This week I was lucky enough to interview author Sharon Bayliss and review her debut novel The Charge.
The Charge’s blurb:
When King of the Texas Empire kidnaps Warren's brother, Warren embarks into a still Wild West to save him. On his journey, he makes a discovery that changes his life forever—he and his brother are long-lost members of the Texas royal family and the King wants them both dead.
He gets help from an activist Texan named Lena, who's itching to take on the King and happens to be a beautiful firecracker Warren can't stay away from. Convincing her he's not one of the bad guys becomes harder when a mysterious energy stirs in his body, turning his brain into a hive of emotions and memories—not all his own.
A legacy of violence is not all he inherited from the brutal Kings of Texas. The myth that the royal family possesses supernatural powers may not be myth at all.
Gone are the days when choosing a major was a big deal. Now Warren must save his brother and choose whether or not to be King, follow a King, or die before he can retire his fake ID.
I would first like to say that I am partial to any story that is layered with politics, especially one that pits democracy against monarchy (I majored in Political Science and love fictional politics – real stuff not so much). So after reading the blurb I was excited to read Sharon’s book. Not only does she know how to write a compelling blurb (ha ha ha – what a great figure of speech!), she writes a damn fine book! Great job, Sharon!
The characters were well developed; I really rooted for Warren and Lena and even found myself occasionally cheering for the bad guys.
I enjoy the way Sharon constructed the story. Her use of third-person narrative while occasionally changing the focal character gives the story an immediacy and helps to keep things fresh and interesting.
There were times when I was reading where, had the character and I been talking, we would have said the same thing at the same time. I would have been owed lots of Cokes…if you don’t know what that means, then I’m sorry, you had no childhood—maybe you’re a robot or a Caebellum (you’ll have to read the book to find out what a Caebellum is).
Additionally, I really liked the alternate history aspect of The Charge. “The Texas Empire” …who doesn’t feel giddy whenever those words are next to each other? It sounds like it should have some Ben-Hur timpani along with it.
Sharon also left room for a sequel (thank you – I’ll definitely be reading it!) while still managing to tie up enough loose ends to give a satisfying end.
There’s also some romantic tension for all you lovers of the mushy stuff too: not enough to overwhelm or detract from the story, but enough to sweeten things up and which I would have missed were it not there.
I can easily see The Charge as a bestseller. I have already recommended it to my seventeen-year-old son. I don’t think I even need to say it, but this book gets 6 stars out of 5 (my version of 11, as in “it’s one louder”).
“Lean had always believed in the soul. But only on faith, until that moment. She felt hers now. He touched it. She pictured the soul as a point of light near the heart, but it ran like electricity through her entire body and mingled with the energy outside her skin. It felt he gently tugged on parts of her soul. She didn’t feel pain, but she could hardly bear the intimacy.”
“The next pulse of pain might take out his heart. Wetness slid down his neck he guessed blood at first, but no, he was weeping. He knew the tears meant he wanted to live. He wanted it more than he had ever wanted anything.”
“You’ve been brainwashed by the U.S. anti-Texas propaganda if you believe Texans aren’t up to fighting for their nation. They are a nation of ready-made soldiers who love their country like they love their wives.”
Tell us about your most recent work.
When the King of the Texas Empire kidnaps Warren's genius brother, Warren embarks into a still-wild West to save him. On his journey, he makes a discovery that changes his life forever—he and his brother are long-lost members of the Texas royal family and the King wants them both dead.
Who inspired/helped you the most? (they can be dead or alive)
I give credit to my husband. Fortunately, he's too kind and stable to inspire a book character, but definitely falls into the "helpful" category. He's supported me the whole way, even though it hasn't always been easy.
What are your five favorite books and why?
-Harry Potter (all of them) – Just a wonderfully entertaining story.
-1984, The Handmaid's Tale, & Oryx & Crake – Inspired my love of dystopia.
-Warm Bodies – The last a book I read. A great example of an unique spin on usual tropes.
What are you working on right now?
Oh, trying to manage all my responsibilities without going crazy. Did you mean in writing? J Currently, I'm working on a short story that I wish to submit to an anthology with other authors form Curiosity Quills Press.
What were some of the obstacles you encountered while writing your book and how did you overcome them?
Where to begin? J One challenge that hit me hard was classifying my novel. It's right on the edge between YA & adult. It mixes sci-fi and fantasy. And it's an alternate history. I'm proud that it mixes genres, but that can make it hard to market, so agents and publishers were hesitant. Fortunately, Curiosity Quills Press was up to the challenge.
Lastly, if you had to give a one-hour lecture to a hundred 13 year-olds….what would be the topic of your lecture? Why?
That is a creative question! If I'm allowed a little flexibility, I don't think an hour-long lecture would be appropriate for 13 year olds. I put together an active activity. Maybe a scavenger hunt or a kickball tournament. If I was forced to do a lecture, at the risk of upsetting their parents, I might instruct them on sex education and healthy relationships. I did one of my social work internships at a middle school and it was my job to teach 8th grade girls about healthy relationships. A tough task, but an important topic for that age.
*Sharon is also hosting a free giveaway from now until the end of the month (3/31)
Y’all come back now, y’hear?