Blog Tour & Excerpt: The Raging Ones by Krista & Becca Ritchie

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“A potently addictive blend of romance, fantasy, and science fiction full of unexpected twists.”

— Kirkus Reviews, STARRED Review

“…a heartfelt, high-octane saga with gripping twists that will leave readers hungering for more.”

— Booklist Online

cover129929-mediumIn Altia, everyone knows the day they’re going to die from the moment they’re born. But what happens when that day passes and you’re still alive? THE RAGING ONES (Wednesday Books; August 14, 2018), a YA debut for bestselling authors (and twin sisters) Krista and Becca Ritchie plunges head-first into a sci-fi romance that will keep you guessing until the last page!

THE RAGING ONES follows three teens who should have died young: Franny Bluefort, a young orphan who lived fast and hard, only to wake up the next morning after her death day in the cold, unforgiving city streets; Mykal Kickfall, who was meant to die at 8 but instead was forced to flee his rugged home to avoid questions of his survival; and Court Icefort, the mysterious boy who acts like an Influential, but has a terrible secret. And, for some inexplicable reason, they can feel each other’s emotions as if they were their own.

With the threat of people learning the teens have dodged their deathdays, they must flee their planet, Saltare-3, to survive. Who knows what will happen if people suddenly think they might be able to escape death? But to do so, all three will have to hide their shared bond as they vie for a highly sought after spot in the newest mission to space.

Against thousands of people who are far smarter, will live longer, and will never fear death the way that they do.

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The Ritchie sisters have already amassed a large following for their steamy romances, infusing their young adult novel with romantic tension and displaying a new talent for excellent world building. Full of action and adventure, THE RAGING ONES is part space odyssey and part coming of age story with three teens trying to escape their difficult pasts.

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Excerpt from THE RAGING ONES

On the cobblestone walk of a city sheathed in ice and snow, I slam my frostbitten fist against a Plexiglas cashier window. “Excuse me!” I call out for assistance that never arrives. Five minutes till closing, and the bank has already snapped the blinds shut.

“Excuse me!” I shout again. “I’m dying tomorrow!” I bang harder, my frustrated breath smoking the chilled air. My wool coat, missing four buttons and brandishing more than a few torn holes, warms me less than my irritation. Which grows with the incoming silence.

I’m truly dying tomorrow, but death is normative. I die. You die. We all die. The only difference between the bankers and me—I will die at seventeen.

I die young.

They die old.

And so it goes.

I spot a bulky camera positioned on the brick of the Bank Hall’s outdoor window. You see me, don’t you? They just refuse to answer. “I’m allowed my Final Deliverance check! Do you hear me?!”

I yell up at the lens while simmering in place. Behind me, men in sleek tailored suits and fur-lined wool coats amble along the alabaster-­white sidewalk. Their hot, disparaging gazes heat my neck. They can act all miffed by me, but Fowler Street, Avenue Thirty-­Four contains every shop for every type of person: hair salons, dentists, pubs, quaint overnight inns, and most importantly for me—the only bank.

And all the grand streets—all the ones with cigar parlors and high-­end fabric shops that smell of rose petals and fig—hug the grimy ones. The streets with cheap apartments, crumbling brick, and foul, pungent odors with each step past. So in the end, the rich-clothed men have always seen as much of me as I’ve seen of them.

We just might not end up in the same place. I watch some strut ahead, careful on slick cobblestone, scarves bundled up to their lips. They disappear past the warmth of a stone pub, nestled on the corner of Fowler. The opulent Catherina Hotel is only one block away, and by the men’s attire alone, I imagine that’s their true destination.

Really, they’re not a priority to me. Not today.

Most definitely not tomorrow.

With numb fingertips, I dig in my pocket for my identification. I raise the card toward the camera lens. “I’m Franny Bluecastle,” I declare, possibly speaking to no one. “Can you see my deathday?” I point at the print beneath my name. “I’m dying tomorrow.”

A shadow passes behind the window, someone stirring. Blinds rattle and I press my nose against the chilled glass, scraping my fingers down. “Please! I’m on time!” Backbiting insults and curses nip my tongue, and I swallow them, going down bitter like blood.

The blinds suddenly spring upward, and I’m met with russet curls, thin lips of boredom, and stern, auburn eyes. I speak before the fortysomething woman can. “I need to collect my FD check. In bills.” I keep a watchful eye on the old mechanical drawer beside the window. She has to dispense my cash, and once the drawer opens, it’ll finally be in my hand.

Most plan out their deathday to the finest detail.

At six years of age, I watched my mom die.

I traced her steps around her bed, a single-room apartment above a butcher shop. The scent of slaughtered pig clung more to our well-­worn clothes than to the musty air. She lit candle after candle and hummed to the gods, casting smiles back at me. Youth sparkled in her gaze.

And I’d known, like any stranger could see, that we did not match. It wasn’t only my cool, beige skin and silky black hair—but the differences of our eyes, the heart shape of my face to her squared, and as I grew, I didn’t develop curves or a chest like hers.

Even knowing she’d die by twenty-­four, my mother found the will and courage to provide me a home when she was just eighteen.

She adopted me as an infant, and I always knew that I’d say goodbye to my mother in only a handful of years. She prepared me for the day, so I’d be at peace with her.

And I was.

Moments after her smile, she blew out the tender flames and crawled onto the squeaky bed.

“Be careful of how you die, my little Franny,” she told me. “You can set your terms but not the day.”

Without question, I nodded in reply.

When we’re born, we all know the day we’ll die. It’s been this way for over a thousand years.

Maybe someone solved a mathematical equation.

Maybe a scientist drummed up this revolutionary discovery.

I can’t recall our history front to back like an Influential. I never attended school or read their books, and I didn’t really care to listen.

