A Country Of Eternal Light

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Darby Harn and his speculative fiction novel, A Country Of Eternal Light.

Author’s description

“One of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read” – Sunyi Dean, author of The Book Eaters

 

A rogue black hole tears apart the solar system. Mairead’s life is already in pieces.

 

The Earth has less than a year to survive.

 

Asteroids rain hell; earthquakes rattle cities; manic tides swamp coasts. Mairead intends to give herself to the erratic waves that erode her remote Irish island, the same that claimed her child. When Gavin, an American, arrives to scatter his father’s ashes, she becomes torn between wanting for life and death.

 

Despite the tides, fuel shortages, and closing borders that threaten to trap him on the island, Gavin can’t seem to scatter the ashes. He doesn’t know how to let go any more than Mairead does and they find a strange comfort in their confusion.

 

Their affair draws Mairead back to the world of the living, but the longer Gavin stays, the more it seems there might be a future for them. There is no future.

 

Life closes down around them. The world they know shreds. Life drains into an inescapable abyss. And yet Mairead fights, both the gravity of her grief and the restless, dissonant desire to find some kind of peace no matter how brief.

Guest Post

In my books I’ve always have one minor character who insists on playing a larger role in the story. So I love to ask authors if there was such a character in their novel.

Darby Harn appears to be as plagued by them as I am, and just as grateful. I loved the details in his answer!

There certainly was.

Aoife (pronounced ‘ee-fah’) came out of nowhere in A Country Of Eternal Light. She is Mairead’s best friend and a fellow nurse, conscripted at least, at the nursing home on their remote Irish island of Inishèan.

She showed up in a brief scene at the home and then kept pushing her way into the rest of the novel. In many ways she’s the comic relief. It’s a dark book. It’s a sober book that deals with very difficult emotions. I think the book wanted for someone like Aoife. Her approach to the end of the world is to simply live her life to the fullest.

She’s more than just the comic relief, though. Aoife became an integral part of the story. She has an arc, which in many ways is as tragic as anyone else’s. Aoife may be the life of the party in many respects, but she also has her share of demons. My absolute favorite scene in the book involves Aoife and Mairead getting through a bad night with some recreational aids and Aoife’s spirit really comes out there. Her inhibitions fall away, or what few she has.

I love the character who is completely unexpected. I have a similar character in my Eververse series of superhero novels, beginning with Ever The Hero. I needed someone to open the door and check in on the heroine, Kit. That turned out to be Abi, and Abi wouldn’t leave the stage. Much like Aoife she became integral and in Abi’s case, she became a pillar of this series as it’s evolved.

I’m a pantser, so most of what I write is intuitive. That has its downsides sometimes, but one of the benefits of discovering your story as you go are characters like Aoife and Abi. I simply can’t imagine the books without them.

 

Darby Harn’s Story

Darby Harn studied at Trinity College, in Dublin, Ireland, as part of the Irish Writing Program. He is the author of the sci-fi superhero novel EVER THE HERO. His short fiction appears in Strange Horizons, Interzone, Shimmer, The Coffin Bell and other venues.

Find the Author

Website: darbyharn.com
Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/darbyharn
Goodreads: goodreads.com/darby_harn
Twitter: twitter.com/DarbyHarn
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/Darby-Harn-255976537767428

Buy the Book

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Country-Eternal-Light-Darby-Harn-ebook/dp/B0921W3QNF

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Ma shuffles into the kitchen, coat on like she’s going somewhere. She sees the radio and remembers.

“Not today,” I say, but she switches it on anyway.

Six past and now time for today’s obituaries. Katie Burke, Kilmurvey, Co. Galway, 14th October, suddenly, sadly missed. Iranian quake toll rises. Russian oil fields under water. The Pope condemns American abortion initiative for all remaining pregnancies. Scientists hold vigil over Saturn, her rings scattered like a snowdrift across a country road. All her moons buckshot. Jupiter suffers the most, swollen and bruised like an aging prizefighter, determined to die in the ring.

