Today I’m happy to welcome author D. R. Rosensteel to the blog. The second book in his Psi Fighter Academy series is out now and he was kind enough to explain to me some of the inspiration for the book. He’s also shared an excerpt from the book and Entangled Teen is hosting an awesome giveaway. Keep reading to find out more.
From the Author
Thanks for having me! You mentioned that you might like some background on my inspiration for Live and Let Psi, and since it releases this week, I thought that would be a good place to start.
Live and Let Psi is the second book in the Psi Fighter Academy series. Main character Rinnie Noelle is up to her masked eyes in danger, both in school and out. I wanted to crank up the tension in her story and explore two real issues that teens face: bullying and drug abuse. Bullying has always been around, but these days it is a major cause of teen suicide. And drugs are easier to get than ever. Some drugs, heroine in particular, are instantly addictive. Drug dealers actually target specific age groups with colorful packaging, just like toy makers do. It’s a dangerous, dangerous world.
Throw these real teen issues into the middle of an already tense story, and Rinnie suddenly has to deal with school situations that many adults aren’t prepared for. In one scene, she walks in on one of her friends as he is about to commit suicide. The boy has been bullied relentlessly, both in school and out, and he has had enough. I did a lot of research on teen suicide before writing the dialogue that takes place between Rinnie and her friend. The numb feeling of total helplessness, where dying seems like a better option than living, is almost impossible to understand and was extremely hard to convey. I rewrote that scene a gazillion times.
Then in another scene, Rinnie is confronted by a kid who overdoses in a major way and dies in her arms. I wrote this scene and the ones that followed it from a combination of research and my own memories. When I was in high school, a kid died in gym class. I didn’t know him, but it still shook me up badly. The thing I remember most, though, was how the entire school grieved. It was like everyone had lost a family member, even though I went to a pretty big school and most kids didn’t know the boy. Conveying that school-wide feeling of loss was as hard to put into words as the scene with the bullied kid.
Okay, I realize I didn’t tell you much about the story. I got lost talking about the sad stuff. But there is also a lot of fun in Live and Let Psi. Rinnie has to deal with a new Psi Fighter who gives her attitude, and a new member of the Dweeb League who dresses up like a superhero to “sweep crime into the dumpster!” Both characters were added for comic relief, and I must say, I had a blast with them. The banter between Rinnie and the other characters is my favorite part. That’s one thing I can say about writing novels—it is the hardest work I have ever done, and the most enjoyable.
Well, thanks again for having me!
Psi you later! (that’s what the Psi Fighter Street Team says when they sign off a video)
Excerpt from Live and Let Psi
Where Rinnie meets Pickles for the first time
Next morning, Mason and I met Kathryn in the school library study room, where she sat with pencil in hand and books stacked a mile high on the table in front of her. She ran her hands through her long hair and twisted it above her head like a hat then plunged the pencil through to hold it in place.
“Putting on your thinking cap?” I asked.
She shook her head. “Trying to look adorable so you won’t hate me when I mention a slight faux pas that I may or may not have committed. So, Mason, how’s the wrist?”
“Almost healed.” Mason smiled. “Looking adorable and slyly changing the subject.”
I pursed my lips. “How slight?”
“You know how I said the Dweeb League thinks they’re ready to take on real criminals?”
“I may have whispered something to the wrong crowd.” She pointed out the window at a contingent of misfits marching toward us—the Dweeb League. “Nerd is the new superhero.”
The study room door opened and they filed in—a kid we called Whatsisface carrying a cafeteria tray overflowing with food, his Goth girlfriend Tish, and Kathryn’s boyfriend Bobby. Accompanying them was a pudgy little ninth-grader I didn’t recognize. He glanced across the table at me, gave me a little two-fingered salute, and stood at attention.
I shot Kathryn a you-call-this-slight? look.
Whatsisface plopped himself and his overburdened tray down beside me. He was the most oddly shaped human I had ever met. God had given him more than the normal share of legs and hips but less than he deserved of shoulders and head. The tray didn’t surprise me, though. Whatsisface’s eating abilities were legendary.
“Bobby-y,” Kathryn sang, patting the chair beside her. “Pop a squat.”
“Hi, Kitty,” Bobby said, taking his seat. “Whatsisface brought us a new member.”
“And a vat of food.” Kathryn puffed out her cheeks. “How did you get food into the library? We aren’t allowed.”
“Jedi mind trick,” Whatsisface said, waving his hand. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, after all.”
“Sausage, eggs, potatoes, bacon, Cap’n Crunch… Big day.” Kathryn stared at the smorgasbord. “How many villages are you feeding?”
“Got to fuel the machine.” Whatsisface smiled. “You don’t maintain a body like this with exercise alone.”
