Interview with Brenda Marie Smith, author of post-apocalyptic science fiction If Darkness Takes Us
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
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No matter how desperately a mother loves you, she can only put up with so much. And so, the day came when Mother Nature lashed out against us.
I understood where Nature was coming from. My family never listened to me either, which is why I didn’t tell them about the guns I’d bought.
The whole thing started with the train wreck.
On a Friday in early October, the young adults in my family went to the Oklahoma-Texas game up in Dallas—a big football rivalry around here. They dragged my husband, Hank the Crank, along with them, leaving me in South Austin with my grandchildren.
At the time, I was glad to see Hank go. He’d been making me crazy since he retired: hovering like a gnat; micromanaging my coffee-making; griping at me for reading instead of waiting attentively for him to spout something terse. Lord, I needed a break from that man. The three-day trip to Dallas seemed perfect.
I wasn’t a built-in-babysitter type of grandma, and I only saw my four grandkids together as a group on birthdays and holidays. For weeks I’d been excited about spending a long weekend alone with them.
A cruel trick sometimes, getting what you ask for.
~Buy If Darkness Takes Us:
Interview with Brenda Marie Smith
-What inspired you to become a writer?
Not to dodge the question, but I’ve never been sure what inspired me to become a writer. It’s just a drive I’ve had since I was six-years-old and wrote my first story about a girl named Windy who could fly on the wind. I guess you could say that It’s part of my nature. I wouldn’t feel fulfilled as a person if I couldn’t shape a story in my imagination and painstakingly transfer it to the page.
–If you could visit your book’s world for a day, what one thing would you do?
I would comfort my characters and tell them how proud I am of them for their perseverance in their struggle to survive and to keep their humanity in the process. These poor people have been living through an apocalypse for going on two years now, and it’s unbelievable what they have had to live through, the choices of conscience they’ve had to regularly make. I would apologize to them for putting them through all that and I’d cook dinner for them.
-It’s two in the morning. What does your protagonist reveal in confidence? (Don’t worry, we won’t tell.)
Grandma Bea’s husband and three of her five grown children have not made it home since the solar electromagnetic pulse fried the U.S. grid and shut down the phones and the cars with internal computers. She is left alone with four grieving grandchildren. Bea listens late at night on her wind-up radio to the only broadcast she can find, which comes from a ham operator in a small town near Waco, Texas, one hundred miles away. Her husband and kids were last heard from near Waco, minutes before the solar pulse struck. She’s listening for news that might tell her what happened to them, but as the months pass, she is increasingly convinced that her missing family members are no longer alive. She can’t tell this to her grandchildren, of course, so she keeps it to herself.
-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?
I would drink with all of them, except for the villain, 17-year-old Chas Matheson. He’s a smug S.O.B., and would be no fun to drink with. And most of the children are too young to drink, but I might give them a sip or two, just to reward them for good behavior.
-You’re in a tavern, and someone challenges you to a duel. What do you do?
I’m an old woman who is partly disabled, so any person of any size, age, or gender who is in reasonable health is likely to kill me quickly in a duel, no matter the choice of weapons. Plus. I’m a nonviolent person, not into dueling. I would offer the challenger all the food and drinks he or she wants, even buy rounds for his or her friends. If that doesn’t work, I would try to come up with another way for the person to save face and protect their honor. I would challenge them to a game of Scrabble. If all else fails, I would slug my drink, grab my walker, and hobble away.
-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?
I don’t think I could write fantasy very well, just because it doesn’t interest me much. There are wonderful fantasy stories in the world, and I’m sure I couldn’t compete with them because I’m not passionate enough about fantasy to create a compelling story. This is in no way a put-down to the many great fantasy writers out there. It’s just we all have our things, and fantasy isn’t one of mine. Not sure I’d be good with mysteries either, because they have rules and tricks that I’m not privy to. I could possibly learn if I had the time, but first I have two other novels in development to get through.
About 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.
Find her online:
Brenda Marie Smithwill be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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