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Title: The Mind’s Eye
Series: Synsk #1
Author: K.C. Finn
Audience: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal/ Historical/ Romance
Formats: E-book and paperback
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Cover by: Marya Heiman for Cleen Teen Publishing
Pages: 350 pages
Date Published: April 1st 2014
At fifteen, Kit Cavendish is one of the oldest evacuees to escape London at the start of the Second World War due to a long term illness that sees her stuck in a wheelchair most of the time. But Kit has an extraordinary psychic power: she can put herself into the minds of others, see through their eyes, feel their emotions, even talk to them – though she dares not speak out for fear of her secret ability being exposed.
As Kit settles into her new life in the North Wales village of Bryn Eira Bach, solitude and curiosity encourage her to gain better control of her gift. Until one day her search for information on the developing war leads her to the mind of Henri, a seventeen-year-old Norwegian boy witnessing the German occupation of his beloved city, Oslo. As Henri discovers more about the English girl occupying his mind, the psychic and emotional bonds between them strengthen and Kit guides him through an oppressive and dangerous time.
There are secrets to be uncovered, both at home and abroad, and it’s up to Kit and Henri to come together and fight their own battles in the depths of the world’s greatest war.
“Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you; you look like a monkey and you smell like one too!”
Henri laughed for the first time in what seemed like forever and a warmth settled in my chest, like things were finally going to get back to normal. When Leighton went to get more pop, Henri came to the tree and sat down beside me, putting a long arm around my shoulders and pulling me in. He kissed the side of my head gently, his warm breath sinking into my hair. He hadn’t tried to kiss me properly again even when there had been opportunity for it, and I was sort of grateful for that. As much as I wanted to feel that tingling, only-us-in-the-world sensation again, right now the atmosphere just wasn’t right. But we were always close to one another when we had the chance, I had gotten so used to his arms around me that it felt like some part of me was missing when he wasn’t there.
“I’ll have to go into the village tomorrow,” he whispered, “to pass my enlistment papers to the right people.”
An invisible blade sank slowly into my fragile heart, but I had always known this day was coming.
“It’ll take them a while to process it,” I said hopefully, “I bet they’ve already got loads of boys waiting to go to basic training.”
“Perhaps,” he said softly, his lips still resting against my head.
I turned sharply to face him, searching his deep brown eyes. “I don’t want you to go,” I said, racing to find his hand to hold it tightly.
“I won’t really be gone,” he replied, “You’ll always be able to find me.”
“That’s not the point,” I said, my curls shaking as I trembled, “This is dangerous Henri, this is war.”
“You forget where I’ve been already,” he said, turning his face away to focus hard on the distance. He kept a firm hold of my hand and gave it a good squeeze. “You came to my head in the quiet times, the safe times. But I’ve already seen the destruction, the danger and the death, Kit. I think there are two types of people during war: those who see the horror happening and run away, never looking back, and those who want to do something about it.” I felt his other arm pull me in closer against his strong body. “You know which type I am, so you know I have to go.”
I couldn’t say anything, because it was all true.
K.C. Finn’s Synsk Series consists of three stories, “The Mind’s Eye,”“Leighton’s Summer,” and “A Place Halfway.” It’s a clean teen romance novel, suitable for teenagers to read. It’s also paranormal and it takes place during the mid-1900s. Each of the stories centers around a teenager from the same universe of characters. “The Mind’s Eye” is set during WW2 and has elements that feel like “The Diary of Anne Frank.” The second story, “Leighton’s Summer” has a feel of “The Hardy Boys” novels or “The Lost Boys.” The final tale, “A Place Halfway” shares elements with “Harry Potter” and “X-Men.” I really liked the characters, but I wish we had gotten to hear more about Henri and Kit’s adventures during WW2 and their budding romance. 3.5 out of 5
Kit is the central character of The Mind’s Eye, a girl with secret psychic abilities who can step into other people’s heads, look through their eyes and feel their emotions. She suffers from what was known in 1939 as Still’s Disease, which is actually a form of juvenile arthritis. This means that she has suffered a period of physical deterioration, so when we see her at the start of the book she is bound to a wheelchair and wishing that her life could be very different to the situation she’s trapped in. The Mind’s Eye is just as much about Kit’s war with her body as it is about the actual war surrounding the story. Kit’s condition is based on my own debilitating long term physical illness (M.E.) which presents a lot of very similar symptoms and difficulties in my everyday life. My dream cast pick for Kit is Georgie Henley, famous for playing Lucy in the Chronicles of Narnia movies. I chose her because she has a subtle but classic beauty that could easily sit in the period of the 1940s and she is a youthful teenager rather than a mature-looking one.
