Thanks so much for hosting me today! My recent release, An Absence of Light, was a whole lot of fun to write because it allowed me to "go home" while I wrote it. It's set in the central valley of California, in the town of Vacaville, which is close to where I grew up. I took a few small liberties with a couple of the places within the town, and transplanted an auto shop or two, but otherwise I tried to keep the setting as true to life as possible.
An Absence of Light has always been Buffy meets the X-Files in my head, but basically deals with Leah being forced from her home by the Shadows--creepy creatures that breed evil and have left her running for her life.
Vacaville also has the best outlet mall ever. No, I'm not joking :) Just ask Leah. Lots of shopping, great deals, and NOT the place to ever go on a Saturday. Or after dark if you're worried about shadows, like Laura often is.
The story doesn't just take place in Vacaville, and there's a few trips into Oakland, California, when the characters go Shadow hunting. Oakland is an interesting city, full of really cool spots, and a few that kind of frighten me from time to time. The latter are the perfect spot for hunting shadows:
An Absence of Light
Evernight Teen/80,000 words
Leah’s always seen the shadow creatures. She thought she was immune to their evil—until now.
She’s walked into a massacre, stolen a BMW, and is running from the law for a crime she didn’t commit. Nineteen-year-old Leah’s life just went from mildly abnormal to totally crazy at lightning speed. But no one will believe that the shadow creatures are framing her for the murder, because she’s the only one that can see them. At least that’s what she thought.
When Leah stumbles across a group who share her ability, she discovers they have something she doesn’t: a way to fight back. When the group offers to teach her how to kill the shadow creatures, Leah jumps at the chance. But something is brewing with the creatures. They’re tracking down the hunters like there’s no tomorrow. Leah suspects that maybe there won’t be, and it’s up to her to make sure tomorrow comes. Because she’ll do anything to stop the shadows, including risking her life—and the life of the one she loves—to keep the world from being lost to darkness forever.
A creeping tingle of coldness wound around my ankles. Something lived in there––the same things that took away my family and had stalked me for most of my life.
I didn’t have a name for them. In my head, I called them the Shadows: inky, black creatures that avoided the light, like I avoided the dark. They did things. Things that made monsters like Hitler look warm and fuzzy—or at least, less homicidal.
How they did it confounded me, but they had the ability to influence the darkness in people, to make them do terrible things. The Shadows got something from it, as if they fed from humanity’s malevolence. I’d tried to learn more about them since I realized no one else could see them, but they didn’t exist in any book, Web page, or library.
The only thing I could conclude was that they were otherworldly evil, pure and simple.
It didn’t help that lately the Shadows had been more focused on me. I’d seen more in the last few months than I had in my whole life, and they had been acting stranger than normal. They were up to something.
Plotting how to kill me, and everyone I love. I’d been so stupid not to figure that out.
As if hearing my thoughts, the Shadow sensed my presence. It crept forward to the mouth of the alleyway, a darker blotch of oily blackness that moved of its own volition. A fine tendril rose from its black mass, reminding me of a periscope on a submarine, searching.
“Crap.” I glanced around for the best way to escape. No way I could outrun the thing.
The Shadow moved into the open. Skirting the light, coming ever closer. Picking up speed. I had to get away. Now.
My heart began beating double-time and my feet froze to the ground.
A part of me wanted to step on it, like a giant slug, but it wouldn’t do anything. They couldn’t be killed that way.
I would give anything to know if I could get rid of them, to wipe them from the face of the earth. But they didn’t die. Didn’t disappear. Didn’t leave me alone.
There was nowhere to hide. They’d kill me. Just like they did my family.
Glancing at the car in front of me, my panicked laugh caught me by surprise.
Another entry for my rap sheet.
Careful to keep in the light, I hurried around to the driver’s side. Scooping up the keys, I threw myself behind the wheel. My fingers trembled as I shoved the key into the ignition.
The Shadow lurked near my door. I spared it one glance before the engine caught with a merciful roar and I slammed my foot on the gas.
The tires squealed and a trail of smoke hid the Shadow. The snaking chill, as I always felt from them, gave way and I knew I had left it behind.
There would be more, though. There were always more.
I've never been a big fan of talking about myself, but if you really want to know, here are some random tidbits about me:
~I'm a California girl. This generally means I talk too fast and use "like" a lot.
~I have my doctorate in molecular anthropology. Translation: I sequence dead people's DNA and spend a whole lot of time in a lab, which I love.
~I've been writing since I was 11 years old. It's my hobby, my passion, and I'm so happy to get to share my work!
~My other passion is teaching. There's nothing more fun than getting a classroom of college kids fired up about anthropology!
~If I could have a super-power, it would totally be flying. Which is a little strange, because I'm terrified of heights.
Giveaway: $10 Amazon Gift Card