Interview with Jade Varden

Hello Everyone!

We are delighted to have author Jade Varden amongst us today at Musikdiv India Online Magazine at our Special ‘Authors Festival’ interview series to tell us about the new book Justice (Deck of Lies)!
Please read on …

When you build an entire life on a foundation of lies, it only takes one truth for the whole thing to come crashing down. I never invited the truth in. I never went searching for it. I never had any reason to suspect that the two people I loved most were dishonest with me every second of every day.
I made one bad decision, and in a single day my entire world changed. If I’m ever going to discover the truth about myself and my parents, I have to trace all the lies back to their source. I have to try to find the truth that they’re hiding.
The more I discover about myself, and my past, the more I realize that lies really are better than the truth. But now that I know the lies are all around me, I can’t stop until I’ve discovered them all. I’ll pull each lie away, one by one, and examine it to see what’s underneath…until this house of cards crumbles into dust at my feet.
I just hope I can survive the crash.

So Jade, we’ll start your Interview with the very first question

1.Please introduce and tell the readers something about yourself.

In a way, my name, Jade Varden, means green green. Jade is a shade of green (or a green gemstone) and Varden is derived from a name that means “from the green meadow.”

2.What brought you to writing?

I fell completely in love with young adult novels at an early age. I was so inspired by authors like Judy Blume and V.C. Andrews that I decided I wanted to do what they do.

3.How long have you been writing?

I started writing short stories when I was 9 and decided to try to write a novel at age 11. It was terrible, of course, but it gave me a good early education on the process of writing.

4.Which was your first literary project?Tell us something about it.

The first story I ever wrote, as I recall, was about a young girl and her haunted doll house.

5.Is this your new/latest project?

No, but I still like to write about female main characters. My current series, Deck of Lies, has no supernatural or paranormal elements to it, but I will work some of that into the next few novels I publish.

6. Traditional books or e-books? How do you prefer to see your works published? Have you tried ever publishing the traditional way?

I think both traditional books and e-books have their place. You can curl up in bed with a Kindle and read away, but you can’t have it with you while you’re enjoying a hot bath, for example. I have published traditionally, but I think I can reach more of my target audience right now through digital publishing.

7.Can you give a chapter sample preview of your book here for our readers to know more about it.

( Please look at the bottom of the interview for book excerpts )

8.What are your hobbies?Things that you enjoy doing besides books of course.

I’m a video game addict with a taste for FPS and RPG games, but I love a good sim too. When I’m not writing or playing video games, I like to bake. I make a mean chocolate chip cookie. And, of course, I’m usually reading one or two books on any given day. I spend an hour or more reading daily.

9.Who is your favourite author?

That’s a really tough question, but I’m going to have to say Margaret Mitchell. It may seem a bit of an odd choice, as she only wrote one book…but what a book.

10.What is your favourite genre to read and also to write?

I could never pick just one. I most love books that mix genres, blending romance and mystery with horror and suspense or some other combination. I always want to be surprised, and I want to surprise my readers.

11.Do you have a role model that you get inspiration from?

I’m inspired all the time by many different people. Comedians like Amy Poehler and Will Ferrell make me want to be funny and add jokes to my writing; fantastic mystery writers like Mary Higgins Clark make we want to create tangled plots full of suspicious characters; great wordsmiths like Maeve Binchy encourage me to keep a thesaurus handy when I write.

12.Where do get your ideas from? Do you take your story ideas from real life situations?

Many of my story ideas come from real life, but I amplify scenarios and characters when I write. I might take a single quirk or characteristic from a person I know, and build an entirely new character from that single starting point. But I also like to step outside my comfort zone and put my characters in settings and situations I have no experience with, to force myself to learn about something new and really think about what’s happening in the story.

13. Do you have a pseudonym?

Sure I’ve got lots of them.

14.Whats your experience been like in the publishing industry?Postive or negative?Please share your experience with our readers.

It hasn’t been either positive or negative. I won’t classify it that way, because it’s always ongoing and constantly evolving. When I retire from writing maybe I’ll give the business an overall rating, but for now there’s always something new coming tomorrow and chances are it will be both positive and negative for different reasons. Even when you get exactly what you want, something unexpected still happens. But they’re all good and happy experiences if I learn something new.

15.Where do you see yourself 10years from now?

Sitting behind a laptop, probably much more high-tech than the one I’m using now. The way technology is moving lately, it’ll probably be capable of creating full-on holographic projections. But I’ll still be watching reruns of SNL and typing away on it every night, hopefully.

16. What motivates you to write?

The hope that if I write, people will read.

17. How important is good cover art for your books?

It’s crucial, every bit as important as the title.

18. Do you have a price strategy for your books?

Yes, I look around at what other writers in my genre are charging and use similar pricing.

