Title: The Mind’s Eye
Series: Synsk #1
Author: K.C. Finn
Audience: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal/ Historical/ Romance
Formats: E-book and paperback
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Cover by: Marya Heiman for Cleen Teen Publishing
Pages: 350 pages
Date Published: April 1st 2014
At fifteen, Kit Cavendish is one of the oldest evacuees to escape London at the start of the Second World War due to a long term illness that sees her stuck in a wheelchair most of the time. But Kit has an extraordinary psychic power: she can put herself into the minds of others, see through their eyes, feel their emotions, even talk to them – though she dares not speak out for fear of her secret ability being exposed.
As Kit settles into her new life in the North Wales village of Bryn Eira Bach, solitude and curiosity encourage her to gain better control of her gift. Until one day her search for information on the developing war leads her to the mind of Henri, a seventeen-year-old Norwegian boy witnessing the German occupation of his beloved city, Oslo. As Henri discovers more about the English girl occupying his mind, the psychic and emotional bonds between them strengthen and Kit guides him through an oppressive and dangerous time.
There are secrets to be uncovered, both at home and abroad, and it’s up to Kit and Henri to come together and fight their own battles in the depths of the world’s greatest war.
“Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you; you look like a monkey and you smell like one too!”
Henri laughed for the first time in what seemed like forever and a warmth settled in my chest, like things were finally going to get back to normal. When Leighton went to get more pop, Henri came to the tree and sat down beside me, putting a long arm around my shoulders and pulling me in. He kissed the side of my head gently, his warm breath sinking into my hair. He hadn’t tried to kiss me properly again even when there had been opportunity for it, and I was sort of grateful for that. As much as I wanted to feel that tingling, only-us-in-the-world sensation again, right now the atmosphere just wasn’t right. But we were always close to one another when we had the chance, I had gotten so used to his arms around me that it felt like some part of me was missing when he wasn’t there.
“I’ll have to go into the village tomorrow,” he whispered, “to pass my enlistment papers to the right people.”
An invisible blade sank slowly into my fragile heart, but I had always known this day was coming.
“It’ll take them a while to process it,” I said hopefully, “I bet they’ve already got loads of boys waiting to go to basic training.”
“Perhaps,” he said softly, his lips still resting against my head.
I turned sharply to face him, searching his deep brown eyes. “I don’t want you to go,” I said, racing to find his hand to hold it tightly.
“I won’t really be gone,” he replied, “You’ll always be able to find me.”
“That’s not the point,” I said, my curls shaking as I trembled, “This is dangerous Henri, this is war.”
“You forget where I’ve been already,” he said, turning his face away to focus hard on the distance. He kept a firm hold of my hand and gave it a good squeeze. “You came to my head in the quiet times, the safe times. But I’ve already seen the destruction, the danger and the death, Kit. I think there are two types of people during war: those who see the horror happening and run away, never looking back, and those who want to do something about it.” I felt his other arm pull me in closer against his strong body. “You know which type I am, so you know I have to go.”
I couldn’t say anything, because it was all true.
Kit is the central character of The Mind’s Eye, a girl with secret psychic abilities who can step into other people’s heads, look through their eyes and feel their emotions. She suffers from what was known in 1939 as Still’s Disease, which is actually a form of juvenile arthritis. This means that she has suffered a period of physical deterioration, so when we see her at the start of the book she is bound to a wheelchair and wishing that her life could be very different to the situation she’s trapped in. The Mind’s Eye is just as much about Kit’s war with her body as it is about the actual war surrounding the story. Kit’s condition is based on my own debilitating long term physical illness (M.E.) which presents a lot of very similar symptoms and difficulties in my everyday life. My dream cast pick for Kit is Georgie Henley, famous for playing Lucy in the Chronicles of Narnia movies. I chose her because she has a subtle but classic beauty that could easily sit in the period of the 1940s and she is a youthful teenager rather than a mature-looking one.
