Blog Tour + Review & Guest Post: Undertow by Kiri Newton

 Welcome to the Undertow Blog Tour stop at Whatever You Can Still Betray!

Author Kiri R. Newton has stopped by today with a guest post for the Undertow blog tour.

Josiah vs. Nox
Guest Post by Kiri Newton
When I began developing the conflict in my head, Undertow was initially going to be a protest against the pollution of the ocean and the wanton killing of its inhabitants. When I was about twelve I watched someone spear a full-grown turtle through the throat and then leave it to suffocate. I guess that left an impact on me because I get filled with a rage when I see whales being slaughtered or coral reefs being destroyed or the vast stretches of waste floating in our oceans. This is why the initial conflict in the story is that of mer-folk dying due to pollution.

Then I developed it further, tracing the source not to the likely culprit of humans but instead fellow mer-folk. That I felt was much more of a twist because no one expects these happy, songbird creatures to be willingly killing one another right? Trouble is by the time I figured out what Nesoi and Nox were up to I realized I had a problem.

You see Nox and Josiah spawn from the same person, an ex-boyfriend who had clinical split-personality disorder, among other things. He had the dominant side that most people saw; happy, bubbly, life of the party and everyone’s best friend. But then as I began to get to know him I realized something else lurked under the surface. The ‘Josiah’ side of his personality would build and build and then he would crash and ‘Nox’ would come out of hiding. It was like dealing with two vastly different people, he wouldn’t even remember what he said most of the time. ‘Nox’ as I started calling him was dark, moody and temperamental and yet that’s when his musical talents would shine.

In our relationship I was constantly being pulled between both sides. While ‘Josiah’ was hilarious and the kind of person you always wanted to be around ‘Nox’ had an intoxicating darkness that I thrived on. When I came to writing in the two characters Zoe had to be pulled both ways but as I realized the full extent of Nesoi’s plots I realized there was no way Zoe could be in love with someone who was willingly involved with Nesoi’s plots. This is why I wrote Nox the way he is, a tortured soul who can see no way to escape his mother’s influence.

Nox had to be the polar opposite twin of Josiah; they had to be essentially wired the same way, even looking similar in a completely opposite way. It turned into the ultimate battle of light and darkness for Zoe’s heart. I then also discovered a local band, the lead singer of which who just so happen to provide a perfect vessel to put ‘Nox’ into and the whole thing fell together like a sinister jig-saw puzzle.

By the time I finished writing Undertow I had split up with owner of these two characters. For at least six months the book ended at Chapter 28 but in a spat of anger and egged on by the notion that there’s no such thing as a happy ending, I wrote the epilogue. At the moment I am regretting ending the book the way I did because it’s a cliff-hanger that has to be followed up. I left too many loose ends that need to be explained and at the time I thought I was very clever doing so but now, faced with writers block I’m regretting it. I will one day write the sequel but don’t hold your breath.

Kiri Newton
For far too long these sailor-drowning, ship-sinking sea sirens have been portrayed as happy, peaceful creatures who want nothing more than to fall in love with a prince and live happily ever after. Undertow is an unconventional twist on one of the oldest mythological creatures known to man.

About the Author
It's weird right but as an author I could tell you about my characters inside out and yet when people ask me to talk about myself I go all quiet. Anyways, here I go.

I am a child of ‘91 born in Jandowae, a tiny little town out past Dalby. When I was five my parents decided to pack everything up and move to Tonga in the South Pacific after Dad visited there and mum fell in love with the place after reading a book about it. So I grew up in a third world country, fluent in a second language by the time I was eight and lived amongst the locals who I was friends with.

When I was thirteen my father passed away and due to the fact that the government refused to pay my mum a pension over there like they did my father, we were forced to move back to Australia.

