Welcome back to Lamon Reviews. Today we have a spotlight, author interview, and giveaway. Remember to enter the giveaway later in the post.
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If The Light Escapes
by Brenda Marie Smith
GENRE: Sci-fi (post-apocalyptic)
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.
JUMP INTO THE ACTION WITH 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.”
“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…
⚜Author Interview with Brenda Smith⚜
LR: What is the sweetest thing someone has done for you?
BMS: My son Aaron has written me poems. He and so many others have given me the most thoughtful gifts and cooked me the most wonderful meals. When I left my first husband long ago and had nothing, my parents packed up a station wagon full of household items and drove them from Oklahoma City to Austin, Texas the next day. Blew me away.
But probably the sweetest thing is the way my husband Doug takes care of me day in and day out. I’m partly disabled, and there are many things I can’t do for myself, and he takes care of all of it without complaint. He’s been super-protective of me during COVID, and we have a lot of fun. I am a very fortunate woman.
LR: How would you spend ten thousand bucks?
BMS: I could pay off a couple of debts, I could upgrade the wiring in my house, I could get a couple of shiny new tooth implants, or I could just run away. Probably wouldn’t get too far, though, lol.
LR: Where do you get your best ideas?
BMS: From the idea peddler who stops by once in a while (I wish). I honestly don’t know where they come from. They just bubble up in my head from time to time. Probably from a mix of my life experience, conversations I’ve had, and things that bombard me on TV and online. Maybe they come from the same place that dreams originate. Or maybe the idea fairy seeds them in my brain.
LR: What comes first, the plot or characters?
BMS: Plot and character are inextricably intertwined, so you can’t have drama without a good development of both. If I had to pick one, I’d choose good characters in a lackluster plot before I’d pick boring characters in a killer-good plot, though I’m not sure a plot could be killer-good without good characters.
As far as how ideas come to me for stories, I usually think of a character or group of characters in a particular situation, and I develop it from there. I seldom think of characters or situations separately.
LR: What does your main character do that makes him/her special?
BMS: Keno Simms—God, how I love this young man. He’s a woke, slightly nerdy Austin, Texas seventeen-year-old who spends all his time on computers, learning about science and outer space. But then, a solar pulse takes out the U.S. grid, and Keno and his sister and cousins have no one to care for them except their grandmother in a world with no power, cars, phones or running water. All that happens in the first book in this series, If Darkness Takes Us.
In this standalone sequel, If the Light Escapes, Keno is now eighteen, heartbroken over the death of his sister, and married to her best friend, Alma. They are too young to be married, but it’s an apocalypse, they need each other, and they’re brave enough not to listen to adults who try to keep them apart.
Keno has a big heart and is keenly observant. He’s the first to notice when the water is extra low, when outsiders are presenting a threat, when the old people aren’t eating enough, when his little girl cousin needs cheering up.
He takes responsibility for everything and everyone, even when the pressure he puts on himself builds and builds until he breaks. When Alma gets pregnant, he vows to keep her alive if he has to die to do it. And he risks his own safety to protect those he loves. He’s overly emotional, he’s thoughtful and loving, and he can fierce when he needs to be.
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.
Here is where you can find more from and stay up-to-date on the latest from Brenda Marie Smith
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I hope you enjoyed todays post. Our stop for the blog tour for If The Light Escapes by Brenda Marie Smith. Remember to enter the giveaway in the post.
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