Henri Haugen, age 17
When Kit first connects her mind to Henri’s she finds him in Oslo, Norway on the day that the Nazis first arrive to take control of the city. Henri is a kind and brave soul but he can be impetuous and make snap decisions without thinking; not a clever move to make when you’re surrounded by the occupying forces. Kit takes it upon herself to counsel Henri through his troubles and eventually help him to escape the terror in Oslo so that he can do his part for the war effort. During this time the two youngsters develop a strong bond of friendship and romance. I was inspired to create Henri’s character after visiting the Resistance Museum in Oslo, Norway whilst on a holiday cruise. I was amazed by the stories of very young men who took it upon themselves to traverse the frozen mountains of Norway in order to cross the sea and join the British Army via Scotland. My choice for Henri is a bit of an obscure one since he’s not actually an actor, but here I present Aljaz Skorjanec, star of ballroom dancing show Strictly Come Dancing! He has a typically European look (although he is Slavic rather than Nordic) but his cute little dimples and flyaway hair made him a perfect candidate for Henri.
There’s actually a YouTube video from Strictly Come Dancing where you can see Aljaz dancing with model Abbey Clancy to the song Dear Darlin’ by Olly Murs. To me this performance really captures the spirit of Kit and Henri’s relationship and the song was very influential in channelling the kind of love they share: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riXwYKM-ggY
Blodwyn Price, age 20, and Steven Bickerstaff, age 29
Blod is not a character I expect you to like the first time you meet her, but I hope that as you read on in The Mind’s Eye you will come to understand her attitude and the life events that have shaped her into the moody, guarded young beauty that she is. Doctor Bickerstaff forms a kind of enemy for Kit at the start of the tale, his harsh words and unsmiling attitude aren’t what she needs when she’s struggling enough already… or are they? Blod and Bickerstaff are my secondary main characters and I genuinely love the way their story unfolds as Kit learns to understand why they behave the way they do and discovers secrets about them she never thought possible. My dream cast picks for them are Dominique Swain for Blod (star of the Jeremy Irons version of Lolita) and Dan Stevens for Bickerstaff (whom you will all recognise as Matthew in Downton Abbey). I chose Dominique for Blod because I think she is a natural beauty and a typical teenage temptress. I picked Dan for Bickerstaff because I really needed someone who could still look sexy when he was miserable!
Series: Synsk #2
Pages: 308 pages
Date Published: April 14, 2014
A teenage boy with something to prove gets caught up in a web of crime and deceit in England, 1945.
In the weeks leading up to his sixteenth birthday, gifted psychic Leighton Cavendish finds himself suddenly packed off to Blackpool, a glittering, teenage paradise filled with plenty of opportunities for amusement—and trouble. With only a preoccupied grandmother to keep an eye on him, Leighton’s desperation for adventure leads him out into a world of holidaymakers, candy, and carnival rides—the ideal place to spend six weeks away from home.
But Leighton’s psychic visions are encroaching on his fun, trying to warn him of the danger that lurks beyond the shimmering lights of the Golden Mile. Who are the mysterious thieves Leighton sees in his head, and what do they want with the children they seek? A girl called Faye holds the answer, but she has enough problems of her own.
Amid the climate of a tourist town recovering from the impact of the Second World War, two lost teenagers will discover a shocking truth about human greed. Together, they will try to fight against it. For Leighton and Faye, this will be a summer to remember—one filled with challenges that must be overcome.
A summer that turns a boy into a man.
Leighton Cavendish, age 15
Charming, cheeky and full of mischief, Leighton has grown into a handsome young man by the time the war ends. He has also learned how to use his psychic skills to get exactly what he wants from life. In Leighton’s Summer, his easygoing nature and carefree smile attract all the wrong kinds of attention from Sid Webb and his criminal counterparts. Whilst Leighton struggles to save face without caving in to peer pressure, he realises that being a bad boy isn’t as cool as it looks, and that the girl of his dreams isn’t interested in getting mixed up with the wrong kind of lad. My dream cast choice for Leighton would be Freddie Stroma (famed for playing Cormac McClaggan in the later Harry Potter movies). His tousled blonde locks and charming face make him a perfect candidate for a young man who can be both strong and sensitive.
