Today I’m thrilled to be hosting Deryn Pittar, author of the YA novella A Taste of Gold.
Welcome, Deryn! Tell us more about your book—take us beyond the official “book blurb”.
This novella is the tale of a journey of discovery for twin brothers. Each has a special talent. Jason can hear gems sing and his brother Levi can taste precious minerals when near them. These abilities lead the young men into an adventure of a lifetime when their prospecting holiday in New Zealand, turns into more than a search for gold in deserted mines. They find two hidden caches of gems and hand these into the police. At one police station they meet a pretty reporter Abby Hennessy and in their absence she publishes the story of their finds.
The thieves, once alerted, want to use these talents for their own nefarious means. Add to this mix two Taniwha (pronounced Tanny-far) beasts from Maori mythology. The twins befriend the first on finding his lair and the Taniwha’s gift leads Jason to call for help to escape from the criminals’ clutches. This is an adventure for teenagers, to delight their imagination and encourage them to read.
Excellent! I’m all about encouraging teenagers to read 🙂
Give us more info about your main characters—who are they?
These eighteen year old brothers and their talents have grown in my imagination for a couple of years. They have developed from another series I wrote of futuristic romances that involved genetically altered people.
Jason is short and dark-haired. He is confident and communicates well. His ability to hear precious gems sing means he can recognize them by their song, and their quality by the pureness of their singing. They are capable of giving him great pleasure and their songs call to him. As cut gems love the light he can hear when they are distressed and this drives him to rescue them. He is studying gemology at University and hope to create jewelry once qualified.
His twin Levi is tall and blond, hesitant, unsure of himself around girls. Not only can he taste gold but he can recognize the taste of silver and copper and is learning what other precious metals taste like. It is his talent to taste gold that has them travelling around the old gold mining areas of the Coromandel and Bay of Plenty. He is studying geology at University.
They can communicate telepathically, which they do frequently. However, Levi alone can talk mentally to their mother from wherever they happen to be. In this story their mother is still in Australia.
They sound like quite a pair!
What scene in your book was the most fun to write, and why?
There isn’t just one scene in my book that was the best fun to write, there were several. I like to write scenes with lots of action and by having the twins meet a Taniwha I was able to let my imagination have free reign. Taniwha are creatures of the waterways, and once I’d created one I began imagining them all around the country. Maori legends are full of Taniwha. We even had a national state highway diverted around the designated locality of one! I loved writing about them. They are strong, brave and make the earth shake when they chase each other up and down the underground rivers. And you think earthquakes are caused by the ground shifting? No – it’s the Taniwha playing. They are wondrous magical beasts and I hope my readers enjoy them.
Should be a slam-dunk–I know my junior high students really enjoy reading about mythical and magical beasts! Love the trivia about the state highway–that’s amazing!
How long have you been writing, and what (or who) inspired you to start?
I’ve been writing seriously for about four years. I reached a stage in life where I had the time to develop some of the ideas I’ve had chasing around in my head. I made the decision to get serious and put my love of words to good use. I took two courses one summer and discovered I could write poetry and really did have the knack of writing interesting prose.
What do you like best about being a writer?
The thing I like best about writing is the sense of accomplishment when someone says “I read your book and really enjoyed it.” As well it’s the joy of getting the images out of my head and on to the ‘paper’ (computer) and managing to order the words so that they paint the picture I had in my mind.
Always a challenge–but so rewarding when it works!
What is the most challenging part of being a writer?
The most challenging thing about being a writer is making sure your manuscript is as good as you can make it before you submit it. This means having it critiqued by other writers, making sure the grammar is correct and any unnecessary words are deleted – and there aren’t any plot holes. I believe in the need to ‘polish’ a story before I submit it. I’d rather do it then, than have it rejected because it’s sub-standard. Of course there is always something to edit to suit the publisher’s in-house style requirements, but at least I know I’ve done my best.
Very true. I wish more of my students were of your mind here… 😉
What are you working on right now? What can readers look for from you in the next year?
I’m presently working on another futuristic romance about my genetically altered people, but I have a kernel of an idea hatching for another Young Adult. There is a huge scope with these extra-talented people I’ve populated the world with.
Wonderful! I love it when a series is full of interesting and inspiring characters.
What authors and/or books have inspired you?
Isaac Asimov thrilled me years ago with his Science Fiction novels. Anne McCaffrey with her Dragons of Pern series also delighted my imagination. I devoured Julian May’s series, set back in time through a time gate, when the earth plates were still shifting. I have an eclectic taste in fiction and belong to a book club, which stretches my reading habits into new directions all the time.
