Worlds Apart: Leah by Andrea Baker
Leah knows that her mother died in a car accident when Leah was small and that her father, who used to be the gentlest dad in the world, has become increasingly controlling and occasionally violent.
She also knows that her recurring dreams are telling her something more about how and why her mother died, and why her dad turned nasty, but they are becoming progressively more disturbing and confusing.
When Leah meets Ben, she is excited to have a friend she can confide in and have fun with, but is he what he seems?
The voice of Leah’s mother repeatedly tells her to rely on her instincts, but when Leah is run over in a freak accident and Ben’s family take over her welfare, are they protecting her or using her?
And why would anyone, good or evil, bother with an ordinary girl just about to go to university?
Excerpt Two – Worlds Apart Leah by Andrea Baker
I lay in bed that night, thinking about the events of the day. I’d really enjoyed listening to the band playing, particularly the instrumental stuff which had never really appealed to me before. As I relaxed, I started humming one of the pieces quietly. Ben had offered to pick me up a few days later and I was planning to ask him if he had a copy that I could put onto my iPod.
There was that awful sound again. This time I was already in the car. Slowly, fearfully, I turned around to look at the boot – those incandescent yellow eyes were there again, staring ferociously at me.
I cringed and turned back, in time to see the shadow man throwing something through the open window. It hadn’t looked like a weapon, although judging by the howl that came from the side of the road; it did the job of one. I wondered what he had aimed at and why he hadn’t gone for the thing hanging onto the back of the car.
I didn’t have time to think too much, though. Suddenly the car was swerving around a bend, and despite the seatbelt, I found myself thrown almost into his lap.
I pushed myself away, trying desperately to get a look at his face but it was always in the shadows. There was another crash and suddenly the yellow eyes were at the car window. I found myself trying to hide in the seat of the car, pushing as far away from the window as I could.
The eyes continued to stare at me for what seemed like an age.
I opened my eyes and lay there in the half darkness. I could feel my heart racing from the dream but at least I had somehow managed not to wake Dad up again this time, and for that I was grateful. I couldn’t understand why the dreams continued, and were even getting worse, despite my reasoning about the cause. It wasn’t as if I was starting university without knowing anyone, now I’d met Ben.
At what seemed like exactly the same moment as that thought, the skies erupted again and my stomach started to churn with my usual reaction to an impending storm. The wind had picked up considerably but now it appeared to drop, and with the stillness came yet another storm. I jumped up and pushed my window closed. I normally slept with the window partially locked open but I didn’t want the rain coming in.
I curled up on my bed, flicked the reading light on and lay there thinking. It was times like this that I really missed having Mom to talk to. We would have been able to talk about these dreams properly. Somehow with Dad it always seemed harder. Don’t get me wrong, he tries really hard but it just isn’t the same. Mom and I were always close, so close it almost seemed as though we could read each other’s minds, often answering questions before they were even asked. What had happened still didn’t make sense to me, nor did the fact that at times it felt as though we were still having conversations in the same way.
I shook myself, no point thinking about that now. I turned the light off and lay there listening to the storm, hoping that it would die away quickly and dry up before morning so I could still visit the ruins. Listening to the rain pounding outside, though, that seemed unlikely.
I must have dozed off again, however, as when I awoke the rain had stopped. I still couldn’t shake that uneasy feeling as I showered and got dressed for the day. As I looked outside, I resigned myself to the fact that it was going to be too wet to visit the ruins again today and put my mind to planning what to do rather than mope around the cottage all day.
I thought of yesterday’s music session and smiled. The guys in the band had all been pretty good about my attendance, although I had caught a look passing between Richard and Will that had intrigued me. I wasn’t likely to find out what it meant, though, until I got to know them better.
