When did you first know you could be a writer?
I always knew I wanted to be a writer, so it’s kind of weird that it took me so long to write my first novel. I did a lot of academic writing throughout my studies and career, so I guess that helped satiate my desire to knit words together. However, when I had my first child, I made the decision to be a stay-at-home mom (and that was a tough thing to do!), so that writing outlet was gone. Now both my kids are in school and I have more time to myself.
What inspired you to write your first book?
My teenage daughter and I do buddies reads all the time, mostly young adult contemporary fiction. Before we started reading together, I hadn’t really read any young adult novels. I fell in love with the genre! And I already had an idea for a novel, based on academic research I had done years ago, so everything just came together and I started writing.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
If you could hit a “reset” button on the world, what would you change about it? Would you try to rebuild what we already have or go in a completely different direction? I hope the Sunset Rising series will get readers thinking about what kind of future lays before us and what they can do now to shape it.
How much of the book is realistic?
Sunset Rising is science fiction/fantasy with roots firmly planted in reality. I think anyone who keeps abreast of world events (politics, climate change, dwindling resources) accepts there’s a possibility of a third world war. In chapter seven, my main character flips through some old, preserved magazines and scans the news headlines leading up to the nuclear war. Three out of four of the headlines were taken directly from the news on the day I wrote that page. I wrote a trivia question about it on Goodreads if anyone wants to check it out: https://www.goodreads.com/trivia/show/168358-in-chapter-seven-of-sunset-rising-book
Can you tell us about your main character?
Sunny O’Donnell is a seventeen-year-old slave born in the Pit. At heart, she’s very stubborn and extremely resourceful. When her life starts to fall apart, and every one she loves is threatened, she looks for a way out. The “way out” means teaming up with someone she considers the enemy, but she’s willing to make that sacrifice in order to save everyone she loves. She just doesn’t count on her enemy being a good guy. So begins an unexpected romance that seems destined to fail.
How did you develop your plot and characters?
My plot was pretty much developed when I started writing Sunset Rising. My characters always develop as I write them, which means even though I have a plot worked-out, my characters sometimes take it in a different direction. In writing circles, I’m what you call a pantser—I write by the seat of my pants. I have a rough outline in my head, but no direct path from point A to point B.
What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?
There are two sides to everything I write: what I meant and what the reader perceives. These two things don’t always agree. Beta readers are the best people to let me know when I’ve missed the mark. Then comes the hard part of rewriting what I said in order to clarify it for the reader.
Why did you choose to write this particular book?
Sunset Rising is a cautionary tale. I’ve woven a lot of current real world problems into my story, such as: bonded slavery, human rights, poverty, nuclear arms, and corruption in the government. It’s my sincere hope that young adults who enjoyed reading Sunset Rising might visit my blog and see the links for UN Slavery Today and United Nations News Centre. You can find my blog here: http://smmceachern.wordpress.com/category/my-posts/
What are some of the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting out?
The absolute most beneficial “tool” an author can have: Readers. Readers have, and always will, determine the worth of a book. Charles Dickens, J.R.R. Tolkien, Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain were all authors that didn’t have support when they started out, other than readers. They wrote their stories and sent them out to the masses and the masses gave them feedback. Sounds a lot like self-publishing, doesn’t it? Charles Dickens actually did try to go the traditional publishing route, but “A Christmas Carol” was rejected, so he self-published.
How much research goes into your stories?
As a reader, nothing takes me out of story faster than bad science. So I’ve put a lot of research into the Sunset Rising series. The first book of the series was inspired by my academic research on the Biodome experiment in Arizona. My background in International Development (aiding developing worlds) allowed me to create the political system between the Dome and the Pit. And in my second book, Worlds Collide, I’ve researched nanotechnology with the help of a scientist from the National Institute for Nanaotechnology (NINT) in Canada.
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.
She thought Leisel's betrayal was the end. But it was just the beginning.
"Sunset Rising" is Book One of a series.
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Genre - YA Science Fiction, Dystopian
Rating – PG-16
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