Please welcome a Character Interview from
A FREEDOM TO FIGHT FOR
Interview w/Gray Price
How have you changed since your story began?
Wow, where to begin. When this ride started, I was nothing more than a petty thief. I had no goals, no real purpose, and gave zero thought for the future. I mostly lived for the moment. So, just your typical sixteen-year-old guy, yeah? But I came to understand that life is bigger than me and my desires. There were causes worth fighting for, causes worth dying for. Jace taught me that. She also taught me that sometimes the good of the many may require the sacrifice of the few. I’d follow her into the jaws of hell and whistle ‘happy days are here again.’ The boy in the Boston bus station at the start of this story could never have done that or even conceived of doing it. Funny how transformative one year can be.
What would your life be like if you and Jace had never met?
I was a runner. I thought my life ended when Jace caught me. I was wrong, of course. So, what if I had somehow escaped Jace in Grand Coulee and, through some miracle, fled with Nia and Rachel, what would I be? I’d still be a runner. Rachel would have tried to recruit me into Sanctuary, but I never would have agreed. No, I think Nia and I would have become like Rick and Margaux, only we would never have kidnapped shifters like they did. But we would still have lived a nomadic life, roaming from the city to city, planning our next heist. That kind of life was a dead end. I didn’t realize it at the time, but without Jace, I probably would have died young and lived an essentially meaningless life. Getting caught by her was the best thing that ever happened to me.
What do regret most?
The list is too long, but I can tell you about the first item on the list. I regret Chicago. If I had done my job, Jace never gets shot. We go back to Cracked and all is well. But I got careless.
But if Jace doesn’t get shot, there is no mesme. In hindsight, that seems bad.
No. Mesme would still have happened, but it would have been consensual. We lost so much time dealing with the mess I made. It could have been wonderful, but the way it happened almost destroyed us.
But might it have been too late? Could you have taken on Xerxes without it?
Good point. No, probably we couldn’t have. She hated me for what I did, but the alternative was to lose everything.
You’re a hero. How does that feel?
I’m not a hero. I’m a soldier. And all I ever did was follow orders. That’s what we do. Sometimes the mission is a success; sometimes it’s a failure. Either way, I do my job, and I’m neither hero nor goat.
Yet, you were awarded the Army Distinguished Service Cross?
Hey, that’s just bling. Again, I did my job. I got nothing more to say.
Jace is a famous celebrity now, but people have barely heard of you. How do you feel about that?
Really great actually. I like doing field work—chasing bad people and shutting them down. I couldn’t do that if people recognized my face on the street. That’s why Jace’s days in the field are probably over.
If you could change one thing in your past, what would it be?
I would make a lot of changes, but if I could have only one do-over it would probably be kindergarten. I would have gone to school that first day and Nia would have lived a mostly normal life. Yes, they would have caught and shipped me off to Cracked, but that’s where I ended up anyway. At least Nia would have been spared all the stuff she had to endure for me.
One last question. Walk us through a typical day for you.
A typical day. That’s almost an oxymoron for me. When I’m not on a job, Jace and I are usually up and dressed by 0600. We have breakfast and then head over to Cracked together. Believe it or not, I’m still taking classes. In the afternoon, I hit the gym and work out. The highlight of the day is dinner back at the house. Usually Mrs. Siller or my mom cooks and we all talk about anything and everything. There are seven of us in the house, so trying to get a word in can be tough. We’re as close to being a family as you can get without actually being related. The key thing is Jace is happy. We’re both happy. So maybe it’s true—all’s well that ends well.
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A Freedom to Fight For
YA Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Suspense
Evernight Teen Publishing, 95k, Editor’s Pick
Conclusion of best-selling The Cracked Chronicles Trilogy
All Jace has ever wanted was to escape the control of Cracked and run. Now, Gray is on the escape-from list too. She can’t bring herself to ever face him again, not after his betrayal. Angry, disillusioned, and broken, Jace accepts a permanent assignment to the President’s security detail, intending to never see Gray or Cracked ever again.
But something changes inside her. With the United States facing an unprecedented threat that only she and Gray may be able to stop, Jace confronts a choice. She can cut and run, or stand and fight alongside the boy she swore she would never let inside her heart again.
