had finally actually gotten to know Henri. He even sang Happy Birthday in what he called ‘The Proper English Way’, laughing so hard he could barely get the words out for lack of breath:
“Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you; you look like a monkey and you smell like one too!”
Henri laughed for the first time in what seemed like forever and a warmth settled in my chest, like things were finally going to get back to normal. When Leighton went to get more pop, Henri came to the tree and sat down beside me, putting a long arm around my shoulders and pulling me in. He kissed the side of my head gently, his warm breath sinking into my hair. He hadn’t tried to kiss me properly again even when there had been opportunity for it, and I was sort of grateful for that. As much as I wanted to feel that tingling, only-us-in-the-world sensation again, right now the atmosphere just wasn’t right. But we were always close to one another when we had the chance, I had gotten so used to his arms around me that it felt like some part of me was missing when he wasn’t there.
“I’ll have to go into the village tomorrow,” he whispered, “to pass my enlistment papers to the right people.”
An invisible blade sank slowly into my fragile heart, but I had always known this day was coming.
“It’ll take them a while to process it,” I said hopefully, “I bet they’ve already got loads of boys waiting to go to basic training.”
“Perhaps,” he said softly, his lips still resting against my head.
I turned sharply to face him, searching his deep brown eyes. “I don’t want you to go,” I said, racing to find his hand to hold it tightly.
“I won’t really be gone,” he replied, “You’ll always be able to find me.”
“That’s not the point,” I said, my curls shaking as I trembled, “This is dangerous Henri, this is war.”
“You forget where I’ve been already,” he said, turning his face away to focus hard on the distance. He kept a firm hold of my hand and gave it a good squeeze. “You came to my head in the quiet times, the safe times. But I’ve already seen the destruction, the danger and the death, Kit. I think there are two types of people during war: those who see the horror happening and run away, never looking back, and those who want to do something about it.” I felt his other arm pull me in closer against his strong body. “You know which type I am, so you know I have to go.”
I couldn’t say anything, because it was all true.
Title: Leighton’s Summer
Series: Synsk #2
Pages: 308 pages
Date Published: April 14, 2014
BLURB supplied by Sparkle Book Tours
A teenage boy with something to prove gets caught up in a web of crime and deceit in England, 1945.
In the weeks leading up to his sixteenth birthday, gifted psychic Leighton Cavendish finds himself suddenly packed off to Blackpool, a glittering, teenage paradise filled with plenty of opportunities for amusement—and trouble. With only a preoccupied grandmother to keep an eye on him, Leighton’s desperation for adventure leads him out into a world of holidaymakers, candy, and carnival rides—the ideal place to spend six weeks away from home.
But Leighton’s psychic visions are encroaching on his fun, trying to warn him of the danger that lurks beyond the shimmering lights of the Golden Mile. Who are the mysterious thieves Leighton sees in his head, and what do they want with the children they seek? A girl called Faye holds the answer, but she has enough problems of her own.
Amid the climate of a tourist town recovering from the impact of the Second World War, two lost teenagers will discover a shocking truth about human greed. Together, they will try to fight against it. For Leighton and Faye, this will be a summer to remember—one filled with challenges that must be overcome.
A summer that turns a boy into a man.
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Title: A Place Halfway
Series: Synsk #3
Pages: 325 pages
BLURB supplied by Sparkle Book Tours
A struggling psychic girl steps out into the big wide world amidst the murky depths of racial segregation in England, 1961.
As a teenage psychic, Josephine Fontaine knows what it’s like to be different. At Peregrine Place, a school full of youngsters with gifts just like hers, sixteen-year-old Josie is growing tired of her life and looking for more excitement in the world beyond the grand manor house’s walls. When an opportunity arises to work in a local music bar, Josie jumps at the chance, learning to balance her new job with the pressures of studying the ways of the Synsk.
There she meets the charming Tommy Asher, a fellow psychic with a talent for music, and Jake Bolton, a handsome, surly stranger with coffee-coloured skin. Throw in the return of her old crush Dai Bickerstaff, and Josie finds herself embroiled in a drama much bigger than she could have imagined, especially when certain parties take issue to her developing a friendship with a boy who isn’t white-skinned. When a mysterious record mogul offers Josie help to improve her psychic gifts, her world turns totally upside down and Josie begins to question everything she thought she knew about the world, her family and even herself.
Coming of age was never so intense as it will be for Josie in the winter of 1961.
