Friday, July 2, 2021

Virtual Book Tour + #Giveaway: IF Darkness Takes Us by Brenda Marie Smith @bsmithnovelist @GoddessFish


If Darkness Takes Us

by Brenda Marie Smith

GENRE: Post-apocalyptic, Science Fiction


In suburban Austin, Texas, Bea Crenshaw secretly prepares for apocalypse, but when a solar pulse destroys modern life, she’s left alone with four grandkids whose parents don’t return home. She must teach these kids to survive without power, cars, phones, running water, or doctors in a world fraught with increasing danger. And deciding whether or not to share food with her starving neighbors puts her morality to the test.

If Darkness Takes Us is realistic post-apocalyptic science-fiction that focuses on a family in peril, led by a no-nonsense grandmother who is at once funny, controlling, and heroic in her struggle to hold her family together with civility and heart.

The book is available now. It’s sequel, If the Light Escapes, is told in the voice of Bea’s eighteen-year-old grandson, Keno Simms, and will be released by SFK Press on August 24, 2021.

Bea Crenshaw is one of the most unique characters in modern literature—a kick-ass Grandma who is at once tough and vulnerable, and well-prepared to shepherd her extended family through an EMP disaster, or so she thinks."

Laura Creedle, Award-winning Author of The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily

"There is real, identifiable humanity, subtle and sweet and sad, and events utterly shattering in their intensity."

Pinckney Benedict, Author of Dogs of God, Miracle Boy, and more



Through the upstairs window, we watched a fire burning yellow along the western horizon. It didn’t look like a huge conflagration, but this drought-ridden place was a tinderbox.

Um, kids. That’s more than a fire over there. There’s a yellow glow behind it, all the way across...”

Keno and Tasha crowded up next to me at the window, making anxious sounds in their throats. We ran to the front window and saw the same glow to the north…

What is that?” I asked, though my breath had left me. “It’s how I always imagined the northern lights would look...”

… “It could be a glow from a geomagnetic storm,” Keno said...

I whirled around to face him. “What do you mean?”

Back in the 1800s, the sun took out all the telegraph lines once... The sky all over the planet lit up with colors, like the strongest Northern Lights ever seen, except it was in Australia, too... This doesn’t seem as strong as that. There aren’t bright colors all over the sky, right?”

Good… Good,” I said, releasing a breath. I hugged Tasha hard. “Don’t worry.” I was trying to be comforting, though I needed comfort myself. I pulled a chair in front of the big front window and sat down to study the yellow glow that rose and fell as though it was breathing. The kids stood watching with me, all of us seeming to breathe in time with the undulations of the glowing pulses of light.


Interview with Brenda Marie Smith

What made you want to become a writer?

It’s something I’ve been driven to do ever since I was a little kid. I’m not sure where the drive comes from, I just know that if I don’t honor it and give it an outlet, I might explode, lol. And it never ceases to be a challenge. There’s no shortage of tales to tell, always more to learn, and little in life more rewarding, for me at least, than completing a book that I feel I’ve written well.

What inspired you to write If Darkness Takes Us?

I’m worried about the possibility of ecological and societal collapse, and I wanted to explore how such an event would affect an average American family. How will we handle it if we’re suddenly without our creature comforts, if we have no electricity or running water or cars and haven’t planned for it? So many apocalyptic tales give us an immediate collapse to complete chaos, but I think that, at least initially, much human compassion will remain. If such a catastrophe should occur, we may have the chance to choose between helping one another and reverting to savagery. I wrote a story where the characters choose to band together, because I believe that is where our hope lies.

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in If Darkness Takes Us?

The current-day story takes place in a subdivision on the southside of Austin, Texas, that is very much like my own. 70-year-old Bea Crenshaw is the protagonist who prepared for apocalypse and hid it from her husband, whom she thinks of as Hank the Crank. She is smart, funny, and a little too controlling, but she is fierce about protecting her grandchildren and teaching them how to survive with no power, cars, phones, or running water.

Bea’s husband, Hank, is missing, along with three of her grown kids—the parents of her grandchildren. They had gone to a football game in Dallas, but after the solar pulse destroys the cars, they don’t come home, leaving Bea alone with four grandkids.

