Welcome to the book tour for If the Light Escapes by Brenda Marie Smith! Today you’re going to get to know her a little bit better and take a sneak peek inside her new book. Be sure to follow the tour for even more and leave your comments and questions along the way. Best of luck entering the giveaway!
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.
IF THE LIGHT ESCAPES is post-apocalyptic science fiction set in a near-future reality, a coming-of-age story told in the voice of a heroic teen who’s forced into manhood too soon.
Read an excerpt:
FROM CHAPTER 5: “These northern lights bug the crap out of me,” I tell Alma. “What are they doing here? They’re supposed to be tied to magnetic poles. I saw this show a couple years ago that said the north pole was drifting north, not south. So how did they end up here? The poles can’t drift around randomly. That’s impossible.” “I don’t know, baby. They worry me, too, but we need to be quiet.” “They make me feel like something bad is gonna happen. What do you call that? Fore-something.” “Foreboding?” “That’s it. I’ll be quiet, now, and just stew in my foreboding.” “Silly.” Alma reaches up and ruffles my hair. When we patrol and we can’t cuddle on account of guns, Alma and I could talk all night. It’s not a good idea for us to talk much when we’re patrolling, though. We get all involved and forget to listen for anyone who might be sneaking around, hunting for food or water, or worse: getting ready to kill us for it. We walk along with our rifles in the night. It’s cool out here, but not cold… Alma stops and raises her gun. “Hear that?” she whispers. “No, what?” I’ve got my gun up, too, and I’m pivoting around, searching. I want to hide Alma, but she would never let me. “Over there.” She points at the corner by the park. And I hear a jangly noise, like car keys. No one drives cars now, though…
Any weird things you do when you’re alone?
I usually stay up until four in the morning when my husband gets up for work. I can’t help it. I come from a long line of night owls, lol. I play far too many online casino games and binge-watch one European TV series after another. That came after I watched every apocalypse that I could get my hands on.
And I invent games for myself: seeing how many words I can come up with that both start and end with a T without googling or looking at a dictionary, no hyphens allowed (165 so far); or seeing how many words I can make out of the letters in Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (Hundreds and hundreds. I lost count).
What is your favorite quote and why?
From Martin Luther King Junior’s speech at the state capitol in Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. It moves me to tears every single time I hear it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAYITODNvlM
“I know you are asking today, “How long will it take? … How long will prejudice blind the visions of men, darken their understanding, and drive bright-eyed wisdom from her sacred throne?
…How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever.
How long? Not long, because you shall reap what you sow.
How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice…”
Who is your favorite author and why?
Sorry, but I can’t narrow it down to one. Two is the best I can do.
Toni Morrison for the amazing voice and the beautiful rhythms. If you ever get a chance to listen to one of her audiobooks where she is the reader, don’t pass it up.
And John LeCarre for his insightful stories about the way power works in the world and his ability to draw a character with an almost hidden master stroke.
What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Unique voices that pull on your heartstrings, unique stories that don’t bog down, high personal stakes with a solid narrative through-line, solid sentences that move the story forward and avoid being trite or repetitious. There needs to be movement and character growth all the way through.
Where did you get the idea for this book?
All my life, I’ve been worried about the environment and all the things that could go wrong with it. I’d been toying with the idea of story with a grandmother taking care of grandkids in an apocalyptic situation. Then one summer several years ago, much of Texas caught fire. The sky to our east was full of flame and smoke like the gates of Hell, and there were other fires to our south and west. Back then, I worked at my dining table, staring through the bay windows at the hazy sky, the dead grass, the thirsty trees, and I knew I had to write the first book in this series, If Darkness Takes Us. Ideas for this standalone sequel, If the Light Escapes, came from watching teenager Keno develop in the first book. He was a strong character—loyal and loving and fierce at protecting his loved ones. He moved me so much that I made him the star of the second book, and he didn’t disappoint.
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. Follow the tour for more chances to win!a Rafflecopter giveaway