19. Have you read a bestseller that you felt was not as good as yours?

Admittedly, I don’t read a lot of top bestsellers. I re-read the same books a lot because I have a taste for the classics and I like to re-visit my old favorites. But I’m not above feeling critical at times. I have read very popular print books released by top publishing houses, and I do grimace when I find punctuation errors. I don’t know why it bothers me so much, but it’s a major annoyance for me.

20.Why do you think readers should buy your book?What can you offer them through your book?

I like to throw a lot of surprises at my readers, so whatever I’m writing about I like to make it feel exciting. Shocking things happen in my stories, but I won’t leave my readers guessing for too long. Once I get to the very end of the story, I’ll have their questions answered. But I can’t promise that everyone will get a happy ending.

21.Where is your book available?Any Buy Link for our readers?

It’s currently available on Amazon Kindle.

22.Do you have a website or a blog that you’d like to share here.

You can follow me on Twitter @jadevarden.

23. What advice would you give to other writers?

When you’re done writing go back and edit, edit, edit.

24.Anything else you’d like to share with our readers

The second book in the Deck of Lies series, The Tower, will be out this spring, and possibly a little sooner. A free preview of the book will be available before it’s out on Kindle. I’ll be giving more details about that on my Twitter page closer to the release date.

  • Thank you Jade Varden for gracing us with your presence.It was a sheer pleasure.Good luck with your book.We conclude the interview here

