Please welcome my guest, Donna Marie Oldfield and her debut novel, Out of Time. And don’t forget to comment below for a chance to win a copy of her new book. Donna has asked her main character, 18-year-old Scarlett, to answer our interview questions today:
- What was your first car? I don’t have my own set of wheels yet, but my mum let me drive her Mini Cooper from time to time after I passed my test.
- Star Wars, Star Trek, or Firefly? Star Wars everytime!
- Worst movie ever? Catwoman – girls can be superheroes without wearing leather, flaunting their curves and coming out with sexy clichés, you know.
- Who would you most like to sit next to on an airplane? Superman – he could save everyone if the plane got into trouble.
- Best guilty pleasure ever? Eating a giant-sized chocolate bar in one sitting.
- Who would play you in the movie? Ooh, good question, I love Zooey Deschanel and Ellen Page, but they might be too mature to play an 18 year old (they are in no way old though!). Maybe Hailee Steinfeld.
- What is the one thing you can’t live without? My super power. I’d feel lost without it now.
- As a child (or now!), what did you want to be when you grew up? I want to be some kind of artist – maybe a graphic designer. I was planning to go to university to study design next year, but life and saving the world kind of got in the way.
Contact Donna Marie Oldfield
- Website : www.donnamarieoldfield.wordpress.com
- Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/scarlettshortt
- Twitter : @donnamalena
- Goodreads : www.goodreads.com/donnamarieoldfield
Scarlett Shortt is just an average 18-year-old girl, but then her life takes an extraordinary turn following a road accident. She wakes up to find that the world has twisted beyond recognition – everything is very dark and different now and a bunch of teenagers she’s never met before claim to be her best friends. The group can do amazing things, such as fly, read minds and control electricity, and Scarlett is shocked to learn that she has special powers too. The reluctant superhero soon finds herself caught up in their mission to make the world a better place and overthrow the evil prime minister, Adam Goulden. Will she learn how to use her powers in time to face their dangerous adversaries and will she ever discover exactly where she is and how she got there? Out Of Time is the first book in a continuing series.
In her debut YA novel, Out of Time, author Donna Marie Oldfield gets most of it right. Plus, she’s a professional copywriter, so grammar and spelling are immaculate, a welcome surprise in a new indie author. I did find the title somewhat misleading, as the story isn’t a time-travel, but more an urban fantasy.
On her eighteenth birthday, Scarlett Shortt has no larger agenda than showing her best friend Alex her new watch, when he leaps toward her as a truck is about to hit. She wakes up in a strange hospital to find that four weeks have passed and the world is completely different. This world’s Scarlett has superpowers, a hot crush, and a Most Wanted poster with her picture on it. In this version of It’s a Wonderful Life in reverse, she discovers that England has been transformed into a kind of British Pottersville, in which she and a handful of other teens with their own superpowers are the closest thing to guardian angels.
The plot was well-developed, and most of it was relevant. The overly-simplistic explanations for one man—even if he’s the Prime Minister—having the ability to impose a totalitarian state on one of the most stubbornly democratic places on earth was a bit of a swallow, as was the weak scientific backup. Luckily, Out of Time sticks pretty much to the “then magic happened” framework, which actually works pretty well here. For teens, the characters were astonishingly well-spoken and polite, but she does give them distinct personalities which are fun mirrors of each one’s superpower. It would have been great to see more character growth caused by their pivotal and wrenching life developments, but actually the action covers a relatively short period so perhaps that will come in future volumes.
Although I found the style a bit stiff at first (“As she stared at his 6ft frame and broad shoulders…”), the fast paced action soon pulled me in and I was rooting for Scarlett and her new friends. My biggest complaint is that the superpowers were super convenient, with new ones manifesting just when they are needed most. Also convenient is that one of the teens has that most British of institutions, the spinster godmother who conveniently dies, leaving her money and a mansion. But the interpersonal conflicts and spats that would be common to any group of teens, the self-questioning and challenges faced by their leader (and romantic hottie) Dylan, and the tentative romance developing between Dylan and Scarlett are nicely done.
