Hello all! This is Mattie Dunman, saying hey from the mountains of West Virginia. I am sitting down with Liz Hannigan, star of At First Touch, for a quick interview.
Liz takes a seat, watching me warily, her gloved hands in her lap. Leaning forward, she narrows her eyes and holds her body tense, as though she is about to leap from her seat at any moment.
MD: Liz, thanks for being here. I know you’re a...private person, so I appreciate you answering some of my questions.
Liz: What do you want to know?
MD: Well first, can you tell us a little bit about how your gift works?
Liz: (laughs mirthlessly) Gift. Right. Uh...sure. I touch you, skin to skin, and your entire mind downloads into my brain. Like hooking up to an external hard drive. I see your entire life in super-fast forward, like a movie speeding by too fast to makes sense of, and then everything just files itself away until I feel like looking at it. (shifts uncomfortably in her seat and looks down at her hands) Oh yeah, and then I can read your mind whenever I want.
MD: Well, that’s got to be...difficult. I know you lost your mother and had to leave your family and friends behind. How has that affected you?
Liz: (long silence) I guess...I always try to think of how she would handle things. Especially when it comes to Dad. Any time I get mad or irritated with him, I wonder what she would say or do and I try to make her proud. I think she would’ve wanted me to do more with my... ‘gift.’ It’s something I think about every day.
MD: Have you thought about how you might use your abilities to impact the world?
Liz: (sighs and looks out the window, looking suddenly tired) I used to. I mean, earlier on, before I got caught up with the Feds and the Coalition, I imagined being a cop or something. You know, sort of a super-interrogator, bane to all criminals. But then I saw the way my abilities were treated, how impossible it would be to have my own life if I made them public, and I got scared. I just want to get through the next day without disaster; it’s hard to think past that.
MD: Okay, so on a lighter note, you say you love to read. What are some of your favorite books?
Liz: Oh, well, I have a bunch of books my mom used to read. Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, Gwen Bristow. Sort of romantic/adventure/suspense type stuff. I also really like the Twilight series. So sue me.
MD: You’ve said that you can play music in your head like a playlist. What do you listen to most often?
Liz: You know, I’m a big Beatles fan. Especially the Revolver album. So classic.
MD: One last question. You and Carey...is it the real thing?
Liz: (whispers, gaze fervent) God, I hope so.
Well, that’s it for now. This is Mattie Dunman saying thanks to Liz for sharing some of her thoughts and wishing her luck in her fight against the Coalition and her romance with the always-adorable Carey.
At First Touch
First Touch Series, book 1
Number of pages: 267
Word Count: 87,543
Cover Artist: Deirdre Robertson
Liz Hannigan has been on the run since she was twelve years old.
Her mother is dead. Her father has lost his job. And thanks to an experimental procedure, Liz is now able to ‘download’ the contents of every brain around her with a simple touch. Forced to hide from both the federal government and a darkling group of morally deficient scientists known as the Coalition determined to exploit her abilities, she moves with her father to the bucolic coal town of Pound, West Virginia.
But the hunt for Liz and her abilities hasn’t ended, and her hopes for peace are shattered when she inadvertently downloads the enigmatic Carey Drake, whose unusual good looks and charm conceal a secret as shocking as her own. Stunned by the knowledge that she has found someone else who has extraordinary abilities, Liz finds herself drawn to Carey, discovering a deep attraction, and dares to hope for the first time she might find love.
But when an agent of the Coalition begins stalking her, Liz must find a way to work with the government agency she most mistrusts as she strives to build a longed-for normal life and take down the agent who has tracked her down. Caught up in a struggle to save herself and those she loves, the girl who sees all is blind to true danger until it is too late.
I was out on the main road and about twenty minutes into my run when I heard the sound of a motor gunning and the beep of a horn. I slowed my pace and turned around to see Preston’s truck chugging along about two hundred yards behind me. His head was out of the window and he was screaming at me; I couldn’t understand what he was saying, but I felt pretty confident that it wasn’t complimentary.
I came to a stop, wondering if I should do something. I wasn’t really concerned; it wasn’t as though he would run me over or anything, but the blind hatred on his face made me a little nervous. Finally, I decided to ignore him and let him get his fill of throwing abuse my way and then drive on past. Picking up the pace again, I resolutely faced forward, pretending that the continued screeching behind me was a trick of the wind.
Suddenly the engine gave an almighty roar and I heard the unwelcome sound of squealing tires. With only a second to register that I had vastly underestimated Preston’s anger and mental instability, I swirled around in time to see the grille of the truck just a few feet from my face. I made to jump out of the way, but all my knowledge and stolen tricks didn’t make me fly, or move faster, or be any less breakable than any other human being. I knew in that moment how useless my ability really was. In the face of the giant metal monster brimming with torque, my mind was of no matter, it just screamed out with the desire to live, to keep going.
There was a blow like a train hitting me, but strangely there was no pain, and I was moving faster than I could have imagined away from the truck and into the field next to the road. I was sure that the truck had hit me and I was just flying through the air to my death, by some fortunate stroke lucky enough to be spared the pain of impact. In another instant the movement had stopped and I realized I was being held in a pair of strong arms against a rock-hard chest.
Carey looked down at me, his eyes frantic. “Are you alright? He didn’t hit you, did he?”
“N-no,” I stuttered. Having downloaded Carey I was aware of his incredible speed, but there’s something very different about knowing something theoretically and experiencing it firsthand.
He put me down gently in the grass and I just sat there, too dumbfounded to speak. Even as he anxiously surveyed me for damage, we heard the rending scream of out of control tires and the heavy metal sound of Preston’s truck crashing into something.
“I’ll be right back,” Carey said and then I blinked and he was gone.
About the Author:
Mattie Dunman is a lifelong resident of "Wild & Wonderful" West Virginia, and has dreamed of being a writer since she first held a pen in hand.
Mattie has pursued several useless degrees to support this dream, and presently enjoys teaching (or tormenting, as the case may be) college students the dying art of public speaking. She spends most of her free time writing, but also indulges in reading and traveling.
She is the proud owner of an adorably insane American Eskimo named Finn, and a tyrant cat named Bella, who take up more of her attention than they probably should.
Please visit Mattie's website at www.mattiedunman.com