Killshot by author Aria Michaels
When 17 year old Liv Larson and her brother are sent to separate foster homes, she dedicates her every breath to getting him back. After months of solitude and anti-social behavior, her best friend Riley ropes her into a Rooftop Solar Flare Party. Despite the fascinating lights in the sky, Liv finds herself drawn, instead, to Zander- the boy with the crooked smile.
For a few hours, Liv’s troubles finally feel a bit less overwhelming—that is until what should have been a small flare erupts into a massive solar storm forcing them all to seek shelter in the school’s basement. Cut off from the rest of the world and with no signs of rescue, fear and paranoia set in and battle lines are drawn, dividing their ranks. What is left the group must embark on a perilous journey to save one of their own and find their families…but, something sinister awaits them in the shadows and it’s undeniably connected to Liv.
Can Liv keep her promise to reunite with her brother? What are she and her friends willing to do to survive? Will their bravery and determination be enough to save them all from a rogue government, a terrifying virus, and the things that go bump in the night…Or was Icarus, indeed, The Killshot?
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I rushed across the tile floor, keeping my head as low as possible. Stepping over a burning stool, I ducked beneath the singed remains of the swinging doors and out into the main entryway of the house. Fire trickled up the walls like an orange waterfall flowing backwards, sending bits of flaming paint and wallpaper fluttering to the floor around me. The fire was seeking higher ground and I needed to hurry if I was going to beat it.
I tightened the towel around my face again and took a deep breath. My lungs screamed in protest, but I fought the urge reject the toxic air as I dove forward into the unknown. Flashbacks of grade school fire-prevention assemblies flashed through my mind as I staggered towards the stairs. The fire fighters always said the same thing— stay low to the ground, cover your mouth and nose, and never ever go into a burning building.
Two out of three ain’t bad.
Mrs. Tate’s prized oak railing was still miraculously intact and I ran one hand along its smooth surface as I army-crawled to the top of the staircase. When I crested the top step, I slithered along the floor, keeping my hand against floor molding that ran the length of the hallway. I followed it past the bathroom, towards where Riley and I slept.
Unable to see through the wall of darkness, I found my way to Riley’s room by touch alone. The heat was all-consuming. My eyes watered uncontrollably, though I had no idea where my body had found the moisture and it did little to soothe the burning beneath my lids. My throat felt raw and tight, each breath like swallowing sand. I hacked and gagged as the smoke tried to force its way into my lungs.
It tasted of burnt plastic and chemicals and my tongue began to swell in protest. The paint above the trim was peeling away at my touch, curling as if it, too, was trying to escape the flames. I held the towel closer to my mouth and crawled on knees and elbows down the hallway.
I pulled myself up onto the balls of my feet, lunging head-first through Riley’s open door. I caught myself on the footboard of her bed, my left eye narrowly missing the sharp prong on a studded belt that hung there. I coughed and sputtered against the poisonous black cloud and followed the edge of the mattress to the old base drum Riley used as a nightstand. I sifted frantically through the tumbling stack of books, hair ties, and make-up until I found what I was looking for. I shoved it deep into my pocket and ducked back out into the smoke-filled hallway.
The cloud of poison had grown thicker now, forcing me back down to onto the floor. My backpack flopped from side to side, banging into my ribs as I skittered across the rough wood floors. From my vantage point, I could easily see beneath the door to my room, to the orange glow that awaited me on the other side. I shifted around so I was lying against my pack on the hard floor, the soles of my boots resting against my door. I held my breath, cranked my feet back, and thrust them as hard as I could into the door. On the third kick, it swung open and I rolled to the side as the knob slammed hard against the wall inside my room.
A wave of heat and flames burst through the door and into the hallway. As soon as the backdraft subsided, I scrambled across the floor into my room which was almost completely engulfed in flames. I could barely think as the smoke strangled and pressed me into the floor. The walls and ceiling bubbled under the bright orange tendrils. Pieces of plaster crashed down around me, as the texture disintegrated above me. The end of my bed was a wall of fire and the flames crept their way across my room.
I inched forward on my hands and knees, to my bedside table, and swiped blindly at the items on its surface. The lamp clattered across the table, one of the table’s legs gave out, and the entire thing crashed to the floor. The lamp shattered, sending shards of pink porcelain and broken glass hurtling towards my face. The rest of my bedside items scattered across the floor in all directions.