    Thanks again from Team MusikDIV

    Book Exerpts – Sample Chapter

    Justice (Deck of Lies) By Jade Varden

    Chapter 1
    “Have you got your laptop?”
    “Yes, mom.”
    “Did I remember to give you lunch money?”
    “Yes, mom,” I grinned at her. It was a rare thing to see my calm, quiet mother so frazzled. She was
    more nervous than I was about my first day at Sloane Academy.
    “It’s okay, mom. She’s not going off to Harvard just yet.”
    “Stanford,” I corrected automatically.
    My brother Aaron fell heavily onto his usual stool at the wide kitchen island, which was already set
    for breakfast. He pushed a hank of dark brown hair out of his eyes as he looked me up and down. I was
    wearing my school uniform for the first time, and feeling too nervous to eat the eggs and toast in front of
    me. Knowing me, I’d spill something down the front of my crisp white blouse, or slouch over the plate and
    get wrinkles in the grey vest. “Nice outfit, Rain. You already look like a spinster librarian. The colleges will
    be calling any day now.”
    “You leave her alone,” my mother took a mock swipe at him with one of her blue and white
    checked kitchen towels. “If you’d studied harder, maybe you would have a scholarship to one of the best
    prep schools in the country right now.”
    “I don’t think I’d look very good in the skirt, ma,” he answered with a laugh, shoving a huge
    forkful of eggs into his mouth.
    I couldn’t help but envy how comfortable Aaron looked in his gold sweatshirt, hunkered down
    over his plate, getting crumbs all over his khakis. Students weren’t allowed to wear clothes with logos on
    them at his high school — my old high school — so he had about a dozen plain sweatshirts in UCLA colors.
    To this day, I can’t see a gold sweatshirt without thinking of Aaron.
    “This is just such a good opportunity for you.” My mother’s large, brown eyes were wet with tears
    as she reached across the counter to take my hand. “You were meant to go to fancy, expensive schools like
    this one.”
    I wish I had her confidence. My hands were shaking as I pulled my backpack onto my left shoulder
    and scooped my purse under my right arm. “I just hate starting in the middle of the year. I should have
    waited until next year.”
    “They said you could go ahead and begin attending classes, and there was no reason to wait to start
    getting the best possible education.” When that hard expression came into my mother’s golden-brown eyes,
    I knew to give in — quickly.
    “Yes, mom,” I sighed. It was something I’d heard before.
    “Besides, if you’d started last week this would all be familiar now.”
    I sighed again. “Mom, I had to say good-bye to my friends and my teachers at my old school.”
    “Well, you’ve had a week of good-bye and now it’s time to say hello to all your new friends and
    teachers at Sloane Academy. Hello, brand-new life,” she sang.
    I couldn’t help but smile at her optimistic enthusiasm as I scooped my bowl of yogurt off the place
    mat. Mom had added banana slices to the mixture today. She made her own plain yogurt by the gallon, a
    white, gooey mess that tasted terrible until the fruit and granola were added.
    “Ready for your card?” While I was busy spooning the cold breakfast into my mouth, my mom had
    placed an old, beat-up knit handbag on the counter. Before I could answer, she dipped her fingers inside to
    pull out an old, worn deck of cards.
    “Oh, mom,” I groaned. When I was little, I used to love watching my mother work with the cards.
    Her short fingers were never more nimble than when they were stacking, spreading and dealing from that
    colorful deck. The cards were dark blue, with little stars all over them. I used to believe they were magical.
    But today… “I don’t want a reading.”
    “We’ll just pull one,” she smiled brightly, tapping the edges of the deck on the Formica countertop
    to get them all straight.
    I suppressed a sigh. “Just one,” I mumbled around a mouthful of fruit and yogurt. I heard Aaron
    snicker, and shot him a glare out of the side of my eye. Aaron didn’t have the patience to watch Mom draw
    out her cards and read the meaning of each one. He couldn’t sit still and listen long enough to hear her
    explain what each stark, simple image symbolized. I used to love seeing her do her Tarot, especially when
    she gave big, full readings with a complete spread of cards — but today my mind was too full to pay
    With great fanfare, my mother stepped up to the island. “Clear your mind,” she instructed, as she
    always did.
    This was the part I knew I would have trouble with. Clear my mind — when I was about to go to a
    brand-new school, far different from my old one? She might as well have told me to grow a pair of wings.
    But I did my best to close my eyes and breathe deeply, the way she’d taught me.
    “Think about your first day at school,” my mother’s voice drifted to me from that otherworldly
    place she connected to so easily. I kept my eyes squeezed tight as she fanned the cards out on the island, but
    I knew if I looked down I would see dozens of little stars gleaming on top of midnight blue. “Pick a card,”
    she whispered.
    My fingers inched out, and my eyes opened the moment I felt my hand make contact with the deck.
    My mother quickly plucked my selection from the counter, sweeping the remaining cards into a loose pile
    before she flipped mine, face-up, between us. We both leaned forward to look down at it.
    The first thing I saw was the two swords, crossed as if in combat. A golden scale, perfectly
    balanced, dangled between them.
    “Justice,” my mother intoned. I don’t know why, but I felt a little shiver go through me.
    “Yeah, what’s that one mean?” Aaron grunted.
    “Consequence. Fairness. The righting of a wrong,” she recited. For some reason, my mother
