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About the author:
Asiel R. Lavie holds a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy, but writing stories was her passion since childhood. She’s a book reviewer, a World Story Book contributor, co-admin, and an official Arabic translator for The World Story Book Young Adult Edition; a project was created by the Canadian author Edge O. Erne. Aside from The Crossing Gate, Lavie is working hard to sign with an agent and bring her work to a larger audience and readers. When she’s not reading or writing, you might find her either in the garden playing with her kid or watching movies.
What inspired you to write your book?
The idea came from my own experience in growing up. I remember that I went shopping with my friend, and I stopped in front of a storefront that was filled with girly cushions. I told my friend they were so pretty and I even took a picture for them. Her reply was casual but unexpectedly annoyed me! She said, “Yea, they are so pretty, but they are for kids and not for you.” Her words hit me so deeply, thinking what was wrong in liking cushions that were made for teens- and not a typical taste of a thirty-two-years grown-up mom?
All the way back home, I kept thinking about her words. I often like/think and dress like a much younger person and not the way my society is expecting from me at my age. But I won’t be myself if I just did what others were expecting from me. Sometimes when I hear harsh comments regarding my clothes or a certain behavior, I feel sad and helpless. I wished if there was a machine that will force me to “grow up” to the accepted standers. Yet again, what if this machine stopped working in the middle of the process?
I slept, and I dreamed about Lenora standing in front of the Crossing Gate. I wrote the scene when I woke up, and from there, the story slowly was built to become a complicated and tangled book!
Here is a short sample from the book:
IF I CROSSED TO ADULTHOOD today, sin-spots would start appearing on my body whenever I committed a sin. Not that I was planning to become a sinner, but I wished I could learn more about them beforehand. Such a fateful decision would change my life forever.
“Curiosity is a sin,” was my teachers’ usual answer whenever I attempted to learn more about sins. It was Mom’s response, too. If inquiring about them was considered a sin as well, then how could I avoid them in the first place?
The sound of the Ológramma—the holographic television in the living room—rose a bit, pulling me out of my dark thoughts, and the sweet aroma of Mom’s herbal tea filled the air. She must have woken up. Soon, she would come to check if I had finished getting dressed. I turned to my closet and picked up the Crossing Day formal dress—a floor-length gown with short puffy sleeves, dazzling in its whiteness.
“Hurry, Lenora,” Mom snapped as she shoved my bedroom door open. “It’s almost eight. You can’t be late for your Crossing Day.”
Lenora . . . she knew I never responded to that name, but the appellation wasn’t my biggest problem at the moment. Crossing Day was.
“At your command.” My fast words came out sharp. Yet, I couldn’t help staring at her slim, pale face. It showed the remnants of her faded beauty, hidden by the hardships borne over her forty-two years. I gazed at her retreating shoulders and pondered the woes that had befallen her since her own Crossing Day.
Unsettling thoughts rushed through my mind. When had Mom’s problems started? Was it when she fled with us from Betis to the Zetikas province? Or when the government revoked her medical license and changed our caste to the working-class?
I looked around at the bare essentials. The great sun of June’s rays glittered over my single bed, ornate cabinet, and small desk. All of these structures were made of white steel. That was all the furniture I had in my room, and they weren’t even really mine. Our half-furnished glasshouse was the only option we could rent from the island of Elpax—the Ionic Sea’s only Greek kingdom, the place I called my homeland.
I grabbed the dress and wandered into the bathroom. After a quick cold bath, I rubbed my teeth with salty baking soda and brushed my long, silver-mint hair. I was one of the many Elpaxians with this hair color. As we learned in school, some families—including the royals—developed a genetic defect after World War III, which caused the color to appear.
Standing before the tall mirror, I scrutinized my dress from all angles, and misery drowned me. The dress looked like an elaborate wedding gown. White wasn’t my color; I looked pale and washed out in it. With my hazel eyes and pale complexion, I needed darker colors to make myself stand out. I wanted to wear my normal jeans and a black T-shirt, but the rules forbade it. Our kingdom had rules for everything, from the random sin-spot checks performed by the Law Corps on adults to the regulation of knowledge for children and juveniles.
I took a deep breath and stepped into our living room, wearing the atrocious dress. Mom got up from the lone couch, her brown eyes scanning me. “You look pretty.”
A faint smile crossed my face at her compliment, especially since I
wasn’t wearing the slightest bit of makeup, but I knew her words were just a preface to the crux.
“Don’t come back without a third line.”
Ah! That was the one.
Mom fixed her gaze on my face for a while, her eyes stern enough for
me to lower mine. She took a step closer and lifted my chin with her long fingers. “Lenora, I am expecting you to do the right thing today.”
Despite Mom’s stiff face, I discerned a hint of anxiety in her voice. I couldn’t fault her fears. She wasn’t sure if I would traverse the Crossing Gate today. I didn’t know how to reassure her when I wasn’t even sure what I would choose. I just wanted this day to be over.
I looked up at her eyes. We stared at each other for a long time. Long enough for me to realize that her words weren’t just a simple request, but an order.