Published by Doubleday/Transworld (9 August 2018)
Available in ebook and hardback
Welcome to my turn on the blog tour for The Light Between Us. Today, I have an extract to share, plus a fabulous giveaway for a hardback copy. Entry is via the Rafflecopter box below. My thanks to the publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part.
| About the Book |
A classic ‘will they, won’t they’ love story – with a difference.
Perfect for fans of Sliding Doors, The Versions of Us and The Summer of Impossible Things.
Thea and Isaac first met at University. Theirs was an instant connection but it never went further than friendship.
Because, then and now, Thea only has eyes for her work. Not just her course, but also a private project – Thea is determined to prove that time travel is not just the stuff of science fiction. And she has never told anyone the reason why.
When one of their friends goes missing in an experiment, Isaac and Thea must work together to find her – forcing them to re-examine their own friendship.
Is it really as platonic as they used to think?
The Light Between Us is a story of unrequited love and second chances. It begs the dangerous question that we all ask ourselves – what could have been?
Oxford, October 2010
The planets were moving towards each other in the night sky when Isaac and Thea first met. It was a rare conjunction, the type that happens only once a decade – and, at St Catherine’s College, Oxford, the Astronomy Club was meeting to observe the curious celestial event…
…Hands stuffed into coat pockets, her chestnut hair tucked into her scarf, neck straining to look up at the sky, Thea’s attention was fixed on the pale pools of light pouring towards her, strengthening each minute. ‘Here –’ a student Thea hadn’t met before pushed a hot drink in a red plastic cup at her – ‘take one. It’ll warm you up.’
‘Thanks,’ she said, taking her hand from her pocket to hold the cup against her, absorbing its heat. Around them, various people peered into the lenses of telescopes, while those waiting stamped their feet against the cold, similarly clutching steaming red cups.
‘I hate these cups,’ she murmured.
‘Oh?’ the same person said, still near her. He was tall with a shock of dark hair brushed away from his forehead; waves that threatened to explode into all-out curls at any moment. ‘Why’s that?’
Thea swirled her hot toddy, gazing into it as though she could read tealeaves. ‘Well, who brought them here? Almost certainly an undergrad who’s spent time in the States, gorging on American culture, who has very misguidedly thought the Oxford Astronomy Club would be the right place to cultivate a derivative fraternity vibe.’
‘Is that right?’ he said, starting to laugh. ‘I mean, are we supposed to play a game of beer pong, right here on the grass . . . ?’
‘Oh, good!’ came a voice. The Philosophy professor stood behind them, beaming. ‘You’ve met. Two of my “half” students who, lamentably, I only get to teach for half the time. The rest of the time you’re corrupted by other subjects, and other professors.’
Thea smiled politely, as did the person next to her.
‘You’re both looking rather contemplative,’ said the tutor. ‘Pondering the otherworldly light from the heavens?’
‘Something like that,’ Thea said.
‘And what do you think light is?’ he enquired. ‘Colman?’
She raised her eyebrows: the question was too easy. ‘An electric field, tied up with a magnetic field, blasting through space at great speed.’
The tutor smiled. ‘You like that definition. I can see it in your eyes.’ He tilted his head. ‘What about you, Mendelsohn – what do you think light is?’
She watched the curly-haired student next to her consider before he spoke.
‘Well . . .’ His gaze flicked towards Thea, not quite meeting hers before snapping back to the professor. ‘“A certain slant of light” is poetry. A spectrum of seven rainbow colours is a symbol of pride . . . And I suppose when we, as humans, look in a mirror – we can find our own truth, within that reflection made from light.’
‘Do you see?’ the professor said, sadly. ‘How your other studies corrupt you. Though that was very lyrical, Mendelsohn – what a shame I don’t get you in my Philosophy class full-time.’ He brightened. ‘Perhaps you’ll be a good influence on Thea, here. Get her out of her scientific ways of thinking.’
The student took a leisurely sip from his red cup. ‘I’m more inclined to think someone that logical will be a good influence on me.’
She regarded him briefly; that secret moment when you instinctively like someone you’ve just met and must consider whether it’s admiration or attraction. Or both.
‘You were saying something about hating the red cups?’ he said, turning to her as their professor made his excuses and moved away.
She smiled. ‘I don’t think we’ve met before, have we?’
‘I’ve been abroad,’ he said. ‘I spent a year studying in the States.’
‘How did you like America?’
‘I loved it.’ Around them, people began to ooh as the remaining daylight dispersed and the planets became more visible in the dark. He pointed to Mercury, closest to the horizon, and Venus with its whiteish light sitting just above the moon, the three entities forming the beginnings of a curved line. In only a few minutes those brightly coloured dots would be joined by three more, arching in the sky above them, a line‑of‑sight trick making them look impossibly close.
‘I stayed with a fraternity in Princeton,’ he continued. Then, when Thea didn’t say anything: ‘You could say I gorged on American culture.’
‘Oh.’ She looked at him soberly. ‘You brought the cups.’