I’d give Out of Time four stars for slightly stiff pace and lack of character development, but fast-paced action and plot. I’d certainly pick up the next volume, and urge any young teens who might be looking for an adventure with light romance to do the same.
- Book Title: Out of Time (Out of Time Series, Book 1)
- Author: Donna Marie Oldfield
- Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
- Publisher: Sonic Pop Publishing
- Length: 269 pages
- Release Date: July 9, 2014
“Dylan,” Scarlett heard Neelam shout. “The water pressure in the shower has gone all screwy again. Can you use your power to fix it?”
Scarlett rubbed the sleep from her eyes and glanced at a clock on the wall. It was 9.10am – she’d been asleep for nearly 17 hours. Just then, she heard someone stomp out of the room next to hers.
“For heaven’s sake, Neelam. Can’t you just call a plumber?”
“Not while I’ve got shampoo suds in my hair, no. Please help, I only need some water for a couple more minutes.”
“OK,” she heard Dylan reluctantly agree. “But then we’re calling a plumber.”
Scarlett got out of bed and tip-toed onto the landing.
“What’s going on?” she asked Dylan, who was standing with his back to the bathroom door.
“Our shower keeps breaking. You know what old houses in London can be like, so this lot think it’s fine to use me as a resident plumber every time it stops working.”
She laughed. “You control water, right?”
“Yeah. I started out by manipulating the flow of it, such as making the water come through these pipes, then I learned how to control its temperature like I showed you with the hot chocolate the other day.”
Scarlett remembered sitting in the café with the group just the day before yesterday. It seemed like so long ago now.
“Obviously, I can do that on a much larger scale too,” he said. “No one ever changed the world by messing around with a bit of water in a paper cup.”
They both giggled.
“Will I get to see you use your powers?” she asked.
“Of course you will, if you stick around…” He paused. “You are staying with us, right?” he said hopefully. Was it just Scarlett’s imagination, or was he blushing a little bit?
“Yeah,” she smiled. “Why would I go anywhere else?” she couldn’t believe it, she was flirting. With a boy. A nice boy. And unless she was mistaken, he was flirting back.
“Good. I missed you. I never realised I would… so much…” he trailed off.
“Argh!” Neelam screamed from inside the bathroom, interrupting them. “Dylan, will you concentrate. You just upped the hot water and scalded me in here.”
“Oopsie,” he giggled quietly.
Seconds later, Neelam stormed out with a towel round her.
“Did you do that on purpose?” she yelled. “It’s so unlike you to lose control of your powers.” Neelam suddenly noticed Scarlett standing there and smiled a little knowingly, but politely chose not to comment.
“Scarlett! You’re awake, but why on earth are you still wearing the same outfit?”
Scarlett looked down, She’d forgotten that she’d fallen asleep in yesterday’s clothes… the day before’s clothes really. Well, if she thought about it, she’d first put them on four weeks ago. Urgh!
“I don’t have anything else to wear,” she explained.
“What are you talking about? You’ve got such an amazing wardrobe in there,” Neelam said, waving her hand at Scarlett’s room.
“Neelam’s right,” Dylan agreed. “Haven’t you looked in your closet?”
Scarlett shook her head. “No, I went straight to sleep yesterday and ran out here to see what all the commotion was about this morning.”
“Well, take a look,” Neelam laughed. “I’m going to get dressed, I’ll see you downstairs for breakfast in a bit.”
“Yeah I should get ready too. It’s lucky that I can make the shower work for myself,” Dylan grinned. “Do you want to go first, Scarlett? I can stand out here and work my water magic for you if you like.”
Neelam turned and looked at Dylan incredulously.
“I can’t believe you’re being nice to her. I had to beg!”
“Scarlett’s just come back from the dead,” he protested. “And anyway, she smells a bit, I’m trying to do us all a favour.” He laughed.