The government handed out these little LED tickers. Alarm clocks, like, to put on the refrigerator. Counts down the seconds until the rogue black hole intersects the orbit of earth. A year from now. That’s all we have left.

If that.

The tides will drown us first. One of the comets will hit us. A planet or a moon will, or comes close enough to yank the earth from its orbit. What difference does it make? What difference is cancer? Parkinson’s. A heart attack. A bullet. A car. A black hole. All our deaths are projectiles, hurtling through blood streams or interstellar space or dark coastal roads at targets with no proper sense of the size of the barrel they’re swimming in.

I switch the radio off. “I don’t want to hear this.”

Thank you!

Darby Harn — we appreciate your sharing your book A Country Of Eternal Light with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

If Darkness Takes Us

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Brenda Marie Smith and her post-apocalyptic science-fiction novel, If Darkness Takes Us.

Author’s description

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

About the Author

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.

When Jack Jeffers Refused to Stay in the Background

I like to ask authors if they have a minor character who insisted on playing a larger role in the story. I guess it is because I have this problem often. Brenda Marie Smith surprised me with her funny yet touching response. I loved it! Read on and enjoy. 

In my novel, If Darkness Takes Us, a solar electromagnetic pulse destroys the U.S. grid while 70-year-old Bea Crenshaw is keeping her four grandchildren alone, and she is forced to teach the kids to survive without electricity, cars, phones, or running water. Initially, I’d planned for Jack Jeffers, a man of similar age, to be the helpful neighbor who would show up once in a while with food for the kids, or would give them advice on their garden or where to find water.

But Jack was such a good, solid human being that he filled a serious need of Bea’s to have an adult friend and confidante during the apocalypse. Her husband and grown kids—the parents of her grandchildren—have not returned home since the solar pulse. She is grieving and lonely, and she spends her days and nights supervising children. Jack, being a perceptive guy, notices this and steps up to befriend Bea and comfort her, thus making himself invaluable to the story, that sneaky guy.

Then he pretty well insisted that he and Bea have a romantic history, and that I had better put that in the story if I wanted to give it depth. And the old man was right. Bea’s husband is missing, and she’s been calling him Hank the Crank in her mind for years—he infantilizes her, yells at her, and can often be downright mean. Jack would never treat anyone that way, especially Bea, whom he admires and respects so much.

Next thing I know, I have an adulterous romance between two elderly people on my hands, a romance that Bea has to keep secret from her grandchildren. That sly old dog, Jack Jeffers, came along being a genuinely nice guy, and Bea could not resist him. He made me give her what she wanted, because who am I, after all, to deny her?

As the author, I may think I’m in charge, but characters really do take on lives of their own. I had heard this but couldn’t imagine it until it happened to me. If you listen to your characters, they will not let you portray them as anything other than who they believe themselves to be. If you try to force them, they will rebel, or they will fall flat or feel gratingly wrong on the page. It was nice of Jack Jeffers to be gentle with me in his insistence on having a more important role. I’m glad that I ultimately listened to him. I’m sure I have a better novel as a result.

I modeled Jack Jeffers after my own husband Doug, by the way. Even though Bea is much like me, Doug wants everyone to know that he is nothing like Bea’s husband, Hank the Crank.

Thanks so much for hosting me and my book on your blog.

Find the Author

Website: https://brendamariesmith.com/
Twitter: @bsmithnovelist
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BrendaMarieSmithAuthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brenda_marie_smith/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJlLSnORIyoaygvZ1j49ZKw
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52206957-if-darkness-takes-us

Buy the Book

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Darkness-Takes-Brenda-Marie-Smith-ebook/dp/B07WK9BQHN/
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/if-darkness-takes-us-brenda-marie-smith/1133374442?ean=9781970137835
BookPeople Austin: https://www.bookpeople.com/book/9781970137835

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Through the upstairs window, we watched a fire burning yellow along the western horizon. It didn’t look like a huge conflagration, but this drought-ridden place was a tinderbox.

