Please help me welcome fellow DsP author Skylar Jaye, who is talking about her debut book The Flame.
The Flame by Skylar Jaye
Thanks so much for having me here, Chris! I’m psyched to be able to share with everyone here about my debut book, The Flame.
The Flame is a long novella at about 40,000 words, or 162 pages. It’s m/m romance, published with Dreamspinner Press.
This book follows Jeremy Ashe, a sophomore at Samuin College. Samuin is the number one school for magik users—where elemental mages rule and all other magik types are sent to the bottom rungs of the social ladder. Jeremy has a wind core, but he chooses to study runic magik instead of wind magik and though it’s not popular, he hasn’t yet regretted that choice.
Jeremy only has a couple friends, but he likes it that way. He content with staying in the background. Except, when he meets Marcus Smith—the fire mage prodigy of Samuin—the spotlight finds its way to him. After all, it’s not everyday that “The Flame” of the college asks out a relative nobody on a date. Still, Jeremy finds he can’t say no to Marcus no matter how uncomfortable all the gossip makes him.
As Jeremy and Marcus begin their relationship, a series of fires begin to sprout around campus. When at first everyone brushed them off as accidents, it soon becomes clear that they must be the work of an arsonist.
Jeremy finds himself falling for Marcus, but Marcus is a senior and Jeremy feels their relationship is doomed to failure because of that. Then Marcus is arrested for supposedly being the infamous arsonist and everything gets a whole lot more complicated.
I hope that people want to check out my novella. It’s a quick read, though it deals with a lot of social commentary that can be related to our own world. If you like magik, young romance, and a subtle mystery—then you’ll probably like The Flame.
I’m currently giving away a copy of The Flame at my blog. To enter the contest, just comment at the relevant blog post over there: http://www.skylarjaye.com/?p=538.
Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3962
Despite the stigma against magiks other than the four elemental types, Jeremy Ashe works hard toward a degree in runic studies, navigating his way through family disproval and school clique politics while trying to figure out what he wants to do with the rest of his life. What he never figured on is The Flame, Samuin College’s fire mage prodigy, Marcus Smith. Sparks strike and threaten to raze Jeremy’s plans to the ground. When strange fires begin to burn all over campus, clues point to Marcus. Suddenly life isn’t just complicated, it’s dangerous.
From the end of the first chapter.
Shrugging to himself, Jeremy took a shortcut through the edge of Shifters’ Yard on his way back to his dorm.
He heard Marcus before he saw him, the Flame’s low voice mixed with laughter as he called out to someone. Jeremy looked up and laid eyes upon the fire mage.
Marcus was leaning against a large tree, dressed in a black winter coat and bright red gloves that matched his hat. Unlike Jeremy’s own thrown-together outfit, he looked fabulous and fashionable and completely in control, even as he laughed aloud. From Jeremy’s angle, he could see those amber eyes fixated on someone, and Jeremy followed the look.
A gorgeous speckled leopardess pranced in the snow, her large tail flicking in Marcus’s direction. Her coat was ripe with snowflakes, indicating that maybe she’d rolled, or perhaps someone had dumped some on her. Either way, it was making Marcus laugh.
The snow leopardess shook herself and then stood, her form rippling into her human shape. And Jeremy had been correct about her gender, he realized as one of the most beautiful females he’d ever seen brushed the last of snow off her white winter coat. Her hair was so blonde it was almost white, like the fur of her leopard form, and her eyes were brilliantly blue. She looked like a Swedish supermodel, with all the grace and poise of a queen.
“It’s hardly polite to laugh at a lady, Marcus,” the woman said with a haughty sniff. Regardless of her ire, she stepped right up into Marcus’s space.
Marcus let her. “I didn’t mean to upset you, Freya,” he said, though his tone wasn’t very apologetic.
Still, Freya seemed mollified. “If you say so, darling.”
“I do,” Marcus insisted. He rested a hand on her shoulder. “Come on, I’m hungry. I don’t suppose you’re free for lunch?”
Jeremy frowned. He felt like he was eavesdropping on something private, though it was a public area. He wondered if Marcus and Freya were dating, or if they would be by Valentine’s Day. They would be a striking couple, he thought, trying to combat his sudden disappointment.
After all, he’d only talked with Marcus twice, and just because the man had asked for his name didn’t mean anything. He cursed Hani for putting that into his head. But feelings weren’t always rational, so regardless of how, intellectually, he knew that Marcus probably barely remembered him, he still felt the stirrings of jealously at seeing him with such an attractive companion.
