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February 2024: Desperate to find refuge from the nuclear storm, a group of civilians discover a secret government bio-dome. Greeted by a hail of bullets and told to turn back, the frantic refugees stand their ground and are eventually permitted entry. But the price of admission is high.
283 years later... Sunny O'Donnell is a seventeen-year-old slave who has never seen the sun. She was born in the Pit, a subterranean extension of the bio-dome. Though life had never been easy, the last couple of months had become a nightmare. Her mom was killed in the annual Cull, and her dad thought it was a good time to give up on life. Reyes Crowe, her long-time boyfriend, was pressuring her to get married, even though it would mean abandoning her father.
She didn't think things could get any worse until she was forced upstairs to the Dome to be a servant-girl at a bachelor party. That's when she met Leisel Holt, the president's daughter, and her fiancé, Jack Kenner.
Now Sunny is wanted for treason. If they catch her, she'll be executed.
Check out this interview from S.M. McEachern, then see below it to get your free copy of Sunset Rising.
Interview with Author S.M. McEachern
Can you talk a little about what the book is about?
Sunset Rising is a futuristic dystopian tale about the last of humanity struggling to survive inside a biodome after the world was devastated by nuclear war. The story follows Sunny O’Donnell, a seventeen-year-old slave born in the Pit. After her mother is killed in a mandatory population control ritual, Sunny struggles with grief and the loss of her mother’s guiding influence. Barely able to cope, she lands herself in trouble with the ruling class and they force her into the sex trade. Knowing she’s hit rock bottom in life, a chance meeting with the president’s daughter opens up a new door and Sunny is given a choice: Cooperate in helping the president’s daughter, which could ultimately lead to a better life for everyone in the Pit, or refuse to cooperate and risk her best friend being disciplined and possibly executed. Sunny makes the only choice her conscience will allow, altering not only her own destiny, but also the fate of the entire Pit.
Sunset Rising is the first book of a series.
Where did you get the idea for the book?
Two things in life came together to prompt me to write Sunset Rising. First, the idea for an apocalyptic setting came to me years ago when I was in university (I’ll try not to date myself here!). I did research on a biodome in Arizona and my imagination went into overdrive on why we might one day need such a facility (yikes!). Second, my teenage daughter and I have been doing buddy reads of YA novels for the past four years. I love YA literature because it’s such a diverse genre, yet all the stories have a romantic theme. So an old idea coupled with modern day literature got me thinking until the story was so persistent I had to put it on paper.
What message do you want readers to get from reading the book?
Mmmmm…that’s a tough one to nail down. Although Sunset Rising is set in the future, the political roots of the story are grounded in our world today. Political corruption, war, poverty and famine are very real. And slavery is not a thing of the past. The United Nations estimates that globally 5.7 million children are victims of forced labor/debt bondage and 1.2 million children are victims of human trafficking, many of which are young girls sold into the sex trade. Yes, these numbers include victims right here in North America.
Each and every one of us has the potential to be the hero in our own world. Not that I’m suggesting anyone go start a rebellion! But by taking the time to learn, understand and act, we can all contribute in making the world a better place. To learn more about modern day slavery and other global issues, I provide links on my blog to the UN and, on occasion, other non-governmental organizations that have credible, valid information. http://smmceachern.wordpress.com/category/my-posts/
How long did it take to write the book?
It took me about four months to write the book. But writing the book was just the beginning…then there are beta readers, editing, book cover, etc. That takes a lot longer.
Who is your favorite character, or what character was the most fun to write?
Jack Kenner is definitely my favorite character. An aristocrat that’s forced to hide among slaves, Jack’s eyes were opened to the cruelty of the government he was about to lead. Yet, throughout it all, he manages to maintain a sense of humor…and fall in love (sigh). I liked Jack so much that I wanted to go back and rewrite the book from his point of view. I still might do it one day, just for fun!
Can you talk about how you wrote it? Did you do any outlining? Did it take you in any unexpected directions?
In author circles, I’m what’s called a “pantser”—someone who writes by the seat of her pants! So no, I don’t write outlines. But I do keep a Hilroy scribbler handy to jot down character traits or draw out a political line of reasoning as a visual when I’m writing.
If you could go back and change anything in the novel, what would it be?
When I’m in the throes of writing the story, it’s difficult to maintain objectivity and clarity, particularly with the characters. So the more time I spend away from writing the story, the more objective I can be about it. Does that make sense? That said, I have gone back and tweaked a few things in order to enrich a character or clarify an idea.
How did you come up with the cover?
The very talented Nathalia Suellen created the cover. Working together, we decided the moment when Sunny realized she’d been betrayed was the pivotal point in the story. Nathalia captured it beautifully.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I decided when I was twelve-years-old that I wanted to be a writer. I also wanted to end malnutrition in Africa. After high school, I almost went into journalism but switched gears and earned a degree in International Development and worked with third world countries on resource management. As for my goal of becoming a writer, Sunset Rising is my first book and a step in the right direction.
What are your favorite books and authors?
My all time favorite dystopian is, “The Chrysalids” by John Wyndham. For a love story, “Corelli’s Mandolin” by Louis de Bernières. But I like so many different genres and what I decide to read really depends on my mood. Some other notable authors I like are: Stephen King, Janet Evanovich, George R.R. Martin, and Suzanne Collins.
What are you working on next?
I’m still working on the second book of the Sunset Rising series. The date with my editor has been pushed to mid January due to unforeseen circumstances, however I am still working hard to get it to beta readers very soon. Barring any emergencies, it’s the top priority in my life! And I’ve already begun to put a few words on paper for the third book.
I also have a middle grade novel drafted and will work on finalizing it in 2014.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
With only one book published, I still consider myself an aspiring author! And I’m in a steep learning curve. For any writer who has not yet published, let me say that writing the book is the fun part; editing, getting it to beta readers and refining your story is the next step. Be prepared to accept criticism—in fact, be open to it. It will make you a better writer.
How do you juggle writing with family time?
When I published Sunset Rising last year, I envisioned writing the next two books in quick succession. However, my husband received word he had to deploy to Afghanistan for twelve months, so 2013 hasn’t been my best year. Being on my own with two kids has been challenging, especially with my husband in an unstable part of the world. But I’m in love with my family, which helps me get my priorities straight.
Get Your Free Copy
Find out why Readers Favorite awarded this debut novel 5 Stars and calls it “a heart-stopping ride to the very end.” Free on Amazon December 16, 17 and 18!