“Um, kids. That’s more than a fire over there. There’s a yellow glow behind it, all the way across…”

Keno and Tasha crowded up next to me at the window, making anxious sounds in their throats. We ran to the front window and saw the same glow to the north…

“What is that?” I asked, though my breath had left me. “It’s how I always imagined the northern lights would look…”

… “It could be a glow from a geomagnetic storm,” Keno said…

I whirled around to face him. “What do you mean?”

“Back in the 1800s, the sun took out all the telegraph lines once… The sky all over the planet lit up with colors, like the strongest Northern Lights ever seen, except it was in Australia, too… This doesn’t seem as strong as that. There aren’t bright colors all over the sky, right?”

“Good… Good,” I said, releasing a breath. I hugged Tasha hard. “Don’t worry.” I was trying to be comforting, though I needed comfort myself. I pulled a chair in front of the big front window and sat down to study the yellow glow that rose and fell as though it was breathing. The kids stood watching with me, all of us seeming to breathe in time with the undulations of the glowing pulses of light.

Thank you!

Brenda Marie Smith — we appreciate your sharing your book If Darkness Takes Us with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

Finding George Washington

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Bill Zarchy and his historical time-travel baseball thriller Finding George Washington.

Author’s description

On a freezing night in 1778, General George Washington vanishes. Walking away from the Valley Forge encampment, he takes a fall and is knocked unconscious, only to reappear at a dog park on San Francisco Bay—in the summer of 2014.

 

Washington befriends two Berkeley twenty-somethings who help him cope with the astonishing—and often comical—surprises of the twenty-first century.

 

Washington’s absence from Valley Forge, however, is not without serious consequences. As the world rapidly devolves around them—and their beloved Giants fight to salvage a disappointing season—George, Tim, and Matt are catapulted on a race across America to find a way to get George back to 1778.

 

Equal parts time travel tale, thriller, and baseball saga, Finding George Washington is a gripping, humorous, and entertaining look at what happens when past and present collide in the 9th inning, with the bases loaded and no one warming up in the bullpen.

 

When a sidekick’s sidekick takes on a major role

In my books I usually have one minor character who insists on playing a larger role in the story. I’m always curious as to whether other authors experience this, so I asked Bill Zarchy if he had such a character in his novel, Finding George Washington. I was quite impressed with the sensitivity and insight in his response!

A Foil for My Foil

Early in the development of my debut novel, Finding George Washington: A Time Travel Tale, I knew that I wanted to tell the story in the first person, from Tim’s point of view. I wanted to bring General Washington to the present, and I figured that I could show George’s personality and response to the 21st Century through his interactions with Tim.

Tim was George’s foil, a character whose purpose is to contrast with another character, often the protagonist, to bring out their differences. Think Sancho Panza in Don Quixote, Dr. Watson in the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, or Bud Abbott playing straight man to Lou Costello.

Having Tim as the foil certainly worked out in many ways, but pretty soon, I began to think that I needed to provide him with a sidekick. As I wrote the early parts of the story, it became apparent that the very fact of George suddenly appearing in Tim’s life was astounding, to say the least, and Tim needed his own foil to reflect his astonishment. That’s how the character LaMatthew Johnson came to be. Tim and Matt could have their own private conversations about George, particularly in the early stages of the narrative, where they weren’t sure if they believed his story.

That wasn’t all. As I deepened my research into Washington as a slave owner, I realized that I needed people of color in my story. So Matt is mixed race, descended on his father’s side from enslaved people in the South (the Johnsons), and on his mother’s side from Jews fleeing the Nazis (the Lefkowitches).

