You may remember this author from last year’s Bad Moon when she introduced this book. It’s being featured again this year – but she has a blurb for part two, If the Light Should Come, which will be released June 29, 2021! Find out what she listens to while writing to set the tone for her apocalyptic novel – perfectly understandable. Welcome Brenda Marie Smith!
Would you rather sleep in a coffin for one night or spend the night in a haunted house?
It depends on where the coffin is and whether or not it can be left open. No way I’m sleeping in a closed coffin until I’m dead, at which point I won’t actually be sleeping. But I could do an open coffin as long as it’s in a relatively safe place. If both these conditions can’t be met, then I’ll grab some ghost-busting weapons and take my chances in a haunted house.
Could I please have some extra pillows in that coffin, and maybe a silver spike in case a vampire shows up?
Has a movie or book scared you so much you couldn’t sleep? Which one?
The Book Thief was scary and incredibly sad, but the final line slammed it straight through my heart, keeping me awake for hours. Also, I scared myself to tears with my first novel, Something Radiates, when writing a terrifying scene home alone during a thunderstorm.
Then, I was very creeped out and sleepless when we found ourselves in a pandemic apocalypse only a few months after my own apocalypse was published. What am I, a jinx? Should I give up writing for the sake of the world? To top that off, in the sequel, If the Light Should Come, characters are trying to fix a broken solar power inverter. I sent that book to the publisher on a Monday, then on Wednesday, my own solar inverter turned up broken. Wow, I thought sure I’d have to quit writing after that, until I found out that my inverter had been broken for months. So maybe I’m not a conjurer of doom and gloom so much as I’m telepathic with it.
For movies, far and away the scariest ever was Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Not only did I lose sleep when it was new and I saw it as a tweener (shows you how old I am, lol), but I still cringe fifty-something years later when I see birds massing on high wires or fence-tops, especially if the sky is gray and winds are whipping. Dastardly man, Hitchcock, making children and old ladies fear sweet little birds. Also, brilliant.
If you were in a horror movie, would you rather have a loaded gun or a car that wouldn’t break down?
Can I have a great-running car with machine guns mounted on it?
Actually, I think it makes a difference what or who I’m fleeing from or fighting against. Guns won’t do much good against ghosts or other supernatural entities, but a car might not help in a shoot-out with evil guys who have long-range rifles. Such a dilemma! Being a chicken, I’ll have to go with the car, especially since I don’t know how to shoot.
Do you write to music?
I did with my paranormal romantic thriller because I was conjuring up memories to help fuel the writing and the pathos. I wanted so bad to publish the book along with CD’s of music to listen to while reading. Nirvana Unplugged for the scary scenes, Cat Stephens for the sad ones, Van Morrison for the romance, Moody Blues for chase scenes.
But I haven’t listened to music while writing my apocalypses, mainly because I didn’t think of any music with the right mood. Instead, I half-listen to the news and political podcasts. The news is scary enough these days to set the perfect tone for an apocalypse.
What was the hardest scene to write in your featured book?
In my apocalyptic thriller, If Darkness Takes Us, I wrote a scene killing off a young, innocent character. The scene shook me up so bad that I couldn’t write for a week. I had to do a lot of soul-searching: What kind of horrible human being am I to write something like that? I freaked myself out.
I also have trouble with the narrative between scenes. I always overwrite it, then spend a ton of time trimming it down. Trying to decide what’s important for the reader to know is what stumps me every time.
What are you working on now?
I’ve sent my sequel If the Light Should Come to the publisher for its development edit. It’s a coming-of-age in an apocalypse story. If Darkness is told from grandma Bea’s point of view, while If the Light is told by her eighteen-year-old grandson Keno. I’ll get the development edit back in early October and will have one month to return it. Then I’ll have three more edits over the next several months, each with shorter return times, until the book comes out in June 2021. I didn’t know if a teen boy would be able to carry an apocalyptic novel, but Keno turned out to be a surprisingly interesting guy, full of deep and conflicting emotions and great love. Very excited about this book.
If I have time between these edits and the bookkeeping I have to do for money, I’ll work on the third book in the series. I don’t have a title yet, but I have a unique narrator and an opening page, plus lots of hoops to make the characters jump through. When I first started writing novels, I was reluctant to cause trouble for my beloved characters, but now I just go for it. What that says about me as a human being, I don’t know.
I also have another book I’ve been developing for a while of another genre altogether: Guru of the Ozarks. Not sure when I’ll get it written, but I hope it’s not too long.
IF DARKNESS TAKES US, Out Now
2018 SOUTHERN FRIED KARMA NOVEL CONTEST WINNER
In suburban Austin, Texas, Bea Crenshaw secretly prepared for apocalypse, but when a solar pulse destroys modern life, she’s left alone with four grandkids whose parents don’t return home. She must teach these kids to survive without power, cars, phones, running water, or doctors in a world fraught with increasing danger.
Bea’s has secret stockpiles of food, seed, and supplies, and her neighbors are starving. If she shares with neighbors, there might not be enough for her grandkids. But neighbors get suspicious, and if she doesn’t share, the neighbors could take the stockpiles away.
If Darkness Takes Us is realistic post-apocalyptic fiction with a focus on a family in peril, led by a no-nonsense grandmother who is at once funny, controlling, and heroic in her struggle to hold her family together with civility and heart.
IF THE LIGHT SHOULD COME, Out June 29, 2021
Ten months ago, a solar electromagnetic pulse fried the U.S. grid and took out the cars, phones, and running water. Eighteen-year-old Keno Simms is still reeling after his pregnant sister died from a tragic accident in a world with no medical care. His beloved grandmother has had a stroke, and most adults in his family, including his mom, are missing, presumed dead. Keno rallies his younger cousins and neighbors to scrounge for water and to farm their Austin, Texas subdivision, all while fending off starving intruders. His one solace is his love for Alma, who shares similar sorrows, but then he gets her pregnant and must face the real possibility of losing her, too.
Despite his growing anxiety, Keno must lead the broken adults in his life to contend with crop-killing heat, gully-washing storms, and desperate invaders. If he can’t protect Alma and their unborn child, it will be the end of Keno’s world.
IF THE LIGHT SHOULD COME is post-apocalyptic science fiction, a coming-of-age story told in the voice of a heroic teen who’s forced into manhood too soon.
BookPeople (Support a great indie bookstore that ships books everywhere): https://www.bookpeople.com/book/9781970137835
Brenda Marie Smith studied fiction in the UCLA Writers Program. Born and raised in Oklahoma City, she was part of the back-to-the-land movement, living off the grid in the Arkansas Ozark Mountains, and then joining the Farm—an off-grid, vegan hippie community, based in Tennessee—where her sons were delivered by midwives.
Brenda has lived in Austin, Texas since 1980, where she managed student housing co-ops near the University of Texas, manufactured tofu salads, produced concerts, and was a peace and justice activist. If Darkness Takes Us is her second novel. Her first, Something Radiates, is a paranormal romantic thriller.
Brenda and her husband own and reside in a grid-connected, solar-powered home in South Austin. They have five grown sons, two grandkids, and a self-assured kitty cat.
Social Media Links
Guest Post on Author Mindy McGinnis’s Blog (goes up 9/8/2020): www.mindymcginnis.com/blog/brenda-marie-smith
YouTube coming soon: Search Brenda Marie Smith