Today we're joining the FIRE SISTERS book blitz by chatting with author A.G. Henley. Come get to know all about this YA dystopian series.
Hi, and welcome to We Do Write. Tell us a little about yourself.
Thanks for having me! I SO appreciate bloggers for the good work you do to help authors get the word out about their books, and you’ve been especially kind to me. Thank you!
So, I’m a YA author with a now complete (hooray!) series of dystopian/post-apocalyptic books. The Brilliant Darkness series begins with The Scourge, a 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist, and includes The Defiance and the just-released The Fire Sisters. There are also two novellas in the series. The series features a blind girl who believes she’s mysteriously protected from flesh-eating creatures called the Scourge, but she hasn’t been tested—until now.
I’m also a psychologist, which makes my workweek an interesting mix of fantasy and heart-wrenching reality.
The Fire Sisters
I know it is good to hear an encouraging word now and then to know how much the readers love your books and to keep you going. So what is your favorite comment from a fan that really lifted your spirits?
I LOVE my readers, and I have such nice ones. They are incredibly supportive. One comment that has always stuck in my brain came very early after I first published The Scourge in January 2012. I was not planning to self-publish, but at the time I couldn’t interest an agent in my writing. I thought no one would buy or read my book.
A woman, an early reader, said she was so engrossed in The Scourge that she read while trying to do her housework, and while changing her baby’s diaper. I was thrilled that the initial response was that the book was hard to put down. I see that as a primary goal for an author: to make you lose sleep, because you can’t stop reading : ) Consider that fair warning! You can see her actual comment here, third one down on the left:
How did you come up with the idea for the Brilliant Darkness series?
I initially came up with the idea of people trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world full of swamps. I figured they’d move up into the trees. But, what if half the people moved up and wouldn’t share with the other half? That’s how the two main groups in The Scourge, the Lofties and Groundlings, were born. (The swamp idea kind of fell away, although water is very important to the story.)RECOMMENDED SERIES READING ORDER:
The Keeper (novella)
The Gatherer (novella)
The Fire Sisters
Then, I thought, what if the main character, a Groundling, was blind? And THEN, I thought, and what if there were zombie-like creatures that only she was protected from, due to her blindness??? And that was it. Fennel and the Scourge were born.
I find the concept of the Lofties (tree dwellers) and Groudlings (Ground dwellers) so fascinating. Then there is the dreaded Scourge. Can you tell us a little about each of them?
Lofties are all fair-haired and fair-skinned. Groundlings are dark. Once a year, the two groups meet for the Exchange, when they trade their infants based on their coloring. It’s a terrible time for both groups, but they’ve been locked in this tradition for generations. The Lofties hold the safety and security of the trees and treetops, while the Groundlings control the community’s only water supply. So they have a tense, mistrustful relationship, as you might imagine. The Groundlings are particularly bitter, because they have to hide in cold, dark caves for days when the Scourge come, because the Lofties won’t share their trees.
The Scourge are vicious flesh-eating creatures that chase down and devour, or turn, any humans they come across—except the Sightless, like Fennel. I should say here that if you don’t like blood and gore, don’t be afraid of The Scourge. Most people who say they aren’t zombie fans, and are easily grossed out or afraid, don’t find my series to be objectionable at all. It’s really fantasy romance : )
Your characters have a ways of getting themselves into so many bad situations and some causes problems for those around them. Which character(s) gave you the most problems when trying to write their story?
Hmm, I’m not sure any of them gave me problems. I LOVE creating characters. They usually just jump into my head fully formed!
Who was your favorite character to write?
I’m attached to my two mains, Fennel and Peree. It was so fun to build their relationship from scratch. But the most fun to write was Moray. He’s a bad guy, really, but he has heroic, good guy moments. I really tried hard to write him so that you couldn’t classify him, so he wouldn’t be black and white. I hope I succeeded right through The Fire Sisters.
I know right now the series consist of 3 full length novels and 2 novellas. So is this it or do you feel there will be a spin-off or prequel in the future?
Hmm, this is it for NOW. Funny you should mention a spin-off, though. I did try to leave the ending somewhat open for a few characters, and there are many more questions about the world of the Scourge…
What are you working on now? Has a new story started to bring itself to life?
Thanks for asking! I’m writing a YA time travel short story right now for an indie anthology that will release in March. I met a group of women writers here in Denver who all write YA and are mostly indies. We have done a few writing retreats together, and at the last one someone said, “Why don’t we publish a short story anthology?” So, Tick Tock: Seven Tales of Time came to be! It’s so much fun to write a new character in a new world. I could totally see this leading to its own series down the road…
I’m also revising a novel I wrote last year that is YA speculative fiction. It will be a duology, if all goes as planned.
Is there any advice you would like to give to the aspiring authors out there?
Read a lot. Write a lot. Honestly, that’s what being an author boils down to. I read, write, and create all day, and it’s a privilege to get paid to do it!
Thanks so much for joining us today!
Thank you again for having me on the blog! It was a lot of fun.