    couldn’t take her eyes off that card. “The scales represent balance. The swords represent the blind eye of
    Justice — cold, impersonal, they strike swiftly and without warning.”
    “But what’s it mean?” Aaron demanded again.
    My mother’s eyes were unfocused when she looked up at Aaron — staring through him more than
    at him.
    But I didn’t have time to listen to one of her long Tarot explanations now. Quickly, I sat my bowl
    back on the counter. My mother jumped at the noise and seemed to shake herself out of her trance. “I’d
    better get going. I don’t want to be late on my first day.”
    She was around the island in a flash, pulling me into her arms for a hug. “You know how to get
    there, you’re sure?”
    “I’m sure, mom. I’ll be okay.”
    “If you have any trouble, use the GPS on your Blackberry.” My dad advised as he entered the
    kitchen. He was just pulling his UCLA baseball cap over his dark brown head, hair the same shade as
    Aaron’s. I always joked that between the two of them, they were funding the entire athletics department
    because they bought so much stuff with the UCLA logo on it.
    “I will, Dad.” I hugged him, too, before I gathered up my things and moved out the back door,
    casting a last look of envy at Aaron.
    “Have a good first day, honey,” my mom cried.
    “Good luck with the rich kids,” Aaron teased.
    “I’m sure you’ll do just fine, princess.” My dad got in the last word, as usual.
    The brave smile I gave them faded as soon as I stepped out of the back door. My stomach felt like
    it had turned inside-out, and my knees were watery as I walked down the driveway to my car. It was a 1964
    red Corvair, one of my father’s many weekend projects. With a perfect interior, classic paint job and
    souped-up engine, the Corvair is the envy of car collectors around the world — so he says. Of course, mine
    didn’t have any of that. Instead, it had lots of character — in the form of ripped leather seats, a beat-up
    dashboard and multiple rust spots.
    But the engine, while not souped-up, purred like a kitten. “Substance over style” is my mother’s
    all-time favorite saying. For the first time, I was hoping the engine wouldn’t start when I turned the key.
    No such luck. The Corvair roared to life as usual, and my belly did a sickening flip-flop. I took a
    deep breath before pushing the gear shift into the Reverse position. It was time to face my first day as a
    student at the ultra-fancy, ultra-conservative Sloane Academy.
    “I’ll be okay,” I repeated to myself as I backed down the driveway. “I’ll be okay.”
    Forty minutes later, I was staring at the most unlikely-looking school building I’d ever seen. Once
    a private mansion, the Edgar P. Sloane Academy was a weathered grey stone structure surrounded by
    sycamore trees on all sides. The campus, fan like, sprouted around the central building in a maze of brick
    walkways, gardens and smaller buildings that were once houses for storage and servants. Sloane even had
    its own private stables and its own private lake, or so I’d been told during the brief campus tour I’d taken
    three weeks before.
    It was one of the premier schools in the country, and until recently students had to be wellconnected
    and wealthy enough to pay the hefty tuition (twenty-five thousand per year) just to get in the
    door. But this year, the school was opening up classes to five students who received academic scholarships
    by virtue of some new endowment from some wealthy alum.
    I was one of them. The school alumnus I met with told me that more than thirty thousand
    applicants had been considered; more than ten thousand essays had been read. I was in a very small
    percentage of students who had been accepted from a very wide pool, and to hear my parents talk I was
    already on my way to becoming the next President of the United States — or at least a Senator.
    But as I stood in the shadow of the main building of Sloane Academy, I just wanted to be nobody
    special again. I wanted to go to the high school I’d attended the week before — riding along in my brother’s
    pickup truck, dressed in a sweatshirt with my hair in a ponytail. I pressed forward instead, moving straight
    toward the front doors from the tiny student parking lot, shuffling my purse and backpack into position as I
    Sloane was even different from a normal school on the inside. The corridors were wide and woodpaneled,
    the floors carpeted. It was more like walking into a museum than a school building.
    “Rain Ramey?”
    “Yes?” I whirled to face a girl dressed the exact same way I was, only she was at least four inches
    taller than my 5’3”. And thin. She had the build of a model, but the stiff way she held herself made her look
    awkward as she stood clutching a stack of books to her chest. She had big, hazel eyes, magnified by the
    most stylish eyeglasses I’d ever seen. “How’d you know?”
    “Laurel Riordan,” she introduced herself. “You have sort of a lost and confused look on your face.
    Come on. I’m your big sister for the day, and the lockers are down the stairs.” She immediately started
    down the hall at a fast clip. I had to jog to keep up with her long stride. Other students were milling around
    the further we went down the hall, but Laurel’s brown head was easy to follow because she was so tall. She
    wore her hair in a straight, neat bob that fell perfectly to her chin. I’d taken thirty minutes to tame my wild
    blonde curls into something that looked like order, and following Laurel I felt hopelessly sloppy and out-ofplace.
    Even her knee-high, grey socks looked like they’d been ironed. Mine were sliding down my calves as
    I struggled to match her pace.
    She took me down a mahogany staircase to the basement. Here, the floors were tiled. Laurel led