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Which of your books were easier/harder to write than the others?
I always find sequels harder, because there’s a certain pressure of living up to the atmosphere of Book One, but also bringing something new to the table. A Place Halfway was the third book in the Synsk series, and because each book jumps forward in time, I have to maintain some of the family atmosphere and characters of the past, but also evolve them into the next time phase. It’s been challenging to see Kit Cavendish from The Mind’s Eye go from being a teen to being a woman with teenage children of her own, but it’s a very rewarding process once you’re at the end of it!
Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
Well today you’re featuring the Synsk series, and 2015 will see Book 4: The Shakedown and Book 5: Impossible Things being released in that series. I have close to forty projects going right now, so you can expect plenty of new releases from me next year, at least 8 are in production right now.
Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them?
My mother usually reads things way before anyone else, and my grandmother is always banging down my door for the latest manuscript! They help me to proof the first draft and give me their opinions and/or point out things that confuse them or that might need clarification. Once my book goes to the publisher, that’s it. If I feel it’s time for it to go to the publisher, then I’ve committed to my story and I don’t intend on changing any of the major details. I have advanced readers who enjoy getting the books early and give me lots of great reviews, but they don’t actively influence the text itself.
Do you gift books to readers to do reviews?
I will always give an ecopy to a reviewer if they’re willing to do a review. If you’re going to give your time to react to my writing, then the least I can do is give you the book for free.
How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books? Who designed the Cover of your books?
Marya Heiman at Clean Teen Publishing has done a great job doing the covers for the Synsk series, but one of my hobbies is graphic design and I do love to do covers myself too! I personally really enjoyed designing the cover for Sinister Sentiments, my new horror anthology, and I’m currently working on exciting new covers for my Shadeborn series next year. I think if you have the skills to make your own vision come to life on the cover, then you get a much more accurate feel of what the book’s about.
Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
My process is twofold. If I have a basic idea and some characters, I will write a few opening chapters to see if the idea is going to work. If I’m flowing with it, and the chapters are turning out with enough depth and readability, then I’ll begin to frame out a plot. This usually happens after the first 10,000 words are written, and I’ll organize the next few chapters with a clear vision of where the book is going to end. When I get about half-way into the manuscript, the real planning starts, to ensure that all the plot lines I’ve started in the first half match up towards the end, and that everything gets a coherent and satisfying conclusion.
How do you market/promote your books?
By every means I can. Paying for marketing can be a costly business, and you very rarely get back the revenue that you’ve put into it. What really works for me is putting the hours in to connect with individual readers, bloggers and fellow writers to make them personal friends. If you have a network of people who love your work and consider you to be a good friend, they will always help you when you need promotion and favours. Plus, being active on social media lets readers get to know you personally, and then they do become more invested in your work too.
Do you think children at schools these days are encouraged enough to read? and/or do imaginative writing?
I recently gave up being a private tutor to a lot of children between the ages of 7 and 16, and I can honestly say that I don’t feel schools are doing enough to encourage creativity any more. When I was at school, if you finished your work early, you could have ‘creative time’ to draw and write, so long as you didn’t disturb anyone else. I became a speedy and efficient worker purely because I was trying to maximize my creative time! In my teaching experience, getting kids to invent their own stories is always incredibly rewarding, and it shows you their true creative potential. It’s a far better mark of intellect and maturity than a score in a spelling test will ever be.
Did you read a lot at school and write lots of stories or is being a writer something newer in your life?
I have always been bookish. When I was about eleven or twelve, I started collecting classic literature, and it’s honestly the best thing that ever happened to me. Reading Victorian horror, Dickens and Austen at that age helped me to learn excellent grammar and extensive vocabulary that my peers didn’t have, which always made writing easier. I actually went back to reading children’s books later in life, like Harry Potter and Darren Shan, after I’d had my classical phase. I’d say I’ve got a good mix of the two, which is essential for a writer to have.
Is there a book you know you will never read? Or one you tried to read but just couldn't finish?
There are books I’m trying to avoid, but I would never be so closed off as to reject opening them for a try. I couldn’t finish Divergent by Veronica Roth. It was just flat, and Tris did not interest me at all as a lead character. I don’t understand what all the fuss was about with that one. Also, I tried a few pages of The Fault In Our Stars, but I’ll probably never go back to it. John Green writes beautifully, but I find the whole concept to be idealized. As a person who suffers every day with a crippling illness, his take on being teenaged and sick is far too unrealistic for my taste.
