Upon Broken Wings, by E. L. Reedy & A. M. Wade
Categories – Teen, Young Adult, LGBT, Romance, Fiction, Fantasy, Suicide Prevention, Bullying, Paranormal
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Logline – To save their souls, a boy with autism, unaware that he is dead, must convince a suicidal comatose boy to choose to live.
Our World– is a modern-day place of imperfect people, friends and family who both love and fail us, angels who deliver hope, bullies who destroy, and a loving Creator (God, or whatever name we call Him) who offers redemption for even our greatest failures. It is a place of light and shadow, love and hate, and a friendship that lasts even through death.
Our settings – are Purgatory, which looks like a rustic retreat in the country, surrounded by flower gardens and a vast forest; it is the weigh station between Heaven, Hell, and Earth—and The Borderlands, a grey realm between life and death—and finally a small Midwestern town on Earth.
Our protagonist – Andrew (14), a high school freshman with Touch Aversion Syndrome, just trying to get through life, stubborn and proud, never asking for help, which leads to his undoing, must ultimately save Kiernan (14), a high school freshman, who attempts suicide after he’s outed as gay and is assaulted by bullies.
Andrew wants to awaken from what he thinks is a dream, but what Andrew needs is to realize that we are all connected and for better or worse, our choices affect everyone in the world around us. If he fails to achieve this understanding, his soul and that of Kiernan’s risk eternal damnation.
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Bound by a dark act of hate and despair, high school freshmen, Andrew and Kiernan, learn that their untimely deaths did not bring an end to their pain, but only began the suffering of those left behind. While his lost memories return, Andrew must master seemingly impossible feats, both spiritual and physical. As a dark spirit stalks Kiernan through the borderlands of life and death, he must also face the pain his actions have caused his loved ones. To save both their souls, Andrew must convince Kiernan to return to life and open his eyes to the love and beauty which had always been there.
Pain welled up from deep within, overtaking him, boiling forth from his every pore. Every injury from his past, both real and imaginary, manifested at once, overwhelming him, leaving him a tortured thing without a name, lost in a mysterious land at the outer edges of possibility.
Then the voices came, rolling through the sands like tremors from a quake. “Run!” they cried. “It comes! Damnation comes! Beware its path! Damnation comes!”
Kiernan’s feet hit the ground and he ran faster than ever, until his burning lungs and throat failed to draw further breaths and his heart, hammering inside his chest harder than ever, refused a further beat. He sank to his knees, all feeling in his mind and body departing—his emotions and hopes deserted him.
He sank inside himself through the fabric of his strange new reality into the real world, where he could see and hear the hum of fluorescent lights, respiratory machines, and monitors in a bright white room, within which rested his unmoving body, wrapped in white sheets and blankets. He stood invisible to the living, near his mother, but on the opposing side of his comatose form.
He saw the tears running down Kylie’s tired face, the exhaustion pouring forth from her eyes, her hand gripping his body’s hand tightly, and he realized that she had become his only anchor to the living world. He wanted to tell her it was all right, to let her know he was there, but she spoke first.
“How could you do this to me?” She cried. “To your brother? You promised me you’d never hurt him.” She took a deep breath and sniffled. “You promised!”
I trotted into the area of the Intensive Care set aside for my family, glancing briefly around, slurping the last of my soft drink through a straw, irritating every nurse around I am sure—I was seven—but I froze with a start for a second and dropped my forgotten Styrofoam cup, scattering mostly ice and a bit of watered down cola across the floor. I had seen my brother simultaneously in two places, and that is a lot for anyone of any age to wrap their heads around.
He was lying in the bed of course, motionless except for his breathing, which was handled by the Life Support System, but at the same time. I clearly saw him standing close to our mother, Kylie, or at least a shimmery version of him and he was looking back at me, appearing as perplexed as I was.
I shuddered, shaking my head in denial of what at that time, I assumed was impossible, and slipped in beneath my mother’s arm and sought a hint of comfort, as I snuggled against her. “Mommy, let’s go to the church room,” I pleaded. “You know, that one room with the pretty windows and candles.”
A quick glance revealed no further evidence of the apparition and I eyed the laboring machines with discomfort. “It’s quiet,” I murmured. “And no ghosts there,” I added too quiet for my mother to hear.
Kylie brushed my bangs to one side, but as resilient as any child’s unruly hair, they slid back, covering one eye completely. I really needed a trim, but caught up in our family’s catastrophe, such a need fell, like so many other things, to the wayside.
“What if your brother wakes up?” she retorted, “and no one’s here? He’d feel helpless—so alone. No idea where he’s at. Why he’s—”
I pulled away from my mother, interrupting. I was hurting and feeling rather neglected at the time. “Mommy, I have to tell you something about—”
She reached out cupping my hand and made a feeble effort to draw me back to her. “Maybe you’re just too young to understand,” she said distantly. “You are only—”
I whipped my hand free and took two steps back from her, saying something I regret even to this day. “So, if I have an accident like Kiernan, hurt myself like he did, then maybe you’d start caring about me again.”
