The Other Me
by Suzanne van Rooyen
Genre: YA, LGBT, contemporary
Published: 19 Dec, 2013 by Harmony Ink Press
Length: 216 pages
Purchase: Amazon | Dreamspinner
Fifteen-year-old Treasa Prescott thinks she’s an alien. She doesn’t fit in with the preppy South African private school crowd and feels claustrophobic in her own skin. Treasa is worried she might spend life as a social pariah when she meets Gabriel du Preez. Gabriel plays the piano better than Beethoven, has a black belt in karate, and would look good wearing a garbage bag. Treasa thinks he’s perfect. It might even be love, as long as Gabriel doesn’t find out she’s a freak.As Treasa spends time with Gabriel, she realizes she might not love him as much as she wants to be him, and that the reason she feels uncomfortable in her skin might have less to do with extra-terrestrial origins and more to do with being born in the wrong body.
I asked Suzanne to share her favorite things about writing her book, The Other Me, and she came up with six! Check out her list:
My Six Favourite Things about Writing The Other Me
1. Revisiting Teenage Memories - The Other Me is partly inspired by some of my own high school experiences and I loved reliving some of those memories, particularly the ones about choir and music, while writing this book.
2. South Africa - I've been living abroad for more than 5 years now. Setting the story in the country where I grew up brought back tons of great memories and made me not only nostalgic, but a tad homesick for boerewors and Creme Soda.
3. The Music - I've never been able to delve into classical piano music the way I did in The Other Me. I loved listening to some of the pieces I played as a teen while I wrote the book. Now those pieces are permanently on my playlist!
4. Treasa and Gabriel - I absolutely adore my main characters. They're flawed and imperfect and have really good hearts. I've never cried writing a novel before, but a certain scene with Gabriel made me cry and that was an incredible experience as an author.
5. Jordan - Treasa's best friend was a blast to write. She's blunt and unapologetic and tons of fun. Given the book's darker tone, the scenes with Jordan - for the most part - provided some light relief for me as an author too.
6. The Catharsis - as I said, certain aspects of this book were inspired by personal experience. This was a story I'd been wanting to write for a long time, but never quite had the courage to put the words on paper. Writing this novel has been a total catharsis and I was so sad when it came to an end. Now, I'm just so grateful I get to share Treasa and Gabriel's story with the world.
We sit at a table in the back. I head for the corner seat and so does Gabriel. Propriety wins, and he pulls the chair out for me. He orders a latte and asks me if I want to share a muffin. I’d share anything with him right now.
“So, tell me something.” He gouges his fork through the colossal blueberry cake.
“Like what?” I take a sip of cappuccino.
“Something about you. I know you sing in the choir and that you like aliens.” He smiles, revealing a sliver of inner lip stained blueberry purple. “You read about composers, and I guess you’re Catholic, being at St. Bridget’s.”
“Um....” I take a moment to collect my thoughts, to quash the impulse to tell him I think I’m an alien, to resist the urge to ask him if mybeing a Catholic schoolgirl is the only reason I’m here. Although the idea of fulfilling some sordid fantasy of his doesn’t sound too bad. Bobby socks and pigtails? For Gabriel, I’d do that.
“I used to play piano,” I say.
“How far did you get?”
He laughs, and the tension keeping his shoulders bunched seems to drain, letting him slide lower in his chair.
“You going to study music next year?” I stab a blueberry with my fork, hoping they won’t become permanent fixtures in the wires on my teeth. Gabriel doesn’t say anything, his expression clouded by ineffable emotion. “Sorry, did I say the wrong thing?”
“No, it’s just....” He slurps up latte and licks froth from his upper lip dusted with the shadow of stubble. Damn, he’s gorgeous. “I’d love to study music, but....”
“My father doesn’t approve.”
“But you’re like the next Ashkenazy!”
“I’d rather be the next Horowitz.” He fiddles with his serviette, shredding the logo printed on the corner.
“So, what are you going to do, then?”
“Engineering, probably.” He doesn’t look happy about it, and I don’t know him well enough to press the issue.
“I’m thinking of doing a BA.”
“Bugger all?” He grins.
I snort my coffee and cough up a blueberry. So sexy. Don’t think I’ve ever laughed this much with anyone, let alone a guy.
“Is that what they call it?”
“So I hear.” He takes another bite of muffin before pushing the plate and last few pieces across the table to me.
“I’d love to do astronomy, it’s fascinating, but I suck at actual science. I’m good at history and languages, though.” Don’t want to sound like a complete idiot in front of Mr. Academic Colors here.
“So BA history, then?”
“You want to study people?” He seems surprised.
“It might help me understand why we’re all so messed up.”
About the author
Suzanne van Rooyen
Suzanne is an author and peanut-butter addict from South Africa. She currently lives in Finland and finds the cold, dark forests nothing if not inspiring. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When not writing you can find her teaching dance and music to middle-schoolers or playing in the snow with her shiba inu. She is rep'd by Jordy Albert of the Booker Albert Agency.
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