Are there any New Authors you are interested in for us to watch out for? and Why should we watch out for them?
YES! I know of three very exciting authors who are just starting out like me, and you should definitely check them out.
Amy Freeman is the author of SHINE: The Knowing Ones, and she writes vivid and exciting Paranormal Romance novels.
Marie Nelson is my favourite steampunk author right now, and she writes The Infernal Odyssey series and some amazing short stories.
My other choice would be Toni Lesatz, who doesn’t have her own book out yet, but has produced some amazing short stories that are about to be released, such as one for the After Tomorrow anthology, of which I am also a part.
Do you or would you ever use a pen name?
I’ve considered it, but I feel like I’d be hiding the parts of myself that I still want to bring to the writing world. There’s a certain responsibility as a young adult writer that you don’t accidentally lead young readers to books that are less appropriate for them, but I don’t think I ever go too far in terms of graphic content. If you can handle the violence of the war in The Mind’s Eye, then you can read my other books!
Where can readers follow you?
At the various links below:
Your blog details?
Your web site ?
Your facebook page?
Your Goodreads author page?
Your Twitter details?
The Synsk Series
Dream Cast and Character Bios
The Mind’s Eye (Book One)
Catherine ‘Kit’ Cavendish, age 15
Kit is the central character of The Mind’s Eye, a girl with secret psychic abilities who can step into other people’s heads, look through their eyes and feel their emotions. She suffers from what was known in 1939 as Still’s Disease, which is actually a form of juvenile arthritis. This means that she has suffered a period of physical deterioration, so when we see her at the start of the book she is bound to a wheelchair and wishing that her life could be very different to the situation she’s trapped in. The Mind’s Eye is just as much about Kit’s war with her body as it is about the actual war surrounding the story. Kit’s condition is based on my own debilitating long term physical illness (M.E.) which presents a lot of very similar symptoms and difficulties in my everyday life. My dream cast pick for Kit is Georgie Henley, famous for playing Lucy in the Chronicles of Narnia movies. I chose her because she has a subtle but classic beauty that could easily sit in the period of the 1940s and she is a youthful teenager rather than a mature-looking one.
Henri Haugen, age 17
When Kit first connects her mind to Henri’s she finds him in Oslo, Norway on the day that the Nazis first arrive to take control of the city. Henri is a kind and brave soul but he can be impetuous and make snap decisions without thinking; not a clever move to make when you’re surrounded by the occupying forces. Kit takes it upon herself to counsel Henri through his troubles and eventually help him to escape the terror in Oslo so that he can do his part for the war effort. During this time the two youngsters develop a strong bond of friendship and romance. I was inspired to create Henri’s character after visiting the Resistance Museum in Oslo, Norway whilst on a holiday cruise. I was amazed by the stories of very young men who took it upon themselves to traverse the frozen mountains of Norway in order to cross the sea and join the British Army via Scotland. My choice for Henri is a bit of an obscure one since he’s not actually an actor, but here I present Aljaz Skorjanec, star of ballroom dancing show Strictly Come Dancing! He has a typically European look (although he is Slavic rather than Nordic) but his cute little dimples and flyaway hair made him a perfect candidate for Henri.
There’s actually a YouTube video from Strictly Come Dancing where you can see Aljaz dancing with model Abbey Clancy to the song Dear Darlin’ by Olly Murs. To me this performance really captures the spirit of Kit and Henri’s relationship and the song was very influential in channelling the kind of love they share: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riXwYKM-ggY
Blodwyn Price, age 20,
Steven Bickerstaff, age 29
Blod is not a character I expect you to like the first time you meet her, but I hope that as you read on in The Mind’s Eye you will come to understand her attitude and the life events that have shaped her into the moody, guarded young beauty that she is. Doctor Bickerstaff forms a kind of enemy for Kit at the start of the tale, his harsh words and unsmiling attitude aren’t what she needs when she’s struggling enough already… or are they? Blod and Bickerstaff are my secondary main characters and I genuinely love the way their story unfolds as Kit learns to understand why they behave the way they do and discovers secrets about them she never thought possible. My dream cast picks for them are Dominique Swain for Blod (star of the Jeremy Irons version of Lolita) and Dan Stevens for Bickerstaff (whom you will all recognise as Matthew in Downton Abbey). I chose Dominique for Blod because I think she is a natural beauty and a typical teenage temptress. I picked Dan for Bickerstaff because I really needed someone who could still look sexy when he was miserable!
