Author: Tom Early
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist: Sadie Thompson
Length: 260 pages
Release Date: October 15, 2015
Blurb: It’s hard enough being gay in high school, but Fay must also deal with hiding his magical ability—powers he barely understands and cannot possibly reveal. His best friend Sam is his only confidante, and even with her help, Fay’s life is barely tolerable.
Everything changes when Janus University, a college for individuals with magical capabilities, discovers the pair. When the university sends a student to test them, Fay and Sam, along with their classmate Tyler, are catapulted headfirst into a world of unimaginable danger and magic. Fay and Tyler begin to see each other as more than friends while they prepare for the Trials, the university’s deadly acceptance process. For the first time, the three friends experience firsthand how wonderful and terrible a world with magic can be, especially when the source of Fay’s power turns out to be far deadlier than anyone imagined.
AS IT turned out, being wedged into the small space below the math wing staircase was exactly as uncomfortable as I’d imagined. Now, I was in there of my own choice, sort of. I held still and listened, letting out a sigh of relief when I heard the boys’ voices fading. I decided it was safe and did my best to wriggle out.
Groaning, I brushed myself off and realized that I’d somehow managed to cover the majority of my backpack in a thick layer of dust. Rumor had it that years ago the staircase used to be green. Now it was gray. I looked at my backpack in disgust and let out a breath, concentrating. The dust glittered as a layer of frost covered it. When I hoisted my bag onto my back once more, the dust slid right off, the frost preventing it from clinging.
Clean backpack in hand, I trudged up the stairs, across the hall, and walked into the classroom. I took my customary seat in the back next to the poster detailing the derivative rules of calculus, feeling a flash of pity for Ms. King as I watched her try to get anyone to listen, and grabbed my book of the day as the front row began its usual antics. Today they asked Ms. King about her love life, which, while incredibly rude, was extremely successful in throwing her off-balance.
I would never understand high school, even after nearly four years of it. It seemed barely tolerable for everyone involved, including the people who fit in. I didn’t fit in, and so every day was a new chapter in the purgatory of hiding what I could do.
I sent a grateful prayer to the high school gods as class was interrupted by an announcement saying we needed to go to the nurse’s office for a new immunization or something. Ms. King pulled us out of the truly thrilling world of integrals and sent us down one at a time. I was one of the last to go.
Stepping back into the hallway, I prayed that I wasn’t going to run into any of Logan’s crowd again on my way down. The number of times I’d heard “fag” muttered under someone’s breath was already too high.
The school had two hallways running between the faculty area and the math wing, and most people took the lower one. I chose the glass hallway because it was usually empty (this surprised me as well, but apparently using stairs was just too much for many of my classmates), and it was pretty cool to be able to see the entire campus from what was effectively its highest point. I trailed a finger across the glass as I walked, leaving behind a fractal line of frost in the warm September air.
I smirked. For as long as I’d been at Owl’s Head High School, there had been, in the eloquent phrasing of high schoolers, “spooky shit” in the fall and spring where kids would come across ice or cold areas in warm weather. I knew I needed to keep my head down, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t have a little fun.
Tom Early is currently a student at Tufts University who probably spends more time than is wise reading and writing instead of studying. More often than not, he can be found wrapped in a blanket on the couch forgetting most of the things he was supposed to do that day.
When not writing, Tom can be found either reading, gaming, drawing, scratching his dog, or bothering his friends. He also frequently forgets that it’s healthy to get more than six hours of sleep a night, and firmly believes that treating coffee as the most important food group makes up for this. If you show him a picture of your dog, he will probably make embarrassingly happy noises and then brag about his own dog. He’s always happy to talk about any of his previous or current writing projects, because people asking him about them reminds him that he should really be writing right now.
Nephy’s World Interview
Let’s start by telling us, in twenty words, or less, what you’re book’s about.
Aspect of Winter is about a boy with magic named Fay who’s ready to stop pretending to be normal.
What was it that led you to write in the genre(s) you write?
I’ve always loved fantasy, especially contemporary fantasy. It’s a lot of fun to figure out how magic would work in a world that’s like our own instead of someplace else entirely.
Are your books character led or plot led, or both?
I tend to start with a vague idea of a plot, a beginning and an end. But beyond that I don’t know what’s going to happen with the story until the characters show me. I put them in the world, and they show me how they go about doing things.
What is your favourite part of the writing process?
