Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Blog Tour & Interview : Dead Land ( J.E. Bryne)

Having spent most of her eighteen years a midst the naïve and proper, Sarah Cain finally gives in to her friends pleas for a night of wild partying and teenage rebellion. A few poor decisions lead her outside the party in the cold depths of consequence, fighting for her innocence. Her screams for help are stifled by a catastrophic explosion that forever changes the landscape of humanity.
Left for dead, Sarah is rescued by an unlikely companion and together they come upon the horrible discovery that all of those left inside have perished. There is no electricity, no cars, no cell phones, and barely enough food to make it one night.
Scared and desperate to survive Sarah and her companion search for answers. Along their journey they meet others who share the same fate and dream of sanctuary. With each day that passes it becomes harder and harder for Sarah to know who to trust and who is out to hurt her. Divided between good and evil at every turn, Sarah must decide which path to take.
Follow Sarah on the voyage where the sun no longer rises, the moon and the stars have disappeared, black rain falls heavily on the shoulders of the survivors. Where good and evil lurks at every turn, taunting her sanity and testing her strength. Discover shared destinations and individual fates while confronting life in a Dead Land.

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As an undergraduate Journalism student at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, Jodi took the advice of one of her professors and changed her major to English, specifically focusing on the art of writing. This decision laid the foundation for a career in technical writing, teaching, and eventually fiction writer.
Jodi began her career as a corporate trainer, writing manuals and training programs for computer companies. After starting a family, she earned her MA from Cornerstone University and followed with teaching first grade, and then eventually High School English and Composition. While reading countless novels during course development, she decided to write one of her own.
The reward is the YA post-apocalyptic novel Dead Land to be released by Take Two Publishing in December 2013. The novel combines Jodi’s love of fiction, appreciation for young adults and the many challenges they face, and a passion for the spiritual components in life.
Dead Land follows the life of eighteen year-old Sarah Cain as she struggles to survive the pressures and temptations of high school, relationships, self-discovery…and the end of the world.
The Byrne family currently resides in Pennsylvania where Jodi is working on the second installment of the Dead Land series.

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What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

First, I am privileged to spend my days discussing great literature with high school students. I read and enjoy all of their suggestions, and they are (well, kind of required) to read the literature on my course syllabus. I picked up my pen with the intention of remedying this dichotomy. Dead Land unveils a suspenseful, fast-moving plot, complemented with spiritual components and literary allusions enveloped in magical realism. My inspiration was to give Dead Land a unique taste, seasoned with features of both the classic and the contemporary.

Secondly, I had a bizarre dream. When I was a junior in high school, I had a nightmare that has shaken me to this day. In the dream, I was postured on the school stage with many of my friends, and we were all receiving some type of an award. I don’t remember the specifics, but the point was that we were feeling invincible, on top of the world. At the pinnacle of our triumph, an explosion occurred that scattered everything and everyone in all directions. As I watched my world literally falling apart, I inherently knew that it wasn’t just a local explosion, but one of global impact, an earth-ending event. It was at this moment that I was physically awakened from the dream, and emotionally awakened to the vulnerabilities of life. Thirty years later, this nightmare inspired the plot of Dead Land.

Who is your favorite character in the book?

This is a tough one! Sarah is important to me, because she represents many of my own personal flaws and struggles. Writing her character forced me to be honest with issues I faced during my ‘coming of age’ years. 

David, however, wins the title of favorite. Modeled after Old Testament David, he is rugged, yet sensitive. He is a leader. He has a heart that seeks wisdom and Truth, even while flawed. He struggles with an impure relationship (remember Bathsheba?) yet, like King David, God uses him to do great things. “…I have found David a man after my own heart....” (Acts 13:22)

Which came first, the title or the novel?

Great question! The novel came first; finding a title that had not already been used by several others was tough. Ultimately, Dead Land is from T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Hollow Men.” Thanks to Eliot, the titles for the next two installments of the planned trilogy are already selected: Hollow Land and Promise Land.

What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?

I’m not sure if proud is the right word, but I am very moved by the scene in chapter 15 (“Wisdom”) with Jonathan and Elizabeth. I appreciate the magical realism intermixed with biblical allusion: a meager pot of soup that serendipitously feeds the multitudes, a dream that foreshadows the survivors’ futures, and a wise-old couple whose existence is ultimately questionable.

Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?

To add detail, detail, detail! I originally set off with a minimalist strategy, but was given advice from my first draft readers to add in the specific details of scenery, location, and character descriptions. This advice was paramount; adding the detail not only brought life to the manuscript, but it better connected me to the emotions of the characters. The characters feel very real to me. I laugh and cry with them. They are my friends…well all except for one!

What’s up next for you?

I am currently working on the second installment of the Dead Land series: Hollow Land, and just like the first, it ends with a heart-wrenching cliffhanger!

Is there anything that you would like to add?

I am exceptionally grateful to my early readers (family and book club comrades) for their valuable suggestions; my students for giving me an honest glimpse into their world, providing authentic voice to my characters; and to Take Two Publishing for supporting my vision.

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