Faye Cartwright, age 15
Obsessive, nervous and truly unique, Faye is an orphan who has been through an extensive array of children’s homes because of her strange behaviour. A powerful psychic at a tender young age, Faye finds it hard to balance her emotions alongside her incredible mindreading powers. When she meets Leighton, Faye has a deep desire to trust him, but her analytical nature forces her to examine his whole persona, unpicking the layers of pride and bravado to find the boy beneath them. Another Harry Potter actor makes the cut for my dream cast, as Evanna Lynch has all the ethereal and peculiar qualities to her look that Faye
Sidney and Victor Webb, age 18 and 36
The villainous father and son team of Victor and Sidney Webb provide the darkest elements of the story of Leighton’s Summer. Sid’s brutal desire for status and control forces Leighton to do things he regrets, whilst Vic Webb is brewing up a truly evil scheme as children go missing in the quiet seaside town of Blackpool. Will Poulter is my dream choice for Sid, because he brings a thuggish kind of charm to the bad boy persona. As for Victor, nobody could compare with the menace and savagery that Robert Carlyle would bring to this role.
Series: Synsk #3
Pages: 325 pages
A struggling psychic girl steps out into the big wide world amidst the murky depths of racial segregation in England, 1961.
As a teenage psychic, Josephine Fontaine knows what it’s like to be different. At Peregrine Place, a school full of youngsters with gifts just like hers, sixteen-year-old Josie is growing tired of her life and looking for more excitement in the world beyond the grand manor house’s walls. When an opportunity arises to work in a local music bar, Josie jumps at the chance, learning to balance her new job with the pressures of studying the ways of the Synsk.
There she meets the charming Tommy Asher, a fellow psychic with a talent for music, and Jake Bolton, a handsome, surly stranger with coffee-coloured skin. Throw in the return of her old crush Dai Bickerstaff, and Josie finds herself embroiled in a drama much bigger than she could have imagined, especially when certain parties take issue to her developing a friendship with a boy who isn’t white-skinned. When a mysterious record mogul offers Josie help to improve her psychic gifts, her world turns totally upside down and Josie begins to question everything she thought she knew about the world, her family and even herself.
Coming of age was never so intense as it will be for Josie in the winter of 1961.
Josie’s story takes place in 1961, and this is a girl who has already decided that the psychic life doesn’t suit her. Struggling to master her powers at school Jodie longs to step out into the wider world and experience the kinds of things her heroes croon about on the radio. An avid music fan and follower of sixties fashion, Josie yearns to leave her obligations behind, but she doesn’t yet realise how dangerous the outside world can be for a girl of just sixteen. Doctor Who’s Karen Gillan would be a perfect choice for this feisty teen, since she can deliver the conflicted emotions that Josie feels, whilst also presenting a pretty, but naïve and vulnerable girl to the big wide world.
Jake Bolton, age 16
Growing up as a mixed raced child in 1961 is a tough task, and Jake Bolton has already grown bitter with the way life is treating him. His secret dreams of being a famous singer have only got him as far as washing dishes in a local music club, where he’s not allowed to show his face when white people are partying on the other side of the wall. A recent and terrible tragedy has sent Jake into a downward spiral, and it’s only his new friendship with Josie that can pull him through. Spending time with a white girl, however, might get him into more trouble than he’s bargained for. Alfred Enoch is currently finding fame as the lead in the ABC drama How To Get Away With Murder, and his double-sided character portrayal has inspired me to choose him for the role of Jake in this dream cast.
Tommy Asher, age 15, and Hanne Haugen, age 14
The loveable sidekicks to Josie and Jake are Tommy and Hanne, whose luckless puppy love plagues their young lives. Tommy is a confident musician who dreams of instant stardom, but he can’t put his money where his mouth is when it comes to telling a girl how he feels. Hanne Haugen is Kit’s eldest daughter, and she’s been raised to be a diligent student and a well-behaved girl, but her crush on Tommy is driving her to distraction. Will her father Henri’s influence keep these young lovers apart, or will the power of music unite them in the end? Game of Thrones’s Thomas Brodie-Sangster is just the cutie needed to bring Tommy Asher’s charm and talent to life, and the stunning Abigail Breslin could play Hanne’s role with all the teenage crisis it deserves.
Character Name: Leighton Cavendish
Character Bio: Leighton Cavendish first appears in ‘The Mind’s Eye’ (Synsk, Book 1) when he is ten years old, but in ‘Leighton’s Summer’ (Book 2), the fifteen year old takes center-stage as he spends his first parent-free summer in the teenage paradise of Blackpool in 1945. He has discovered his own psychic powers and knows how to use them. Here, he accidentally gets involved with a gang of criminal lads, meets a beautiful girl with a strange addiction to counting, and angers a dangerous mastermind by uncovering his evil plans.
Describe yourself what is your worst and best quality?