I smiled to myself. I was hardly your usual music fan. I recognised the tunes but it was very rare that I could give you the title or even the name of the artist. Ben was nice, I had to admit that, and not just in the way he looked. What was important was that he was gentle and interested in me as a person, unlike Greg who had wanted me simply as another conquest to mock and make me look bad. Ben was not like the boys back in Clifford, he was different, not that he would be interested in the likes of me. Other than Greg, I hadn’t really had a proper boyfriend before, and after the way Greg had treated me, I didn’t want to have one either. There had been the occasional date to see a film but these had usually taken place in small groups, or at least with another couple, and I’d never really clicked with anyone enough to want to see them as just the two of us. Not that anyone had shown a particular interest in me either. There had been Joe, who I’d more or less grown up with back home. He had once told me he’d got tickets to see a gig but didn’t have anyone to go with, but that didn’t count as an invitation, did it?
Not that Ben would be interested in me like that anyway. He was only being civil, I was sure of that. Although he said he was new at the university too, he had said that his family had lived here for generations, so he obviously wasn’t new to the entire area, otherwise where did Liberation fit in?
I looked at myself in the mirror as I finished getting ready. The light in this old cottage wouldn’t do anyone any favours but then it would take a miracle to do something for me. I’d never really had that much interest in my appearance. Like all girls of that age, I’d started to get interested in clothes and things before Mom died, but afterwards there was no-one to offer help or advice. Dad had been pretty useless with anything like that.
I stared at my reflection, wondering if there was anything I could do to improve on my appearance. Unbidden, the memory of the last time I’d tried to do anything like that crept into my mind. Greg and I had been going out together for a few weeks and he’d asked me to go to the Christmas party with him. Wanting to make him proud of me, I’d spent all day curling my lifeless hair and practising with make-up. I’d been quite proud of the result and even Dad had grunted his approval. I’d entered the room with pride, holding my head up high for once, certain that Greg would be delighted at what he saw.
Even now, months later, I shivered at the memory of the reaction that I’d got. He’d roared with laughter from the other side of the room, shouting at his mates to look, and calling me a clown. Before I knew it, the whole room seemed to be pointing and laughing, and I turned and ran, out into the snow and ice, falling down the steps and ripping my new skirt in the process.
Tears welled at the memory of the humiliation. Angry for allowing it to still hurt; I rinsed my face in cold water and looked again in the mirror. ‘Boring' would be the best description for what I saw. Green/brown/hazel eyes, dirty blonde hair, average height and average build. The perfect mediocre appearance for someone that no-one wanted to notice or needed to remember.
I looked outside. Although the rain had stopped, the wind had picked up again and the whole place looked grey and damp. I decided to walk into town and see what the shops had to offer, or not, as was probably the case. Still, I could always catch the bus into Leamington Spa if need be; anything to get out of the cottage and away from my thoughts and dreams
Character Interview: Leah Clinton
Tell us a little bit about yourself Leah:
I’m not sure there is that much to tell….
My mother died a few years ago, when I was just fourteen, in a horrible car accident. Although at first he tried to be really supportive, more recently my Dad has become more and more possessive of me, being paranoid about any boyfriends I might have, and, most recently, moving us both to Kenilworth in Warwickshire. This was done deliberately so that I was forced to stay at home rather than going away to college, despite the fact he knew that I’d always planned to go away to college with Jen, my best friend.
How did you first meet your writer?
I’ve known her for a few years now, although it took me a while to get her to recognize me and really listen. I think she thought she was going mad to start with, listening to my voice in her head all the time – but then again, she might be right…
Want to dish about him/her?
That wouldn’t be fair, because I still need her to finish my story…oh, go on then.. (“DON’T YOU DARE!” shouts Andrea from the kitchen). She’s pretty normal really, with a wicked sense of humour when you really know her. She’s quite shy though, and REALLY busy all the time!
Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?
No, not really, and it’s odd to think that people can read all about me, and think they know me simply because of what they have read so far.
Did you have a hard time convincing your author to write any particular scenes for you?
Yes, when she was writing about my nightmares. Not so much the writing of them, but asking me about them, and trying to get them right. I think she was worried she’d upset me. Now that I know what they really were though, they don’t affect me like they did back then.
