Name: Karen McManus
Twitter Handle: @writerkmc
Title: PROJECT SIREN
Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy
Word Count: 73K
My Main Character's Most Fearsome Obsession is:
Sibling rivalry gets an extra twist when you're one of three siren sisters. Cressida has always felt lost sandwiched between top-of-the-class Ianthe and attention-seeking Phaedra. Ianthe could write the book on efficient enthralling, but she's such a stickler for rules that she'd never have fun if Cressida didn't nudge her along. Phaedra lets her abilities spill into real life, leaving a trail of lovesick suitors Cressida has to help clean up. Cressida's sisters are her closest friends, but they're also a constant reminder of her conflicting desires to both prove herself as a siren, and break away entirely.
Seventeen-year-old Cressida, siren-in-training, is supposed to use her charm to lure unsuspecting people out of harm's way. But while beguiling might be in her genes, it's way out of her comfort zone.
Cressida's not a natural like her sisters. She loses concentration, gets embarrassed, and tends to hospitalize her targets instead of help them. So the Council of the Demigods decides Cressida should practice in a less pressurized environment: a mortal high school. She can't return to Olympus Academy until she's made five human boys fall under her spell. She manages to succeed with the football team captain and a movie star's son, but it's a cringe-worthy task. Even worse, it's all unfolding in front of smart, steadfast Daniel--the one guy she'd actually like to enthrall.
Cressida wants out of the beauty-over-brains captivating business, but there's no Plan B for subpar sirens. Then her beloved older sister disappears, kidnapped by a disgruntled war god ex-boyfriend. He's sick of helping humans and wants to rule them instead, with Cressida's captive sister as his bride. While the Council of the Demigods dithers, Cressida launches her own rescue mission alongside her younger sister, her friends, and Daniel. She has to stop a one-sided wedding and a slide into subjugation for humankind--and if she can do it using strategy instead of seduction, she might just forge a new future for herself.
The man in front of me was about to fall off a cliff, and it was my job to stop him.
My sisters made it look easy. I'd seen Ianthe freeze a college boy in mid-step with a quirk of her eyebrow, keeping him safe on a curb instead of flattened under a bus. Phaedra wasn't as good yet, but she had that gorgeous voice.
Me? My target still hadn't noticed me, and I was five feet away. "Hey!" I called. Nothing musical about my tone. Things would be a lot simpler if I could tell him he was minutes away from a thirty-foot plunge. But that level of interference wasn't allowed.
He ignored me and walked backwards, artfully mussing his hair while taking a selfie on the sun-soaked cliffside beach. Vanity plus flagrant disregard for warning signs could be a deadly combination.
"Excuse me," I said with a desperate, decidedly un-seductive edge to my voice.
His eyeroll in my direction shifted to a surprised smile. "Well, hello there."
Relief pounded through my veins, making me almost lightheaded. Maybe I wouldn't blow it this time.
"Hi," I replied. Then I stopped, cheeks burning as I tried to remember the formula Ianthe had coached me on before we'd left Olympus Academy. If you want someone to walk toward you ... what? Back up? Stand still? Interpretive dance?
He waited a beat, then moved back another step while squinting at his phone. "Good talk."
And never lose eye contact. Too late.