There is no chosen one in this story.
Avery Gray was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and happened to make a decision that altered her future forever. It happens to all of us every day.
Avery is a size twelve university student with a penchant for dry humour, and she’s as normal as they come. Up until now, the biggest choice she’s had to make was glasses or contacts? At the moment, it’s stay and save, or leave and be saved.
Allow me to explain. One rainy afternoon, Avery had to make a choice: go through the alleyway or around it. Two possible options. One would have had her future continue on as planned, the other would ensure that her future never remained the same again. She unknowingly went with the latter.
But change is not always bad. Avery meets Theodore-James Connors, an enigmatic young man who takes her to Hayven, a city separated from the rest of the world, where only gifters – ordinary people with extra-ordinary gifts – can go. She soon finds herself in a close-knit group of friends she’d never have imagined herself in. Friends who are diverse in every possible way, from their ethnic backgrounds, to their personalities, from their gifts, to their life stories. Friends who make her laugh, who make her cry, who make her think and who make her…her.
However, change is not always good. The beautiful, golden city of Hayven has its dark side – Cliders. Gifters turned rogue, aka, Cliders are determined to aid fallen Clider, Madrina, return to rule Hayven. They will stop at nothing to make that happen, including harming those Ava has grown to love.
Again, Ava is faced with a choice: spend her days finding a way to inhibit Madrina’s return, or walk away. After all, she isn’t the chosen one. Yet, there exists a third option – rig the future itself and make it work for her.
What inspires you?
Being normal and extraordinary at the same time. Most people believe you can only be one or the other, but I believe you can be both. Extraordinary in the sense that there is something about you that sets you apart from everyone else, but normal in the sense that…you know… you’re not a serial killer or anything.
How long did this book take you to write?
Almost three years. When I first came up with the concept of Gifted, I started writing it out because I wanted to see where the story would go; I wrote Gifted because I wanted to read it. But as the publication date loomed closer, panic set in. I started to worry about whether readers would like it and whether it would sell or not because if it didn’t, then I would have failed as an author. So I ended up writing a book I thought readers would love, but in the end, I hated, by throwing in tropes I’d seen in popular best-selling YA novels: instant-love, a chosen one and a girl born into a dystopian society who kicks butt regularly. In the end, I not only hated my novel, but the entire writing process which was extremely crushing because writing is the one thing I’ve ever really enjoyed, the one thing that never felt like work. Two years later I said “screw it” and went back to writing a novel I wanted to read. Life is too short for me to spend it trying to please others, in any aspect of life. I ended up changing 95% of Gifted and I’m so much happier for it. It’s now not only a book I would read, but a book I would happily pay for. It’s still such a shock and surprise to hear readers say they love it too and it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
One of the many things I loved creating was Theo and Ava’s relationship. In the first edition of Gifted, it started off with instant-love between the two of them because that’s something heavily featured in YA books, so I assumed that’s what YA readers wanted. After I returned to writing what I wanted to read, I completely changed their relationship because I personally don’t believe in instant-love. I’m also tired of the smoking-hot bad-boy, so I made Theo into more of a friend character. Someone who’s a little weird, but fun to be around and although he may not be jumping off buildings every day or robbing banks, there’s something about his presence that would make me miss him if he weren’t there. This change came at a cost because a few of my readers have said they don’t feel the love connection between Theo and Ava and it makes me just want to yell at people, “YOU DON’T FEEL A LOVE CONNECTION BECAUSE THERE ISN’T ONE!” Some YA readers are so used to female and male protagonists falling in love. Theo and Ava aren’t in love. They’re friends and something is there, but it most certainly is not love. They have just met after all. But then again, you can’t help how readers interpret your book; if Theo and Ava are in love in your head, then I won’t say no. A story is what a reader makes it. If we all read stories the same way, it would be a pretty dull, predictable story.
Ava was a great character to draw up because she’s relatable. She may be strong-willed, funny and sarcastic, but she’s also insecure and worries about the small stuff, like we all do. I can see myself and many others in her and it’s nice to have a relatable character who experiences extra-ordinary things. For me, Ava makes the impossible seem a little more…possible.
What writers influenced you the most?
Roald Dahl! Which is surprising since it’s his children’s books that inspired me. His theme of extraordinary things happening to ordinary people is something that has subconsciously stuck with me for so many years.
How much research do you do?
Literally none! My novel features two settings, a fictional country and England, but the city in England is one I’ve made up myself. I suppose it’s loosely based on Uxbridge in England as I remember bits of the town because I went to university there. I have a few diverse characters in my first novel and plan to introduce a heck of a lot more in my following books, but I get my information from my friends. I love diversity and it is terrible lacking in YA. I feel so distant from a lot of books nowadays because they usually feature a majority of one race group and that isn’t relatable or realistic to me. I was born and raised in London, England, one of the most diverse cities in the world. In my world I’m surrounded by diversity, from race to sexuality, from social class to gender, and I plan to show that in my book series.
Do you have a set writing schedule that you adhere to?
I used to, but I soon learnt that writing under pressure produces not-so-great writing so I refuse to put myself under the strain of a deadline. I got enough of that from university! Some days I’ll write a few words, other days I’ll write pages and some days I don’t write anything at all. I try not to force.
Tell us about your book.
It is a YA contemporary fantasy novel centred on a size twelve university student with a penchant for dry humour. One day Ava meets a woman a little on the strange side, and then meets a young man a little more on the stranger side. These meetings lead to the eventual discovery of Hayven – a city separated from the rest of the world where only those with gifts can go. But Hayven has its dark side, and they’re called Cliders. Gifters turned rogue, Cliders are determined to see the golden city of Hayven return to the way it was one thousand years ago when the city was under the dominion of Madrina.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to hang out with my friends; they’re just such a great bunch! I like to eat – a lot. Read, write or watch a movie.
What actors/actresses would you cast in your book’s movie?
Seeing my book turned into a movie would be a dream come true, so I’d like to make the dreams of some lesser known actors and actresses come true. So I’d cast actors I’ve never heard of.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/182-5427114-8218342?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Gifted+J.A.+George
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_12?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=j.a.+george+gifted&sprefix=j.a.+george+gifted%2Caps%2C263