After over 4 years, Olena comes rocketing back into Claire’s life, changing everything for the worse. Picking up the shattered pieces, Claire is not sure who to believe. Is Olena who she says she is, or is she a killer to stay away from? Leaning on her new boyfriend Steven for support, Claire is faced with the choice on who to trust: a friend she barley knows, or a history lesson she barely remembers. Together, the three will begin a journey that will take Claire from the safety of her home to the last place she thought she would ever be: The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. With the wreckage of rector four looming behind her, Claire will have to see Olena’s plan through until the end if she wants any chance of making it out alive.
About Dana Burkey
I graduated college from Youngstown State University in 2009 with a degree in theater and a minor in creative writing. I am currently living in Washington State in a little cabin in the woods with my cat Cato. I work full time at a kids camp, and spend my free time doing community theater and adventuring in nature! I am an avid geocacher, and love watching reality TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance, Project Runway, and Big Brother! I am currently working on my next project that includes a few YA romances and a YA dystopian series!
Interview with Dana Burkey
- Where do you get your ideas?
For the most part I get my ideas from everyday things. Reading a book, watching a movie, having a conversation with someone, or even just watching the world around me gives me ideas all the times. I have always been creative, and my parents always encouraged creativity when I was growing up, so my brain works well to create new ideas and characters and stories based on little things. Even when I am not trying to find an idea for a story, I can often come up with something from almost out of nowhere and put it to good use. Often when I write down the ideas they do not go anywhere in the end, but sometimes they turn out to be stories that I love and get to share with readers.
- Is there a particular author or book that influenced you in any way?
One author that made a big impact on me was Rick Riordan. In college I minored in creative writing, and often was told by my classmates that what I was writing was “childish” and “juvenile.” It was really hard to hear at the time, and by the time I graduated college in 2009 I did not have a big desire to write at all. But then, while working as an intern at a kids camp, a camper gave me a copy of the Percy Jackson series to barrow. I read it super fast and loved everything about it. It was then that I started to read over books similar to that series, and then started to hear people talking about the idea of “young adult” books. YA was taking over the book world all of a sudden, and I was suddenly feeling like I knew where I stood as an author. Even before I knew the term, I had been writing YA books. Reading Riordan’s books, and understanding the genre of YA, I got a fresh love of writing! It was the inspiration and confidence booster I needed to get back to writing, and lead to me self publishing my first story just over a year ago.
- Can you tell us about your upcoming books?
Write now I am working on a few projects. I have a YA contemporary romance that is almost finished but sitting on the sidelines while I worked on some other things this summer. I also have a few chapters of a YA romance set in Hollywood that I am thinking about working on this year as a part of NaNoWriMo. And, as if that is not enough, I have an outline doing for a YA zombie novel/series that lead to me recently releasing a short story called I Will Survive. The next few months are sure to be busy, but once completed I have some fun new projects to share with my readers!
- Is anything in your book based on a real life experience or purely all imagination?
Most of the events in my book Locket Full of Secrets are imagination. Some of the characters were based off of people I know, or things I went through, but at the same time the whole book revolves around the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Meltdown. This was a historical event that I have been long fascinated with, so when I began writing about the events I was able to draw on my knowledge of history and also research more about the tragic events to add color to my story.
- What was your favorite part to write?
I loved writing the ending! When I read a book, I always want to know what happens a few days or weeks or even years after the story ends. So, with this book, I chose to give my readers a peek of the future for the main characters. I actually had to write it three times before it ended up how it is in the book. First it was too sappy, then too harsh, and then finally how I knew it needed to be all along. When I finally had it finished and was re-reading it, I had tears in my eyes, knowing that I had finally gotten it right.
- How did you come up with the title?
Locket Full of Secrets was such a long journey to write that I don’t actually know when I came up with the title. In a way, it describes so much of the book, so it was a natural fit. Hopefully when readers see the title it makes them interested to know what the secret is hiding in the locket.
- Will you have a new book coming out soon?
Hopefully! I have a few projects that I am working on, one of which is only about 5 chapters from being finished. Now that school is starting in my area and my job is back to more normal hours, I am hoping that I will having time to finish the book and get it to reader soon. It is called Babysitting Charlie and is a YA contemporary romance.
- What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
Since I started releasing my work to readers, the hardest moment was my first 1-star review. It had me almost in tears as I read the not so kind words someone took the time to write. Since then, I have tried to remind myself that not everyone has to love what I write for it to be good. It also helps that I recently got a 5-star review that came with the statement “After reading this book, it has made my top five favorite books!” I was shocked when I read the words written about Locket Full of Secrets. It was for sure an amazing moment for me, and helped me to keep things in perspective. Not everyone out there will always love what I write, but it is worth it to keep writing and share my work with the world for the people that truly love the character and world I have created.