Definitely the writing part, not the editing part. Creating is fun – finding the flaws in what you’ve created is less so, though probably more valuable. I’m especially fond of writing fight scenes and humorous dialogue.
What is your least favourite part of the writing process?
Editing, mostly. I have difficulty finding the errors in my own writing even when I know they’re there. That makes editing an agonizingly slow process with many drafts.
Where do you get your inspiration for your characters?
Depends on the story. For Aspect of Winter I got inspiration from my close friends from high school and my own imagination. Most of my characters are like more extreme versions of people I already knew. But beyond that it’s just a matter of writing and seeing what comes out.
Tell us a little about the characters in your book and their story. You can use more than twenty words this time.
The story is told from the perspective of Fay, who’s a gay teen who’s been hiding his powers for years. He wants nothing more than to finally feel like he belongs somewhere, and when a representative of Janus University comes to his school, he takes the opportunity.
Sam is Fay’s pansexual best friend, and she’s the one who’s ready and willing to take charge of any situation placed in front of her. She’s fierce and headstrong, and incredibly loyal. When it turns out that Fay isn’t the only one who can go to Janus University, she leaps at the chance.
Tyler, on the other hand, is a completely normal guy at Fay’s high school. He wouldn’t be involved in any of this if one of Fay and Sam’s attempts at magic hadn’t gone horribly awry. But Tyler has had a crush on Fay for months, and he’s willing to deal with the weird if it means spending time with Fay.
If you could have one wish what would it be?
Beyond wishing the world was a little bit nicer of a place to live in and all that, probably to be able to speak and read every language fluently. There’s a lot this world has to offer, and English really isn’t enough.
What's your deepest fear?
Being forgotten. I’m an introvert who spends more time with books than with people. It wouldn’t be a stretch, but I have my family and my friends.
If I came to dinner what would you feed me?
I’m not much of a cook, so either something simple like mac and cheese or we’re going to stare awkwardly at each other until one of us suggest going out for dinner.
Which of your characters would you like to be sharing the dinner table with us?
Tyler’s too polite to turn down an invitation. Sam would accept the invitation just to bother me, and Fay would probably prefer to stay as far away from me as possible. Probably Sam.
Tell us in the character’s own words, what he/she would have to say about you.
I love my characters, but I’m fond of the whole “kill your darlings” concept. Characters need to grow, and putting challenges in front of them is the best way to do that. So Sam would probably try to punch me.
What would they say (again in their own words) about themselves, and their story that will make us want to read about it?
“Look. If you wanna read about me, I can’t stop you. But Fay’s the one with the angsty stuff. I’m here because I know it’s what I want to do, and what I can do. Finding out about magic in the world was cool enough when Fay showed me what he could do. Finding out that I could do it too? Even cooler. Janus University might be a place full of psychos, but it’s the only place I can go to learn more about all of this.”
Which other fictional character(s) would you like to be present at the dinner party?
From my story? I’d probably also bring Fay just so I could hear him and Sam banter like they always do. Otherwise, I’d want to invite Kvothe, from Patrick Rothfuss’ Name of the Wind. I’m sure having more than one strong-willed, sarcastic magic-user at the table couldn’t possibly end badly.
What other authors would you say have either influenced your writing or you would like to emulate?
I’ve read a lot of stories over the course of my life, and when I write I tend to draw a little from all of them. Since I’m writing contemporary fantasy, I sometimes try to match the tone of authors like Kevine Hearne, who also write contemporary fantasy. For first person I often look to Patrick Rothfuss, since his books are amazing. But for the most part I’d just like to figure out what kind of writer I am, not how to be like someone else.
Which character from literature, would you most like to have invented?
There are a lot of cool characters out there, but I wouldn’t want to have created any character other than my own. It’d be really cool to claim credit for one of the characters that everyone knows, but I’d rather work up to being able to make a character like that myself.
What do you prefer writing. A one off novel, a series or short stories?
I haven’t been writing long enough to know for sure, but probably one off novels. Series are lots of fun, but I sometimes lose interest in an idea before the series is done.
What kind of books do you read (if you have time to read)?
Lots and lots of fantasy.
Where do you see yourself personally and professionally in 5 years time?
Probably still writing. Beyond that, I’m not sure.
Do you have any other projects in the offing we should look out for?
Nothing ready to talk about yet. But Aspect of Winter isn’t the only project I’ve spent a lot of time on, just the first to be finished. More books will be coming soon.
Where can we find you?
Probably hiding in a library somewhere.
Winner’s Prize: Free signed copy of Aspect of Winter