He grinned. ‘I’m Isaac,’ he said, holding out his hand, waiting as she jostled her red cup to the other hand so she could shake his.
‘I’m sorry. I said something rude. I tend to lack—’
‘A filter? That’s not a bad thing.’ He smiled. ‘So you’re Thea. The scientific one.’
‘And you’re Isaac,’ she said, as their gaze returned to the skies. ‘The poetic one.’
It was nearly time.
She could see his profile in the corner of her vision, but when their eyes met they both quickly turned their attention to the emerging conjunction of the planets. They only looked like they were close together because of where they were standing; their viewpoint on Earth tonight would deceive their eyes, and though, for a brief moment, the planets would appear near to one another in the solar system, they were still distinct and far apart – lone lights in the dark.
Thea turned something over and over in her pocket, feeling the shiny, hard surface of glass against her palm as she contemplated the starlight.
Above them, faintly, shone brownish Saturn and pinkish Mars, and far out to the left was yellowish Jupiter. The sound of the groups became louder, as though someone had turned up the volume. ‘Do you see it?’ People around them began to murmur excitedly.
‘The syzygy,’ Thea said, and she saw Isaac glance at her as he drank from the blasted red cup. ‘That’s right,’ the Astronomy tutor said warmly. ‘Three or more celestial bodies, all in a line. And this syzygy is special, because the curved line the five planets fall on is the . . . ?’
Thea stopped herself answering, remembering to let other people have their turn, and instead took a sip from her cup. But when nobody spoke, she bit her lip.
‘It’s the ecliptic,’ she said, tracing the line of lights in the sky with her hand. ‘An imaginary line that marks the path of the sun.’ More quietly, she continued: ‘It’s what makes it look as though we’re standing on the edge of the universe. As though we could wave, and the other planets might see.’
Isaac wore a look of surprise, and as the group chattered and the professors posited further questions, moving among the crowd, he turned to her. ‘You’re into astronomy?’
‘I’m studying Physics and Philosophy.’
‘Suddenly it makes sense.’ He raised his cup in cheers. ‘I’m Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics, myself.’
‘Keeping busy.’ Thea grinned.
‘I spend more time in the library than is entirely good for the soul – there’s a hell of a lot of research.’ He grimaced. ‘Hard science has always been my Kryptonite.’ She took a sip of her drink, smiling into the cup. ‘Better not let me tell you my idea for a PhD, then.’
No – God, no.’ She wrinkled her nose. ‘Physics.’
They stood together, staring at the moon ringed aglow, the planets like bright map pins they could reach up and unfasten from the sky.
‘When you see the solar system laid out in front of us like this,’ Isaac started, ‘when you can really see the other planets . . . it makes me think there’s no one else out there, in the universe, but us.’
She knew she’d met someone she’d want to talk more with, when he said that.
‘Would I be able to follow it?’ he said. ‘Your PhD idea.’
And whereas Thea would usually reach for every principle under the sun, every technical word to prove her intelligence through the great wealth of fact and theory she’d stored up over the years, she didn’t want to lose her new friend’s attention – and she didn’t want to make him feel bad, if he couldn’t grasp it.
‘Yes,’ she said. She reached into her pocket, feeling for the comfort of the multifaceted glass that dug into her hand. She brought it out and he looked at it, bemused.
‘A crystal?’ he said.
‘Nothing quite so woo-woo,’ she said. ‘This is a glass prism.’
Isaac eyed her speculatively. ‘And what are you going to do with this prism, during your complicated PhD research project I haven’t a hope of understanding?’
Thea twinkled. The ecliptic stretched out overhead, a curved line of the solar system’s major players, the rarely beheld formation making an imaginary line real to the naked eye once every ten years. ‘It’s about light,’ she said, forcing herself to sound casual. ‘The theory is, if you were to travel faster than the speed of light, you could – technically speaking – arrive somewhere before you left.’
Isaac raised an eyebrow. ‘Is that so?’
‘It’s a theory.’
‘But isn’t the speed of light inordinately fast?’
‘It is.’ Thea twisted the prism so it caught the moonlight, throwing beams and spectrums across the ground. ‘But not if you were to slow it down. Trap it, somehow.’
Isaac looked to the glass prism, and back at his new friend. ‘You could arrive somewhere before you left.’
She gave him a conspiratorial smile. ‘I’m going to prove that time travel is possible.’
| Author Bio |
Katie Khan has spent 10 years working in online editorial in the film industry, including 4 years as Head of Digital at Paramount Pictures. She joined Warner Bros. in 2017 to work on a major film production. Her first book, Hold Back the Stars, is being adapted into a film by the producers of Stranger Things.
She is a graduate of the acclaimed Faber Academy writing course. Katie lives in London with her boyfriend and rescue cat Artie.
*** GIVEAWAY ***
*Terms and Conditions – On behalf of the publisher, I’m delighted to offer one hardback copy of The Light Between Us, (sorry, open to UK entrants only). Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winner’s information. This will passed to the publisher for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data I hold. My Reading Corner is not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize. The giveaway will end at midnight on 10 August 2018.