If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?
I’d like to go into more depth at the end, but then that all appears in book two, so would it have spoiled it? That’s a really hard question to be honest – I think my readers need to know the rest of the story, but it was too long for a single book, so knowing where to end one, and start the other was hard.
Tell the truth. What do you think of your fellow characters?
I don’t think anyone needs me to describe how I feel about Ben, so let’s leave that one to the side, shall we?
Mr. and Mrs. Edwards, Ben’s parents. I know they looked after me after the crash, and Eloise helped me find the truth, but I really struggle with the way they treated Ben and I, and acted as though we were doing something wrong. I still don’t think I’ve seen the true them, only what they want me to see, and I can’t stand people that hide behind things.
As for the others, well I could get Andrea to write another book on that front, so I’ll leave it there for now.
Do have any secret aspirations that your author doesn’t know about?
Oh yes, there’s a few things that Andrea doesn’t yet know, and I think they might just surprise everyone. If I let them slip though, the story won’t come out right, so I’m keeping her in suspense!
What impression do you make on people when they first meet you? How about after they've known you for a while?
People think I’m a bit strange I suppose – I’m quite quiet, and after a bad experience in Clifford, where I grew up, I tend to avoid large crowds so that I can’t make a fool of myself. So it’s hard to get to know people really. Once they know me, and I trust them, they usually quite like me – I’ve got a wicked sense of humour, although it’s hard for people to see that in this story, and I like all the things that most girls my age like. I’m quite intelligent though, and sometimes people don’t like that.
How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change?
My life is…interesting right now. I love interacting with my readers, and seeing what they make of my story, how they see things as they read what Andrea has written. There’s a lot of other stuff going on though, that if I told you, would both ruin the story for you in future, but also you probably wouldn’t believe!
What aspect of your author’s writing style do you like best?
I love how she understands me – how she’s written the book almost as though I were telling her direct, and she gets how I was feeling at that time.
Describe the town where you live.
Kenilworth is quaintly British – it’s quite an old town in many ways, and there’s the Castle at one end (with all the magic that goes with it), and Abbey fields, with the swimming pool, tennis courts and remains of the old Abbey at the other. There’s a lot of history there, and not too much to do for anyone our age, but my University is only a couple of miles away, so you don’t have to go too far!
Will you encourage your author to write a sequel?
I think I might have already given that one away! Yes, we’re working on a sequel as we speak, and I’m trying to convince her to write more – but I guess that depends on how my surprises work out…!
About the Author:
As she grew up and left University, she convinced herself that writing was something that she should have grown out of – that these daydreams belonged in the realms of childhood. For many years she did nothing – she couldn't stop her mind creating these worlds and stories, but she refused to write them down.
Over the last few years however, she has returned to allowing herself to develop these worlds, and as a result, the Worlds Apart Series, an idea that has floated around her for quite a few years now, has been created.
Andrea lives in the beautiful county of Warwickshire, England, which is also where the series is based. The locations – Leah's Cottage, the Castle and the Abbey are all real.
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1. Where did the inspiration for your novel Worlds Apart, Leah come from?
The bones of the idea, a young woman having nightmares that spread to reality and a story across two alternate worlds, have existed for a long time – in fact I remember dreaming about the characters as far back as 2003, when I was in the early stages of pregnancy with my daughter. It all finally came together though in late October 2009, when I was driving home through Kenilworth during a thunderstorm. The sight of the lightening above the castle in the evening sky made the jigsaw fall into place, and the story suddenly came together in my mind. I went home and started writing it down that same day.
2. How long have you been writing for?
I’ve written, or at least made up stories, for as long as I can remember. When I was a child it was usually what we would now call “fan fiction” stories based on the last book that inspired me, and my first novel, called Chimes, was what we would now call Chick Lit. As I grew into my teenage years, I started writing more verse, then after I went away to University and graduated, I forced myself to stop writing my ideas down, believing it was childish behavior and that as an adult I shouldn’t be doing things like that!
