by Erica O’Rourke

O’ROURKE, Erica. Dissonance. 496p. ebook available. S. & S. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442460263. LC 2013033578

For fans of THE RULES by Stacey Kade and THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin

Praise for Dissonance

"We really loved working with Erica O'Rourke on her new novel, Dissonance. In addition to being happy to have a smart, well-written sci-fi romance to recommend to our customers, Erica was a warm, funny presence when she talked about her writing process, and she was also a great partner on social media, helping us to alert her fans and the public about the book and the event. We'd jump at the chance to host her again, in this or any number of alternate worlds."

Robert McDonald, The Bookstall at Chestnut Court Winnetka, IL

"Gr 9 Up–Delancy Sullivan is a Walker, someone with the genetic ability to travel to parallel worlds. When choices are made in the “Key World,” an alternate reality is established where an echo follows a different path. Walkers maintain order and balance between these multiple universes and the Key World to ensure harmony for all. Walkers travel by feeling and hearing musical frequencies called threads. These threads connect the multiple worlds allowing them to sense discord and then either fix or destroy it. On a routine training mission things go terrible wrong, and if not for Del’s unconventional thinking, she and her sister Addison would have been lost.

As a result the Consort, the governing council for Walkers, suspends Del from Walking, determining that her reckless ways need proper supervision. Headstrong and determined, Del questions the Consort’s motives as well as her parents’ secret involvement in a mysterious multiverse anomaly. But the investigation turns her world upside down as she faces difficult choices as well as accept their consequences. O’Rourke brilliantly builds an intricate and complex alternate science-fiction universe that contains beautiful imagery and visualization. The pacing and attention to detail drive the plot forward, while the link between Walking and music is fascinating. The well-defined characters deal with important themes such as family, loyalty, romance, and betrayal. A definite page-turner full of thought-provoking discussions about morality and humanity. Throw in a pseudo love triangle, forbidden romance, sibling rivalry, a witty grandpa, and a cliff-hanger ending, and fans will be longing for the next installment"

Donna Rosenblum, School Library Journal, Floral Park Memorial High School, NY

Connect With Erica

Erica O'Rourke



The Story Behind The Story


Any author will tell you: stories begin with a “What if...”

It’s human nature to wonder about the road not traveled, the choice not made, the life almost led. Sometimes with regret, sometimes with relief, always in hindsight, with a shake of the head and astonishment at the power of a single moment. What if, what if, what if.

What if, for example, I hadn’t looked out the window?

My senior year in college was perfectly planned. Graduate; find a job teaching English; marry my long-time boyfriend. I’d spent my first day back on campus sweltering in the late-August heat, unpacking while I waited for my boyfriend to arrive. For no particular reason, I looked out the window just as he pulled into the parking lot in his shiny new car.

He stepped out. Stretched. Then he stopped, studying the beat-up blue sedan in the next spot, cocking his head. The gesture seemed off, somehow – too tense and cold for a lazy summer afternoon.

I could have gone downstairs to meet him. I could have finished shelving my overpriced textbooks. Instead, five stories up and unnoticed, I watched.

He grabbed the side of the door, as if to close it – and then slammed it into the other car, the impact jolting his body. The sound carried across the parking lot, metallic and deliberate. I flinched as he did it again. Then he closed his door, locked the car, and ambled inside. The entire scene took less than ninety seconds.

“What was up with that car?” I asked after I let him in.
“What car?” He leaned down to kiss me.
I put out a hand to fend him off. “The one you hit.”
He shrugged. “They would have dinged my door when they left. I got them first.”

It was the act of a bully, casual and cruel. If I hadn’t turned my head, I would never have spotted it, or seen that side of him. I would have carried on exactly as before, following the map of my perfect life in perfect ignorance.

But choices can’t be undone; sights can’t be unseen. My tiny choice led to a bigger one. A short time later, we broke up. My carefully planned world reshaped itself into something infinitely better.

Was it fate? Random coincidence? A warning from the universe, or an isolated mistake? I’ll never know. Sometimes, I wonder: what if hadn’t looked out the window? I don’t think I would like that life very much. That temper would have turned on me, and I would have turned into someone else entirely.

I wrote Dissonance because I’m fascinated by the might-have beens and the what-ifs. I wanted to explore how lives could change due to a single decision and what, if anything, stayed the same.

Delancey Sullivan has grown up witnessing the power of choices; unlike the rest of the world, she can move between those what-ifs and possibilities. And while the circumstances may change, some things – family, and first love, and secrets – are constant.

Q & A

What’s your book about and why did you write it?

DISSONANCE is the story of Delancey Sullivan, a girl with the genetic ability to “Walk” between parallel worlds. Due to a training accident, Del is suspended from the Walkers – but she continues to visit Echo-worlds, where she runs into alternate versions of her longtime crush, Simon. As she struggles to reclaim her place with the Walkers, she uncovers secrets that threaten Simon, the Walkers, and the fabric of the multiverse.

The book sprang from my fascination with the Many-Worlds theory – the idea that every choice creates an alternate world where you live out your other decision. It made me wonder, what if you could have anything you wanted, just by walking to another world? How would you choose between infinite possibilities? At its heart, Dissonance is a story about how we choose – and how our choices define and challenge us.

Describe your protagonists for us.

Del Sullivan is smart and stubborn and snarky and secretive – and softer than she’ll admit. She’s the problem child, the one who’s constantly told she’s not working up to her potential – but deep down, she knows she’s as talented as her “perfect” older sister. Despite her impulsive nature, she’s fiercely loyal to the people she loves, like her grandfather and her best friend.

Simon Lane is the golden boy of his high school – the basketball star who can charm everyone from the cheerleaders to the lunch lady. He likes a challenge, and Del presents exactly that.

Are there any other characters in your book you wish you could write about?

I recently finished a novella featuring Addie, Del’s older sister, which will be published in spring 2015. I’d also like to write a story about Del’s best friend, Eliot. He’s so devoted to her, but he sees the world in a vastly different way.

What scenes made you most emotional while writing?

The hardest scenes to write are the ones where the characters I love suffer, either physically or emotionally. In Dissonance, the big blowout between Del and her best friend was painful. Despite the fact these are fictional characters, it was heartbreaking to watch a lifelong friendship shatter. Putting Del through some of the sacrifices necessary for this story was also gutwrenching at times.

What’s your writing process like?

I dislike first drafts – it’s a miserable experience I try to get through as quickly as possible, and I outline before I start. The first draft often deviates from the outline quite a bit, but knowing I have a plan, even if it changes, is very reassuring to me.

Revision, on the other hand, is where my stories come alive. It’s only in then that I realize what the story is truly about. I try not to be too precious about routines and writing supplies, but I’ve learned over the years that I have to revise by hand, not on the screen. It’s terribly inefficient, not to mention time-consuming, but I can’t work any other way.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Be curious. Pay attention. Work hard. Read as much and as widely as you can, with an eye toward what works and what doesn’t, and apply it to your own stories. Finish the pieces you start: if you only write beginnings, you’ll never learn how to write an ending. Write a lot and revise even more, because that’s when the magic happens – when the words on the page begin to resemble the story in your head. Tell the stories you want to tell, because you’re the only one who can.

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