I reckon my best quality is my smile. It gets attention, and I know how to use it to get myself in and out of certain situations. Of course, it does help to also have psychic powers. Spying on other people is a very useful tool. I guess my worst quality is that I’m a trouble-magnet. I just don’t seem to be able to do as I’m told, and I often don’t think about the consequences of the situations that I’m getting myself into!
What is the one thing you wish other people knew about you?
That I have limits. Most people think I’m an easygoing guy, and that I’ll be up for anything and never be uptight about doing things. But hey, I have morals and my own code that I’m living by. I might not be a goody-goody like my big sister, but that doesn’t mean I want to go down that road that leads to trouble. At least, not too far down it anyway.
What is your biggest secret something no one knows about?
I’m scared. I’m scared all the time of everything that’s going on around me. It’s a big world out there, and the more I learn about it, the more I don’t really like it. Because I’m turning sixteen, people make me feel like I should be turning into an independent man now, but I don’t know if I’m ready for that responsibility yet.
What are you most afraid of?
Losing face. I like the way people admire the carefree façade that I’ve got going on. I like that people assume that I’m street wise and tough. I don’t want anyone to know the truth: that I have no idea what I’m doing half the time.
What do you want more than anything?
An easy life. My psychic skills allow me to dip in and out of people’s heads, so I can usually predict when trouble is coming and get out of its way sharpish. Recently though, things have been getting more complicated…
What is your relationship status?
Ah, well there’s a complication for you right there. She’s called Faye Cartwright, and to be honest, I have no clue what my status is with her right now. She’s pretty to look at, with long blonde hair and sea green eyes, but she’s totally mad. She gets these wild nervous mood swings, and she counts things obsessively. It’s hard to tell if she likes me or not, but I know that I really like her.
How would you describe your sense of fashion?
I guess I just wear what other lads wear. The war only just ended, so we don’t have a lot of spare fabric around yet. I’m still wearing the same jumpers, shirts and short trousers that Mam sewed for me when we lived in North Wales. I like to think my sweep of sandy blonde hair gives me a distinctive look, though.
How much of a rebel are you?
Truthfully? I thought I was more of a rebel until I came to Blackpool. In my family, there’s a lot of diligent people who work hard for the government. I’m the black sheep, always trying to skirt my responsibilities, but that’s started leading me into trouble since I met Sid Webb and his gang. They’re thieves and thugs, and I didn’t think that’s what being rebellious was about. I think I’m getting a bit too involved with them for my own good, we’ll just have to see where that leads.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
I guess I haven’t had it yet. That’s a bit sad, isn’t it? You’ve made me feel like I should have done something by now. Well, I’m only fifteen, right? I guess I’ve got a long time ahead of me to find some purpose in life.
What is your idea of happiness?
The happiest I’ve ever felt was walking in the sea with Faye on Blackpool beach. All right, so I was covered in blood from a serious nosebleed, but when I dunked my head in the sea to wash it off, her laughter lit up my world. Now, if only I could make her laugh like that all the time…
What is your current state of mind?
Optimistic, but there’s something playing at the back of my thoughts. I’ve been hearing all these rumors lately about children going missing in Blackpool, plus there’s the burglaries that are happening all around town. I’m enjoying getting to know Faye and exploring this new town that I’m in, but I feel like there’s something dark brewing, a shadow on my horizon...
Which living person do you most admire?
Don’t ever tell him I said this… but Steven Bickerstaff. The man got his leg blown off in the war, but he learned to walk again, and he even went back to being a doctor, even though the medical profession told him he wouldn’t be able to cope. Plus, he’s got a gorgeous wife and a cute little baby boy to be proud of now. And he’s never had to stop being true to the grumpy git that he is. I’d like to think I could be strong enough to overcome obstacles like he does.
What is your motto?
Now, it’s definitely “Look before you leap”. I’ve made too many mistakes to live by anything else!
K.C. Finn has also recently been welcomed into the fold at Clean Teen Publishing as a debut Young Adult author for 2014, beginning her run of publications with the paranormal/historical series SYNSK. 2015 will see K.C. release her epic urban fantasy series Shadeborn with Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Press.
As a sufferer with the medical condition M.E./C.F.S., Kim works part time as a private tutor and a teacher of creative writing, devoting the remainder of her time to writing novels and studying for an MA in Education and Linguistics.