    me past row upon row of wood-paneled cabinets before stopping at one with a small brass plaque that read
    “This is you.”
    I just stared at her for a minute until I realized that these were the lockers. The revelation came
    when Laurel opened the cabinet next to mine (388) and started changing out books. “There’s no lock.”
    “Everyone at Sloane uses the honor system. But don’t keep anything in it except for books. The
    janitor ruined my friend’s Prada backpack last year with wood polish.”
    “Um, okay.” I opened up the locker to peer inside at a wide, empty space separated by a single
    shelf, watching Laurel out of the side of my eye as she jostled items around in her arms.
    “Ready? Good. Your homeroom is down this way.”
    “Okay.” I repeated, preparing myself to sprint madly down the hall after her.
    My first day at Sloane, and I was off and running.
    I’d never really been the “new girl” before that day. I’d followed Aaron from school to school, and
    practically everyone knew Aaron’s name. He played basketball and baseball, ran track and worked summers
    as a lifeguard at the public beach. I just had to introduce myself to make friends at our old high school.
    Not at Sloane. The words drummed through my head all morning long. There were no blackboards
    at Sloane, and even the teachers looked like they were wearing designer shoes. I’d been in three classrooms
    so far, and none of them had desks. Everyone sat at solid wooden tables on cushioned chairs, typing away
    furiously at their laptops while I hunted and pecked my way across the keyboard. I’d begged my parents for
    a laptop for years, and the one I had now still had the unfamiliar, new feeling that comes with being two
    weeks old. After finding it on the school’s list of basic starting supplies, my parents had to relent and buy it.
    But I wasn’t even excited about that anymore by the time the bell chimed for lunch. Laurel had
    materialized at my side after every single class, and I wasn’t surprised to find her standing outside my
    English class as students spilled out into the hallway all around us.
    “The cafeteria is down the hall. I always eat in the science lab. See you before fifth period.” Laurel
    was already walking away before she finished her quick instructions, and I could only nod dumbly as she
    melted into the crowd. I wasn’t expecting to be left alone for lunch, but I let the tide of students carry me
    along in the direction of the cafeteria as I wondered into which pocket of my purse I’d stuffed my lunch
    I was checking them as I drifted into the large room, which was filled with more of those solidlooking
    square tables, when I felt myself hit something soft.
    A loud, female shriek immediately followed, and I closed my eyes. Under no circumstances did I
    want to look up to see what I’d done.
    “Do you see what you’ve done?”
    I shook my head back and forth, squeezing my eyes shut even more tightly.
    That’s when I realized that the hum of surrounding students was gone. The entire room had lapsed
    into silence. I finally looked up into a pair of furious blue eyes and was immediately confronted with the
    prettiest girl I’d ever seen. Once upon a time, I’d hoped I would grow into such a beauty. But where her
    blonde hair was sleek and shiny, mine was a mass of frizzy curls that sprouted in all directions, radiating
    away from my face like Medusa’s legendary tentacles. And her uniform was probably pristine…before I
    bumped into her, anyway, clearly spilling something bright orange all over her. It had fallen onto her
    blouse, her vest, her pleated skirt, her sheer knee socks, her shiny black heels…
    “I’m so sorry!” I blurted. In the hushed cafeteria, my voice sounded loud and hysterical.
    The blue eyes narrowed, and I thought I saw a sneer work its way onto her perfect features. “I
    would ask you to pay for my brand-new Choos, but from your Payless specials I can tell you obviously can’t
    afford them. Look, Dee. It’s one of the scholarship kids.”
    That’s when I noticed the girl standing slightly behind her. She had a shock of auburn hair, so
    perfectly styled I couldn’t believe she’d been going to classes all morning and not sitting in a salon. I was
    too embarrassed to admit that I had no idea what the blonde was talking about. The rest of the cafeteria was
    starting to buzz again, but softly. The whispers made me feel like I was in a roomful of snakes.
    “I’m Rain Ramey,” I offered weakly. “I really am sorry about bumping into you. I was looking for
    my lunch money.”
    “Lunch money!” The blonde laughed, but there was something hard about the sound. “She was
    looking for lunch money,” she repeated it, evidently for the one called Dee’s benefit. “Too bad the cashier
    doesn’t take food stamps.” Another hard little laugh followed her cruel statement, and she nudged Dee with
    her shoulder.
    As if on cue, Dee burst out into cold laughter, too. I felt my face flaming as they both brushed past
    me, each rudely knocking my shoulder as she breezed by. I stood looking after them, wishing I could
    vanish. Anything to avoid moving again. Maybe if I stood still long enough, everyone else would think I’d
    turned to stone…and then, they would stop staring.
    No such luck. The whispers only grew louder, and everywhere I looked I saw faces pointed at me.
    I turned and exited the cafeteria as quickly as possible, practically running out of the room.
    I didn’t know where else to go but my locker. Maybe I could act like I was poking around in there
    for the next thirty minutes, until the lunch period was over. Of course, I only had two books so far…but no
    one knew that but me.
    I wanted to turn and run when I saw the back of another student, already buried in his own locker
    only two doors down from mine. But I really didn’t have anywhere else to go; I definitely wasn’t going back