I slapped aimlessly at the floor around me, unable to see through the blackness closing in. I barely flinched when the rosy lamp shrapnel embedded itself in my hand, but nearly I lost it when my hand finally landed on that stupid stuffed lion. I grabbed my courage by the tail, stuffed him up the front of my shirt, and made my way out of the scorched remains of the princess bedroom, gagging as my lungs burned in my chest. I crawled along the old wood floor, board by board and by the time I reached the top of the stairs they were fully consumed by flames.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR ARIA MICHAELS:
Q1. If you could ask any author, living or dead, one question about the secret to their success what would it be?
Stephen King. Hands down. The man is not only insanely talented, but his productivity and focus are the stuff of legends. I read his book “On Writing,” a couple months back, hoping some of his brilliance would rub off…man would I love to pick that man’s brain.
Q2. When you were writing Killshot and Before the Sky Fell, were there any books you read for research that you’d recommend/why?
There have been tons of books that inspired me to write the Icarus Series, but most of my research was done using articles and online government resources. Much of the scientific mumbo-jumbo was a combination of info from the national weather service (NWS), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Federal Emergency Management Agencey (FEMA), and a host of other fancy acronyms combined with the twisted machine that is my imagination.
Q3. I have to ask- when you were writing Zander did you make yourself swoon and girly giggle? ‘cuz I totally do 🙂
Full disclosure, I have never been the “book boyfriend” type, but Zander is a different animal. I found his non-alpha brand of strength quite refreshing. I love how intense he is. And the fact that he’s tall and rugged, and of course those copper eyes. Oh! And the stubble. I am a sucker for the stubble. I suppose visualizing Ian Somerhalder EVERY time I wrote Zander sort of sealed the deal for me. (sigh) Oh, to hell with it. I have a crush on my own character. There. I said it.
Q4. When it comes to popular genres, dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction are gaining a lot of ground. Did this sway your opinion to write your story or did you already know what you wanted to write and it just happened to be set in a world under attack from that ball of fiery gas?
With the insane popularity of books like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Maze Runner, dystopian and apocalyptic fiction have gained a lot of ground in the last few years. That being said, my reason for writing the Icarus Series had little to do with the trend in the literary market and everything to do with a story that has been brewing in my head since I was a kid. For me, writing Killshot was about getting that story out of my mind and onto the page. It was just an added bonus that readers were hungry for something new in the genre.
Q5. Do you need peace and quiet to write or do you listen to music? If music, what tunes/bands do you go for?
(laughs) Okay, even if I DID need peace and quiet to write, that is not likely to ever happen seeing as I have six kids under the age of 14. Honestly, noise has been such a major part of my life for the last decade and a half that I am not entirely sure I could function without it. Having said that, I am absolutely, POSITIVELY incapable of writing with music playing. It’s not because music doesn’t inspire me, because it definitely does. The problem with music is that I love to sing and I have ADHD (for real, I was diagnosed 5 years ago). Mix those two together and you have a recipe for Aria singing Justin Beiber into a hairbrush and spinning in her chair instead of writing like she should be. Oh hell…did I just talk about myself in the 3rd person? Whoops. See what I mean? ADHD. I prefer to listen to music outside of the cave, write down the imagery that pops into my head, and take that into my next writing session.
Q6. What can we expect for Liv, Zander, Riley and the gang in the future? any hints you’d like to drop *bats eyelashes and attempts not to chesire-grin*
*wags finger* Oh Ashley…you know better than to ask for hints…Then again– Okay, maybe just this once….(laughs).
About the Author:
Aria Michaels is the author of the Best-Selling young adult dystopian novel Killshot (Icarus Series, Book One) as well as its companion novella, Before the Sky Fell. In addition to her career as an author, Aria Michaels is an avid reader, die-hard zombie fan and enthusiastic lover of bonfires and red wine. When she is not glued to her computer pouring out the voices in her head, Aria can be found playing in the dirt with her boys, painting, or binge-watching The Walking Dead with her husband. Don’t let her mild-mannered smile fool you…this woman has lofty ambitions that include complete global domination. She is determined to live in a world where every pair of yoga pants comes with a free book, an iced caramel macchiatto and a magic force-field that repels the sound of screaming children (of which she has six). In the meantime, Aria is hard at work on the next installment of the Icarus Series, reveling in her role as instigator of literary mayhem and stealth assassin of fictional characters.
For more information about Aria Michaels and the Icarus Series, be sure to check out her website at http://www.ariamichaels.com
“You are never more than one choice away from a different future.” –Aria Michaels