- Do you have any advice to give aspiring writers?
Keep writing, and don’t be afraid to fail! Even if you don’t write the best story in the world, if you love writing then keep doing it and share it with others. It can be scary to think about weather or not people will like what story you choose to write, but sharing your creative can also be the most rewarding thing ever when you truly love it.
- Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Thanks so much for your support in my writing! Thank you to each person who has read my stories and entered into the worlds I have created. It is thanks to the readers who have enjoyed my work so far that keeps me going and writing more. I look forward to sharing even more with you in the future!
Big Screen Favorites of Dana Burkey
When people read my books, they describe them with the words “cute,” “adorable,” and “sweet.” And I love it! When I write stories, I want romance in them that people love, that teens long for, but that are also still believable. I hope that readers will get a break from their normal day to day while diving into the world I create for each of my books. One thing, however, that will NEVER be called “cute” or “adorable,” is my taste in movies!
From a young age, my whole family watched action movies and science fiction movies that were not quite what my friends were watching. I can remember watching movies like Terminator, Contact, Demolition Man, Total Recall, and Alien at a time when my friends were still not allowed to see anything with a rating higher than PG-13. So, from a young age, I gravitated towards movies with fight scenes, car chases, explosions, and lead characters that uttered epic one liners.
Through the years I also watched some chick-flicks, and even have some pretty sappy movies in my vast DVD collection. Some of them just relate to a time or a place in my life so perfectly that I cannot help but enjoy them. But, when push comes to shove I go to action and epic movies to keep me entertained! Not sure if those kinds of movies are the right ones for you? Why not check out 5 of my favorites, and then see if you don’t also love the movies I watch the most.
BATTLE LOS ANGELES:
When I first heard about this movie I was both excited and also nervous. The plot line is one I have seen many times before. Aliens come to earth, people try to fight back. But, the thing that made it really intriguing for me was that the people trying to fight those aliens, were Marines! Now, my parents are both former Marines, possibly part of where my love of action movies come from. As I began watching this movie I was quickly drawn in by an amazing and epic story! It reminded me an updated Independence Day, which is also one of my favorites. What made the whole thing even better, however, was the fact that the movie was shot to look like a camera was with the Marines, giving us an almost documentary angle to watch each scene from. The characters were well thought out and believable, and the aliens were so well designed and created. Since first seeing this movie back in the summer of 2012, I have watched it easily 50+ times! I watch it every few months, sometimes more than once in a week! And, with actors like Will Rothhar and Aaron Eckhart staring in this flick, it is hard to not fall in love with everything about this battle filled movie!
One thing that really bugs me about movies is when it’s clearly an action movie that guys will love to watch, but then for some reason they throw in a romance story. It sometimes honestly feels like it is just there so girls that get drug to the movie with their boyfriends will be happy. So, when I saw The Eagle, I was so excited! First of all, it is a movie starring Jamie Bell! Some people might see Channing Tatum as the star in this movie, but since he is not my favorite actor, this movie is all about Jamie for me! Well, this movie is set in ancient Rome, and the two leads are heading out of the protection of the Roman Empire to recover a missing eagle that will bring honor to all of Rome. It is an epic quest kind of a movie, and not only is there no love line thrown in just because, there is actually not a single line in the movie spoken by a woman! Now, some girls might get mad at this, but considering when it was in history, I think it was a good choice to keep the movie focused on what it needed to be focused on, and to play up all of the action instead of making side trips to have two actors kiss and whatever. All in all, it was a great movie that has a noble plot, awesome battles, and Jamie Bell! What more could you ask for?
When it comes to girl power, no one comes close to Mila Jojovitch in this movie franchise! The first time I saw the first movie in this series, I was shocked and it was crazy to see such a crazy action movie come from a video game! If I had not known that fact ahead of time, I never would have guessed that the plot was formed from a game people play on their game systems. Each movie proved to be a new and insane journey for the character Alice as she tried to defeat the men behind the T-virus, while also trying to defeat the actual virus as well. I have seen each of the movies over and over again, my favorite being the first, third, and fourth. But, with the next and last movie coming soon, who knows what my favorite will be after that! What I do know, however, is that Mila is tough and fierce the whole movie, and never needs to rely on a guy to save her. She is tough enough to take everything head on and come out on top thanks to her amazing skills!
