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Description of If the Light Escapes
A standalone sequel to IF DARKNESS TAKES US
A solar electromagnetic pulse fried the U.S. grid fourteen months ago. Everything’s gone: power, cars, running water, communications, all governing control and help—gone. Now northern lights have started in Texas—3,000 miles farther south than where they belong. The universe won’t stop screwing with eighteen-year-old Keno Simms.
All that’s left for Keno, his family and neighbors is farming their Austin subdivision, trying to eke out a living on poor soil in the scorching heat. Keno’s still reeling from the the death of his pregnant sister. His beloved Nana is ill, Grandpa’s always brandishing weapons, and water is far too scarce. Desperate thieves are hemming them in, yet he can’t convince his uncle and other adults to take action against the threat.
Keno’s one solace is his love for Alma, who has her own secret sorrows. When he gets her pregnant, he vows to keep her alive no matter what. Yet armed marauders and nature itself collude against him at every turn, forcing him to make choices that rip at his conscience. If he can’t protect Alma and their unborn child, it will be the end of Keno’s world.
Read an Excerpt of If the Light Escapes
Bright green lights stream and pulse across the northern sky all night now, growing from thin and wispy to bold and fat, expanding, contracting, sending out bands of yellow streamers like they’re partying on ecstasy at some cosmic rave. The lights are pretty, and they’re hypnotic, and they creep me out to the core.
Northern lights every night for two solid weeks in Texas. Halfway to the equator from where they belong. They’re supposed to be a phenomenon tied to the magnetic poles—it’s a scientific fact.
Nothing is right about this. The only explanation I can think of is that the north and south poles are shifting. I don’t know what that means for the planet and the future of its creatures. We don’t have TVs or talking-head scientists to tell us…
The universe just won’t stop f**king with us.
Today, I’m hoeing corn in our front yard, sweat stinging my eyes. It’s blistering hot out here—early December in what used to be high-tech Austin, until the … sun zapped us with an electromagnetic pulse and took our power, our cars, the damned running water. It stopped pretty much everything—everything modern, that is.
It’s been fourteen months, and all the front yards in our subdivision are mini-cornfields now. We grow beans and veggies in the backyards. It’s a desperate attempt to keep us alive when our food stockpiles run out. Don’t know if it will work, but I’m doing my damnedest to make sure it does.
Interview with Author Brenda Marie Smith
Do you have any tattoos? Where? When did you get it/them? Where are they on your body?
Sorry, I don’t have a single tattoo. Boring, I know. I don’t think they would look so hot on my old lady skin, lol. Some of my grown sons and their partners have them though.
Is your life anything like it was two years ago?
In many ways, yes. I’m partly disabled and have been almost homebound for years. But pre-pandemic, I would run errands a few times a week and have a lot of company—family meals, writing group meetings, overnight guests, and parties. I actually didn’t leave home at all for more than a year due to COVID-19. Now that things are improving in that regard and we’re vaccinated, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I don’t have to hide out so much anymore. But just as I’ve been doing for years, I still spend most of my time in my office in front of the computer, even if I’m just playing games and watching TV.
How long have you been writing?
I wrote my first story when I was six, standing on the crossbar of my A-frame swing-set and letting the Oklahoma wind buffet me around. The story was about a girl named Windy who could fly on the wind. I wrote stories and poems all through school and did tons of business writing as an adult, but I didn’t get to start seriously writing fiction until my kids were grown, twenty-two years ago. Then I had a lot of interruptions for 60-hour-per-week jobs, etc. But I finally knuckled down about ten years ago, and self-published my first novel, Something Radiates, in 2013.
What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
First of all, live a full life, then you’ll have no shortage of experience to draw from in your work. Think of writing as a lifelong pursuit, during which you must continually hone your craft. Don’t expect overnight fame and glory or any glory at all. Don’t be defensive with your editors, and don’t be married to your words. No matter how beautifully a passage is written, if it doesn’t serve the story, get rid of it (or save it for use another use). Writing is rewriting. Just as a sculptor has to make dozens or hundreds of passes over their works of art to cut, smooth, and polish, make dozens or hundreds of passes through your stories to make everything shine. And most important of all, do not give up! I was 67 when I had my first book published by someone besides myself. Keep your eyes on the prize.
Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.
Midway through If the Light Escapes, a machete appears in the story, and I’m a big believer in the concept of Chekhov’s gun. There are stalkers and murder and mayhem. There is death. Also, despite the apocalypse, there is laughter, there is lovemaking, and there is fun.
About Author Brenda Marie Smith
Brenda Marie Smith lived off the grid for many years in a farming collective where her sons were delivered by midwives. She’s been a community activist, managed student housing co-ops, produced concerts to raise money for causes, done massive quantities of bookkeeping, and raised a small herd of teenage boys.
Brenda is attracted to stories where everyday characters transcend their own limitations to find their inner heroism. She and her husband reside in a grid-connected, solar-powered home in South Austin, Texas. They have more grown kids and grandkids than they can count.
Her first novel, Something Radiates, is a paranormal romantic thriller; If Darkness Takes Us and
its sequel, If the Light Escapes, are post-apocalyptic science fiction.
One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card.