Purchase on Amazon, Sony and All Romance Books.
Synopsis: The only things sixteen-year-old JAX STONE has of her former life is an antique watch and an old storybook her grandmother left her, a five-year-old brother, ANDY, her mother left her, and a hypnotic singing voice she inherited from her father.
A streetwise orphan, she is an expert at surviving in a dangerous city, where the rich have fled to the New Continent and the deadly daytime sun forces the middle class to live in sewer tunnels. Jax, along with the rest of the homeless, must be wary of rats—the furry ones underground that steal their food and invade their shelter and the human ones above ground that steal their children and threaten their lives.
When the tyrannical mayor, SYLVANIS A. CULPEPPER, kidnaps Jax’s brother it’s no coincidence. His son has died from multiple rat bites and he kidnaps all of the city’s children with a two-fold ulterior motive. One, to find his illegitimate offspring, and two, to garner a slave labor force to build his planned underground city using those he did not father.
Jax is surprised when Culpepper’s personal pilot, COLT CONRAD, a stranger from the New Continent, facilitates her escape from the mayor’s mansion after her first attempt to save Andy goes awry. Romantic emotions interfere with her determination to rescue her brother and though she knows who Colt is, she doesn’t know they are both descendants of the founders of an environmental militant group called the ECOS, who battled Culpepper two generations earlier, and lost their lives to the unscrupulous tyrant.
Jax accidentally discovers her singing has a hypnotic effect on the rats. Desperate to win Andy’s freedom, she disguises herself as a world-renowned exterminator with the help of a rag-tag band of friends. ASTORIA CRUZ, a teen nightwalker. RAFE JOHNSTON, the leader of a street gang. And a genius boy nicknamed CHIENSTEIN, who designs tools from scavenged machine parts Jax picks at abandoned mansions and industrial sites. Colt introduces her as THE VIPER and she barters with Culpepper. If she rids Metro city of the rats that killed his child she will receive enough gold to pay passage for her brother, her friends and herself to the New Continent.
In a life-threatening ruse Jax uses her mesmerizing song to lure the city’s rats to their death in the toxic river. But when the corrupt mayor reneges on the agreement, Jax and her friends ultimately outwit and out battle the greedy autocrat. Culpepper and his Megamark Guards kill Rafe as he protects Astoria, his unrequited love. In Jax’s grief over his death a new relationship blossoms with Colt, one that changes her life forever. Though the price paid for her brother’s freedom is extreme, Jax saves not only her brother, but all of Metro City’s children from life in a dying city.
“I’d like to thank I Heart YA for having my characters and me, as guests on the blog to discuss RATGIRL: Song of the Viper, released in February 2013 from Noble Romance-Young Adult.
My name is Gayle C. Krause and this is Jax Stone, aka RATGIRL.”
Jax nods. “Hi.”
“So, Jax, I’m sure the readers would like to know more about you and RATGIRL: Song of the Viper story. Could you tell us something about yourself?”
“Well, when the story starts, the only thing I hate more than my life is the rats. They’ve taken over the streets and buildings, and they’re even in my bed. I guess it’s to be expected since I live in an abandoned city sewer. But they make my job raising Andy even harder. At five, my brother can’t take care of himself yet, not in this hellhole.”
“So your life circumstance is not ideal.”
Jax shakes her head and sighs. “Not by a long shot. Global warming has practically devastated the earth, and the sun’s deadly rays make it impossible for us to spend more than two hours on the surface. And, there’s not enough food, thanks to him.” Jax tilts her head toward the last chair on the stage.
Culpepper, the tyrannical mayor, leans forward in his seat, his beady eyes narrowed.
“Let’s not exaggerate the facts, girl. The sniveling crybabies left in my city make me sick. They act like they’re the only ones who have suffered from the sun’s attack on the Earth. If they had any gumption they’d pick themselves up and start working to make a better life for themselves. I did.”
Jax answers. “I tried, but you made it difficult. Thanks to Nonna’s teachings, I’m the only one in Metro City who forages for wild edibles, while others starve. We eat our main meal in the morning, just before sun-up. Once it rises we descend into our hidey-holes, until it’s safe to come out again in the evening.
Bah! I should have known you were one of those insufferable ECOS.”
“Next to Jax, is the most heart-stopping, swoonworthy male character in YA novels, today. He’s got a body like the statue of David, and a heart filled with love, not only for Jax, but for all mankind. He’s a true ECO.”
Jax clasps his hand and a crimson haze blossoms on his cheeks.
“You’re embarrassing me, Gayle. I just workout and eat right.”
Jax grins. “Easy for you, since you live in Antarctica in 2511. It’s the only sustainable continent left on earth. Jax’s cheeks blush, too. I’m only kidding. I’m sure the readers would love to know him as well as I do. His name is Colt. Colt Conrad.”
“Colt, what do you have to say? You’re seated between these two. Is that on purpose?”
“Yes. Syl, here, employed me, and my Air Caravan to bring food to Metro City, but he took it all for himself and his cronies. The homeless only got what The Altar Boys could smuggle to them. Every time I pulled into the old station I noticed Jax observing me bartering with the desperate people, who traded whatever family heirlooms they had left, for food. Eventually our paths crossed, and the rest is history.”
“Bah! History! I’m the one who had a plan to return Metro City to its glory days, with my new underground city. But first, I needed to rid the city of the vile rodents that killed my wife and son. “
Jax bolts to her feet.
“But you couldn’t do that without my help. And once I rid the city of rats, you reneged on our agreement.
“You did that all alone? Can you tell us more?”
“My one goal was to get Andy to the New Continent, where he could live a normal life but when Culpepper kidnapped him, along with the city’s homeless children, it made my goal a daunting one. Desperate to get Andy back I formulated a plan and used my hypnotic singing voice to carry it out. He left me no choice. I took all the children of the dying city to safety. But I couldn’t do it without my friends and Colt.
“Thanks Jax. Colt, I remember something about the secret tattoo on your bicep. Could you tell us a bit about the ECO’s?”
“Sure. The ECOS were a group of environmentalists, who tried to preserve the Earth’s resources when severe global warming first started to affect our lives. They imported trees that would survive in warmer temperatures, and moved to the country to grow their own root vegetables. Their numbers included scientists, agriculturists, horticulturists and anyone environmentally minded. Jax’s grandmother and my grandfather were two of the founders. They passed their knowledge of sustainable living on to us.”
So Sylvanis Culpepper, you’ve taken on the role of villain. How are you?”
His gruff and selfish nature pours out with his words. “That depends on whether you’re at the beginning of the book or the end.
“I can still see the tumult in your relationships, even now that the story is over. So can you tell I Heart YA readers where they can find RATGIRL: Song of the Viper to read your story for themselves?”
It’s available as a paperback and as e-book for Kindles, and all Sony e-readers. You can find it on Amazon, Sony and Noble Young Adult websites.
Enter to win an ecopy of RATGIRL: SONG OF THE VIPER over on the I HEART YA page!