Series: Horizons Trilogy #1
Genres: Dystopia, Paranormal
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The end of the world is only just the beginning. So eighteen-year-old Thea discovers when her solitary life on a dying Earth is shattered by a mysterious dream, a devastating choice, and a strange gift that propels her on a journey towards the restoration of all mankind.
Thea is bitter and alone; eking out her miserable life on the sunless, cloud-covered Earth she inhabits. A terrifying dream convinces her to save the life of an injured girl, and despite her misgivings, Thea decides to rescue sixteen-year-old Viviana. She soon learns that gentle Viv has a life-threatening infection, as well as a freakish patch of glowing skin over her heart. When this light spreads to Thea, causing her palms to glow, she is forced to trust Caden, an arrogant, lazy, and annoyingly handsome boy she despises. Caden has a map to the last city on Earth, and the only place that might have a cure for both Viv's infection and the strange light on Thea's hands. As the trio embark on a journey through the barren wilderness, Thea and Caden discover, and try to fight, their mounting attraction to each other. Along the way they are joined by Rain, Naomi, and Enoch who explain that the light is not a curse, but a powerful gift meant to heal the polluted Earth and reconnect the remnants of humanity. When the group learns that Viv is the key to this planet-wide redemption, and that there are deadly shadows who will do anything to keep humans in the darkness forever, they each must make the difficult decision to help Viv fulfill her destiny...and save the world.
Today we have an interview with M. Kircher about her paranormal dystopia, The War Inside. Check after the interview for an excerpt from the book and giveaway.
Can you describe in your own words what The War Inside is about?
The War Inside is a YA paranormal dystopian novel about what would happen if humanity continued to neglect both the Earth, and their own souls. The planet in my story is a withered husk of what it once was, and the people left alive on it have absolutely no connection to it or to each other. The main characters of Thea, Caden, Rain, and Naomi are these gruff, almost completely unlikable teenagers, who slowly begin to understand what it means to become human again. They have to learn how to connect with each other and in doing this; they discover an amazing secret that just might restore the Earth to its former glory. There’s a girl named Viv(iana) who binds the group together early on, and who seems to be the key to this planet-wide change. And there are a bunch of really creepy creatures called shadows that’d love to destroy Viv and keep mankind under the cloak of darkness forever.
The book has intrigue, danger, and even a little bit of love by the end. I hope all of your readers will check it out if they’d like a different take on dystopian!
What inspired you with the idea for the book?
I’m a total dystopian nut and I also love YA, but I hadn’t read any dystopian plots that centered around putting the Earth back together, rather than how everything falls apart.
I also wanted to take a look at society’s use of technology today and imagine how that could affect and shape our future. The sunless, canopy-covered Earth and a human race that’s incapable of love and connection emerged from that line of thinking. But then I wanted to figure out how all of this could be redeemed. Could each and every person discover the power within themselves to put things right?
What message do you want people to take away from reading the book?
I would love for teenagers, young adults, and people of all ages to read this book and come away with the idea that their choices really matter. Everything we do in this life can shape the world for good – or it can shape it for evil. Sometimes we feel like we’re so small and insignificant, but we should never underestimate ourselves. We can each choose to be brave, loyal, caring, and kind, and we can all be better stewards of the Earth we live on. It’s a small as smiling at someone on the subway or recycling your soda can and as large as starting a non-profit to end hunger or stop deforestation. You’re powerful, so use that power for good.
How long did it take you to write the book, and can you discuss your writing process?
The War Inside took about two years to write, edit, and publish. Oddly enough, whether I’m writing fiction, non-fiction, a book, article, blog or web post, my writing routine is about the same. I outline the entire thing first and then I do a “verbal vomit” first draft where I sit down and write the story out start to finish. The end of the process is editing, editing, and more editing. Many writers don’t use an outline, but I find it freeing to have the plot figured out before I actually write. It allows me to worry about character development, dialogue, scene setting, flow, and minor details, rather than bite my nails about how the dang thing will end!
Did the book or characters end up differently than how you had originally envisioned?
I think that parts of it definitely did. Once you start writing a story, the characters and plot start to develop a mind of their own. A writer friend of mine likes to say, “Well today this character told me…” You have an idea of where things will go, but your brain often figures out twists, turns, and exciting developments as the book is actually written. Sometimes you have to edit those ideas out because they just jumble the story, but other times you come up with something in the middle of writing that changes the course of the whole piece.
Who is your favorite character in the book?