The ideas never went away; I just stopped writing them down, until that thunderstorm. Then the story and images were so loud, I couldn’t ignore them anymore.
3. Do you write in other genres, apart from fantasy?
Yes, I have an outline of a novel called Alfie, which I’m working on. It is the story of a young boy born in Birmingham in the late 1920’s, and it is based around my Grandfather’s early years. But to do it justice it requires a lot of research to ensure I get the historical elements right, as well as the human story that is there. So I need to take time with it, and I just don’t have the time to give it right now as I’m working on the next Worlds Apart novel.
4. Do you have a set routine before you start writing? For instance, do you have absolute quiet, or do you listen to music?
I don’t have a set routine as such, as I write whenever I can grab the time. However music is the key to setting my imagination loose for me, I hate absolute silence and find it really hard to concentrate in that environment. I have certain songs that trigger my imagination, so I make sure that they get played first, or I choose the mood of the music to match the scene that I want to write. There are also songs that are key to certain parts of my novel – the crash scene for example. One particular song was playing at the time I wrote that passage, and now, whenever I hear it, my mind reverts back to that scene. It’s wonderful when it comes to editing, because I know that I can immerse myself back into that part of the story relatively easily. However, it can be a double edged sword if I accidentally select the wrong playlist when I’m at work…
5. You have a young family and all the work that entails. Where do you find the time to write?
I have one lovely, lively and mischievous little girl, who will be ten in March, and I also work full time. I admit that it is a juggling act, and spending time with my daughter is always my first priority. Having said that, I try to write something every day, and this is usually after my daughter has gone to bed. There are occasions though that the conflicting demands on my time mean I can’t get to write when I want to, and that can be really frustrating. I’ve found that if I don’t manage to write a little every day, then the ideas will start to dry up, or aren’t as vivid as they used to be, and it becomes harder to pick the same story up again. The hardest part for me is getting my mind to be creative when I want, or need it to be – there are times when I get wonderful ideas when I’m in the middle of a meeting at work, or in the car, but by the time I can actually use them, my mind goes blank.
6. Are any of your characters based on real people?
Not really. There are bits of people that are close to me in some of the characters, but I can’t pick one of my characters and say “that’s them”. I’ve tried to make the characters as real as possible – after all Leah is based across alternate Earth realities, so they need to feel as though they are real. The names I chose for Leah and Ben were names I always wanted for my own children, but for various reasons ended up not using. I see a lot of myself in Leah, but she copes with a lot more than I have had to, and she is far stronger as a result.
7. What made you decide to become a writer? For instance was it the prospect of becoming rich and famous or because you love writing so much, it’s an integral part of you?
It wasn’t a conscious decision – so I suppose you’d say it’s an integral part of me. I’ve always had a voracious appetite for reading, even when I was very young, and writing was the next logical step. At that time I was too young to understand about fame and fortune, so it was never a consideration. Of course, it would be wonderful to be able to earn a living from writing, so that it became my “real” job, but primarily, this is who I am, and I can’t imagine being any other way.
8. Are there any plans for a sequel /sequels to Worlds Apart?
Yes, there are at least two more books in the story. I know that many authors will find that a strange thing to say, but my imagination, when I’, writing, is very visual. The story plays out in my mind, as though it is a film, therefore although I know where the story is going, and how it will end, there will be deviations along the way that could affect the overall length of the story itself.
9. Finally, what one piece of advice would you give to fledgling writers?
Believe in yourself. Most of the writers I know, myself included, are very self-critical – and we spend hours poring over our work, correcting and editing. There comes a point when you have to let it go, believe that it is the best it is going to be, and, if you want to be published, start getting it out to agents and publishers, or self-publish. If you don’t believe in your own work, then no one else will. The next piece of advice would be never give up – just because agent X or publisher Y didn’t like it, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t any good.
Check out the World's Apart: Leah book trailer: