Feel free to share a little about yourself in your own words. How did you get into writing?
I grew up in New Jersey, then spent three decades in New England, between Connecticut and Vermont, but now make North Carolina my home. When not reading or writing, I enjoy being outside kayaking, walking, cycling or skiing in winter.
After a long career working with books, first as a buyer for a national retail book chain, then as a production associate publishing leather-bound classic books, I decided to use my creative energy to actually write some books! My kids were a great inspiration.
My first book, The Forgotten Isle, a Middle Grade novel, was originally published in 2004 and was re-released in 2011 with new illustrations from the very talented Noa Chaikin. My second book, Into the Outside, is Young Adult post-apocalyptic sci-fi. It’s sequel, Into the Yellow Zone, released in March 2017 and the final in the trilogy, Under the Mountain, was published in November 2017. All three books are available on Audible as well.
Taking a break one week from the serious work of writing Under the Mountain, I wrote a time travel short story, Time’s Anchor, originally to give away to my subscribers. At roughly 10,000 words, it a very quick read and it was so well received by my readers that I began offering it as a Kindle Single, for only $0.99 and released it as an Audible short as well.
These days, I’m fascinated by climate change, sea level rise, and the ecologic disasters that plague the Earth. Until we manage to terraform and colonize Mars, or some other place, this is the only home humanity has, and we don’t do a very good job taking care of it. Turning that interest to my writing, I’m now working on a disaster novel set in 2030, called Ice Crash. It’s protagonist, Inge Whitson, is a freshman in college in Boston, and her mother is a world-renowned seismologist doing an 8-month stint at McMurdo Research Station in Antarctica. The novel follows Inge and her roommate Zoe on a spring break trip to Miami where they get stranded due to an unseasonably early hurricane. Meanwhile, her mother opts to stay in Antarctica for the winter because her research has uncovered a frightening chance that there is a major quake imminent in the southern hemisphere that could disrupt the entire west Antarctic ice sheet, potentially sending massive pieces of ice plunging into the ocean.
What can you tell us about your daily routines that help you focus and your creative habits? So, for example how do you come up with some of your ideas and inspiration for your book?
I’m a morning person. I wake up with all thrusters firing in my brain, but not the rest of my body, so sitting at a computer works best for me. Often I think of things for my novels while sleeping; No one has figured out a means of dream-writing yet, but someday maybe I can hook electrodes to my brain and write while I’m sleeping. Until then, I’ll stick with mornings.
Is this book very personal for you? If so, how?
The Into the Outside trilogy was a very personal set of books. I came up with the initial idea of a teenage girl lying on a lawn chair, sitting under a glass-bottom swimming pool, looking up at a world she couldn’t be part of, and then seeing people swimming in the pool one day. She had to know what was going on! There wasn’t supposed to be anybody Outside! I told my son this idea and Colin, being a creative child, helped me with some of the initial concepts. As I wrote the novel, I bounced plot points off him and he helped with some of the ideas. At one point, we took a trip to visit my parents in south Jersey, and on the way home, we altered our course, to drive up through New York state, past West Point, to plot out part of the tribe’s journey up the Hudson River. Later, my best friend and now partner, Henry’s insightful understanding of human nature and expert ability to weave ideas together made him the perfect co-author for the first Into the Outside novel, even if he never wanted to be a writer.
Into the Outside
How did you come up with the book title?
This book series began with a short story titled Out of EWR, but when Henry and I turned it into full-length novel, he pointed out that a title that no one could pronounce wasn’t a great idea. EWR (rhymes with sewer) is the 3-letter airport code for Newark, NJ, and that’s where Malcolm’s tribe lives. It’s when they leave Newark that they meet up with Isabella and begin their journey. Everything Isabella knows outside of her family’s fallout shelter is “Outside,” so weaving the two together begat “Into the Outside.” Books 2 and 3 follow the tribe’s journey into a region the survivors call the “Yellow Zone” and then finish up in book 3 in the underground city of Mt. Weather, which sits under a mountain.
Themes or Messages
What themes and deeper meanings or messages can we expect to find in this book if any? Are there any deep meanings or philosophical questions being explored in the book?
This post-apocalyptic story has battles for survival, romance, loss, racism, and shows both the worst and the best of society. The story illustrates well how fear of the unknown and blindly believing what you are told has the potential to cause great harm. It also shows the importance of standing up for the downtrodden and being willing to fight for what is right.
What can you tell us about the setting that we will be seeing in this book?
Fifty years ago the Earth died. The Earth is now a fertile but dangerous jungle world. Wildlife has prospered although often in oddly altered forms. Survivors live in underground shelters waiting generations for the environment to become safe enough to emerge. Above ground, the radiation and poison has mutated the few humans that are left, but they do their best to survive for the 20 to 22 years they might live before the toxic planet or disease kills them.
Plot and Synopsis
Can you describe the book plot and give a detailed synopsis of the book, of course without any spoilers?
16-year-old Isabella has grown up believing mutants are sub-human, stupid and would eat every shelter person if they had the chance, until she spies a wandering mutant tribe through the glass bottom swimming pool that is her shelter’s only light source. Isabella is fascinated by them, but it’s their 17-year-old leader, Malcolm, who truly captivates her – ebony skin, straw-colored hair, rippling muscles, four fingers on one hand and six on the other. Night after night she sneaks out of her shelter to watch the tribe, dressed in her grandfather’s chemical/radiation suit. When Malcolm discovers her, they are wary of each other at first but eventually become friends and then lovers. Isabella finally leaves the safety of her shelter to follow Malcolm into the perilous Outside.
Isabella knows the government plans to exterminate the mutants once it is safe for the shelter-folk to come Outside, and she expects radiation and disease, but no one in the tribe is prepared for cannibals!
Battling the cannibal Eaters, taking on orphan children, and trying to convince mutant tribes about the dangers they must prepare for makes Isabella question her decision to leave her shelter. She dreamed of making a difference in the lives of those Outside, but now she isn’t certain she has the courage and strength do it.
What can you tell us about some of the main characters and villains in this book?
Isabella is like many teenage girls throughout history. She is idealistic and in love with a man her family thinks she shouldn’t be with. Unlike other girls, however, this strong young woman puts herself in mortal danger, leaving her shelter to venture into the deadly Outside, not because she’s in love, but because she needs to do what she can to help those whose ancestors were unlucky enough not to get into a shelter.
Her cousin-brother Luke (shelter-folk’s family groupings are often mixed up) defies their grandfather and leaves the shelter to track down Isabella and warn her of the threat she knows nothing about. But he is no more prepared for the dangers Outside than she is. Hunted and finally captured by the military, Luke must escape their grasp, find Isabella, and save her life. In the second book, Luke escapes from the military base and races against time to save her from a deadly disease she does not know she is carrying.
These two strong young people become the backbone of a rebellion to, quite literally, change the world.
How to buy
Please nominate another author you really like and has not yet reached mainstream and a small paragraph about why you believe this author is someone to really look into.
I would like to nominate Jenna Whittaker, She is Australian author who has been writing fantasy, science fiction, and horror novels for as long as I can remember! Her have self-published 5 novels one science fiction, one dystopian, and 3 fantasy/science fantasy!
You can check her out at: http://www.Jennawhittaker-author.weebly.com