My mother returned for a time—the mother that had always loved and protected Kiernan and myself, swept me up into a tight hug. As we both cried, she patted my back and made gentle soothing sounds. “Never think that,” she said, kissing my forehead and sighing, torn between her two sons, both of us needing her for very different reasons. “A visit to the chapel, even a short one, will help us both I think.”
We separated and just looked at one another until she reached out and offered me her hand. I forgave her fallibility and accepted, holding her hand against my cheek. My tears fell over her fingers and we just stood there, beginning to heal one another of wounds neither of us realized we had endured.
Moments later, we exited, hand-in-hand, together. The ghost of my brother watched us leave and looked with longing one last time upon his own comatose form.
Author Bios –
E. L. Reedy was born and raised in Iowa, where he devoured tomes of fantasy, sci-fi, and young adult novels as a child. In his free time, he is an avid gamer (D&D and Pathfinder). He has traveled the world as a soldier in the U.S. Army, and now lives in Iowa, where with his writing partner, he continues to pen works in the realms of Fantasy and Horror in the Young Adult Universe.
Facebook (Author Page) : https://www.facebook.com/oflightandshadow7/
A. M. Wade was born the only girl in a family with five boys, she readily escaped into fantasy, sci-fi, and other fiction novels. Having traveled through most of the US, she enjoys using scenery and characteristics of the different states in the story adventures she created for the little ones in her family. Now, she writes sci-fi, fantasy and horror with a lifelong co-conspirator.
Facebook (Author Page) : https://www.facebook.com/oflightandshadow7/
Interview Questions –
Where did the idea come from for Upon Broken Wings?
EL — Long ago, my family and I lost someone very close to us. This left us with an ocean of grief and no real way to deal with it. At about the same time, two very young people in our state ended their own lives. I wrote the first draft of UBW to expunge myself of grief and to question what drives people, especially youngsters to such acts. The first draft accomplished that, but by no means was the story ready to share.
EL & AM — Many years later, with the help of my writing partner, we recreated the characters, bringing them to life, so to speak, and we realized the story had to be much more. It had to be a warning for people to recognize the signs (which is not always possible). It also had to teach the grandest of life lessons. That despite our troubles and tribulations, we must always choose life.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
EL & AM — We have three main characters and a narrator, each of whom have a journey to complete in UBW.
Andrew (protagonist) is the focus of the main story, a freshman in HS who dwells just inside the Spectrum (autism) who loses much but fails to see what he could have gained had he only opened his eyes. He has a tremendous ability to love and his journey takes him into the afterlife.
Kiernan (2nd protagonist) another HS freshman, who has hidden several truths about himself his whole life (about himself and his family situation). When it comes to his friends, he proved at a very young age a tremendous bravery. His journey is to become a secret observer of the pain that our darkest choices in life can cause for the people most dear to us.
Michael (love interest), another boy the same age who is not always who he appears to be, is a teacher and friend to Andrew, a warrior poet who sees the greatness in Andrew (the greatness in all of us)—he ignores the baggage Andrew carries about and only concerns himself with the truth of who Andrew is and what he is capable of—if he can learn to believe in himself.
Casey (narrator), the story teller who starts as a seven-year-old witness to his brother’s tragedy, who after some convincing by an angel or three, agrees to share the story with us. His journey, besides being a story teller is to finally find the peace and happiness within himself he lost when it all happened.
What are you working on at the minute?
EL & AM — A YA horror-fantasy unrelated to UBW
What’s it about? (*if relevant)
EL & AM — A young group of kids must be willing to sacrifice everything to save the world, when a dark power as old as creation is unleashed from the abyss.
What genre are your books?
EL & AM — For now, we write Young Adult stories… Fantasy & Horror, with a touch of Romance sprinkled in for flavor.
What draws you to this genre?
EL — They can and must be as serious as adult stories, but they allow the writer, the reader, and the characters to still be kids. Time forces us to grow old, it does not however, unless we allow it, have the power to make us feel old.
AM — Most adults are bogged down with bills and worries. Teens have worries and fears, but still believe they can change the world. The best stories contain courage and hope, emotion, and strength. They don’t need gratuitous sex and undue violence to tell a good story.
How much research do you do?
EL & AM — We try to make everything accurate to a point, but being big fantasy buffs, we also like to step away, to have our characters be bigger than life – and whatever deity you do or do not believe in, you still should leave a little room for miracles.
What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?
EL — Pen and longhand for first draft, then on to the computer, where I’ll do many edits. But if I feel a rewrite is needed for something, out comes the paper and pen again.
AM — Brain first, then pad and pen. Computer only when we think it’s ready for a run through.
When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?
EL — When I was fourteen I already loved to read Sci-Fi, but that year a good friend ignited the magic in me so-to-speak, when he let me borrow Weis and Hickman’s The Dragonlance Chronicles, and I knew after reading it that I wanted to do that – create memorable worlds and people and share them with others.
AM — I have always made up stories in my head to share with the kids in the family. “let’s pretend” became a start for many stories i wrote in mid school/high school –encouraged by some awesome teachers and friends. I’ve always loved reading and listening to music, and often wondered what happened before and after the story or song.
What inspires you to write?