Keno Simms, 17, is a science nerd who loves his grandmother and sister deeply and would do anything to protect them and his younger cousins. Tasha Simms, 15, is a little defiant of grandma’s rules, but she begins to grow up as the story progresses. Milo Raintree, 12, is a funny kid, always messing up, sometimes mean to his younger sister, but he also matures throughout the story. Mazie Raintree, 6, is a sweet and vulnerable little girl who is openly distressed at the situation and wants her mother, but she toughens up and becomes a source of cheer to the others.

Chas Matheson is a 17-year-old neighbor and love interest for Tasha, but he’s a troublemaker who gets more worrisome by the day. Jack Jeffers is a reliably helpful neighbor and retired grocery store manager. He is Bea’s only adult friend.

Bea’s two stepsons, Eddie and Pete Crenshaw, arrive halfway through the book after walking from Phoenix to Austin to be with the rest of the family. Their arrival is very comforting to Bea, and they help her a great deal, but they’re distraught about their missing dad and siblings.

There’s a cast of other neighbors, particularly orphaned children who Bea takes responsibility for: Alma, Chris, and Pedro Ibanez, and Darla Belding, a troubled girl who Keno falls for. And there are a couple of dozen other neighbors, some named and others not, some are helpful and others a pain.

You know I think we all have a favorite author. Who is your favorite author and why?

I have two, and I love them for different reasons, so I really can’t choose one over the other: Toni Morrison for the beautiful, lyric voice and wonderful cadence and imagery, whose characters have great depth; and, John LeCarré for his riveting spy stories with grand international scope, who could draw a complex character with an almost hidden master stroke.

Can you tell us a little bit about your next books or what you have planned for the future?

If the Light Escapes is a standalone sequel to If Darkness Takes Us and will come out from SFK Press this August 24th. It’s told from the point of view of Bea’s eighteen-year-old grandson, Keno, so it’s a very different voice and a more action-oriented story. I’m also plotting the third book in the series, but it’s not titled yet. And I’m developing a novel that will be a departure from the apocalyptic sci-fi genre. It’s called Guru of the Ozarks.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I loved building the characters to a point where they took on lives of their own. It’s really satisfying when you feel sure of the way each character will react to a given situation. And I enjoyed adding in the details of what they had to do to survive in a changed world. I was able to use my experience of living off the grid in the 1970s to good effect.

But probably the most thrilling thing about it was having the novel win the Southern Fried Karma 2018 Novel Contest, with the prize of a publishing contract. I had self-published my first novel, Something Radiates, but I’d never been published professionally before. I was 66-years-old and had been writing stories since I was six. Getting published was the fulfillment of my lifelong dream.

Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog. It’s much appreciated!


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Brenda Marie Smith lived off the grid for many years in a farming collective where her sons were delivered by midwives. She’s been a community activist, managed student housing co-ops, produced concerts to raise money for causes, done massive quantities of bookkeeping, and raised a small herd of teenage boys.

Brenda is attracted to stories where everyday characters transcend their own limitations to find their inner heroism. She and her husband reside in a grid-connected, solar-powered home in South Austin, Texas. They have more grown kids and grandkids than they can count.

Her first novel, Something Radiates, is a paranormal romantic thriller; If Darkness Takes Us and its sequel, If the Light Escapes, are post-apocalyptic science fiction.

Social Media:

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ YouTube ~ Goodreads

Buy links:

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ BookPeople Austin




$50 Amazon/BN GC

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning.


Brenda Marie Smith said...

Thank you for hosting me and my book today. I look forward to chatting with you and your avid readers.

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Victoria Alexander said...

Happy Friday, Thanks for sharing :)!

Brenda Marie Smith said...

Yes, Happy Friday, and Happy Holiday Weekend!

Kim said...

Honestly, the tour banner is what captured my attention. I enjoyed the interview.

Daniel M said...

sounds like a fun one

Sherry said...

Sounds like a great read.

Brenda Marie Smith said...

The tour banner turned out great. It's a collaboration between my critique partner and the folks at Goddess Fish. I'm glad you like it. Glad you guys enjoyed the interview and like the sound of the book. I hope you get chances to read it. Have a great nigh, and thanks again for hosting me.

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