(The Deception Game, #1)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: November 21st 2016
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
In a crumbling, futuristic Las Vegas where the wealthy choose the characteristics of their children like ordering off a drive-thru menu, seventeen-year-old Sienna Preston doesn’t fit in. As a normal girl surrounded by genetically modified teenagers, all of her imperfections are on display. But after the death of her father, everything she’s ever known and loved changes in an instant.
With little skills to help provide for her family, Sienna clings to the two things that come easily—lying and stealing. But not all thief-for-hire assignments go as planned. When a covert exchange of a stolen computer chip is intercepted, she becomes entangled with a corrupt government official who uses her thieving past as leverage, her mother as collateral, and the genetically modified poster boy she’s falling for as bait.
In order to rescue her mother, there may only be one option—joining forces with the Fringe, an extremist group, and their young leader who’s too hot to be bad. Problem is, these revolutionaries aren’t what they seem, and the secrets they’re hiding could be more dangerous than Sienna is prepared for. In the end, she must be willing to risk everything to save the one thing that matters most.
Catalyst is a thrilling adventure of danger, romance, intrigue, and deception.
“You need to learn a little hand-to-hand combat.” Trey puts his fists up by his face. “Always protect your soft spots—your face being numero uno.” He glances at my bandaged arm. “You right-handed?”
It’s after breakfast and we’re in the training facility, a large, gym-type room with thick mats, punching bags, weights, and a long wall of mirrors. The smell of sweat and stinky feet assault my nose as I stand across from him on the pile of black mats used to create a “ring”. We have the gym to ourselves. Most likely because everyone else is too smart to work out right after a meal.
I nod and flex my right hand, the one that’s not bandaged.
“You should be fine, then. I’ll take it easy on you.” He grins. “Go ahead—hit me.”
I take a step back and shake my head. “I’m not gonna hit you.”
He moves forward to decrease the distance between us. “I said, hit me.”
I raise my arms as if I’m about to fight him, but all I can think is how much he’s done to help me. How can I punch the man who saved me from the government facility, removed my tracker, and is willing to help rescue my mother?
When he realizes I won’t fight, he lowers his hands. “Remember, Sienna, these men don’t care that you’re a girl. They don’t care how old you are. If given the opportunity, they will hurt you.” His eyes harden. “Now hit me.”
I punch him as hard as I can, and he’s not expecting it. The force of the blow to his face knocks him backward, and my hand throbs from the impact. He looks stunned, especially when a trickle of blood makes its way out of his nose. But then he grins.
Wiping his nose on his shirt, he motions with his hands for me to come closer. “Nicely done. Now, hit me again.”
Surely, he must be crazy. I’m about to walk away, but his words echo in my mind. If given the opportunity, they will hurt you. I can’t give them that opportunity.
Kristin Smith writes young adult contemporary and science fiction novels. When she’s not writing, you can find her dreaming about the beach, beating her boys at Just Dance, or belting out karaoke (from the comfort of her own home). Kristin currently resides in the middle-of-nowhere North Carolina with her husband and five incredibly loud but extremely cute boys. To read more about her obsession with YA novels or her addiction to chocolate, you can visit her at kristinsmithbooks.com.
What inspired the story of Catalyst?
The premise of Catalyst actually came to me in a dream. But in my dream, it was the story of a man who was a matchmaker by profession in a society where everyone is matched. He had a horrible dilemma because he was in love with a woman he wasn’t matched with. Gradually, that idea evolved into a society where the wealthy choose genetic matchmaking and modification for their children. And the main character became a “normal” girl who has red hair and freckles.
How would you describe your writing process?
Eclectic. Lol. No, seriously, I wish I could say that I sit down and outline every detail of the novel before I begin, but the truth is, I pretty much wing it. Even when I do try to write an outline, I tend to stray from it. I draw inspiration from everything around me, whether it’s music, books, movies, or nature. When I’m writing, the scenes come into my mind like a movie reel, and I try to describe what I’m seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling, etc. so the reader can be immersed in the moment and feel like they are a part of the story.
If you’re in the candy aisle at the store, what calls your name the loudest?
Oh, hello, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Where have you been hiding?
Having written a dystopian novel yourself, what are some of your favorite dystopian novels?
Ooh, this is a tough one! I have so many favorites! But I have to say that hands down, The Hunger Games is my all-time favorite. Suzanne Collins broke the ceiling when she wrote that series, and she left a high mark for other authors to live up to.
The second runner-up would have to be Divergent. I absolutely loved the first book, especially Four. 🙂
And I can’t forget about The Selection Series, which I believe I devoured all of those books in the space of two days. (Sorry, my children! That’s why I was MIA during that time period!)
Your main character, Sienna, is a red-head (and has a sassy ‘tude to match). Did she spring from your imagination as a red-head, or did that come later?
As soon as I imagined her, she had red hair, green eyes, and rode a Harley. It’s funny because in the book, Sienna is so critical of how she looks. She’s surrounded by gorgeous genetically modified people and all she can see are her “imperfections”, but her features are actually what make her stunning and unique. I hope that girls who read this book will catch that message. They are beautiful and unique, and they need to stop comparing themselves to others.
What are three things in Catalyst that you think people will enjoy the most?
Can I really only pick 3? Well, I think they’ll enjoy all of it, but if I HAVE to narrow it down…
1) Zane and Trey, who in my opinion, are both yummy!
2) The kissing.
3) Sienna’s experience in the underground Compound.
If you could go on a writing retreat with one other author (dead or alive), who would it be?
My first thought was to pick an author I greatly admire like J.K. Rowling, Kiera Cass, Sarah Dessen, or Veronica Roth, but there’s really only one person I’d like to go on a writing retreat with: my critique partner, Leandra Wallace. We’d have so much fun eating junk, talking books, and bouncing ideas off of each other!
What is a piece of writing advice that has been most beneficial to you?
Don’t give up. This business is hard to break into, but you can’t let it break you. Know that failure is necessary to experience success.
As all writer’s typically need ‘refuel’ days, what do you find fills back up your creative well?
For me, binge-watching Netflix or reading a good book helps to get the creative juices flowing again. Oh, that and about a pound of chocolate.
Lastly, where is the best place to get ice cream in North Carolina?
Well, I’m more of a gelato fan (love me some gelato!), but if I had to choose, I’d say the tiny little walk-up shop called Bruster’s. They make the BEST sundaes with brownies and ice cream and fudge sauce and whipped cream. YUM!
These Are a Few of My Favorite Things
Books. Sunsets. Reading to my children. Cuddling with my husband. My laptop. Sleeping in. Surfing the internet. Dinner with friends. Sushi from Coral Sushi (has to be from here!). The beach. Christmas. Halloween. Fall decorations. Fires in fireplaces. Making s’mores around a bonfire. Deltaville. Kissing. Snow. Gelato. My pool. Sledding. Music. Watching movies with my family. Chick flicks. People who care. Lazy days. Cake (any kind). People who listen. Playing the piano. My bed. People who show up at my door with cookies. Zumba. Dancing. The electric slide. Date nights. My family. Binge-watching Netflix. Gilmore Girls. Hot cocoa. Dreaming big. Root beer. Vampire Diaries. Blankets. Sweaters. Boots. Reign. Chocolate (in any form!). Amazon. Pinterest. Vacations. Las Vegas. Book stores. New books. The Selection Series. Planning parties. Supportive friends. The Hunger Games. My wonderful husband. My sweet boys. Chips. Diet Mountain Dew Code Red. Dinner with friends. Scarfs. Glitter. Make-up. Inspiring stories. My readers.
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