Tuesday, October 8, 2013


When reality utterly fails you, there is always the comfort of the land of dreams. Chloe Valcourt, a tormented nineteen-year-old young woman, has for twelve years hovered between a daily life dominated by an abusive mother and an imagined alternate world that exists only in her mind’s eye. Can she keep track of which is real—and whether or not she is real, too? Schasm is the mind-bending young adult romance by Shari J. Ryan that mines the heart of darkness, where one young woman seeks light in her own shimmering daydreams.

A psychological condition has captured the body, mind, and soul of Chloe, and thrust her into the hands of probing doctors at the continued mercy of her tyrannical mother.  As she struggles to break free of the grim life into which she was born, she continues to suffer the daily assaults from her mother and the dispiriting weakness of her dejected father. When Chloe unexpectedly finds herself drawn into a new, warm life abundant in love and romance with a kindhearted man named Alex, the escape at last gives her a happiness that she's never been allowed to feel. However, when hidden truths reveal a life that she cannot remember, Chloe finds herself lost between what is real and what isn't.

Blending extreme daydreaming, alternating realities, and multiple personalities, Schasm is a gripping tale that treads the thin line between a harrowing reality and the captivating terrain of an imagined world. As Chloe plays too close to the edge of insanity, her multiple realities clash, leaving her to question everything, including her own existence. Anyone who relishes a flight of fancy with richly drawn characters and surprising twists of plot will be immersed in the strange new world of Schasm, where nothing is at it seems.

Scared to confirm my location, I slowly open my eyes and see a lightbulb wrapped in iron bars hanging from a large rock above my head. The light is just bright enough to illuminate a few feet on each side of where I’m lying. Feeling very vulnerable, I stand up quickly and walk toward the wall closest to me. I find that it’s cold, damp, and has an odd texture. It almost feels like this narrow, cave-like room is made up of separate rocks or boulders.
Walking back toward the hanging light, I see that there is an adjacent room just a few feet ahead. The cave is empty, so every footstep I take makes the crackling dirt below my feet sound amplified.
I cautiously walk into the next room to see four more hanging lights and that the room is spherical. The lights are evenly distributed along the walls, and they reveal something so frightening that I’m not sure whether to run away screaming or take a closer look. But with no one in sight, I decide to face my fears and walk closer to this nightmare. Lined perfectly along the walls, I see thousands of skulls and random bones that appear to be looking directly at me. Where am I? This is the most sickening thing I’ve ever seen! Have all these people been killed here? Is there some kind of monster collecting heads of the deceased and mounting them on these walls? Why am I here? Is this some kind of place of punishment?
Becoming more terrified as the seconds go by, I decide it’s best to keep moving. It’s my only hope of finding a way out of this repulsive hell. Why couldn’t I just end up on Alex’s couch? I can only assume that those stupid pills must have caused this. Searching around the room in hopes of finding another way out, I see a small hole in the ceiling with a ladder leaning up against the wall. I jiggle it around to test that it’s sturdy enough to climb. Thankfully, it’s been ground so deeply into the dirt that there’s no movement, no matter how hard I try to shake it.
As I begin to ascend, it's clear that this hole isn't getting any brighter as I had hoped. However, even knowing that there may be no light on the other end of this passageway, I’m still going to continue climbing upward, hoping to eventually reach some kind of solid ground.
After climbing for a few minutes, I think I sense that the air has become less humid, and I don’t feel as constricted. I wave my arm around to verify that are no more rocks surrounding my head, and I thankfully feel open space. I eagerly reach up for the next bar on the ladder and find that my hand grasps nothing but air. I must be at the next location.
Cautiously pulling myself up onto the higher ground, I instantly notice that I’m still surrounded by complete darkness. It’s making me feel uneasy about walking anywhere when I can’t tell if the floor I’m standing on will just disappear or turn into some type of ledge. Searching in every direction hoping to see at least a shadow, I come to a halt when I see a tiny speck of light ahead of me. I guess that’s the direction I’ll be heading in. I’m not sure if the light is at the end of a long hallway, a hole, or just my imagination, but at this point I have no other choice but to see what it is. I can only hope that it’s a way out.
What was the inspiration for schasm people/places/things/randomness

I have two little boys who take up most of my time, causing my mind to have a constant focus on cleaning bottles, baby’s butts, and mashed food off of the floor. One night after the kids went to bed, I decided to focus on something non-kid related to remind myself that my mind does more than translate baby gibberish. That was the day I decided to sit down and come up with an idea for my book.

The next afternoon during naptime, I was staring aimlessly out of the window at three feet of snow, thick grey clouds, and the streetlights flickering in the middle of the afternoon. It was a depressing New England winter day, and my mind only wanted to wander toward the golden sands of San Diego (One of my favorite places). My quick mind-drift lead me to the thought of what it might be like to daydream my way out of the cold. Then I began to wonder if people had that capability and if they did what they would do with it. It was at that moment that the story of Schasm began to flood my mind.

Inspiration began to pour out of every part of my life. People watching in supermarkets, restaurants and doctors offices helped me with the character development. The places I had traveled to in the past helped me with location research, but oddly enough, the biggest place I found inspiration was within the music I listened to.

When I was writing a sad or depressing scene, I listened to bands like Mogwai or Explosions In The Sky. That type of music is new to me, and I’ve only recently come across the particularly dark genre, but most of the songs are just haunting enough that they helped me connect with the pain that my characters were feeling in certain scenes.  And then for the upbeat adrenaline rushing scenes, I listened to fast classical orchestra and some Dubstep since it seemed to get my mind moving a little faster. The list of emotions tied with different musical genres has been a huge asset throughout writing Schasm, and the other two books in the trilogy, as well.

I'm thankful for finding inspiration in unexpected places because my stories wouldn't be what they are without them.
Shari J. Ryan has always dreamt of becoming an author and finally decided it was time to pursue her lifelong aspiration by writing her debut young adult novel, Schasm. She has long nurtured a passion for art, reading, and writing, and those hobbies have become a mental escape from her busy life. In the past year, she has put her heart and soul into the creation of her novel, which has taught her that it is never too late and nothing is too hard. The author graduated with a bachelors of science degree from Johnson & Wales University and has written hundreds of articles for various online publications. She is married with two sons.

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