I only have so much time to live, so why waste it on a history that won’t be mine for long?

My mom snuffed the candles, avoiding Death By Fire as her ending. In my country of Altia, people about to experience their deathday must follow Injury Prevention Laws. Like me tomorrow.

Stay indoors.

Stay away from large groups of people.

Relax. Stay calm.

Be at peace.

Defying the first two could lead to mass accidents.

A boy of fourteen dumbly and selfishly took a joyride around Bartholo’s packed and icy city streets on his deathday. The car spun out and collided with Mr. Rosencastle who was innocently locking up the butcher shop.

Since Mr. Rosencastle won’t die until he’s seventy-seven, all he lost was an arm. Not his life. And ever since I witnessed my mom’s death—the serenity in her upturned lips, the warm flush in her cheeks before her heart slowed to a stop—I’ve dreamed of my own deathday.

I might have planned it poorly, but I dreamed well.

I imagined using the last of my money for a one­night stay at the Catherina Hotel. Where harpists welcome guests through revolving doors, men in tuxes offer gold-foiled chocolates and sweet liqueur, where feathered pillows and satin sheets blanket beds made for five bodies.

At the orphanage, I sleep on a narrow bunk, coiled springs bruising my back. Only with my Final Deliverance check can I afford this single-night luxury. I’ve only heard stories, never seen it with my own eyes, but I still dream.

I want to lie against those sheets and gaze up at the hand­painted ceiling mural and smile as I drift off, as my heart slows or as my brain shuts down, as the gods take me.

The banker presses a button, and her monotone voice crackles through the speakers. “We’ve closed out today. No more transfers, deposits, or withdrawals until tomorrow at six o’morning.”

She reaches for the cord to the blinds.

“No wait!” This is not how I end. “You can’t botch this for me! Listen to me. You have to listen to me.” My desperation curdles my stomach, and I claw at the window, my hot breath fogging the glass. “I need this money now. I could die at midnight.”

The banker scrutinizes my long hair: black roots growing in among vibrant blue and green knotted strands that contrast her natural hue. She homes in on my silver piercings: stuck along my black brow, a ring beneath my nose and another hooped around my lip.

It’s possible that she ignored me because of the bright dye and piercings.

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General Q&A

Working with another author is hard, let alone WITH YOUR TWIN, what was working together like and how did you address differing opinions on the work? What are your favorite and least favorite things about writing with each other?

We’ve been writing together since high school, so we’ve been able to really fine-tune our process. Being sisters seems like we’d bicker a ton, but we find our bond a huge strength. We understand each other’s vision and welcome varying opinions and ideas. We always describe what we have as a mini “writer’s room” where we constantly bounce thoughts off one another and try to improve our work. When we have different opinions, it kick-starts discussions, which often ignites better stories. Our favorite part of working together is definitely collaborating. We value our time together and our discussions surrounding our projects. Always having someone equally passionate and invested in the book fuels our love of writing. Least favorite part: honestly, there aren’t a lot of negatives! Maybe our three-minute silent treatments when we’re frustrated, and then we make up almost immediately.

When did you first get idea for The Raging Ones? What was your inspiration for this book?

Back in college, one of us (Krista) had this concept about a world where everyone knows the die they’ll die, but three teens don’t die on their deathday. We’re huge fans of science fiction and fantasy, and we’d written several Young Adult novels that never saw the light of day. But we wanted to write a new story together with new characters, and I jumped on board once she agreed to add a fantasy element. While writing THE RAGING ONES, we were really inspired by character-driven stories with science fiction backdrops. From movies like Interstellar to television shows like The 100.

THE RAGING ONES is your first YA novel. What made you decide to move into the genre, and was the transition difficult? Was writing in a different genre/for a different age group hard? Was your process different?

Even though THE RAGING ONES is our first published YA novel, it isn’t the first one we’d written together. In our childhood, high school, and college, we mostly only wrote YA. The harder transition for us had been going from writing Young Adult fantasy novels to writing contemporary romance. In a lot of ways, THE RAGING ONES was like returning to something we’d started but hadn’t finished yet. We always attribute our romance books as the reason why we’re better writers, and when we went back to this other genre, we realized how much more we could do and push ourselves. Our writing process is pretty much identical across the map for Young Adult and Adult.

What is the weirdest thing you had to research for the novel?

Since THE RAGING ONES takes place on a frozen planet, we had to keep jumping down an Animal Planet rabbit hole. We paid close attention to the animals that could exist. It’s not too weird, but there were a lot of times we had to double-check each other and be like, “Cotton isn’t a fabric here” and “You can’t make them eat chicken. There are no chickens.”

Did THE RAGING ONES have a certain soundtrack you listened to while writing?

Yes! We always listen to music while we’re writing, and we complied a public Spotify playlist for the book, which includes songs that were in our earbuds as we were typing. We love the dramatic scores from Gravity and Interstellar, but we always say “Keeping Your Head Up” by Birdy is the essence of the book. Check out THE RAGING ONES Spotify playlist.

What is your dream cast for THE RAGING ONES?

We love dream casting our books and making Pinterest boards! For THE RAGING ONES, we can imagine Lyrica Okano as Franny Bluecastle, Henry Zaga as Court Icecastle, and Noah Teicher as Mykal Kickfall. Check out THE RAGING ONES Pinterest board.

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About the authors

Screen Shot 2018-08-06 at 11.42.56 amKrista & Becca Ritchie are New York Times Bestselling Authors and identical twins, one a science nerd, the other a comic book geek.

With their shared passion for writing, they combined their mental powers as kids and have never stopped telling stories.

Graduates from the University of Georgia in Biology and English & Journalism, the twin writing duo now lives in Atlanta.

The Raging Ones is their first young adult novel.

 

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