Brenda Marie Smith will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
Author Interview with Brenda Marie Smith
1. How did you choose your genre? What made you write this book?
Apocalyptic science-fiction isn’t the only genre I write, but it’s what I’ve been writing for the past few years, between If Darkness Takes Us, its standalone sequel, If the Light Escapes, and the third book I’m plotting in the series, as yet untitled. Apocalypses help me picture some of my greatest fears and think about how I might face them. They also help me count my blessings that we have not fallen into complete apocalypse, though we have been too close for comfort lately.
2. Writers write what they know, and must observe the world. Are you a firstborn, middle or last child and how does this shape your view of the world?
I am the firstborn of five children. My siblings would tell you that it shaped me by making me bossier, and they would be right, lol. But I also think it taught me a certain independence in my thinking, and it required me to be a caregiver of my younger brothers and sisters from the time I was very young. I love kids, I am good with them, and I am pretty darned good at writing child characters in all my books, or so people tell me (and, naturally, I want to believe them). Being oldest also made me adventurous, so I have lived an unusual and interesting life that has loaded me up with varied experiences, which I can draw on in my fiction. For example, I purposely lived off the grid for several years in the 1970s, which was invaluable for this book series.
3. Where is your favorite place to write?
I like to write at home in my office that is a converted garage. It’s got good lighting, great temperature control, eclectic décor, and comfy furniture, plus a big-screen TV. I used to try to write elsewhere, but I was never very productive that way. Now, I’m partly disabled, so I pretty much have to write at home, but that’s okay with me, because I have everything I need here—the most important being a private and comfortable space and a loving husband to bring me dinner and make me laugh.
4. How do you feel about killing your darlings, and what do you do with the remains?
Oh, how I used to hate it. My precious words! How could I kill them? How could an editor even suggest it? But I’ve gotten used to it now. Some of those darlings should never have been written in the first place and don’t deserve to see the light of day. Others might be wonderful, but they don’t suit the story and have to be shown the door. I keep all of them except for the truly terrible ones, in hopes I might be able to use them elsewhere someday. I have repurposed a couple of cut scenes, putting them in different kinds of stories, changing the characters and places, etc. Or occasionally, I cut something from the beginning of the story only to find that it works well later in the book. I keep telling myself, they are only words and the world is full of them. What the world needs more of is good stories. And when I can see that it helps the story to cut certain words, I have learned to love the clarity it can create.
5. You are introduced to your favorite author. Who is it, and what is that one burning question you must ask them?
I’ve always wanted to ask John LeCarré how he managed to draw a complex character in a few almost-hidden masterstrokes. Unfortunately, he passed away recently, so I will have to ask him when and if I get to author heaven, and if whoever is in charge will let me in.
6. Inquiring minds want to know…tell readers something about you that no one knows.
When I was a teenager, I used to take phone numbers and other long numbers and find all the prime factors to them in my head. I still find big words when I’m driving along and see how many words I can make from the letters. It’s not really a secret, but it never seems to come up in conversation. I have an overactive mind.
7. You are stranded on a deserted island with only a back pack for company. What three items are in your survival pack?
Only three? Hmm… A bag containing mass quantities of all the medicines I need to stay alive, a big sharp hunting knife, and a guidebook to all the flora and fauna of the island, telling me what I can eat and drink as well as what I need to fear. This is assuming that I’m wearing layers of clothing, a hat, a jacket, and a new pair of sturdy shoes. I’d better have a fat notebook and some pens somewhere in that jacket, too, and a lot of lighters for fires. I’m cheating, right? Sorry. If I have to cheat to stay alive and sane, then so be it.
8. If you could have one superpower in your existence, what would it be?
Telepathy—not the kind where I would know the details of what others are thinking, but where I could sense love and honesty, and I could see danger coming. I have a little bit of it already in the form of strong intuition. I’ve even had a handful of true telepathic dreams in my life, but it’s been a while.
9. Favorite snack?
Club crackers with Alouette garlic and herb soft cheese spread on them. A little goes a long way and is so delicious!
10. Indy 500 – Do you know how to get where you’re going or do you drive the speed limit?
On residential streets I drive the speed limit, to protect children and pets. On city thoroughfares, I tend to go five to ten miles over the limit, but I don’t want a ticket, so I’m cautious about it (learned the hard way). On the highways, I’ve been known to go eighty-five, but I usually keep it around seventy-five, creeping up to eighty once in a while. And I never get lost.
Thank you so much for hosting me and my book on your blog.
If Darkness Takes Us
by Brenda Marie Smith
GENRE: post-apocalyptic science-fiction
In suburban Austin, Texas, Bea Crenshaw secretly prepares 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. And deciding whether or not to share food with her starving neighbors puts her morality to the test.
If Darkness Takes Us is realistic post-apocalyptic science-fiction that focuses 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.
The book is available now. It’s sequel, If the Light Escapes, is told in the voice of Bea’s eighteen-year-old grandson, Keno Simms, and will be released by SFK Press on August 24, 2021.
“Bea Crenshaw is one of the most unique characters in modern literature—a kick-ass Grandma who is at once tough and vulnerable, and well-prepared to shepherd her extended family through an EMP disaster, or so she thinks.”
—Laura Creedle, Award-winning Author of The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily
“There is real, identifiable humanity, subtle and sweet and sad, and events utterly shattering in their intensity.”
—Pinckney Benedict, Author of Dogs of God, Miracle Boy, and more
“Mazie, come with me downstairs where it’s safer.”
“I don’t like dark places,” she whined.
I had never yelled at my grandkids in their lives, but my patience was gone. Radioactive fallout could be here any minute.
“Mazie, quit arguing! Come with me now!”
She pinned me with a flash of anger in her eyes. “Where’s my doll?”
“We’ll get it later. Let’s go!”
She made me pick her up. Although she was a wisp, she was still too heavy for me, but I carried her anyway. Holding onto her little frame comforted me, and I needed to be level-headed and strong for these kids.
When we got to the top landing on the stairs, I had to put Mazie down to shut the cellar door. I held her hand, and we descended the stairs together.
As soon as we reached bottom, Milo asked, “Nana, when will Mom and Dad be home?”
Good Lord, I hadn’t even thought about how this nuke or EMP— whatever it was—might have affected the other adults in this family, who were hurtling toward Austin at seventy miles an hour on a jam-packed interstate highway. Did this “event” extend that far? For the love of Jesus!
I tried to hide my shaking hands as I said to Milo, “I’m not sure. It shouldn’t be too long.”
How long is too long, anyway?
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
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.
BookPeople Austin: https://www.bookpeople.com/book/9781970137835