Publication date: November 21st 2022
Genres: Coming of Age, Fantasy, Thriller, Young Adult
In this coming-of-age YA contemporary fantasy, a teenage girl has her life turned upside down when her family is breaking apart, and she discovers her supernatural powers. There’s no time to deal with it, however, as she’s targeted by a dangerous power-siphoner.
Nikki Chase, a 16-year-old striver, feels like her life is falling apart around her. Her parents’ marriage seems in trouble, her best friend prefers to spend time with the popular girl, and she’s quite certain she’s on the verge of a psychosis. After all, normal people don’t see colors around people or hear voices, right?
When a volunteering assignment leads her to a mental hospital, Nikki is determined to figure out what’s going on with her—and if perhaps she belongs in that facility. What she discovers is nothing she expected: Lorene, a volunteer, tells Nikki she’s not crazy but, in fact, has the power to influence people’s thoughts and beliefs. However, someone has been sucking the power out of people just like her, leaving them behind as an empty shell. Desperate for help and someone to trust, Nikki teams up with Lorene to discover who is behind the siphoning. But can she stop them before she becomes a victim? And can she do so without becoming addicted to the power herself?
Fans of suspenseful contemporary fantasy will love this YA coming-of-age fantasy thriller book about coping with difficult emotions, navigating relationships with family and friends, and the addictive quality of power.
Iris Marsh is a behavioral researcher turned writer. As such, she focuses on her character’s journeys as well as the plot. Her YA fantasy debut novel Illuminated is no exception: it’s both suspenseful and heavy on character development. Currently, she lives in the Netherlands with her partner and cat.
She would be overjoyed if you visited her website IrisMarsh.com and would love it if you followed her journey on Instagram.
What is your favorite kind of character to write about, and what is your least favorite?
I love to write characters who are morally grey or very flawed. Or both. I just think that none of us do the right thing all the time, and it’s more interesting to see characters struggle with their darkness and determine their own moral compass.
And writing villains is also a lot of fun. You just get to think about things and consider things you would normally never dare to think about. And I do tend to love it when the villain also has a point—when, in their own twisted way—they’re right. In their eyes, they’re doing the right thing.
For Illuminated, I tried to have Nikki explore some ethical questions and moral dilemmas. When are you helping someone, and when are you just manipulative? Is it right to do something bad when the outcome is good? Does having power change you?
My least favorite type of character to write is then the opposite: someone who’s always good and always does the right thing. Those people exist, I’m sure, but I think they’re rare. Most people make mistakes—I think pretty much all the major characters in Illuminated make a mistake at some point.
A type of character that’s not necessarily my least favorite to write, but more one that I find difficult, is an extroverted character. When someone is extremely bright and bubbly, I have to really channel a different type of person when I’m writing. When a personality type is further removed from me, it’s just a little harder. In that sense, Nikki has a bit more of my character traits (definitely not all, though), in that she’s more introverted, a bit geeky, driven, creative, and a little impulsive at times.
But at the end of the day, I fall in love with all the characters I write. They all have their strengths and weaknesses and things that make them unique. Eventually, they all become a part of me.
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