As for my writing career, I started writing progressively longer short stories in Grade 5 where one teacher noted on my report card that ‘I had unique ideas and an unusual talent’. By Grade 7 I had completed my first novel a post-apocalyptic fiction where cats are the highest life form and live basically as we do and follows the lives of a litter of cats, the characters based on a litter of cats belonging to my neighbour. I continued writing different things from horsey stories to Phantom of the Opera fan-fiction right through my teenage years, nothing serious, mostly just a lot of scribbling.

In Grade 12 I realized that if I was going to be serious about being a writer I needed to finish stories, not just have a lot of random scribbles to my name. So forgoing all my assignments I finished my second book called Dynamite which is an Australiana tale about a racehorse. Two years later I went on holidays to Fiji, came home and three months later Undertow was completed. In the middle there I wrote a Tolkien-esque fantasy epic called The Dark Assassin with my now ex-boyfriend. The year after that I completed Hazardous, which will be my next published title.

I kind of raced through the story this afternoon since it was only the time that I was free to read anything without anyone or anything claiming my attention. It has been a crazy week since I first came home to my hometown and basically, my grandmother has claimed my attention ever since. You know how old people are particularly when you're their only grandchild.

As of this moment I am still swimming the Seven Seas, swimming around in circles trying to find some poor, hapless eel to strangle since I've been torn about the ending of Undertow. Why? Why did she have to write that epilogue!?! I was finally happy, after all the things that happened to our poor, darling heroine, that I could get my happily ever after. 

But, chances are, sometimes happily-ever-afters hide some things... although I am getting ahead of the story and my review.

When you were in a plane crash (oh goodness, now she fed my fear of flying) and then found out you miraculously survived thanks to a bite from a merman (nope, he's not a vampire despite the other review that I unfortunately read before diving into the depths of Undertow), you might think that life could not get any worse. Granted that when you finally focused on the merman, you find him butt-naked - with legs and that firm, little tush. I just might ignore that little instalove that happened right there when she was rescued and spent the night with said merman, Josiah.

Throw in a fiance, a crazy royal family, strict parents (well, not really), a prophecy, another potential love interest and a deranged, wanna-be sea queen and life could not get any better.

I liked Undertow even though things happened at quite a fast pace, from one thing to another that it was no wonder that Zoe was a little overwhelmed by everything. Kiri Newton came up with a lush and dark origin of Merfolk - something that was destroyed but that little Disney movie. Granted it did have a happily-ever-after, it also did away the human, realistic appeal of the original story. I'm drifting off again.

As I said, I've never been one to be drawn to stories of the sea. Nope, never. I've read a few books before on mermaids, sirens and seals but this genre never did appeal to me. But sometimes, it gets a good story to make me go all asdfghjkl;'!@#$%^&;"* and I've been waiting for the last three months for a book to give me that kind of reaction - in a good way, of course. And Undertow gave me that. 

It didn't bore me nor did I put it down - except to eat and take bathroom breaks - and I seem to be able to imagine that I was there with Zoe and experiencing the things that she was experiencing. Although I would draw the line when it came to the romance part of the story.

As I said, I was kind of frustrated with the epilogue. Zoe was already going to be with Josiah and be his queen. She clearly loved him and he loved her despite all that business of being together just because a book said so and she was marked to be his queen. But I really went all giddy when Josiah said that he wanted her to love him, to be really in love with him - for himself and not being forced to by Josiah, by his father or by a book... But that epilogue had to happen! WHY!?! Zoe was only drawn to Nox because he was gorgeous (what drew her to Josiah initially), a bad, boy and a tortured soul at that. Why are all these fictional females drawn to those brooding types? They're mysterious, yes. They intrigue - oh, all right! - us, yet, clearly, Zoe seemed to only pity him. Pity! There's nothing wrong with pity but to mistake it for love? ASDFGHJKL;'@#$%^&;*!

*sigh* Calm down.

That was not to discourage you or anything from reading the book and, from what the author wrote in her guest post, she seemed pretty in disbelief as well with what she wrote in the epilogue. I recommend this book to all you mermaid-loving folks out there. Just ignore the epilogue. Although, it may seem that there would be more to the story than a simple fairytale.

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