Henri Haugen, age 17
When Kit first connects her mind to Henri’s she finds him in Oslo, Norway on the day that the Nazis first arrive to take control of the city. Henri is a kind and brave soul but he can be impetuous and make snap decisions without thinking; not a clever move to make when you’re surrounded by the occupying forces. Kit takes it upon herself to counsel Henri through his troubles and eventually help him to escape the terror in Oslo so that he can do his part for the war effort. During this time the two youngsters develop a strong bond of friendship and romance. I was inspired to create Henri’s character after visiting the Resistance Museum in Oslo, Norway whilst on a holiday cruise. I was amazed by the stories of very young men who took it upon themselves to traverse the frozen mountains of Norway in order to cross the sea and join the British Army via Scotland. My choice for Henri is a bit of an obscure one since he’s not actually an actor, but here I present Aljaz Skorjanec, star of ballroom dancing show Strictly Come Dancing! He has a typically European look (although he is Slavic rather than Nordic) but his cute little dimples and flyaway hair made him a perfect candidate for Henri.
There’s actually a YouTube video from Strictly Come Dancing where you can see Aljaz dancing with model Abbey Clancy to the song Dear Darlin’ by Olly Murs. To me this performance really captures the spirit of Kit and Henri’s relationship and the song was very influential in channelling the kind of love they share: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riXwYKM-ggY
Blodwyn Price, age 20, and Steven Bickerstaff, age 29
Blod is not a character I expect you to like the first time you meet her, but I hope that as you read on in The Mind’s Eye you will come to understand her attitude and the life events that have shaped her into the moody, guarded young beauty that she is. Doctor Bickerstaff forms a kind of enemy for Kit at the start of the tale, his harsh words and unsmiling attitude aren’t what she needs when she’s struggling enough already… or are they? Blod and Bickerstaff are my secondary main characters and I genuinely love the way their story unfolds as Kit learns to understand why they behave the way they do and discovers secrets about them she never thought possible. My dream cast picks for them are Dominique Swain for Blod (star of the Jeremy Irons version of Lolita) and Dan Stevens for Bickerstaff (whom you will all recognise as Matthew in Downton Abbey). I chose Dominique for Blod because I think she is a natural beauty and a typical teenage temptress. I picked Dan for Bickerstaff because I really needed someone who could still look sexy when he was miserable!
Series: Synsk #2
Pages: 308 pages
Date Published: April 14, 2014
A teenage boy with something to prove gets caught up in a web of crime and deceit in England, 1945.
In the weeks leading up to his sixteenth birthday, gifted psychic Leighton Cavendish finds himself suddenly packed off to Blackpool, a glittering, teenage paradise filled with plenty of opportunities for amusement—and trouble. With only a preoccupied grandmother to keep an eye on him, Leighton’s desperation for adventure leads him out into a world of holidaymakers, candy, and carnival rides—the ideal place to spend six weeks away from home.
But Leighton’s psychic visions are encroaching on his fun, trying to warn him of the danger that lurks beyond the shimmering lights of the Golden Mile. Who are the mysterious thieves Leighton sees in his head, and what do they want with the children they seek? A girl called Faye holds the answer, but she has enough problems of her own.
Amid the climate of a tourist town recovering from the impact of the Second World War, two lost teenagers will discover a shocking truth about human greed. Together, they will try to fight against it. For Leighton and Faye, this will be a summer to remember—one filled with challenges that must be overcome.
A summer that turns a boy into a man.
Leighton Cavendish, age 15
Charming, cheeky and full of mischief, Leighton has grown into a handsome young man by the time the war ends. He has also learned how to use his psychic skills to get exactly what he wants from life. In Leighton’s Summer, his easygoing nature and carefree smile attract all the wrong kinds of attention from Sid Webb and his criminal counterparts. Whilst Leighton struggles to save face without caving in to peer pressure, he realises that being a bad boy isn’t as cool as it looks, and that the girl of his dreams isn’t interested in getting mixed up with the wrong kind of lad. My dream cast choice for Leighton would be Freddie Stroma (famed for playing Cormac McClaggan in the later Harry Potter movies). His tousled blonde locks and charming face make him a perfect candidate for a young man who can be both strong and sensitive.