The first time I saw this movie I was 9 years old. My parents were out for the night at the Marine Corps Ball, so my sister was given two gifts for us to open once we were done with our chores. Upon finishing cleaning my room, I found out that the gifts were two VHS tapes. The first was Nightmare Before Christmas, and the second was Jurassic Park! We watched JP first in case it gave me nightmares to watch right before bed, and honestly…I was pretty scared for some of it! I enjoyed the movie and all, but it was a lot to take in for a little kid! But, I watched it again and again, as we did with movies in my house growing up. I fell in love with the movie, and loved the rumors around my school that they were actually cloning dinosaurs in real life as well. The moment that helped to solidify this movie as one of my favorites, however, was at a fall orchestra concert a few years after the movie came out. Sitting in the audience, I gasped along with my fellow classmates as the high school orchestra on stage began playing the theme song to the movie. It was like hearing the soundtrack while not watching the movie made me love it even more. To this day even hearing the music gives me chills! I even set it as my ring tone, so even if I don’t like who is calling, hearing the music and thinking of the life changing movie puts me in a good mood!
EDGE OF TOMORROW:
The newest movie to make my list, this one started the second I saw the preview! Watching it on TV, I knew right away I wanted to see the movie. But, knowing the trend in Hollywood, I checked online to see if the movie was a book first. Thankfully I checked, since I found out that the movie was based off of the book All You Need Is Kill. I rushed onto Amazon and bought the book right away. After completely loving the book I was excited to see the movie opening weekend. I knew I was going to like the movie, but in the end I actually liked the movie even more than the book! Every scene was more amazing than the last, and the added back story and spin on things the screenwriter chose had me falling in love with every second! When the movie came out on DVD I bought it right away, and have watched it easily a dozen times since! In fact…I might need to watch the movie right now. It’s been at least a month since I last put it on, so I am due to watch it for sure!
Well, now that you know about the movies I love to watch, and watch, and watch, and watch again and again, I hope you will enjoy the “cute” and “adorable” books I write. And when you are done with my books and want a change of pace, head onto Netflix or even search out an actual DVD and spend some time relaxing to one of my favorite action movies!
Locket Full of Secrets Excerpt (End of Chapter 5)
“Night, sweetheart,” dad added before giving me a kiss on the forehead.
As they turned out the light and left my room I found myself suddenly more awake. The dark reminded me of the bathroom just before I saw the body, and that thought got my heart racing once again.
Walking to the window I opened it to allow for some of the spring air to fill my room. It was cold out, but it felt good after being inside for so long. Hearing a metal scraping sound behind me I turned to face my vanity. Moving closer, it became clear what was making the noise. The necklace Olena had given me was swinging where it hung, tapping into the mirror.
It had been a full year since I last saw Olena. My birthday had come and gone, followed by summer and even Christmas. I knew it was time I accepted the fact that I would probably never see her again.
Pulling the wrapped gift box from the top drawer of my dresser I could feel tears pricking my eyes. Despite my promise to open it when I saw her again, I had waited enough.
Ripping the paper off, I tossed it onto the ground, revealing a flat square box. As I took off the lid, a handwritten card from Olena greeted me instantly.
“In case I do not see you again, I wanted you to have this. You are my true best friend, and you will be missed. Do svidanija, Olena.”
Wiping my face with the back of my hand I pulled the card aside to reveal a necklace I knew well. Nestled in the small box was the silver pendant Olena always wore. It was a gift from her aunt and uncle; a locket that never opened. That did not matter though, as the design on its front more than made up for it.
I ran my thumb over the intricate tree design with light pink amethyst stones making up its delicate leaves. Since we shared the same birthday, February 23rd, it was not just my birthstone but Olena’s as well. With shaking hands I undid the clasp and put it around my neck, then looked at my reflection in the mirror.
Staring at the necklace resting atop my sweater I suddenly felt certain I would see Olena again soon. This necklace was too important for her to give me and then disappear from my life forever. Picking up the wrapper and reading the Russian birthday greeting once again, I felt a smile pull at my lips. This present gave me hope. This small amount of silver and stone was a sign from Olena she would always be my friend, no matter what. It was a sign of hope she would come back one day, and proof that our friendship meant something to her.
Pulling the necklace from its perch I held it in my hand, my thumb rubbing over the tree design the same way I had done so many times before. Tears sprang up in my eyes as I turned and threw the necklace at the wall. As it tumbled to the ground I heard it making contact with the floor grate, before falling into the heating duct. It would likely be stuck there, out of reach, until I unscrewed the grate to find it. My tears blurred my vision as I stumbled back to bed, unable to stop their flow. Crawling under my covers I hugged my new teddy bear tight as my body was wracked with sobs. Pressing my face into my pillow to mask the sounds, I cried until my body was too exhausted to do anything but sleep.
Giveaway for Two Signed Copies of Locket Full of Secrets