    to the cafeteria. So I marched straight to the door of locker 389, wrenched it open and buried my arms up to
    my elbows inside.
    “New girl, huh?”
    The guy at locker 391 was movie-star handsome. His smile was pearly white, each tooth perfectly
    straight and even. He had a perfect tan and perfect blonde hair, not a single strand out of place.
    “Um,” My mind went blank as soon as I looked at him, and I felt a flush creeping up my neck.
    “Owen Harper,” he winked one of his green eyes at me. “It’s always tough to be new. Pretty soon
    you’ll blend right in.”
    “Yeah, right,” I mumbled.
    “Just remember to look down your nose at everyone at all times, and you’ll fit in perfectly.” He
    grinned, and a smile sprang to my lips in response.
    “I’m Rain Ramey.” Finally I remembered my name, but he was already closing his locker.
    “Nice meeting you, Rain Ramey.” Another flash of that perfect smile, and he turned to move down
    the hall. I stared into my locker, wondering if now would be a good time to just crawl inside. After all, it
    couldn’t be too bad to live in a locker if I could see a glimpse of Owen Harper from time to time.
    “There you are!” I recognized the strident shriek immediately and jerked back out of the locker to
    look down the hall. The blonde, now garbed in her school gym uniform, was marching purposefully toward
    “Oh no,” I whispered to my History book.
    “You’ll never believe what this trashy scholarship girl did to me in the cafeteria!”
    My heart sank. The blonde wasn’t coming toward me — she was heading right for Owen. “Oh, no,”
    I groaned again.
    “Carsyn! Why are you in your gym clothes?”
    “Oh my God, what are you doing here?” The blonde — apparently, her name was Carsyn — was
    giving me the same look I once saw my mother give a beetle that found its way into our kitchen from the
    “This is my locker,” I answered.
    “You two know each other?” Owen, poor guy, smiled at both of us.
    Carsyn was annoyed by his cluelessness, or so her dramatic eye-roll suggested. “This is the girl I
    was telling you about. Look at my shoes,” and she shoved them into his face. They were in her left hand; her
    feet were now clad in silver sandals.
    “You know, Carsyn, I heard Kate Moore say she thought they were last season. Maybe Rain here
    did you a favor,” Owen suggested.
    “Last season? Hardly. She probably doesn’t even know what that means. Wait a minute — Rain? Is
    that your name?”
    “Sure, she’s Rain Ramey,” Owen spoke up when I only stared at Carsyn. “And I think you look
    great in your gym clothes.” He moved closer to her, and I felt my stomach flip over. Together, they made a
    gorgeously blonde, perfect pair.
    Of course they were together. I should have known it the moment I saw Owen. Who else would
    date Barbie but Ken?
    “Come on,” he had an arm around her shoulders now. “I’ll walk you to your car so you can put
    those shoes in the trunk. See ya, Rain Ramey.”
    “Bye,” I muttered as they drifted down the hall together.
    Laurel showed up about twenty minutes later. “Have a nice lunch?” She didn’t look at me as she
    moved books around in her locker. “You have Biology next. Ready?”
    But she didn’t wait for an answer to the second question, either, just glanced at me before she took
    off toward the stairs. I sighed as I trotted after her, glad that her role as my big sister was a one-day-only
    She paused with me at the door to class. I was stopped by the look on her face.
    “You can get to your last class from here. Your schedule card,” she thrust a white index card at me.
    “Thanks,” I quickly tucked it into my notebook. “And thanks for showing me around.”
    “I was assigned to you.” Something in her voice made my smile of gratitude fade. “I’m supposed
    to welcome you to Sloane Academy. I hope you get something out of it. Just don’t think about joining any
    of the academic clubs. I know you were probably some sort of brain at your old high school, because you
    won the scholarship, but you’re not one of us.”
    Shocked, I took a step back and stared at her with wide eyes. “I beg your pardon?”
    “You heard me. You can wear our uniform and attend our school, but you’re never going to be
    welcome here.” She turned to walk away.
    My anger erupted. A dozen thoughts filled my mind at once. “Laurel–” but she was already gone. I
    could see her brown bob moving through the bodies still packing the hall.
    Things were going from bad to worse. I’d been hoping that Laurel might warm up a little. I was
    even thinking that maybe we could be friends. But she hated me, too. What did Sloane have against
    I was made to stand at the front of the Biology class, the same way I’d stood at the front of all my
    classes so far, while the teacher figured out where I would sit. He was a perfect picture of the word lanky,
    with a lean body that soared easily beyond six feet. Even his hands were massive, with long, slender fingers
    that wrapped around a notebook as he looked around the room.
    “Ah, yes. There’s a partner-less student and an empty seat in the back,” his grey head dipped in
    that direction, and I was forced to move between several leering students before I finally fell into my newlyappointed
    seat. At least this room was a bit more like the science classes I was used to. There were only two
    people at every table, and the cushioned chairs had been traded for padded stools.
    I couldn’t hold back the smile on my face as I settled into my brand-new seat…right next to Owen
    Chapter 2
    “So, I guess you’re having an interesting first day.” Owen’s smile lit up our murky little corner of
    the room.
    “I guess so. My big sister just told me I can’t join any of the academic clubs. Not that I was going
    to, but it was sort of a weird way to end the conversation.”
