For Gemma Green’s first time, things should have been straightforward. Find your subject, hold their gaze and push a thought into their head to save them from future disaster – Aversion complete. A pretty simple process given that the subject was to have no recollection of the experience. But Russ Tanner doesn’t seem to want to forget. In fact the more she tries to avoid him, the more he pushes to get to know her. Gemma knows she has a problem but is she facing the side effects of a failed Aversion or has the school’s tennis champ really fallen for her?
Targeted Age Group:: YA/Teen
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I’ve always been really interested in exploring parapsychological themes. For Aversion, I wondered what it would be like if I possessed a paranormal ability which could help others but still give them the freedom to mess up their lives. I knew the ability had to be something subtle in execution yet grand in impact. I also wanted the protagonist to feel like a loner, but not so much that they had no clue what they were doing. It didn’t take too long to build on this basic idea.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I am a huge fan of paranormal TV shows (I’m still upset that Heroes was cancelled) so it wasn’t difficult to imagine a world where people live with supernatural powers. I tried to make the lives of Averters as mundane as possible so the story could be more believable. Apart from carrying out their Averter duties, nothing truly extraordinary happens to them. That way, I hope readers can identify with the other real life problems the characters encounter.
“Great choice. No one in their right mind would want to eat in here so we’re clearly safe,” Russ joked and I tried not to smile.
He was right; I didn’t want to order anything from the menu because the table reeked of what could only be stale vomit. Ingesting anything there would probably result in the production of said bodily discharge.
“Okay, I’ve never eaten in here but it seems perfect for conversation so let’s talk. Isn’t that what you wanted to do? Talk?”
Russ shrugged and picked up the menu to scan it. “And hang out, like two normal teenagers. Do you understand the concept?”
If only I could tell him that I really didn’t understand the concept.
“See, that’s my problem. I don’t see why you want to hang out with me at all. You have all your friends. If you get fed up with them you can easily turn your attention to any other girl at school and they would have more to say to you than I ever would. Why do you want to talk to me? And why now?” I tried not to sound exasperated.
Russ put down the menu and stared intently at me. I felt slightly unnerved by the intensity of his gaze but I had to hold my own. I was good at this game, I had stared down scarier looking people on the bus. Strangely enough, Russ didn’t waver. It was like he was trying to find something in my eyes, something to answer the unspoken questions he had, something to help him understand what the hell was going on.
Finally, he looked away and sighed. “Honestly? I don’t know. I woke up one morning last week and you were on my mind. I had an uncontrollable urge to speak to you. Of course I’d always noticed you in class; you’re kind of hard to miss, but I had never really felt that I could approach you. I always knew I would get shot down. But that morning, it felt like something was different. I knew that if I spoke to you, things would work out. And here we are, sitting in a dodgy little café, talking. I guess my instincts were right.” He grinned and looked at me again.
My brain tried to process what he had just said. What did he mean when he said I was hard to miss? I thought I had perfected my blending in technique over the years. Apparently I still had some work to do. I was relieved to hear that all he had was a strange feeling and nothing more concrete but nothing else he had told me so far was helpful. I couldn’t use any of it to fix him. I realised he was waiting for me to say something after a minute passed with us staring at each other in silence. Perhaps he wanted some reassurance that what he had said did not sound completely insane. Unfortunately, confirming his sanity would mean that I believed people could wake up and suddenly feel the need to speak to people they had never spoken to before.
“Is that what you tell all the girls?” I settled on counterattack, it was always safe to stay on familiar grounds.
At first Russ looked mortified at my question but he broke into slightly nervous laughter when he saw a smile tugging away at the corner of my lips. Why couldn’t I have kept a straight face when I said that?
When he finally stopped laughing, he picked up the menu again and resumed playing with it. “I have always noticed you, Gemma. You probably don’t remember the few times we spoke…”
“We’ve never spoken…” I began to protest but he cut me short.
“Last year on that field trip to see the War Memorial in Yates, you asked me to move over so you could get to your seat.”
I stared at him in disbelief. “That doesn’t count.”
“Well, there was that time you couldn’t reach a library book and I helped you get it. That was last year as well.”
My mouth almost dropped open in shock. Those moments were barely memorable. I would never have counted them as mentionable in any conversation. It almost sounded like he…no, it wasn’t impossible. Russ Tanner did not have a crush on me. This verbal diarrhoea had to be a result of whatever it was I did to him. I could sense that he thought he was telling the truth but surely he couldn’t be. Why would he notice me? And I was not thinking that in an ‘I’m-a-nobody-and-I-feel-sorry-for-myself’ way. I was a social nobody but I knew I wasn’t unattractive. I had caught boys looking at me even before I turned twelve and informed Dad that I needed a bra, so it couldn’t just be my chest they were looking at. But I was nowhere near as pretty as some of the girls he hung out with. I didn’t wear makeup like most of them did (lip balm did not count) but I allowed myself the little vanity of stud earrings and ensuring my hair was as healthy looking as it could be. Maybe Russ had a thing for pretty hair and silver studs.
“I wish you’d stop looking at me like that. Like I’m talking a load of nonsense,” Russ’s tone was convincingly hurt and I almost felt bad for him. But I had to remember what was happening here and try to gently steer him away from me.
“Look Russ, I know you think you want to be my friend but I assure you, this won’t work. We don’t have the same type of friends…what am I saying, I have no friends and we both know yours will not like me. If for some unimaginable reason I decide to hang out with you some other day, the only way we can talk in peace is by meeting up in places like this, where no one will know us. Do you really want that? What are you going to say to your friends when they ask where you’ve been? I don’t know how else to convince you that us,” I pointed at the both of us, “isn’t practical.”
“I don’t want practical. I want you.”
I don’t think he intended to say those words out loud because he gasped at the same moment I did and then he turned an unnatural shade of red. This was way more serious than I had thought and I had no clue what to say in response to his unexpected confession. Whatever I had messed up had to be fixed fast.
Kenechi lives in London, UK and writes contemporary, fantasy/paranormal fiction. She has released 7 young adult books and contributed a short story to a children’s charity anthology. She also hates the cold and hopes to one day figure out how to hibernate in winter.
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