Welcome to our stop on the Schasm blog tour. We've got a guest post from Shari today and she's shared with us her inspiration for this story.
When reality utterly fails you, there is always the comfort of the land of dreams. Chloe Valcourt, a tormented nineteen-year-old young woman, has for twelve years hovered between a daily life dominated by an abusive mother and an imagined alternate world that exists only in her mind’s eye. Can she keep track of which is real—and whether or not she is real, too? Schasm is the mind-bending young adult romance by Shari J. Ryan that mines the heart of darkness, where one young woman seeks light in her own shimmering daydreams.
A psychological condition has captured the body, mind, and soul of Chloe, and thrust her into the hands of probing doctors at the continued mercy of her tyrannical mother. As she struggles to break free of the grim life into which she was born, she continues to suffer the daily assaults from her mother and the dispiriting weakness of her dejected father. When Chloe unexpectedly finds herself drawn into a new, warm life abundant in love and romance with a kindhearted man named Alex, the escape at last gives her a happiness that she's never been allowed to feel. However, when hidden truths reveal a life that she cannot remember, Chloe finds herself lost between what is real and what isn't.
Blending extreme daydreaming, alternating realities, and multiple personalities, Schasm is a gripping tale that treads the thin line between a harrowing reality and the captivating terrain of an imagined world. As Chloe plays too close to the edge of insanity, her multiple realities clash, leaving her to question everything, including her own existence. Anyone who relishes a flight of fancy with richly drawn characters and surprising twists of plot will be immersed in the strange new world of Schasm, where nothing is at it seems.
The open snow-covered field is mesmerizing to look at, and as I stare at it while whizzing by, the snow begins to melt into a blur and turns into the texture of sand. The sand leads my eyes to a blue ocean, rather than the white sky, and the branches of pine trees curl outward as they turn into palm trees.
I experience a brief sense of excitement, thinking I’m heading to my happy place, but it quickly becomes overshadowed as I feel myself choking on water that’s now flooding through my mouth. With an attempt to clear my lungs and throat, I try to force myself to cough up the liquid, but instead of freeing my lungs I end up inhaling more, forcing me to choke even harder. I can’t breathe, and my vision is becoming so blurry that I’m unable to see anything other than some strange curvy lines. My once soothing thoughts are now turning into a panicked frenzy, and all I can do is try to breathe through the breaks of choking. But it seems useless since I just end up inhaling more water. I try to open my eyes again, but instead I become overwhelmed with a burning sensation similar to having soap in my eyes. This is ridiculous!
After what seems like an eternity with no air or sight, I regain some of my vision. I quickly try to focus on what’s going on around me, but before I can make anything out, the scorching sensation returns again. A feeling of impending blackness comes over me as I succumb to the sensation of drowning, and I feel weightless and numb. My body has stopped struggling, and I find some comfort lying on whatever soft surface I appear to be on. As the weakness continues to take over, lethargy begins to set in until I unexpectedly feel two arms underneath me. One arm slides under my legs and the other under my neck. I’m lifted up with ease and carried a few feet from where I was and then placed back down again.
By turns, pressure is being applied to my chest and air is being blown into my mouth as my lips are soothed by a smooth, dispassionate sensation. I feel the rush of trapped water racing up my lungs, through my esophagus, up through my throat, and out of my mouth. The movement fortunately allows me to gasp for air, and after a few free breaths, I feel it’s safe to open my eyes.
There’s a guy in front of me, and he’s dripping wet, kneeling over my body with a concerned look as he tries to catch his own breath.
“Are you okay?” he asks in a soft-spoken voice, his mouth still only inches from mine.
I attempt to respond, but the only thing I can manage to do is cough up more water, right in his face.
He swiftly lifts my head up off of the ground, forcing my airway to open a bit more, and it thankfully seems to help with the choking. After another grueling minute of coughing up more water, I look around and see that I’m sitting just a few feet away from the ocean. I also notice a surrounding crowd of people gawking at me with alarmed looks.
I have two little boys who take up most of my time, causing my mind to have a constant focus on cleaning bottles, a baby’s butt, and mashed food off of the floor. One night after the kids went to bed, I decided to focus on something non-kid related to remind myself that my mind does more than translate baby gibberish. That was the day I decided to sit down and come up with an idea for my book.
The next afternoon during nap time I was staring aimlessly out of the window at three feet of snow, thick grey clouds, and the streetlights flickering in the middle of the afternoon. It was a depressing New England winter day, and my mind only wanted to wander toward the golden sands of San Diego (One of my favorite places). My quick mind-drift lead me to the thought of what it might be like to daydream my way out of the cold. Then I began to wonder if people had that capability and if they did what they would do with it. It was at that moment that the story of Schasm began to flood my mind.
Inspiration began to pour out of every part of my life. People watching in supermarkets, restaurants and doctors offices helped me with the character development. The places I had traveled to in the past helped me with location research, but oddly enough, the biggest place I found inspiration was within the music I listened to.
When I was writing a sad or depressing scene, I listened to bands like Mogwai or Explosions In The Sky. That type of music is new to me, and I’ve only recently come across the particularly dark genre, but most of the songs are just haunting enough that they helped me connect with the pain that my characters were feeling in certain scenes. And then for the upbeat adrenaline rushing scenes, I listened to fast classical orchestra and some Dubstep which seemed to get my mind moving a little faster. The list of emotions tied with different musical genres has been a huge asset throughout writing Schasm, and the other two books in the trilogy, as well.
I'm thankful for finding inspiration in unexpected places because my stories wouldn't be what they are without them.
Shari J. Ryan has always dreamt of becoming an author and finally decided it was time to pursue her lifelong aspiration by writing her debut young adult novel, Schasm. She has long nurtured a passion for art, reading, and writing, and those hobbies have become a mental escape from her busy life. In the past year, she has put her heart and soul into the creation of her novel, which has taught her that it is never too late and nothing is too hard. The author graduated with a bachelors of science degree from Johnson & Wales University and has written hundreds of articles for various online publications. She is married with two sons.
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