    He grinned. “Let me guess. Laurel?”
    “How’d you know!” I cried, then remembered where I was and cast a guilty glance toward the
    front of the room. I wasn’t even paying attention to Mr. Stevens, who was droning on about a page in the
    textbook we were meant to be studying.
    “Don’t worry about him. He couldn’t care less what we do,” Owen assured me.
    “So how’d you know?” I repeated the question more quietly this time.
    He shrugged. “That’s Laurel. She’s the queen of the nerds.”
    “The nerds have a queen?” I smiled; I couldn’t help it. Owen’s grin was infectious.
    He nodded. “Here at Sloane they do. And Laurel rules with an iron hand. She’s the head of every
    academic club the school has, even though she’s only a junior. She dictates who’s in and who’s out.”
    “Well I guess it’s not a total loss if I don’t get on the chess team,” I tried to laugh it off.
    Owen smiled back. “Sure no big deal. If you’re worried about padding for your college
    applications, you can always join the drama club. Laurel doesn’t have the art geeks on lockdown. And some
    schools go for that artsy junk.”
    “You’re already thinking about your college applications?”
    Owen looked at me strangely. “Man, you really don’t fit in here, do you?” Just when I was feeling
    completely out of place, he gave me that glorious smile yet again. “I like that about you, Rain Ramey.
    You’re unique. I don’t know anybody else who could make an enemy out of Laurel Riordan and Carsyn von
    Shelton both in the same day.”
    “Carsyn von Shelton,” I repeated him. It seemed to fit the perfect blonde from the cafeteria. “She
    never told me her name.”
    “She doesn’t need to. Carsyn’s sort of the queen bee around here. And now you have both the
    school queens against you. I guess that sort of makes you a rebel.”
    “I’m definitely not a rebel,” I answered quickly.
    “Well then, an outsider.”
    “Yeah, that fits,” I whispered.
    I didn’t feel like smiling anymore.
    “Hey, don’t worry.” Owen said, dipping his head to meet my eyes. “Everyone knows that Laurel is
    a complete bitch. She single-handedly kept me off the Debate Team because I’m dating Carsyn,” he added
    I was a little startled by the hard edge that had come into his voice. “Well, you can always argue
    with me if you like,” I answered lightly.
    Owen looked at me strangely. “I need to be on the Debate Team, Rain. My dad says it’s perfect
    practice for litigation, and it’ll help when I’m applying to law school. Laurel Riordan and her clique are a
    real problem.”
    “You already know that you want to be a lawyer?” I was amazed that he had his life so well
    mapped. I didn’t even know what I wanted to do during Spring Break, only weeks away, and here he was
    already planning law school applications he wouldn’t need for years and years.
    Owen looked toward the front of the classroom again, where Mr. Stevens was talking about the
    homework assignment from Friday that I knew nothing about. “It’s what my dad wants.”
    I shivered at something in his tone, but just as quickly as it came the darkness that stole over his
    face vanished. He turned to me with one of his dazzling smiles.
    “I’ll just have to figure out a way to get Laurel to relax her stranglehold on all the school clubs that
    will help me. No big deal.”
    I tried to smile back. Owen Harper’s problems were easy enough to solve. Mine were just
    I managed to get through Biology without saying a word to anyone but Owen, and my final class of
    the day was gym. I spent the last hour of school playing volleyball, and I was actually feeling better as I
    walked out to my car wearing my crimson and grey Sloane Academy shorts and matching T-shirt.
    A blonde wearing the exact same outfit was perched on my back bumper.
    “Carsyn von Shelton.” I stopped several steps away from the Corvair, too intimidated even to
    approach my own car. This was the first time, in the three months I’d been driving, that I hated my
    personalized license plate with the drawing of a storm cloud and pouring rain. “And Dee, is it?” I nodded to
    the girl who’d been with her in the cafeteria.
    Carsyn straightened and sauntered toward me, with the sort of swagger only a beautiful girl could
    have. “I thought maybe you’d like to have a second chance to make a good impression. Owen tells me
    you’re his lab partner now that Thad’s gone. And since you’re new at Sloane, I thought maybe you’d like to
    get off on the right foot. You would like that, wouldn’t you?”
    “Of course.” My reply came immediately. I already had an enemy in one Sloane Academy queen.
    If I could get Carsyn to forget her gripe with me, maybe I could survive the rest of the school year.
    “Great!” She smiled. “Come with us, then. We’re going to Veronica’s.”
    I didn’t dare ask what Veronica’s was — I figured I’d find out soon enough. I fell into step next to
    Dee, and we both tagged along behind Carsyn all the way to her convertible.
    “So where do you live?” Carsyn screamed at me as we sped down the street. The wind whipped at
    her blonde hair, and it bannered out behind her like a flag to catch the sun.
    “Sutton Street. I went to Sutton High before I transferred.”
    “Where’s Sutton Street?” I thought I heard Dee ask from the backseat.
    “It’s on the south side, I think,” Carsyn answered. She seemed like the kind of girl who always had
    the answers. “So, what kind of music do you like? Here,” she reached up to the visor, pulling down a CDladen
    sleeve. “Pick something out.”
    Carsyn’s CD collection was mostly pop — Katy Perry and Lady Gaga seemed to be her favorites —
    and we talked about various bands all the way to our destination. Veronica’s soon revealed itself to be a
    large department store near the downtown area of town, a brick monument to shopping with a dozen wide,
