YA Author Series - Author Spotlight: Leslie Arambula

Leslie Arambula


Tell us three things about who you are and why you write . . .

  • I’m a wife, teacher, author, and mother of three.

  • Some of my hobbies include picking up the same toys over and over again, cooking, video games, reading, and avoiding stacks of papers that need to be graded.

  • I write because the people in my head won’t stop telling me their stories, but mostly because I think stories connect us to each other, and I hope that mine will do that for readers as well.

Tell us about the story…

Nobody will tell Gia about her mom, but she is on a mission to learn more about her. The opportunity comes on Gia’s fifteenth birthday, in the form of a surprise package. Little does Gia know that the small box contains a power that will change her fate and the fate of the world.

What are three things you want us to know as we read?

  • This scene happens in the opening chapter of the book.

  • Gia’s mom and Alex’s parents were all killed in the same accident when the girls were just toddlers.

  • Gia has been a victim of bullying for years, and Alex always tries to shield her from it.

Where can we find this story? Where can we find you?

My story is currently unpublished but will be soon!

IG @authorlesliearambula

Twitter @leslie_arambula

Website: lesliearambula.com

FROM . . . Guardian (Working Title)


When I woke up the next morning, I was laying on the couch in the living room and the monster movie marathon I had been watching was now an infomercial about slow cookers. I turned it off just as a loud knock on the door startled me out of the lumpy cushions.

When I opened the front door, nobody was there. Looking down, a pile of envelopes were laid on top of a brown package. I scooped them up and deposited them onto the entryway table then went to grab some cereal.

A pang of loneliness thumped in my chest. I thought that my dad would have at least tried to postpone or shorten his current trip for my 15th birthday. I was wrong. 

My mother had only been alive until my third birthday, and then she and Alex’s parents had been in a train wreck on their daily commute to work. Alex’s grandmother, Sofia, moved in with her across the street and had become the only real parent Alex and I had ever really known.

Now, I stayed at my own house but shared a lot meals and time with them when Dad wasn’t home. So pretty much every night. 

The front door handle jiggled from the other room, and someone came in. I could hear rummaging in the pantry. Alex.

She walked into the dining room. She wore cutoffs and a Led Zepplin shirt she’d bought at Goodwill a few months ago. She was munching on a granola bar, and didn’t even wait to swallow it as she said, “Happy birthday! Wait—what are you doing? I thought we were going to the bookstore today.”

“Yeah, but I thought we said at eleven.”

“It is eleven, goofball,” she said.

When I trudged up the stairs, Alex grinned, grabbed up my cereal bowl, and went to pour herself some while she waited. 

When I had showered, I went to my room and found Alex, feet up on my desk, playing Call of Duty and bossing her teammates around. The empty cereal bowl rested on one of my library books. I moved it on top of my Chemistry homework to avoid any milk stains that I’d have to pay for. 

“You guys go around from the west, and I’ll hit them from the East. No, not you, idiot. You’re coming with me. You’ve got the RPG, right?”

A few minutes later, the game cut to the lobby between matches. Alex pumped her fist and pulled off the headset. 

“Impressive,” I said. “I wonder where you learned that strategy.”

“Ha ha,” she countered, “If I can’t be a genius tactician, I might as well rip one off. So, thanks, genius tactician.” 

“Thanks, but you should actually thank the English. It was actually back in 1332—” 

“Are we going or what?”

“Sure,” I rolled my eyes and let her change the topic. 

As we were about to leave, she stopped short. 

 “I saw this on my way in,” she pointed to the small brown package that had come with the mail. “You should open it.” 

I had forgotten all about it. 

“I’m not into dog food samples, but thanks.” 

The typical packages sent here were from companies sending things to my dad in an effort to get his feedback or so he could compare some of the competition’s products. 

“It’s for you, dummy,” she sighed. “It has your name on the top.”

Confused, I picked it up like it was one of the bombs the other team had just seen blown up in their faces. It was a small, square, heavy box. On the outside, it was wrapped in plain brown paper, a little worse for wear, but I was surprised it had made it through the postal system without tearing. On the top, written in a looping scrawl was my name: Giassa Renee Meliar. 

“Weird,” I said. “Nobody uses my whole—”

“Just open it already,” Alex interrupted, bouncing up and down like a bratty toddler.

As my fingers brushed the rough paper, I thought about opening this later, when I was alone. Alex was my best friend, practically my sister and we spent every holiday, birthday, and every day together. But this felt different. This felt private.

Pushing that feeling aside, I began to unwrap it. Beneath the wrapper was a wooden box, a deep red wood that was so slick, it gleamed in the light streaming in from my window. I ran a finger over it. I hesitated. I didn’t want to be disappointed too quickly. Happy Birthday, here’s some premium dog treats!

“What is it?” Alex broke through my thoughts. 

When I cracked open the lid, something small and round caught the light and blinded me for just a moment before I angled the lid all the way open. 

It was a sphere, a glass orb, sitting within a dark blue velvet compartment in the box. My memory flashed: the man that I thought I had hallucinated in the forest. And again in my dream last night. That man had an orb like this. What did it mean?

I reached a hand toward the orb, but stopped myself. Pinned to the inside of the lid was a scrap of paper with four words on it:

For Gia, 

Love Mom

“Do you think—” Alex breathed beside me. 

I jumped. I had forgotten that she was even there. I closed the lid and straightened. 

“She’s dead,” I said. “It’s fake. A sick joke.”

Alex’s face crumpled into something that looked like pity and then jealousy, so I stared out the window instead, sticking my hand in my pockets and fiddling with my keys.

“Are we going?” 

Alex cleared her throat, “Yeah.” She pulled her gaze from the note. 

I left the room first, trying to put as much distance between me and that box as possible.