Dying is optional.
Living is forbidden.
The year is 2111, and scientists have discovered how to cheat death by extracting memories, thoughts, and personality traits from the dying, methodically implanting them into artificial bodies. At the time, it seemed too good to be true, never having to lose anyone to illness or time, and maybe it was.
Rejected as being nothing more than imposters of the living, the dead are shunned by society. Their families, friends, and neighbors, having grown to fear them, erected walls around their cities to keep them out. Over time, those cities were replaced with colonies overseen by governors to keep order.
At seventeen, Zaila Lockhart has only known isolation. Isolation from the world that extends both outside and inside her colony. As the daughter of the unpopular governor, she is the target of resentment, especially now that resources are becoming more scarce, since all trade between the colonies has been interrupted by a group marauders. Starvation seems imminent, and a war between the living and the dead over much-needed provisions looms on the horizon.
In search of food and other supplies, Zaila takes it upon herself to secretly venture outside her colony’s walls. Joined by Pax Muldoon, her only friend, the pair are ambushed by a group of scavengers. Identified as being the governor’s daughter, Zaila is brought back to the scavengers’ base in a city occupied by both the dead and their living sympathizers.
Zaila thought she knew everything there was to know about her captors, that the history being taught in the colonies was rooted in fact. But some lessons are better learned outside the classroom, where the living have grown to fear life, and the dead are the only ones truly living.
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Down the hall, the sound of doors opening and closing sent chills down my spine. Pax wrapped his arm around my trembling body and held me close to him, partly to comfort me and partly for his own comfort. “Get your knife ready,” he whispered.
“One step ahead of you.” The knife rested in my unsteady hand, ready for the action I’d hoped it would never have to see.
We held our breath when the footsteps left the neighboring room and approached ours. Through a small gap between the closet door and the door frame, a small grey glow appeared in the room, followed by footsteps that were suddenly rendered mute by the carpeted floor. More frightened than I could ever remember, I closed my eyes, willing the being to go away. But instead of heeding my prayer, the sound of boots on carpet continued to pulsate in my eardrums, narrowly beating out the sound of my own heartbeat.
And then the steps came closer, the glow more evident until it stopped. Too terrified to move, we remained still, even when the closet door began to open.
About the Author:
Sara “Furlong” Burr was born and raised in Michigan and currently still lives there with her husband, two daughters, a high-strung Lab, and three judgmental cats. When she’s not writing, Sara enjoys reading, camping, spending time with her family, and attempting to paint while consuming more amaretto sours than she cares to admit.
You can learn more about Sara at http://sarafurlongburr.blogspot.com, follow her on Twitter via @Sarafurlong, and read more of her ramblings via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EnigmaBlackKindle.
Thanks for doing an interview! Could you tell our readers a little bit about your writing journey? You’re very welcome. My journey started about eight years ago. I’d had this idea for a dystopian trilogy involving superheroes in my head for several years and finally decided to begin writing it down, just to get the story out of my mind. In 2012, I decided to publish it (Enigma Black) on Amazon and was ecstatic when it was selected as a Kindle Book Review 2013 semi-finalist in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy category. I subsequently published the other two novels in the trilogy (Vendetta Nation and Redemption) in 2013 and 2014, respectfully. In 2016, I published The Living and The Dead, another dystopian novel, which will most likely turn into a series of its own.
How many books do you currently have published? I have four others books aside from The Living and The Dead, including a sci-fi/dystopian trilogy (Engima Black, Vendetta Nation, and Redemption) and a short story (A Second Chance) in the paranormal genre.
What has been your favorite book to write so far? Why? I would say Enigma Black, solely because it was my first book.
Are you currently working on a book? Will this be your next release? Yes, I’m parting ways with the dystopian genre for a bit and am in the middle of a contemporary romance entitled When Time Stands Still. I’m currently 50k words into it and hope to release it sometime late 2017 or early 2018.
What do you enjoy most about writing? I’m not great at expressing myself verbally and find that writing is the best way for me to express my thoughts and feelings. I also like the idea of being able to right wrongs and create worlds and situations in which readers can both relate and be entertained.
Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it? All the time. I think my writer’s block is more the product of self-doubt and striving for perfection than lack of content. I begin to doubt my abilities and over think things, which inevitably leads to frustration. To counteract this, I remind myself that the first draft is never perfect and to just write. I find that this invariably steers the ship in the right direction.
Have you ever had one of your characters take a twist you weren’t expecting and surprise you? Of course, I think that happens more often than not for writers. In particular, there is a character from the Enigma Black trilogy who I grew more attached to than any of the other characters (excluding the main character). In fact, I grew so attached to him that I thought about completely changing the ending I’d always planned for the trilogy as the original ending broke my heart.
Which of your characters is your personal favorite? Why? Zaila Lockhart from The Living and The Dead and Celaine Stevens from Enigma Black. Both are strong, independent women who stand up for what they believe in, even if it goes against the grain.
So far, what has been your favorite scene to write? Probably the ending scenes in Redemption, as they signified the end of a long and rewarding road for me.
What lessons have you learned since becoming a writer? Do you have any tips for new writers? I’ve learned that there’s always room for growth and improvement, and that I need to quit being so hard on myself. My tip to any future or new writers is to follow your dreams. Don’t get bogged down by the negative reviews (as they happen to everyone). Learn from your mistakes and keep pushing yourself.
If you were to recommend your books to a stranger, which book would you advise them to start with? Why? It depends. Since my books are essentially all in the same genre, I would probably recommend that if the reader is looking more for a young adult book that they start with The Living and The Dead, and if they want a more mature read, they should go for Enigma Black.
Now it’s time to get to know you! What are some of your favorite books and television shows? Movies? I like to read the same genre I write, dystopian novels with a hint of romance. As far as movies and television, I am a huge fan of The Walking Dead, Outlander, Orange is the New Black, and consider myself a bit of a Star Wars nerd.
If you had to sum up your life as a writer in ten words, what would you say? Insightful, frustrating at times, but always rewarding in the end.