Autumn in the City of Angels (The Autumn Series, #1) by Kirby Howell
A plague of epic proportion sweeps the globe, leaving less than one percent of the world’s population immune. Among the living is Autumn Winters, the teenage daughter of a famous actress. When Autumn’s parents don’t come home and the city is overtaken by a dangerous faction, she goes into hiding with a small group of underground survivors. They’re led by a mysterious young man who harbors an unearthly secret, and with whom Autumn feels a deep connection.Twitter: @KirbyHowell
Autumn in the City of Angels is the first novel in a series, followed by Autumn in the Dark Meadows and Autumn in the City of Lights.
--The Twitter version: tell us about your book in 140 characters or less.
The books follow a teen girl after an apocalyptic plague. Immune and alone, she must decide who she can trust and who she should run from.
--How did you get the idea for the story?
Jessica: I had a very realistic dream one night about 4 years ago. I woke up, totally freaked out, and started going over the dream in my head. I ended up at my computer at 5am, writing down as many details as I could. The document I wrote turned into a treatment for a book and as soon as I was done, I sent it to my writing partner, Dana. She was just as excited as I was and we immediately began developing that treatment into what is now the first book in The Autumn Series, Autumn in the City of Angels.
The strongest images from that dream became elements in the books: a decimated city, survivors hiding in dark subway tunnels, a dangerous gang roaming the surface, and a curious young doctor who seemed to know something the rest of us didn’t.
--Which character would you most/least like to have dinner with?
Jessica: I think I’d most like to have dinner with Autumn’s parents. Because the plague appears on page 1, the reader never gets to meet them face-to-face. The only page time we get is inside Autumn’s memories of them, so both her architect father and actress mother are very idealized. If you’ve ever lost someone close to you, you know that you tend to remember that person on their best day, instead of their worst. This is the case with Autumn’s parents.
I’d least like to have dinner with Autumn’s love interest, Grey. Simply because I wouldn’t be able to eat around him. And not being able to eat for me is a bad thing – I like food too much. J
Dana: Unlike Jessica, I can eat around anyone. So I’m going to say, the person I’d most like to have dinner with would be Grey. I mean, come on. He’s quite literally “other worldly.” As a science geek, I have questions that I’m sure he could answer. I’m sure he’d intimidate me a little at first, but he has a way of putting most people at ease, so I think we’d be fine.
I’d least like to have dinner with Autumn. I know that might seem odd, but Autumn is very much a blending of Jessica and I, and frankly, I have dinner with that pairing all the time!
--Do you have any other works in progress? Any teasers or release dates?
The next book we have set to release is the first book of another series, called The Wayfarer. It’s also YA, but is classified as fantasy, rather than dystopian and scifi, like The Autumn Series. The Wayfarer deals with the broken foster care system, runaways, and finding yourself in an unknown world that you thought could never have existed. We hope to release the first installment later this year.
--What are some of your favorite books? Do you still have much time to read?
Jessica: I love a lot of books in a lot of different genres. Some of my favorites includeThe Redwall Series by Brian Jacques, The Kent Family Chronicles by John Jakes, White Oleander by Janet Fitch, The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon, and anything by Roald Dahl. I recently picked up my first Stephen King book, The Stand, and was amazed and terrified. I also reread the entire Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder probably once a year.
Dana: I have a bit less time to read these days, but still try to get through as many books as I can. My problem is that I tend to love really beefy books, and series, so some years I lack a little in variety. For instance, a few years ago, I got really sucked into the Game of Thrones books, and because each of those is nearly a thousand pages, it took me several months to read all four (there were only four at the time). So that year, I read mostly epic fantasy.
My favorite genre is Scifi, though. I’ve read most of the classics and a whole lot of random stuff in that genre. When I was a teen/early 20 something, I think I read about 75 Star Wars novels. (Did I mention I love a good series?) But aside from that, I read contemporary fiction, crime, historical, chick lit... pretty much anything under the broad “fiction banner.”
--If a fairy godmother told you could be put into the world of your favorite book for 24 hours, which book would you pick and why?
Jessica: I’d pick These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It’s one of the bright spots in the series when Laura is courted by her future husband and everything seems, well… “Golden!”
Dana: This is a tough question, because, honestly, there are so many good ones to choose from. Again, I’m going to have to cop out and give a few top choices. Westeros (Game of Thrones), Hogwarts (Harry Potter) and the Known Galaxy (Star Wars Expanded Universe).
--Do you need anything to write (music, coffee, etc)? Are there any songs on your playlist- songs that inspired you or that were playing while you wrote?
Jessica: I guess I don’t have to have anything to write, but an iced chai latte, music, and a comfortable chair helps tremendously. Ooo, and stretchy pants. Stretchy pants are key.
I have a “writing” playlist in iTunes that I listen to while I work. It has 2 days worth of music in it and I add songs and albums constantly. My favorite sections right now include ambient artists like Eluvium, Hammock, and Helios, and more mainstream bands like Iron & Wine, Sufjan Stevens, and Bon Iver. Classics like Nick Drake and Peter Gabriel are also sprinkled in.
Music is so important to us while we write that we’ve created ‘book soundtracks’ for our readers. You can find the soundtrack to Autumn in the City of Angels here.
Dana: I tend to write with my dog curled up on a small doggie bed under my desk. So I like having her snoozing on my feet while I churn out pages.
I used to have to write in pure silence. But, in recent years, that’s become quite elusive. So, nowadays, I use classical piano music or some quiet ambient music like Canyon Country, to drown out any background noise. The key is... the music must not have lyrics. For some reason, external words distract from the internal words.
Oh, and yes... stretchy pants is also a must.
--If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
Jessica: I would like the ability to manipulate time – slow it down, reverse it, speed it up, etc. There are never enough hours in the day and I hate that it can be wasted so easily.
Dana: Time travel. What better research tool is there for a writer?!
--What is one thing you would tell your 15 year old self?
Jessica: “Don’t be such a scaredy-cat! Who cares what people think?!”
Dana: “Just write it all down, honey. We’ll use it later.”
Lightning round: this or that?
Vanilla or chocolate?
Jessica: Can’t I have both?
Dana: Chocolate. No contest.
Edward or Jacob?
Dana: Edward... though I had a brief flirtation with Team Jacob.
Ebook or paper?
Jessica: Paper, unless it’s a huge book
Salty or sweet?
Beach or mountains?
Jessica: Best of both – Oregon (mountains at the beach)
Dana: Mountains (I burn too easily for the beach!)
Early bird or night owl?
Jessica: Early bird
Dana: Night owl
Dog or cat?
Messy or neat?
Jessica: Neat Neat Neat!!!
Ninjas or pirates?
Jessica: Pirates – they have rum
Dana: Pirates – they seem to appreciate sparkly things as much as I do
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