From their first meeting, Matt confronts George about his role as owner of many enslaved people, forcing him to acknowledge that slavery is cruel, evil, and immoral. These dialogues elevate Matt’s role in the story from mere sidekick duty. He never gives George a break about slavery, even rejecting the notion Washington was just “a product of his time.”

As I write this, it’s Passover, which commemorates the Exodus, the liberation of the Jews from slavery in ancient Egypt, and I wonder, “was Pharaoh just a product of his time?”

Despite their differences, George and LaMatthew do learn to trust and admire each other.  Matt, whose role at first was to help Tim understand and explain George’s momentous presence among them, later takes decisive and risky action to defend George during a surprise ambush. Originally intended as a mere sidekick, Matt thus forces his way into becoming a principal character.

About the Author

Bill Zarchy filmed projects on six continents during his 40 years as a cinematographer, captured in his first book, Showdown at Shinagawa: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil. Now he writes novels, takes photos, and talks of many things.

Bill’s career includes filming three former presidents for the Emmy-winning West Wing Documentary Special, the Grammy-winning Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em, feature films Conceiving Ada and Read You Like A Book, PBS science series Closer to Truth, musical performances as diverse as the Grateful Dead, Weird Al Yankovic, and Wagner’s Ring Cycle, and countless high-end projects for technology and medical companies.

His tales from the road, personal essays, and technical articles have appeared in Travelers’ Tales and Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, the San Francisco Chronicle and other newspapers, and American Cinematographer, Emmy, and other trade magazines.

Bill has a BA in Government from Dartmouth and an MA in Film from Stanford. He taught Advanced Cinematography at San Francisco State for twelve years. He is a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area and a graduate of the EPIC Storytelling Program at Stagebridge in Oakland. This is his first novel.

Find the Author

https://findinggeorgewashington.com/
https://findinggeorgewashington.com/blog/
http://billzarchy.com/

Buy the Book

The eBook will be $0.99 during the tour everywhere it’s sold.

Paperback:    https://www.amazon.com/dp/0984919120/
Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08NXXNLBB/
Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/finding-george-washington-bill-zarchy/1138366946
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/finding-george-washington
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1053144
Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/finding-george-washington/id1541743641
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Finding-George-Washington-A-Time-Travel-Tale-by-Bill-Zarchy-112403433952296

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

I had once kissed my old girlfriend Marnie on the Kiss Cam, a few months after we started dating, when things were still going well between us. I didn’t miss her, exactly. She had treated me badly. But the memory brought on pangs of loneliness. The camera focused on a young couple in the stands, who watched as their image came up on screen, then dove into a passionate smooch.

The crowd cheered. Though he still wasn’t sure what was happening, George was shocked by these indecorous public displays of affection. The camera cut to an older couple, who responded with a much more dignified buss. Light booing and laughter from the masses.

Sinatra continued to croon to “Strangers in the Night.” George was mortified.

“Timothy, this song and these people seem to be celebrating romantic liaisons of the most crude and casual type. How offensive!”

The screen cut to a pimply young guy, who practically leaped onto his cute girlfriend, attacking with a scary abundance of tongue.

“Ewww,” a girl behind us called out. Our whole section laughed.

The image on screen switched to George, with Rachel beside him. In that strong left profile shot, with his pale skin, high forehead, prominent apple cheeks, graying russet hair tied in back, and aquiline nose, he looked just like the guy on the quarter dollar.

The camera seemed to stay on them forever. Finally, with a good-natured grin, Rachel gave him a prim peck on the lips, then lingered an extra second or two. The fans screamed their appreciation.

I was speechless, overcome with dread, though not sure why. How had this happened? We had brought the Father of Our Country out in public to a baseball game in San Francisco.

And his iconic face was up on a giant screen, being kissed by a woman not his wife, as Sinatra sang about getting lucky.

I shared the moment with 40,000 of my closest friends at the ballpark. I hoped all their intentions were friendly.

Thank you!

Bill Zarchy — we appreciate your sharing your book Finding George Washington with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.