My favorite character is definitely Thea. She’s the epitome of both of the extremes in my personality. She’s this kick-ass girl who can really fight and take care of herself, but she also has a deep longing to be loved and to take care of others. I really like that Thea never loses her strength even as she discovers the more emotional side of her personality. I think women can be emotional beings and but also kick butt at the same time!
How did you come up with the idea for the cover?
I wanted the cover to convey the paranormal elements of this book, but in a way that was intriguing. The background is gray, to parallel the dark, dystopic world that Thea, Caden, Viv, Rain, and Naomi live in. And your eye is immediately drawn to the bright, green leaf; the only color on the entire cover besides white and shades of gray. The green is meant portray the idea of life, life for the planet and also life for the soul. The scrollwork underneath the title was added later in the design process to tie in the light swirls that show up on the main character’s skin as they discover and develop their ability.
And I mean, who doesn’t like a pair of glow-y hands?
If you could go back and change anything in the novel, what would it be?
I think that I would have given Viv a little more face time and character development. She’s going to be the voice of the third, and final, book in this series, (Caden will be the voice of the second book) and while she’s going to be a major figure in book two, I wished I had put more shades of Viv’s character in The War Inside. She’s innocent and young, but also has a very strong inner strength and maturity that readers will discover later on.
How do you juggle writing a book with family needs and time?
It’s really hard. And as a mom of two little kiddos under the age of two, my life feels a bit like a madhouse right now. But I’m trying to learn balance. Time for work is very important, but so is family time. We’re still working out all the kinks in scheduling and childcare, but right now I’m writing two full days a week and then whenever the children nap. I have my writing time so that when I’m home, I can fully focus on my kids. (It also really helps to have a spouse who is supportive of your work.)
What are you favorite authors and books?
Some of my favorite authors are: J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lexis, Anne McCaffrey, J. K. Rowling, Max Barry, Scott Westerfeld, Jane Austen, Isaac Asimov, and Hugh Howey.
A very small list of my favorite books are (I have so many): Uglies, The Hunger Games, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Harry Potter, Pride & Prejudice, A Wrinkle in Time, Harriet the Spy, The Chronicles of Narnia, Divergent, Wool, The Mysterious Benedict Society, Lexicon, I, Robot, Perelandra, The Andromeda Strain…and many more.
When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer?
I think I first really wanted to be a writer as a teenager going to the movies. I had been a crazy bookworm from a very young age, but it wasn’t until I sat in a movie theater and started seeing some of my favorite books come to life on the big screen that I thought, “Man, I wish I could write stories that would give people tingles like I’m getting right now.” I didn’t want to write movie scripts though; I wanted to write stories that inspired people’s imaginations. But that deep longing took a long time to flesh out. It’s difficult to have the courage to follow your passion and really put yourself out there.
Your next book, The Gray Horizon, continues the story. Can you give any hints about it? And when will it be released?
The Gray Horizon will hopefully be released sometime late 2014. It’s the continuation of the story that’s begun in, The War Inside, but it’ll be told from Caden’s perspective. Don’t worry, you’ll definitely still have the tangled affair between Thea and Caden playing itself out, but now you’ll get to see what’s going on in his mind instead of hers.
There will be more action in this one and also more encounters with the shadows. And I can give one **spoiler** – there’s going to be the death of another character in book two. If any readers would like to be on the release notification mailing list, they can e-mail me at: melissakircher83gmail.com and I’ll send them a note when the book is available.
Thank you so much for having me!
“Thea sucked a breath in through her teeth, trying to settle the distinctly uneasy feeling that was clawing at her stomach. She glanced back down at the injured girl and jumped back in surprise. She was gone! The girl had just…disappeared. Vanished into thin air. Thea blinked and ground the palms of her hands into her eyelids. What the hell was happening to her?
And that’s when the voice spoke for the first time.
“Keep her alive,” it whispered softly from the empty space behind Thea’s right ear.
Her muscles tensed, and the hairs on the back of her neck prickled. Thea whirled around, ready to face this unknown assailant, but as she did she noticed for the first time that her staff was clenched tightly in both hands. Had it been there a moment ago? For the life of her, Thea couldn’t remember. Either way, its familiar presence felt reassuring. She flipped the weapon around and shoved its rusty metal tip out into the darkness.
“Who said that?” Thea demanded, her tone hard and threatening.
“Keep her alive,” the voice repeated, like the edges of a cold wind. The words wrapped around her and sent a chill straight down her spine. The voice had moved. Now it spoke from somewhere just beside her left shoulder. She pivoted toward the sound, the thick treads of her boots grinding into the dirt and her staff poised to strike. But no one was there.” – Page 7, The War Inside
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