8 Great Songs to hear with a copy of The Mind’s Eye
A selected playlist of songs which inspired me during the writing of The Mind’s Eye.
Listen to it in full at: http://8tracks.com/kim-finn-986/the-mind-s-eye
Wish Me Luck (As You Wave Me Goodbye) – Vera Lynn
Give me a smile I can keep all the while
In my heart while I'm away
Till we meet once again, you and I
Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye
As anyone who has already read The Mind’s Eye will know, this song is the one that the children being evacuated from London start to sing on the train. This song is taken straight from British History as an anthem of the Second World War so it’s the perfect introduction to the atmosphere of the tale and the wartime spirit of Keep Calm and Carry On that all the characters in the novel try to stick by.
Under The Weather – K.T. Tunstall
And it's simply irrational weather
Can't even hear myself think
Constantly bailing out water
But still feel like I'm gonna sink
The lyrics of this song really represent a lot of things about the main character, Kit, at the start of the novel. Just like the world around her, Kit feels like she’s trapped under a black cloud because of her physical disabilities and she’s struggling with feelings of frustration and sadness. These are only exacerbated by having to move from the bomb-target city of London to the safe but isolated world of Bryn Eira Bach in North Wales.
More Than Useless – Reliant K
I'm a little more than useless
And when I think that I can't do this
You promise me that I'll get through this
And do something right
Do something right for once
Kit and Henri are both young people trapped by oppressive forces (in Kit’s case, her disability, and in Henri’s case, the Nazi occupation of Oslo). They both carry feelings of uselessness in the early stages of the story but it is by working together and trusting one another that they can both overcome the challenges they face. I love this song because it’s a combination of feeling quite fierce and powerful but also having a deep-set fear of not being valued, which is definitely a huge part of Kit’s character.
Dear Darlin’ – Olly Murs
Dear darlin’, please excuse my writing.
I can’t stop my hands from shaking
'Cause I’m cold and alone tonight.
First of all if you’ve never heard this song, watch it as part of this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riXwYKM-ggY. I was watching this couple on Strictly Come Dancing (the show that Dancing With The Stars is based on) a lot whilst I was writing The Mind’s Eye and the male dancer here (Aljaz Skorjanec) actually became my model for Henri’s look. I think this song is a perfect representation of long-distance love and waiting for that person to come again; an ideal song for wartime!
Run – Leona Lewis
Light up, light up
As if you have a choice
Even if you cannot hear my voice
I'll be right beside you dear
One of the most important things for a soldier facing the horrors of war is to know someone back home is waiting for them to return with arms wide open. Kit’s psychic abilities allow her to communicate with Henri more often than most sweethearts would get to talk to their fellas, but all the same it’s her voice in his head that keeps Henri brave, strong and able to face all the challenges that his time in North Africa brings him.
Lonely Teardrops - Jackie Wilson
Just give me another chance, for I'll romance
Come on and tell me that one day you'll return
'Cause every day that you've been gone away
You'll know why my heart does nothing but burn crying
I absolutely love the rock and roll era of the late 1950s and early 1960s, so you weren’t going to get through this playlist without a song from that time popping up! This emotional classic from the great Jackie Wilson tells you everything you need to know about those left at home during the war: the wives, mothers, girlfriends, young children and elderly people who all had relatives out there in danger and struggled to carry on with their normal lives despite everything. In The Mind’s Eye, everyone who lives at Ty Gwyn faces this harsh reality every day.
The Voice Within - Christina Aguilera
Young girl, don't hide
You'll never change if you just run away
Young girl, just hold tight
And soon you're gonna see your brighter day
One of the most important things about The Mind’s Eye is that it is a book about personal strength and overcoming your inner struggles in order to deal better with the outside world. This song is an inspirational anthem from my own teen years and it still speaks to me when I think about Kit and the personal strength she develops during the action of The Mind’s Eye.
Greatest Day - Take That
Tonight this could be the greatest night of our lives
Let’s make a new start,
The future is ours to find
Can you see it, can you see it in my eyes
If you’ve never heard this song, please go listen to it! Of course this playlist has to end on a high note and Greatest Day is the perfect up-beat feel good song about looking to the future and hoping for a bright new sunrise. Whilst there is plenty of darkness and tragedy in The Mind’s Eye, there is also a strong sense of hope for the future fuelled by love, family and personal belief.