Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Brenda Marie Smith and her post-apocalyptic science-fiction novel, 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
About the Author
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
Buy the Book
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.
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.
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.