EL — It all starts with an idea, hinted at by imagination, toyed with by memory, and driven by a determination to give life to the idea. When writing in general, I listen to mood music, which I’ve discovered may not have lyrics – otherwise I spend more time singing the songs in my head and losing sight of whatever I’m working on at the moment.
AM — Sometimes an overheard comment or question makes me think, “what if…..” I wanted to ride along with my favorite characters over the years, and I want that to be what people think when they hear or read our stories.
How often do you write?
EL — I try to write at least a little bit every day. If not creating something new, I try to edit or rewrite what al ready exists. I like to weave my stories together, one thread at a time.
AM — Reread what is written over again till it makes sense, write or work on things in my head most days.
Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who write only when they feel inspired?
EL — I have a set schedule to write something all the time, but raw creation does require inspiration. Without it, it’s just words written on a page.
AM – I just write when it’s ready to hit the page.
How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?
EL — The first time? It was a night mare… this polar bear family in a blizzard was just sitting there, staring back at me. Eventually, I realized the page was full of color (words), I just had to reveal it. Now when I start a new project, I try to at least have a plot-point outline of where the story should go before I put pen to paper.
AM – Not hard at all. Writing something good, that was hard. Then finding time to come together and make it all make sense, a little more tricky.
Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?
EL — I tried that at first, and for me anyway, I ended up with so many pages of lifeless words, hollow plots, and characters that got so bored that they took vacations to get away from me. I do try to write every day, but only what feels real.
AM — As I mentioned, I only write when it’s ready to hit the page. The number of words or pages is immaterial.
Writers are often associated with loner tendencies; is there any truth to that?
EL — What’s that? A party? Sorry… got this thing. (after thinking of a scene that must be written, a line of dialogue that must be spoken, or a character just waiting to come to life)
AM – I like watching people and am comfortable with my friends and family. That said, I am also happy to be alone sometimes. I need that to refresh my mind.
What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?
EL – I would have to say the hardest thing about writing for me anyway, is that adage “Kill your darlings.” Which means acting on the need to eliminate, people, places, things, even plot points from you work that do not advance or fit with the story – no matter how beautiful the character or scene – if it must go – it goes. Going from the original draft of UBW to the current required the elimination of characters and several scenes that actually made my cry to lose them.
AM — Dumping what we just spent what seemed like ages on and starting all over. Dometimes what we want to say just won’t work at this point in time.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
EL – Weis and Hickman, David and Leigh Eddings, Orson Scott Card, Mercedes Lackey, Raymond E. Feist, Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert, Ben Bova, Robert Heinlein, Bryce Courteney, J. K. Rawling, Stephen King… And of course, the Master – J.R.R Tolkien. Can’t name them all – but I would if I could.
AM — Patricia Briggs, Tanya Huff, Tamora Pierce, Jim Butcher, Suzanne Collins, Rick Riordan, Sherrilyn Kenyon, the Eddings, Mercedes Lackey, Dick and Felix Francis, Louis L’Amour, and so many others. if the characters are strong, believable, and make me want to join their quests, i will read them. not a rampant feminist, but love a strong female lead, as they often see/say what the typical male protagonist/antagonist won’t or can’t by virtue of sex or societal norms.
What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion?
EL – Some people will say story, or plot, or character, but for me it’s more of an emotional thing that I use to judge books and movies alike (I’m a huge fan of both). When the journey is over, even if story, plot, etc. are lacking, if I feel like I just got whacked upside the head with emotion — then it was a journey well spent. Examples. Dandelion Wine, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and Tree of Life.
AM – Strong characters and story, scenery you can “see” smell and taste in the descriptions. The story has to make me feel something–pain, anger, joy–that i remember and feel even years later when i am reminded of a particular book or series. I often reread books, because life changes and you see things differently as you live. The best books still give you that gift, maybe even stronger as you have experienced what the characters are going through in certain scenes.
Does it get frustrating if you are unable to recall an idea you had in your mind some time earlier?
EL – It’s bad enough when you can’t remember the very next day, but its even worse when its only a few hours later. Frustration does not even begin to describe the feeling.
AM – I am dealing with this right now as I had an idea for one of our pivotal characters and my brain just says “no” when I try to remember
How big of a part does music play in creating your “zone”?
EL – It takes up the whole of the sky and the earth, it is the moon that shines and the stars that pierce the velvet sky.
AM — I listen to music whenever I can, everything from opera to bubblegum pop, country and blues–whatever doesn’t make my ears bleed. Marilyn Manson and Metallica are in the same playlists as Tim McGraw and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Kid Rock and Drop Kick Murphys. I like it all. I need it when creating and imagining what a character will do or experience next. I will sometimes turn it down when editing, but it is still on in the background. EL and I often share new songs with each other, forwarding from YouTube. If we didn’t have music, I honestly don’t think we could write.
How long do you take to write a book?
EL & AM – Depends… The rough draft, that pile of creation you wouldn’t show to your cat let alone anyone else – I can write that in a few months. The real work has only just begun. It may take another three to six months to iron out the wrinkles, throw out the trash, kill a few darlings, and get that feeling inside that the journey is finally over.