    gleaming windows.
    “We get lots of stuff here,” Carsyn chirped as she turned the ignition, silencing the purring engine.
    “Sometimes the clerks hide special stuff just for us,” Dee added as she climbed out of the backseat.
    I adjusted my backpack on my shoulder and followed them inside.
    I’ve often wondered what would have happened that day if I’d told Carsyn von Shelton “no,
    thanks.” Just two simple words, and the course of my life would have been entirely different. Why did I
    climb into her convertible that day, why did I walk into the store?
    No matter how many times I ask the questions, I can’t get good answers. I wanted her to like me. I
    wanted to fit in at my new school. I should have already known it was impossible. I should have just gone
    But I didn’t. And because of that, I never really went home again.
    We were offered refreshments immediately, and straightaway two clerks appeared to show Carsyn
    and Dee the latest fashions. I was intimidated by the gleaming stone flooring, expensive wooden paneling
    and the hushed, reverent way the clerks acted around Carsyn. Apparently, she wasn’t just the queen of
    Sloane Academy — the two women were fawning over her like she was the Queen of England. I hung back,
    taking my cues from Dee and Carsyn.
    That’s something else I would hate myself for, later.
    Carsyn and Dee made their minds up very quickly; with one remark, Carsyn either adored or
    dismissed the various items that were shown to her. Finally she waved the clerks away and the three of us
    moved through the store alone, taking a glass elevator up to the second floor.
    “This would look great on you,” Carsyn, who had been buried in a rack for the last five minutes,
    turned around in a whirl of blonde to present me with a pale pink minidress with black accents. “Go try it
    on,” she encouraged.
    Pink wasn’t my style, but I shrugged and accepted the hanger. “Okay. Be right back.”
    “We’ll be back there with some more stuff in a minute,” she promised. I nodded and walked across
    carpeted floors to the posh dressing rooms.
    They came in moments later, giggling and whispering over something known only to them. I was
    in a world of pain inside that tiny room, and it was growing smaller by the minute. The tutu-like skirt could
    only be entered through the tiny little waist opening, and no amount of twisting would get the garment over
    my hips. All around me, my own reflection spun and whirled. Every time I caught my expression, I looked a
    little more frustrated.
    “How’s it look, Rain?” Carsyn chirped.
    “Mphrf.” I finally managed to heave the dress into place and held it over my chest with both hands
    to keep it from draping down. “It’s fine.”
    “Let’s see it!” Dee cried.
    I wrestled with the door one-handed. Carsyn spun me around first thing to get the dress zipped up
    in the back. Both of them enthusiastically praised it when I turned to face them.
    “You should get it,” Carsyn encouraged.
    It didn’t really fit and I wasn’t keen on the color, so I shook my head. “I don’t know where I’d
    wear it, and it’s really not comfortable. I think I’ll keep looking.”
    They were outside the dressing room when I exited a second time, re-clad in my school uniform.
    “Here,” a smiling Carsyn held up something shiny that she quickly fastened around my wrist.
    I examined a thin gold bracelet, so fine it looked like one of the fabled threads of gold from a
    storybook I read as a little girl. “It’s beautiful, but I’m sure I can’t afford it.”
    “Of course you can’t,” Carsyn waved her hand dismissively. I’d noticed the gesture was a habit of
    hers. “That’s why I’m giving it to you.” She gave me a little wink. “It’s nothing, really.”
    “Really,” Dee echoed with a little giggle.
    “No, I couldn’t possibly.” Carsyn had attached the bracelet to my left wrist. As a lefty, I was
    finding it impossible to undo the tiny little clasp with my clumsy right hand.
    “Don’t worry about it,” Carsyn laid her hand atop my fidgeting one.
    I’ve often thought back to that moment. What was in her eyes, then? But I can’t remember. All I
    can remember is that sweet little smile of hers, and how hopeful I felt that perhaps I’d made a friend. Maybe
    things wouldn’t be so bad at Sloane after all.
    “Okay,” I smiled and shrugged. After all, it was such a thin little bracelet, how much could it really
    “Let’s go to that store on First instead,” Carsyn suggested. Dee nodded quickly and trailed after
    her out of the dressing room.
    “Don’t we need to stop at the counter?” I murmured as Carsyn breezed through the store.
    “I’ve already taken care of it,” she announced airily. Another little wave accompanied the
    I followed Carsyn and Dee out of the lush store, my feet feeling light as they floated over the
    polished floors. Laurel’s locker was right next to mine. Maybe tomorrow, I could make amends with her,
    too, and overcome my first bad day at school. Things were going to be all right after all.
    It was the last thought I had before I felt the hand clamp down on my shoulder.
    “Excuse me, Miss, but we need you to come with us.” Two security guards in black had
    materialized out of nowhere, and they were both giving me a hard stare.
    I looked over my shoulder for Carsyn and Dee…but they were already gone.

    Buy Justice (Deck of Lies) by Jade Varden On Amazon Kindle >>

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  • Comments
    One Response to “Interview with Jade Varden”
    1. Richard David says:

      Wow, after reading the sample chapter I couldn’t stop myself from jumping straight on the Amazon web site and I bought the book. I couldn’t put it down, I read the entire thing in one sitting. Lots of twists and turns, can’t wait for the next one to come out.

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