Faye Cartwright, age 15
Obsessive, nervous and truly unique, Faye is an orphan who has been through an extensive array of children’s homes because of her strange behaviour. A powerful psychic at a tender young age, Faye finds it hard to balance her emotions alongside her incredible mindreading powers. When she meets Leighton, Faye has a deep desire to trust him, but her analytical nature forces her to examine his whole persona, unpicking the layers of pride and bravado to find the boy beneath them. Another Harry Potter actor makes the cut for my dream cast, as Evanna Lynch has all the ethereal and peculiar qualities to her look that Faye
Sidney and Victor Webb, age 18 and 36
The villainous father and son team of Victor and Sidney Webb provide the darkest elements of the story of Leighton’s Summer. Sid’s brutal desire for status and control forces Leighton to do things he regrets, whilst Vic Webb is brewing up a truly evil scheme as children go missing in the quiet seaside town of Blackpool. Will Poulter is my dream choice for Sid, because he brings a thuggish kind of charm to the bad boy persona. As for Victor, nobody could compare with the menace and savagery that Robert Carlyle would bring to this role.
Series: Synsk #3
Pages: 325 pages
A struggling psychic girl steps out into the big wide world amidst the murky depths of racial segregation in England, 1961.
As a teenage psychic, Josephine Fontaine knows what it’s like to be different. At Peregrine Place, a school full of youngsters with gifts just like hers, sixteen-year-old Josie is growing tired of her life and looking for more excitement in the world beyond the grand manor house’s walls. When an opportunity arises to work in a local music bar, Josie jumps at the chance, learning to balance her new job with the pressures of studying the ways of the Synsk.
There she meets the charming Tommy Asher, a fellow psychic with a talent for music, and Jake Bolton, a handsome, surly stranger with coffee-coloured skin. Throw in the return of her old crush Dai Bickerstaff, and Josie finds herself embroiled in a drama much bigger than she could have imagined, especially when certain parties take issue to her developing a friendship with a boy who isn’t white-skinned. When a mysterious record mogul offers Josie help to improve her psychic gifts, her world turns totally upside down and Josie begins to question everything she thought she knew about the world, her family and even herself.
Coming of age was never so intense as it will be for Josie in the winter of 1961.
Josie’s story takes place in 1961, and this is a girl who has already decided that the psychic life doesn’t suit her. Struggling to master her powers at school Jodie longs to step out into the wider world and experience the kinds of things her heroes croon about on the radio. An avid music fan and follower of sixties fashion, Josie yearns to leave her obligations behind, but she doesn’t yet realise how dangerous the outside world can be for a girl of just sixteen. Doctor Who’s Karen Gillan would be a perfect choice for this feisty teen, since she can deliver the conflicted emotions that Josie feels, whilst also presenting a pretty, but naïve and vulnerable girl to the big wide world.
Jake Bolton, age 16
Growing up as a mixed raced child in 1961 is a tough task, and Jake Bolton has already grown bitter with the way life is treating him. His secret dreams of being a famous singer have only got him as far as washing dishes in a local music club, where he’s not allowed to show his face when white people are partying on the other side of the wall. A recent and terrible tragedy has sent Jake into a downward spiral, and it’s only his new friendship with Josie that can pull him through. Spending time with a white girl, however, might get him into more trouble than he’s bargained for. Alfred Enoch is currently finding fame as the lead in the ABC drama How To Get Away With Murder, and his double-sided character portrayal has inspired me to choose him for the role of Jake in this dream cast.
Tommy Asher, age 15, and Hanne Haugen, age 14
The loveable sidekicks to Josie and Jake are Tommy and Hanne, whose luckless puppy love plagues their young lives. Tommy is a confident musician who dreams of instant stardom, but he can’t put his money where his mouth is when it comes to telling a girl how he feels. Hanne Haugen is Kit’s eldest daughter, and she’s been raised to be a diligent student and a well-behaved girl, but her crush on Tommy is driving her to distraction. Will her father Henri’s influence keep these young lovers apart, or will the power of music unite them in the end? Game of Thrones’s Thomas Brodie-Sangster is just the cutie needed to bring Tommy Asher’s charm and talent to life, and the stunning Abigail Breslin could play Hanne’s role with all the teenage crisis it deserves.
8 Great Songs to hear with a copy of The Mind’s Eye
A selected playlist of songs which inspired me during the writing of The Mind’s Eye.
Listen to it in full at: http://8tracks.com/kim-finn-986/the-mind-s-eye (or grab the code and embed it to your blog!)
1. Wish Me Luck (As You Wave Me Goodbye) – Vera Lynn
Give me a smile I can keep all the while
In my heart while I'm away
Till we meet once again, you and I
Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye
As anyone who has already read The Mind’s Eye will know, this song is the one that the children being evacuated from London start to sing on the train. This song is taken straight from British History as an anthem of the Second World War so it’s the perfect introduction to the atmosphere of the tale and the wartime spirit of Keep Calm and Carry On that all the characters in the novel try to stick by.
2. Under The Weather – K.T. Tunstall
And it's simply irrational weather
Can't even hear myself think
Constantly bailing out water
But still feel like I'm gonna sink
The lyrics of this song really represent a lot of things about the main character, Kit, at the start of the novel. Just like the world around her, Kit feels like she’s trapped under a black cloud because of her physical disabilities and she’s struggling with feelings of frustration and sadness. These are only exacerbated by having to move from the bomb-target city of London to the safe but isolated world of Bryn Eira Bach in North Wales.
3. More Than Useless – Reliant K
I'm a little more than useless
And when I think that I can't do this
You promise me that I'll get through this
And do something right
Do something right for once
Kit and Henri are both young people trapped by oppressive forces (in Kit’s case, her disability, and in Henri’s case, the Nazi occupation of Oslo). They both carry feelings of uselessness in the early stages of the story but it is by working together and trusting one another that they can both overcome the challenges they face. I love this song because it’s a combination of feeling quite fierce and powerful but also having a deep-set fear of not being valued, which is definitely a huge part of Kit’s character.
4. Dear Darlin’ – Olly Murs
Dear darlin’, please excuse my writing.
I can’t stop my hands from shaking
'Cause I’m cold and alone tonight.
First of all if you’ve never heard this song, watch it as part of this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riXwYKM-ggY. I was watching this couple on Strictly Come Dancing (the show that Dancing With The Stars is based on) a lot whilst I was writing The Mind’s Eye and the male dancer here (Aljaz Skorjanec) actually became my model for Henri’s look. I think this song is a perfect representation of long-distance love and waiting for that person to come again; an ideal song for wartime!
5. Run – Leona Lewis
Light up, light up
As if you have a choice
Even if you cannot hear my voice
I'll be right beside you dear
One of the most important things for a soldier facing the horrors of war is to know someone back home is waiting for them to return with arms wide open. Kit’s psychic abilities allow her to communicate with Henri more often than most sweethearts would get to talk to their fellas, but all the same it’s her voice in his head that keeps Henri brave, strong and able to face all the challenges that his time in North Africa brings him.
6. Lonely Teardrops - Jackie Wilson
Just give me another chance, for I'll romance
Come on and tell me that one day you'll return
'Cause every day that you've been gone away
You'll know why my heart does nothing but burn crying
I absolutely love the rock and roll era of the late 1950s and early 1960s, so you weren’t going to get through this playlist without a song from that time popping up! This emotional classic from the great Jackie Wilson tells you everything you need to know about those left at home during the war: the wives, mothers, girlfriends, young children and elderly people who all had relatives out there in danger and struggled to carry on with their normal lives despite everything. In The Mind’s Eye, everyone who lives at Ty Gwyn faces this harsh reality every day.
7. The Voice Within - Christina Aguilera
Young girl, don't hide
You'll never change if you just run away
Young girl, just hold tight
And soon you're gonna see your brighter day
One of the most important things about The Mind’s Eye is that it is a book about personal strength and overcoming your inner struggles in order to deal better with the outside world. This song is an inspirational anthem from my own teen years and it still speaks to me when I think about Kit and the personal strength she develops during the action of The Mind’s Eye.
8. Greatest Day - Take That
Tonight this could be the greatest night of our lives
Let’s make a new start,
The future is ours to find
Can you see it, can you see it in my eyes
If you’ve never heard this song, please go listen to it! Of course this playlist has to end on a high note and Greatest Day is the perfect up-beat feel good song about looking to the future and hoping for a bright new sunrise. Whilst there is plenty of darkness and tragedy in The Mind’s Eye, there is also a strong sense of hope for the future fuelled by love, family and personal belief.
Book Soundtrack: All The Songs Featured in ‘A Place Halfway’
Listen to it in full at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-XQ26KePUQ&list=PLXc1AfJ5pirVEee5jd6XQUYFAkEC2qQos
1. Save The Last Dance For Me – The Drifters
Baby don't you know I love you so?
Can't you feel it when we touch?
I will never, never let you go
I love you oh so much
The song Josie sings at the very opening of the book, when she’s outraged that her teacher Miss Cartwright thinks that studying is more important than the charts.
2. Cupid – Sam Cooke
Now, I don't mean to bother you
But I'm in distress
There's danger of me losing all of my happiness
For I love a girl who doesn't know I exist
And this you can fix
Josie receives this record from Hanne for her sixteenth birthday. It’s also the song that she hears Jake singing later on when he’s washing dishes. She says he sounds exactly like Sam Cooke when he sings.
3. Cathy’s Clown by The Everly Brothers
I've got to stand tall, you know a man can't crawl
For when he knows you're telling lies
And he lets them pass him by
He's not a man at all
This is ‘the one about the clown’ that Claudette, Josie’s mother, really likes. Mother and daughter bond over this tune before Josie goes out and finds her job at the music club Halfway To Paradise.
4. Johnny B Goode by Chuck Berry
His mother told him someday you will be a man,
And you would be the leader of a big old band.
Many people coming from miles around
To hear you play your music when the sun go down
This song is playing at Halfway on the day that Josie first meets music mogul Vincent Walsh. They bond instantly over their mutual appreciation for Chuck Berry’s stylings and awesome guitar playing.
5. Peggy Sue by Buddy Holly
I love you Peggy Sue
With a love so rare and true
Oh, Peggy, my Peggy Sue
Oh, well, I love you gal
Yes, I want you, Peggy Sue
Tommy Asher treats Josie to a secret rehearsal of this song, which he sings at his audition for Halfway’s music contest. Hanne is a huge Buddy Holly fan, and she melts when she hears Tommy play this song.
6. I Feel So Bad by Elvis Presley
Sometimes I want to leave here
Then again I want to stay
Yes, I got my train fare
Pack my grip and ride away
Josie and Jake have their first true bonding moment over their appreciation for Elvis’s latest chart hit. They listen to the song again later in their relationship with fond memories of that first proper conversation.
7. Hound Dog by Elvis Presley
When they said you was high classed,
well, that was just a lie.
You ain't never caught a rabbit
and you ain't no friend of mine.
Jake reminisces that this was his father’s favourite song. Later in the story, he brings the house down with his own rendition, singing it as though his father can hear him from Heaven.
8. Splish Splash by Bobby Darin
They was a splishin' and a splashin'
Reelin' with the feelin'
Moving and a groovin'
Rockin' and a rollin'... yeah!
You may missed this one when you were reading, but it’s the song Jake sings when he’s washing up, as V.W. and Josie listen in from outside the kitchen, discussing his potential.
9. Jealousy by Billy Fury
Was only through jealousy
Our hearts were broken
And angry words were spoken
The song that Tommy sings the next time he competes in the competition. Josie says of him: “Every time he hit the stage, he was getting more accomplished, strumming out a note-perfect accompaniment to the pianist behind him as though they had rehearsed together for years.”
10. Halfway To Paradise by Billy Fury
Bein' close to you is almost heaven
But seein' you can do just so much
It hurts me so to know your heart's a treasure
And that my heart is forbidden to touch
Just as a little bonus track to close the playlist, this is the song that the music club Halfway To Paradise is named after. I think it’s lyrics really sum up the two romantic relationships of the novel, and how romance in general was portrayed by the music of the 1960s.
K.C. Finn has also recently been welcomed into the fold at Clean Teen Publishing as a debut Young Adult author for 2014, beginning her run of publications with the paranormal/historical series SYNSK. 2015 will see K.C. release her epic urban fantasy series Shadeborn with Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Press.
As a sufferer with the medical condition M.E./C.F.S., Kim works part time as a private tutor and a teacher of creative writing, devoting the remainder of her time to writing novels and studying for an MA in Education and Linguistics.
Tour Schedule - One month Tour for The Synsk Series by K.C. Finn from Oct 27 to Nov 27, 2014.
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