Today I am featuring a brand new release from Sara Burr. It is an upper-middle grade/young YA fantasy about witches called UNDERGROUND ROSE. You can find it here. I also have a fun interview with her that we will get to. But first, the book.
After her surprise discovery of a mystical gift, fourteen-year-old Rose Wilson thinks her life is ruined. It turns out she comes from a long line of gifted women, and despite her protests, Rose’s mom ships her off to her grandmother’s house to spend the summer learning about her family’s well-hidden secrets. To make matters worse, Rose is expected to carry out this tradition alongside her mousy, bookworm cousin, Megan. What a waste of a summer.
With some effort, Rose and Megan manage to find common ground and by the time they get home, they’re working together to adjust to their new life. But everything is turned upside down again when their families are exposed by witch hunters who call themselves The Witches’ Hammer. With killers on the loose, their tiny town isn’t safe anymore. Rose’s entire family is fragmented and forced to flee through a network of hiding places, dubbed The Witches’ Underground Railroad.
As she journeys to the sea, Rose learns more and more about who she really is. The closer she gets to her destination, the more danger she encounters, until she is forced to make the ultimate decision: follow her family’s edict of non-violence and become an orphan, or save her mom’s life.
Oh, fun! And how about a really cool moment from the book:
A pool of blood already surrounded Amber’s head, and she was as pale as a ghost. Her breathing was shallow and labored.
Rose started parting her wet hair, little by little, trying to find the wound. Finally, after the longest minute of her life, she found it. The wide cut was right on the crown of Amber’s head – how could she have missed that? – and it was bleeding fast.
Fighting not to gag at the metallic smell, Rose put her hands on the slippery gash and pushed, like the lady said, but the blood just seeped through her fingers. The bleeding wasn’t stopping. Was she doing it right?
Feeling completely helpless, she began to sob.
She didn’t dare leave Amber again to go back to the phone.
“I don’t know what to do!” she cried out. “Help,” she croaked, knowing no one could hear. “Please help.”
Suddenly, she felt something strange happening, deep inside her chest. A comforting warmth, like hot chocolate on a freezing cold day, heated her from the inside out. It spread and expanded from her chest, bubbling and tingling like a fizzy drink, growing like wild morning glory vines, covering every part of her insides.
Was it coming from her heart?
It grew until she felt like she couldn’t contain all that heat for one second longer. Then, when she thought she might just explode, the heat-vines raced down her arms. An effervescent mixture of blue, pink, and purple light exploded from her hands, and surrounded Amber’s head like a quivering, transparent cocoon.
Rose sucked in a breath and blinked in disbelief.
She was frozen – afraid to move or even breathe. She stared with her mouth agape, her emerald eyes wide, as the bleeding slowed.
What the heck is happening? she thought. Is this a dream?
She didn’t understand what she was seeing. Was it … magic?
The glimmering cocoon continued pulsating from her fingertips, surrounding Amber’s head. Rose didn’t dare let go, for fear of undoing this miracle.
Then Amber started to stir.
This was not something Rose wanted to discuss. What kind of a freak would Amber think she was? Reluctantly, she removed her hands.
The vines of warmth snapped back into her, like a recoiling measuring tape. Then, the peculiar sensation was gone. No more heat. No more colors. She looked at her hands in a mixture of awe and disgust.
What was that? she asked herself.
She didn’t know, but she was glad it was over.
A few short seconds later, Amber opened her eyes. Her face so pale her freckles looked three dimensional and her icy blue eyes were even more clear than usual.
Now, for the interview. As usual, I like to ask questions based upon the letters in the title of the book.
Underground: In the book, Rose has to go ‘underground’ to hide from some dangerous people. If you had to go underground, what three things would you take with you and why?
My family. I could never run away from the bad guys without them.
My Kindle. ‘Cause Rose was bored the whole time. She played a lot of cards. My Kindle has a lot of books on it that I’ve never had time to read.
My laptop. So I could keep on writing. I go crazy if I don’t write. Also, Facebook and Pinterest, although I guess it would be really hard to stay anonymous if you were using social media. Maybe I could just be a lurker.
R is for “Relationships”: What types of things (without too many spoilers) do your main characters learn about their relationships with others?
Well, I think Rose learns that she’s too quick to judge, not just people, but their intentions and emotions. She learns a lot about empathy and how to see what’s under the surface.
I think Megan learns to put herself out there more, and to speak up for her own needs better.
And I think Amber learns to be there for Rose, when it’s always been the other way around. She’s always leaned on Rose, and it’s nice to see that switch toward the end of the book. It makes Amber more powerful and Rose more vulnerable.
O is for “Origins” – What is the story behind this story? How did you come up with the idea for this book?
I had this job working in a call center and it sometimes got kind of boring in between calls, so I brought a notebook and started writing just for fun. I knew the three main characters, Rose, Amber, and Megan. And I knew that the story would start when Amber had an accident and Rose discovered her magic by healing her. But I didn’t know what would happen next.
So, I wrote what I did know; it took me three chapters. At the end of those three hand-written chapters, I went to bed one night, and while I was trying to go to sleep, it just came to me. Two words: Underground Railroad. And I knew the rest of it from there.
S is for “Struggle”: What sort of things do your main characters struggle with and did you learn anything about yourself as they worked through their struggles?
Yes, it mirrors my life a lot. My characters continually thought they were free of their struggles, only to be struck down by adversaries again. During the time that I wrote this book, and again the time I edited, my life was very much like this. I am happy to say that we all finally came out on top.
E is for “Exciting”: What is the most exciting thing for you about your book and the story or the process of it coming about?
They say writing is a form of wish fulfillment. I completely agree. The places that Rose visits in the Underground Railroad are places that I fondly remember from my childhood. Although I am not from Washington or Oregon, I had a lot of family there and spent many happy summers there.
In between the first draft and the second, I got to visit the Oregon Coast for the first time in many years. After I left, I was online looking at real estate. Circumstances made that an impossible dream, but I’m happy that Rose ended up there.
Thanks, Sara! (I LOVE the Oregon coast too…)
Here is a little about Sara and where to find her. Happy Reading!
Sara has been entranced by the written word for as long as she can remember. The daughter of a school teacher, she fell in love with books as soon as she could read them. She wrote her very first story, about a girl who ran away and hid in her cousin’s lilac bush, when she was just eleven. Although her stories have grown more complicated and less petulant since then, Sara still loves to entertain kids with her words.
When she isn’t writing, Sara has a big family to keep her busy: a husband who is her other half, and four children who are wonderfully individual. They live next to a beautiful lake in a tiny town with no street lights. Sara spends lots of time taking care of little superheroes. She likes to camp with her family, enjoys traveling, and hopes to see the Northern Lights someday.