What are you currently reading?
I have just finished reading Misplaced by Lee Murray, a prize-winning New Zealand author. This is her latest Young Adult about the repercussions when a teenager’s mother goes missing when she pops down to the local corner store for a bottle of milk.
Please share a favorite scene from your books with our readers.
This is my favourite scene from A Taste of Gold:
The whack against the door and the crash of splitting timber made him put his fingers in his ears. More slaps and cracks echoed, then silence broken by the creaks and groans of broken wood. He stood up, slipped the cover down to his shoulders, his heart thumping as he viewed the devastation. He ducked and weaved his way under teetering planks, stepped through the debris and jumped down over the remains of the steps onto the lawn. In front of him towered the Taniwha. How could he express his gratitude? He stood as close as he dared and fixed his gaze on the beast.
Thank you for freeing me. Bad men have held me captive. I need to return to my brother but I don’t know which way to go. Where is there a town?
The Taniwha stretched its neck toward him, lowering its head to within a few feet of his face.
,YOU ARE SMALL TO BE SO BRAVE. I AM KOTUKU. IT MEANS WHITE HERON. I AM A WHITE TANIWHA. I HAVE TRAVELLED MANY MILES THROUGH STREAMS AND SEA TO GET HERE. HOW IS MY BROTHER OTANEWAINUKU?’
He’s great, Kotuku. He has a cave in the hills behind Te Puke. We promised to keep his secret and he gave me three humming stones. Can I give them to you as a gift for rescuing me?
‘NOT TODAY. YOU MAY NEED THEM AGAIN.’
I hope not. Which way do I go to join my brother?
‘WE ARE BY THE SEA. YOU CAN FOLLOW ME UP THE URETARA STREAM TO THE VILLAGE. I WILL LEAVE YOU THERE.’
His stomach flipped as he remembered George and PG, possibly sleeping in the house. He turned in panic, expecting to see the lights on and to hear their angry shouts. Blackness enveloped the near side of the house, dark in the moon’s shadow. Only Kotuku shone, his silver skin rippling as he swayed.
I’m expecting the bad men to come out of the house. What should we do if they come?
‘I WILL FLICK MY TAIL AT THEM. THEY WILL RUN WITH FRIGHT. THEY ARE PROBABLY SICK WITH PLANTS THEY SMOKE.’
Good guess. They could be zonked out with pot or out celebrating his find.
They have a gun.
‘THEN WE SHOULD LEAVE. GUNS CAN HURT ME.’
Kotuku turned toward the shed and took a final lash at the remaining framework, his tail shattering the uprights. With his forelegs he clawed the last beams over, before he lumbered away.
‘FOLLOW,’ he ordered.
Jason shook his head in wonder and patted the humming stones in his pocket. ‘Thank you my little pink ladies,’ he murmured. He glanced back at the house, amazed the noise hadn’t woken George or PG. A wash of relief soothed his jangled nerves. The house stood in darkness still. He stumbled at a run after the glistening white shape, catching up but keeping far enough back to avoid its deadly tail. Even an accidental swish could be fatal.
Thanks so much, Deryn! Read on for more about this book and author…
A TASTE OF GOLD
Blurb: Psychic twins with special talents meet two thieves, two Taniwha, and one pretty reporter as they experience the adventure of a lifetime…
On a prospecting holiday, brothers Jason and Levi discover an ancient supernatural creature, a Taniwha named Otanewainuku, who gives them ‘humming stones’ in exchange for their silence about its treasure. They also cross paths with two thieves. Their supernatural abilities to find hidden gems and precious metals help them find the stolen goods and turn them in to the police—twice. But when they meet reporter Abby Hennessy, her story on their good deed attracts the wrong kind of attention.
When the thieves capture Jason to use his talents, Levi has to y on their psychic link to guide the police while not revealing their powers. Abby wants to help, and she and Levi search for the thieves, not knowing that Jason is going to use the ‘humming stones’ to call on another Taniwha for help…
A Taste of Gold is Deryn Pittar’s first Young Adult novella. She loved creating the characters in this story, especially the Taniwha (pronounced tanny-far) from Maori mythology. This story has inspired her to write more stories for teenagers in the future.
Deryn, writing as Virginnia De Parte, also pens futuristic fiction, spiced with romance and adventure. She has four novellas published as e-books. Setting her stories in the future allows her imagination to run free, creating characters with unheard-of talents. She also has the pleasure of watching science and technology catch up with her imagination.
She is a published poet. She lives in the aptly named Bay of Plenty, New Zealand; along with four million people and a number of hobbits.
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