“Your secret is safe with me,” Kathryn said. “Hey, I have a question. Does the machine have a name? I don’t feel right calling you Whatsisface to your face. I mean, behind your back, it’s okay, because I’d be like, ‘Hey, did you hear about Whatsisface?’ and everybody would know who I meant. But I’m sure your mother calls you something like Timmy or Johnny.”
Tish smiled. “Nope.”
Whatsisface turned slightly pale. “Hieronymus Friedrich Bodenwerder.”
Kathryn’s eyes widened. “So I should call you…?”
“Whatsisface,” Whatsisface said.
Kathryn nodded. “So, Whatsisface, who is our new member?”
“His name is Pickles.”
Kathryn clunked her head down on the table.
“Niles Piklowski,” Pickles said, arching an eyebrow. “The Niles Piklowski. You’ve probably heard of me.”
“Hi,” I said, wondering how old he was before he started getting beat up for saying things like that.
“The gamer,” Mason said. “I hear you’re pretty good.”
“Oh, I’m better than good, my man,” Pickles said. He flicked his head to the side, swinging his long bangs out of his face. “Let’s get right down to business. As I am the newest member of the Dweeb League, I have a special request for a special person.”
I looked around the room, trying to figure out who he was talking to.
“You, ma’am,” Pickles said, pushing his face so close to mine that our noses touched. “I’m talking to you.”
“Why me?” I backed up so I didn’t have to look at him cross-eyed.
“Because you are the local kung fu expert. I saw you in action against one Arthur Rubric. Now, I have to say, I’m not easily impressed, but girl, you have done it, and I am requesting advanced lessons. Don’t worry, I’m a quick study. Google me. I’m already world-renowned as a master of Immortal Assassin—billed as the impossible-to-defeat fighting game. Although”—Pickles closed his eyes and slowly shook his head—“I have defeated every level. Without, might I add, the benefit of cheat codes? No brag. Just fact.”
“What world?” I muttered.
“The world of online gaming, naturally.” He opened one eye and stared directly at me. “Obviously, I’m ready. I’d like to advance my already phenomenal skills in service to the Dweeb League.”
Kathryn patted me on the shoulder. “I mentioned the fact that you have actually taken martial arts lessons, as opposed to playing a mindless video game, and he was all over it. He wants you to call him Grasshopper.”
Pickles grinned at me. “Master.”
“Kwai Chang Pickles,” Mason said. “When you can snatch the controller from my hand, it will be time for you to leave.”
“It’s true, I’m the perfect man for the Dweeb League.” Pickles leaned close to me, cupped his hand alongside his cheek, and whispered, “I understand you’re safe, one of us, if you know what I mean. Now here’s the deal—I know the workings of the criminal mind. First it’s ‘kick me’ signs on people’s backs, then it’s burning paper bags of doggy doo on their doorsteps. Been there. So I ask myself, when is it going to stop? The answer came to me in a dream. I was sleeping in Language Arts after a grueling night of Immortal Assassin, when I heard an angel’s voice prophesying about Protectors who will stop the robberies.”
Kathryn grinned in embarrassment and raised her hand. “That would be the faux pas.”
Pickles didn’t seem to notice. “When I woke up—honestly, it was more like coming out of a trance—right then, I knew that the prophesy must be fulfilled. Yes, the world needs a hero. Newsflash—I’m that hero. Yes, me. Yours truly. People look at me with disdain and belly laughs. They don’t suspect that I am a ninja, a warrior’s warrior, a sheep in wolf’s clothing.”
“A wolf in sheep’s clothing?” Kathryn said.
Pickles smiled smugly. “See? I have the perfect cover. There’s only one thing I don’t have, but you do, sister. Yes, indeedy, you have got it!”
I turned to Kathryn. “What did he just say?”
“He wants to be a superhero.”
“I don’t do superheroing. They fly, leap tall buildings in a single bound, shoot webs…” I turned to Pickles. “I don’t think I’m the right one to teach you.”
“You are the one. This I know.” He put his hands on his hips and laughed a deep belly laugh. “Leave the superheroing to me, Pocahontas. I just need my feet to be as deadly as my brain. I’m nearly there. Watch this.”
He plucked Kathryn’s pencil from her hair, causing it to flop across her face, then tossed the pencil high into the air. As it arced toward the ceiling, a high-pitched scream ripped from his throat. I assume it was meant to be a Bruce Lee imitation, but it sounded like a cat with its tail caught in a pencil sharpener. Pickles leaped into the air and threw a wild kick, totally splitting the seam out of his pants. His momentum spun him like a top and his foot plowed through Kathryn’s pile of books, sending them flying onto Whatsisface’s lap.
Pickles grinned at me, red-faced. “Okay, you get back to me on that, will you? We’ll set a time for the first lesson. TTFN.” He turned and duck-walked out of the study room, mumbling something about adding a sewing kit to his utility belt.
You can check out more about the author D. R. Rosensteel and his Psi Fighters by following these links: