'I died this morning. At exactly 8.17am my heart stopped beating and I lay cold and still in the street. At 8.24am my heart resumed beating, I jumped up from the dusty pavement and ran home. Confused? Well, that makes two of us."
Gabby Valis is just your average 15-year-old Sydneysider, with a life full of best friends, boys and school. At least, that's what Gabby believes. But dying a horrible death – and inexplicably making a full recovery from her horrific injuries almost instantly – is bound to change a person. Gabby discovers that, like her father and grandmother, she is a Xaverique, a super-species with extraordinary powers that evolved from humans long ago. She must resolve to use these powers – and stay a Xaverique – before her 16th birthday or lose them forever.
Gabby's love for Noah, a boy with terrible secrets, will be tested as she is drawn into battle with a great force for evil. And Noah must resolve some questions of his own: about his nature, his place in the world and where Gabby fits into his existence. A final showdown – a war between good and evil, between family and true love – will force Gabby and Noah to choose their destinies… and live with the consequences.
This is a powerful urban fantasy with echoes of Cassandra Clare, Stephanie Meyer and Jess Shirvington, an extraordinary young adult debut and the first in a trilogy set in Australia's iconic Sydney.
Karyn Sepulveda is a teacher and writer of Theatre in Education productions with a Masters in Creative Writing. She is currently writing the sequel to Choosing Xaverique, due for publication in late 2016. Karyn lives in Sydney with her partner and two young children.
For each book sold between 8-12 April, Karyn will give a copy to Father Chris O'Reilly's Youth Off the Streets centres around Australia, and donate 20 per cent of sales taken between 13-17 April to this amazing charity.
Author: Karyn Sepulveda
Interview with Karyn Sepulveda
Question: What inspired the story of Choosing Xaverique?
Karyn Sepulveda: I was having a shower one night and had this random idea about a girl who was about to turn fifteen and found out she had powers – but she could choose to keep them or turn her back on them. I jumped out of the shower, barely dried myself and madly jotted down as many thoughts as I could in my journal. From those scribbles, Choosing Xaverique was born.
Question: Why did you decide to support National Youth Week?
Karyn Sepulveda: I'm 34 now, but I remember being a teenager vividly. I remember the way I felt and the way adults didn't always seem to understand. I think National Youth Week is a brilliant idea, because it gives teenagers the voice they deserve and a chance to showcase their incredible talents. I am choosing to support an amazing charity, Youth Off the Streets, to honour Youth Week because vulnerable teens are the ones who need a voice more than anyone.
Question: What was the best part of creating the character Gabby?
Karyn Sepulveda: I actually named Gabby after my daughter, who was only one when I began my first draft but is seven now and thinks the book is all about her! I loved creating this character because she is everything I would have loved to be at 15. She is so strong: she dies, comes back to life, finds out she's not human and falls in love all at the same time! But seriously, my favourite thing about Gabby is her values. Her family comes first and this is why I love her so much.
Question: How much of your inspiration comes from real life and real people?
Karyn Sepulveda: My story is made up, but there are definitely elements that are based on my experiences as a teenager. Mia's and Gabby's friendship is based on my friendship with my best friend from high school (who I'm still best friends with today!). I pictured my high school when I wrote scenes based at school and Gabby's neighbourhood is similar to where I live now in Sydney. Luckily, I've never met anyone like (Choosing Xaverique's evil anti-hero) Zlanythe!
Question: What's next for you?
Karyn Sepulveda: I've completed the first draft of the sequel to Choosing Xaverique, so the next step is to edit this to ensure it's ready for publication later this year.
Interview by Brooke Hunter