“Hey,” Scarlett said, as she replied to his teasing with a gentle punch.
Neelam rolled her eyes and walked off.
Twenty minutes later, Scarlett was freshly showered and searching through her wardrobe. Neelam was right, she did have a stupid amount of clothes and they were all to her taste. She and the other Scarlett must be pretty similar.
She heard a knock at the door.
“Can I come in?” Dylan said.
“Just a minute!” she yelled as she pulled a dressing gown on. She didn’t want him seeing her in her underwear. She wasn’t feeling that flirty.
“What?” Scarlett asked, poking her head round the door.
“I was going to suggest doing a bit of training after breakfast. See how your powers are. Maybe even show you everyone else’s, that kind of thing.”
“OK, sounds good!” she replied.
“Cool, I’ll see you downstairs in a minute. Make sure you wear something suitable for training,” he said. She closed the door and pulled a brush through her hair.
Training? And powers? This was all getting a bit surreal. She didn’t even know what she was supposed to be able to do. What if she couldn’t do anything and she didn’t have powers like the other Scarlett. Would Dylan be disappointed?
She walked back over to the wardrobe and stared at the clothes. What would she wear for training anyway? “Please tell me there aren’t any Lycra suits in here,” she thought in a sudden panic. A quick rummage told her there weren’t. “Phew.”
She sifted her way through several inappropriate dresses and jumpers, picked out some jeans and a T-shirt and headed downstairs.
“Hi,” she said to Neelam, as she entered the kitchen. “Whoa!” she yelled as Jay whizzed past, almost knocking Scarlett off her feet.
“Watch out,” Neelam said. “It’s his turn to cook and, as you can imagine, he does everything in a hurry.”
“’Scuse me, Scarlett,” Jay yelled as he raced back past from the fridge.
She watched in awe as he whisked up some scrambled eggs, beans, bacon, sausage and hash browns in seconds flat. “I’d still be trying to crack the first egg by now,” she thought.
“Here you go,” he said, handing Scarlett two plates. “Can you take these through for you and Dylan?” Before she could even begin to reply, he whizzed back with two more plates. “And Neelam, can you take yours and Lucy’s?”
“Of course,” both girls replied, taking the plates and walking through.
“Morning!” Lucy called happily. There was no sign of her bad mood from last night, which was good news. “Did you sleep OK?”
“I could hardly sleep at all. I’m so excited to have you back,” she said, as she raced over and gave her a big hug.
Scarlett had to admit, Lucy’s erratic behaviour made her feel a bit nervous, but she was being nice and was clearly a friend, so she gave her the benefit of the doubt. She prised herself away and took a seat.
“Looking forward to training?” Jay asked sarcastically.
“Ignore him,” Neelam said. “Jay hates training. He thinks he doesn’t need it. He’ll grow up one day.”
“Actually, I am kind of looking forward to it. Will you be there? I’d like to see you all in action.”
“Sure we will,” Lucy said. “It’s important that we focus on you though. We have no idea how your powers have been affected.”
“Well, you see, the thing is…” she started. “I don’t even know what they are. When I said I knew nothing about this place, I meant just that. I know nothing. I don’t even know if I have powers.”
“Of course you do,” Jay said.
“But I’ve never had them before.”
“Yes you…” Jay started, before slamming his knife and fork down and turning to Dylan. “When is she going to get over this?”
For this week’s contest, I asked Donna to tell us about her worst summer job ever. Please enter your guess about which one is true in comments below for a chance to win a free copy of Out of Time.
- I worked on the London Eye part time for a while. It was fun at first, but after a while going round and round all day it sent me a bit dizzy.
- I worked on my grandfather’s farm – he made me help him clean out the barns and they were really smelly.
- I worked in a baker’s, which I thought would be brilliant but I kept getting in trouble for ruining all the cakes.
If you could have any superpower at all, what would you choose?