14+ due to language, violence, and adult situations
Lauren and I head down Pennsylvania Avenue making for a nearby gym with a boxing ring, trailed by a considerable crowd of onlookers, most of whom are Secret Service agents. Once inside and changed, I make my way into the ring, dressed in blue boxing shorts and a white sports bra. Roz helps me slip on the red, Everlast boxing gloves. These are my competition gloves I had sent over from Cracked. James has agreed to let Lauren and I fight without headgear. Otis helps Lauren with her gloves.
Roz appointed himself my cornerman and cutman, as if I need either, and he insists I call him Mick. Whatever. I allow myself a quick glance around the gym. A nice crowd has assembled. I recognize many of the agents who are betting against me. Otis said he’d been approached by other agents about getting a piece of the action. I told him I was willing to put up to $15,000 on the line. Otis hit that ceiling in an hour. Apart from the agents, I see a number of staff I haven’t met. In the few days we’ve been here, I’m amazed how many people have heard about the two bad girls who are constantly at each other’s throats. James holds the ropes apart to allow me to squeeze through into the ring. He’s going to ref the fight, which will go on for three two-minute rounds.
Lauren and I square off in the center of the ring, and James gives the signal for the first round to begin. She starts off fast, trying to bombard me with combinations, sending me on the defensive for most of the round. I dance back from her, blocking her punches and dodging away. She doesn’t manage to land much of anything on me, but I can’t land anything solid either. I think I see what her strategy is, but then I realize she fooled me, and Lauren slams her left glove into my mid-section, almost knocking the wind out of me. This is not Lauren. This is Clubber Lane. Her fist feels like a granite boulder. The round ends. I know she won round one with that punch. But I also hear a silent ka-ching, as I mentally pocket $500 from Agent Saunders.
Roz hands me a bottle of water, which I greedily drink from, while trying to control my heavy, labored breathing. When round two starts, Lauren tries to go on the offensive again. She immediately attempts the same combination that worked before, when she just about emulsified my insides with her punch to my gut. But I’ve already seen this move and when she tries to land the body punch again, I lash out with a right uppercut that tags her on the chin, sending her reeling backwards into the ropes. I hear gasps from the crowd. Before she can recover, I begin to rain blows on her, causing her to cover up and then clutch at me. She’s rescued from me by the bell clang signaling the end of the round. I watch her retreat to her corner, a glazed look on her face. Score this round to me. The match will come down to round three.
The final round starts out slow, with both of us dancing away from each other’s blows, our punches tentative. I don’t know what Lauren thinks she’s doing, but I want to land the knockout blow, so I’m waiting for Lauren to make the one big mistake that will enable my quicker hands to take her down. The problem is she has the best boxing form of anyone I’ve ever faced and there’s no room for error; one mistake and she’ll clean my clock—and vice versa. But the mistake never comes, so, frustrated, I stop dancing and move in on her. Lauren steps toward me and we both start swinging as fast and as hard we can. I manage to land a vicious right hook to her jaw followed by a wicked left jab to her forehead. This staggers her, but she steps closer to me and we stand toe-to-toe, hurling punches at each other non-stop. I drop any pretense of style and finesse. Lauren manages to get in a stinging blow to my mouth and I can taste my blood. Then she lands another crushing punch to my stomach, causing me to back up until I’m up against the ropes, but I’m not covering up. Lauren gets in another punch to the side of my head, but I tag her with a good right cross to the nose that staggers her and then I follow with a left to her jaw. Her knees are wobbly and I think that if I can land just one more shot, she’ll go down, but the round ends before I can deliver that one last blow. I let my gloves drop. I’m exhausted. I know my lip has been split open, and I feel my blood freely flowing down my chin. Lauren has her own river of blood to contend with, as her nose is oozing a steady stream of snot and gore.
About the author:
K.D. Van Brunt
During the eight hours of the day when I’m not writing, reading or sleeping, I’m a lawyer in Washington, DC. I grew up in Southern California, moved to Seattle before coming east to Boston to go to school. Now, I live in the great state of Maryland with my wife, my dog—a standard poodle named Buffy (and who do you think named her?), and my hot Camaro. One of the few things I like better than pizza is driving fast. So, if you happen be in the DC area and a black Camaro with a red stripe and a rear spoiler roars by and blows your doors off…thaaat could be me.
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