Jeremy bent his head and slowly began to walk again. He’d have to pass the two lovebirds, but they had no reason to know he’d been standing in place for the last five minutes watching them, so they’d probably just ignore him.
Except, as Jeremy passed by, he couldn’t help but glance up. Marcus was looking at him, and their eyes met for the briefest of moments.
Jeremy turned away, thinking the moment lost, until he heard a startled “Jeremy?”
Blinking hard in surprise, Jeremy turned back. Marcus stared at him, and he nodded. “Hi, uh, again.”
“How are you?” Marcus asked.
“Um, good, I guess,” Jeremy said honestly.
Freya looked between the two of them, her eyebrows raised in apparent shock. So this wasn’t usual Marcus Smith behavior, Jeremy thought.
“Introduce me to your friend, darling,” Freya told Marcus.
“Right.” Marcus flashed her a smile. “Freya, this is Jeremy Ashe. Jeremy, this is Freya Cantalini.”
Jeremy smiled at her, pushing away the last of his earlier jealousy. Freya seemed nice enough, and she didn’t deserve that kind of negative emotion from a stranger. “Nice to meet you.”
“Likewise,” Freya said. She turned, and Marcus’s hand slipped from her shoulder. He seemed surprised by the motion, as if he’d forgotten it had been there.
Jeremy cleared his throat. “Well, I should go….”
“No, you don’t have to,” Marcus said immediately. His eyes narrowed for a moment. “I mean, if you want to. If you have class… I’ll walk with you.”
Freya snorted and they both looked at her, Jeremy with a confused expression and Marcus with a small blush on his cheeks. “Good luck with that,” she said, though Jeremy had no idea who she was addressing.
With a swish of her hair, Freya took a couple of steps, gracefully sliding back into her leopardess form. Her tail curled around Marcus’s leg as she passed. She glanced once more at Jeremy with those piercing blue eyes before bounding off into the snow.
Jeremy felt his head begin to throb and he winced, unsure of the direction the whole conversation had taken. “I didn’t mean to scare off your girlfriend,” he said finally, because Marcus was just looking at him and it seemed the polite thing to apologize for.
“Girlfriend?” Marcus asked. “Oh, Freya? No, we’re just good friends.” He laughed, shaking his head. “I wouldn’t date her if you paid me. She’s far too frightening.”
Jeremy tilted his head. “I can see that.” And though it shouldn’t, some of the tightness in his chest dissipated.
Silence stretched between them for a moment, uncomfortably awkward. Jeremy shifted and then suddenly Marcus sighed aloud, rubbing a hand through his hair. “Look, Jeremy,” he began.
“Yeah?” Jeremy asked warily, wondering what the point of this whole thing was.
“I don’t usually do this,” Marcus began, his face twisting. “Actually, I never do this.”
And despite the clichéd nature of that line, Jeremy took the bait. “Do what?”
Marcus cleared his throat. “Jeremy, would you go on a date with me? This Friday.”
“You want me to… be your Valentine?” Jeremy gaped.
“Please,” Marcus said. “If you want to, that is.”
“Why?” Jeremy asked suspiciously. He wondered if this was all a big joke, the Flame’s manner of picking on someone. “You don’t know me. You don’t really know anything about me.”
“I know that,” Marcus said. “But isn’t that one of the points of dating? Getting to know someone?”
“Oh.” Jeremy bit his bottom lip, his heart beating quick enough for him to hear. “I… I don’t know what to say.”
“Yes?” Marcus’s amber eyes bore into him, setting his cheeks ablaze. “You could say yes, Jeremy Ashe.”
And he shouldn’t, he really shouldn’t. Dating the Flame of Samuin College would bring the spotlight onto him, and he didn’t want that, but Marcus was looking at him with so much interest—the barely hidden passion of just meeting someone who called to him—and he couldn’t say no.
“Okay,” Jeremy murmured. “Okay, yes.”
Marcus’s bright smile washed away any amount of regret he might have felt at agreeing.
About Skylar Jaye:
As a writer and a person, Skylar Jaye is eccentric, eclectic, and excitable. Of her many hobbies, she enjoys some of the weirdest and most ridiculous activities out there. From medieval recreation to equestrian games, D&D, muggle quidditch, and beyond. She loves learning, but all of those interests (psychology, anthropology, and sociology) tend to lead her back to her main passion, writing.