Our guest post today is by Nina Berry, author of a new YA urban fantasy series. Her first book, OTHERKIN, came on on July 31 so you should rush out and buy it if you enjoy the story that Nina's contributed to the event. =) Nina's taken the time to share a real-life story about one of her own summer camp experiences and the lovely folks at Kensington have provided a giveaway of her debut YA novel to boot!
Please join me in welcoming Nina to the blog!
At four a.m. the sand on Oahu’s North Shore lay cool and white. The full moon spread silver over the waves and descended toward the horizon like an plump lady gingerly settling onto a delicate chair.
“Your cabin is special,” Mr. White* said, smiling under his mustache at the dozen of us ranged sleepily before him. “You’ve come together as a team more than all of the other cabins here at Camp Moluke’ia. So we’re giving you a special task. It won’t be easy. But we think your group can handle it.”
I glanced around at the six boys and five other girls in my cabin at this supposedly “life-transforming” camp arranged by our school. So far we’d fumbled down a cliff, panted through an obstacle course, and washed the dinner dishes together. How did that make us special?
The group ranged from our school’s most popular football player to the probable valedictorian. But I didn’t know or trust any of them. Worse, one of them was Ethan Payne,* sarcastic surfer dude supreme. When I walked in the door the first day of school he had shouted, “Not Nina Berry!”
It had been downhill from there. I’d managed to avoid direct contact with him for the last 36 hours, and my main goal for the duration of camp was to keep doing that. So much for “life-transforming.”
“You’ll select a leader, then put these on.” Mr. White pulled some black cloth strips from his pocket. “Blindfolds. Then your leader will walk you out to the edge of the reef and back. The tide’s coming in. So you better hurry.”
WHAT? Eleven of us were supposed to walk onto the reef at night blindfolded with one person to guide us? Yes, the tide was down, the warm salt water barely covering the top of the coral. But if one person fell, it could take everyone else down like a row of dominoes. And who had the skills to be our leader?
Oh wait, oh no! Not…
Yep. Ethan Payne. After Mr. White double-checked my blindfold, it was Ethan Payne who tentatively placed my hands on the shoulders of the person in front of me.
“Short steps!” He shouted. “Let’s go!”
I shuffled forward, flinching as water whooshed over my ankles. The cool breeze lifted the hair from my sweating neck.
“You’re about to hit the reef,” Ethan said, somewhere up ahead. My toes clenched the sand in fear. “Lift your feet high, and step down gently. I’m standing on it now, and it’s kind of like a velvet rug over a pile of rocks. So don’t worry about it.”
Moments later, the soles of my feet brushed something bumpy and fuzzy. Coral. And hey, Ethan wasn’t lying. Walking on it wasn’t hard, although I kept imagining I was about to plunge into a crevice inhabited by a giant moray eel. The water remained shallow, silky, and warmer now than the air. Maybe Ethan wasn’t going to kill us after all. As long as we didn’t run into trouble…
Then the person in front of me tripped, yanking me forward. I flailed, despairing, reaching forward into blackness… And grabbed onto a firm bicep as a hand grabbed my elbow.
“You’re okay,” said Ethan. Then he lifted me to my feet and held on till I was steady.
“Thanks,” I said. And I meant it.
Inch by inch, with stubbed toes, wet shorts, and half-laughing screeches of terror, we made it to the end of the reef. Thanks to Ethan. When he told us to take our blindfolds off, we whooped out at the vast night ocean, looping our arms around each other.
At breakfast we heard the truth. Every cabin had walked the reef at different times during the night. Mr. White had lied to us about being special.
But we didn’t care. We felt special because of what we’d done together. Over the next few days the people I’d feared became close friends. And even though that bond started to evaporate back at school, for a while, whenever we passed in the hallway, we’d slide each other a knowing smile.
That crazy night at camp made me appreciate that even a sarcastic surfer dude can have unexpected depths. I realized maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to judge, or to be afraid. Has summer camp ever changed your mind about something – or someone?
*People’s names have been changed to protect me at high school reunions.
[Jenn's note: All images are from the Camp Moluke’ia website.]
More about OTHERKIN:
Sixteen-year-old Desdemona Gray doesn’t even bother with crushes on cute boys now that she’s forced to wear a hard plastic back brace all day. What guy would want to literally have to knock on a girl to be let in? So she squashes down every impossible desire until an uber-awkward brush with a boy brings out all her frustration and she changes…into a tiger. In that bewildering moment, she is captured by Ximon, the leader of a fanatical group hell-bent on wiping out the five remaining tribes of shape-shifters, known as the otherkin.
With help from a handsome, mysterious fellow captive named Caleb, she escapes and goes on the run, finding allies and learning the truth behind the legends of wizards and were-creatures. Then Ximon goes too far, and Dez must tap into all her buried desires to find her inner tiger and save herself, her new friends, and the boy she loves.
To enter the giveaway, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
Ends Wednesday, September 5th, 2012
(like all of our Paranormal Summer Camp giveaways)
Nina Berry grew up bodysurfing in Hawaii, learned to throw snowballs at the University of Chicago, and now lives and works in Hollywood, pretending to lead the glamorous life. Along the way she got a screenplay optioned, wrote for a TV show called Ghost Stories, and has worked on shows like Married…With Children and That 70’s Show. Inspired by novels she loved as a teen, OTHERKIN is her debut YA paranormal. When not writing, Nina loves to travel, read, and tweet links about saving big cats in the wild. She’s a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.