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Kashif Ross is back and better than ever! Today we’re going to talk about the second book in his Barcode Series while scooping you on the uber-awesome free status of book one. Ready to dive in? Settle back and grab a cold (or hot) one while we chat!

Welcome back, Kashif! Let’s start by making it known CAVERN OF YOUTH is book two in a series, and book one, BARCODE: LEGEND OF APOLLO is blissfully free. The latter also has a strange hookish ending. Can you tell us about without, um, telling us about it?

By hookish, you mean that strange ending where I killed the main character? Yeah. People hate me for that. I’ve actually updated the novel so that people aren’t so bug-eyed about the ending. Now, within the first chapter of Legend of Apollo all readers learn that Spencer is a dick and he will die.

In short, LOA is a story about a guy who is destined to take over America. But way before he’s mature enough to do that, he meets a very twisted young villain named Kode. Kode wears a mask that prevents him from speaking, but Spencer can hear him. The two have a very hate-hate relationship that evolves into something more bromantic. In the end, they find themselves protecting each other while tackling other goals in life.

There’s one thing you need to know about LOA: Nothing is what it seems. I wrote the story to be atypical. If you read: This is about a hero protecting America, the real objective is the very opposite. It’s about someone being so worried about their own life that they can’t protect anyone. I wrote a hero tale about a hero’s “real” life.

You totally scooped us there! Now lead us into book two with a quick synopsis. What do you consider a “must know” for a reader going in? 

Quick? I can do that…I think.

Kode takes over Spencer’s life. He no longer has a mask, but must pretend to be someone that he is not. While fighting these challenges, he begins to love for the first time. But again, his relationships aren’t what they seem.

In this novel, Kode’s objective is to find the Cavern of Youth. Again, we don’t do stereotypical stories ‘round hur’ so Kode already knows where it is. He’s toying with the people that are searching for it.

How quick was that?

I am dutifully impressed. *grin* What might readers be surprised to learn about the plot or characters of CAVERN OF YOUTH?

You should be surprised with everything. My objective is to sew in as many twists as possible. But the biggest chunk of fresh air for you to get high on is the uniqueness. The plot isn’t stereotypical to what you’d find in most books. It fights against the standard journey.

The characters are meant to be a breath of fresh air. One blond hair, blue eyed kid is smooth and very “hip-hop”. The beautiful mystery girl is quiet and deadly. The tall sexy chick is a princess externally, but a kid internally. Ultimately, everyone is layered with more colors than black and white. 

I love this aspect of your story. Toying with layers and turning stereotypes upside down is just awesome work. Okay, let’s have some fun with CAVERN OF YOUTH. What’s the first sentence?

“Peering down the barrel of a gun can make even the toughest man tender.”

That’s an awesome first sentence! What’s your favorite line in the book?

Okay…I’ll have to explain this. This isn’t what it seems. Kode is intentionally picking on a homosexual, though he’s fine with homosexuals. He “outs” a guy named Patrick that used to date one of Kode’s friends. Patrick is pretending to be a hetrosexual, but Kode being the villain he is, decides to crush that facade.

“I’m not gay!”

“And I’m not black. I’m not short. I’m not a smart [alec].” Raising my eyebrows I say, “Look Patrick. I can lie too.”

I enjoy that line because it represents Kode’s personality to the fullest. Raw.

That’s such a real moment. You captured it so well! How about another excerpt … three sentences long! Yep, that’s it. Three!

The delicate goddess has a paper towel jammed up her nose and a black eye. Richard’s knuckles are bleeding because of the teeth he punched out and his face is a lot fatter. I, on the other hand, look like a casualty of war.

I LOVE the turn of that last sentence, and they’re all killer-vivid. (No pun intended, lol). Which scene was most difficult for you to write? Why?

Kode goes into a coma for an extended period of time and wakes up with his best friend singing his favorite song. Any scene like this is always difficult to write because you want it to be perfect. I want people to feel emotion and not just the moment of, “Oh, great! He’s alive.” I want them trapped in the actual feelings between these two characters.

In LOA, I struggled with a similar scene where Spencer and Michelle make love before Spencer turns into an utter jerk that walks out on her while hoping that he can protect her. In LOA, there were brutal tears. With COY, the tears are from joy and the two characters are very snarky. It’s difficult to show how much they care for one another through their stubborn personalities.

Your attention to these details astounds me. All this stuff is so important for me as a reader, so this rocks! Which scene would you most like to experience for yourself? From whose POV?

Kode’s perspective of any scene! But I really would like to experience when Kode’s in the cafeteria:

Malik is a guy that gets away with whatever he wants. He uses his right hand to caress Angie’s breasts and grab Carmen’s butt. While threatening Kode, Malik discovers that utensils aren’t just for eating.

I’d love to give a pompous jerk what he deserves.

I’m laughing a little, but yeah. He deserves somethin,’ alright. LOL. Before you edge too close to the door, tell us what inspired CAVERN OF YOUTH’s title.

I always look for clichés when writing a novel. I wanted to find something in mythology that was so overdone that people would spit at it. I looked to see what people made so boring and mundane that it couldn’t be interesting. Then, I found the Fountain of Youth. Adding a twist to it, I threw the fountain in a cave and gave the water life. Not only is the fountain able to heal you, but kill you also. The Daughters of Danaus’ souls are trapped in the water. If you know their story about killing their 50 husbands, you’d find that interesting. But I’m a geek that enjoys mythology, so don’t listen to me.

LOL! That’s a great story, and speaking of those, on what are you currently working? 

Next on the chopping block is Barcode: Eyes That Kill. I’m currently in the editing stages and hoping to get the cover art completed in two months. If all goes as planned, the next book to the series will release in June.

That’s awesome! And here’s a closer look at book two, because y’all have to prepare, right? *grin*

Barcode: Cavern of Youth

Kay has a new life and identity, but he can’t stop thinking about the past. The longer he’s away from his abusive mother and Helios, the more he obsesses over them. In order to kill the woman that pitted him against Spencer, Kay re-enrolls at Colt Academy and watches his brother’s every move.

Upon his return, Kay befriends a beautiful warrior that may have the hots for him. Unable to trust her intentions, he keeps his distance like he does with everyone else. Yet, his dark heart leads him back to Angie. Like his plan for Spencer to fight Helios, Kay develops a scheme to strengthen the gladiator princess. And this time, he’s willing to put his life on the line.

Dennis convinces Kay to change his appearance, but it comes at a cost; he becomes half the man he once was. Without his power, Kay must use his intuition to sneak out of deadly situations. There’s a parade of obstacles in his way, including his own fate, which many people know about, but he knows very little.

Find CAVERN OF YOUTH @ Smashwords | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Kashif Ross

I am the enemy of gummy bears. I break into their homes and slaughter their women and children. But I’m mostly proud of my candybalism, biting off their heads!

Thank you all for joining us today! If you missed our first interview for BARCODE: LEGEND OF APOLLO you can catch it by clicking here. And be sure to visit again March 6 for a character interview from book three, NEW WAR ORDER. You really never know what these guys will say, so it’s definitely worth a return trip. *grin*