Lindsey Fairleigh lives her life with one foot in a book—as long as that book transports her to a magical world or bends the rules of science. Her novels, from post-apocalyptic to time travel and historical fantasy, always offer up a hearty dose of unreality, along with plenty of adventure and romance. When she’s not working on her next novel, Lindsey spends her time reading and trying out new recipes in the kitchen. She lives in the Napa Valley with her loving husband and confused cats. You can visit Lindsey’s blog at lindseyfairleigh.blogspot.com.
Lindsey Pogue has always been a little creative. As a child she established a bug hospital on her elementary school soccer field, compiled books of collages as a teenager, and as an adult, expresses herself through writing. Her novels are inspired by her observations of the world around her—whether she’s traveling, people watching, or hiking. When not plotting her next storyline or dreaming up new, brooding characters, Lindsey’s wrapped in blankets watching her favorite action flicks or going on road trips with her own leading man. You can visit Lindsey’s blog at lindseypogue.wordpress.com.
Q: Thank you for this interview, Team Lindsey. Can you tell us what your latest book, After The Ending, is all about?
Lindsey Pogue (LP): With pleasure, and thank you for having us! There are a few non-conventional aspects to our book that we feel make it not only unique, but enjoyable to a wide variety of people. For starters, After The Ending is a post-apocalyptic story told in first person, but from two different perspectives–Zoe’s and Dani’s. I write for Zoe and Lindsey Fairleigh (LF) writes for Dani. The story begins with a deadly virus that infects everyone, including our characters and their loved ones. After the virus wipes out most of the human population, Dani and Zoe (best friends, mid-twenties) learn they are among the few who survived the pandemic. Although adult life has sent Zoe to the East Coast and Dani’s life is on the West Coast, their friendship is one of the few remaining things they have in the virus-ravaged world, so they embark on separate journeys to meet up with each other at a supposed safe haven, the Colony. It’s through their individual journeys that the reader can experience what our heroines see and feel as they discover what the world after The Ending is like and, in turn, discover more about themselves as survivors.
LF: From the get-go, we aimed to make sure the focus of After The Ending wasn’t entirely on the hardcore survival aspects of the post-apocalypse, but on the characters, specifically their personal struggles and relationships. The story highlights the undeniable power of friendship, love, and hope, and how they can make life worth living even when everything else is lost. There is romance, but there are also some definite science fiction elements, such as the spontaneous genetic mutations caused by the virus, leading to extraordinary abilities in survivors…or to insanity. We’ll be the first to admit that After The Ending was written with a female audience in mind–it’s very character-driven and the romance storylines aren’t negligible–but we have heard from male readers who enjoyed the book as well.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?
LP: Our two leading ladies are very different in both appearance and mannerisms. Zoe is the more serious of the two friends–a determined, independent artist. She grew up in a dysfunctional family, which has made her closed off and generally bitter about life. Zoe is twenty-six years old, tall, has long black hair and teal eyes, both of which end up being important character traits as the story progresses. She has a good grasp on reality that helps her remain level-headed in most situations, but she’s also melodramatic, and that makes her seem a bit younger at times. One thing she is is determined. It both aids and hinders her throughout the story. Dani is the only constant thing in Zoe’s life, so she’s grown to love her more like a sister than a friend. She relies on Dani’s vibrance and quirkiness to help coax her out of her hardened shell.
LF: Dani is petite, with curly red hair, green eyes, and a fierce intellect that she tends to hide. She is quite a bit girlier and more emotional than Zoe, and sees Zoe as the embodiment of personal strength and determination. She often draws on her perception of Zoe to help her get through tough times throughout the story. By far, I would say the most defining characteristic about Dani’s personality is that she’ll do almost anything to keep the people she cares about safe. Unfortunately, that tends to get her into slightly sticky situations in the world of The Ending.
Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
LP: I’ve actually had a number of people ask me if Zoe is an extension of myself, if I see myself the way I portray her. The answer is no, not at all, and she’s not really like anyone I know either. I definitely don’t look like Zoe or act like her. I mean, she’s pessimistic, or “realistic” I like to call it, like me, but I think the similarities between us stop there. She has a lot of the qualities I admire in other people though. She’s super determined, whether she juggling two jobs, trying desperately to get to Dani when the world seems to be against her, or even just trying to understand her brother and every other man in her life.
LF: Dani is entirely from my imagination. So much so that it’s really difficult for me to picture any real people–actresses, models, or otherwise–as her. I think the problem is that she exists so vividly in my mind that nobody else quite looks or acts like her. I’m not sure where she came from, and she’s certainly nothing like me, but I love her all the same.
Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?
LP: Because this project was a team effort, we definitely had to draw out a skeletal outline so we knew which direction we were going with our characters. Once we determined the major subplots, character arcs, and where we wanted to end the book, each of our stories took off on their own, changing even from what we’d individually planned to write about. Characters have a way of doing that to you.
LF: Yeah, our characters definitely have a talent for commandeering the story. I have one character in particular, Jason, who has such a strong personality–I guess you would call him an Alpha–that I pretty much expect him to steal the reins whenever he’s present in a scene. I suppose I should apologize to LP because she’s had to deal with him a lot in the second book, Into The Fire. Sorry LP! I have to say that when the characters take over and the story starts writing itself is when I have the most fun.
LP: I guess you’re forgiven :)
Q: Your book has many different settings. Can you tell us why you chose the cities you did in particular?
LP: I know for Zoe’s team, it was more of a question of “what’s practical”. Although our story is science fiction, we tried to make it as realistic as possible–using a logical route to move the characters from point A to point B across the US was one of the ways we did that. I had to figure out realistically how far a group of people could drive or walk in X amount of days and in the snow. That helped me narrow down my settings in Ohio, Kentucky, and St. Louis before finally getting to Colorado. Once I knew which areas I needed to have them settle in, I searched for locations that would work well with my evolving storyline.
LF: Like LP, I mapped out Dani’s route throughout the entire book, first by car, then by horseback, before I wrote the majority of it. I couldn’t just pick a town willy-nilly, but had to keep in mind how far a horse could travel in a day, or where there might still be unscavenged fuel or food left after X amount of time had passed. There are a few locations we chose purposely, like stationing the Colony, our heroine’s destination and meet-up point, at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs based on the military branches stationed there and its central-ish location. We chose Bodega Bay as Dani and Zoe’s hometown because it was near enough to where we live that we could conduct setting research with relative ease.
Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?
LP: I think it definitely does. Our characters are just as new to The Ending as our readers are, so we needed Zoe and Dani to experience what was going on around the entire country. Not only does moving them around get them closer together and progress the story, but through their eyes we see the types of Crazies (those survivors driven mad by the virus) they come across and how quickly and how much the world is changing.
LP: On a more technical note, the setting actually directed portions of the story because we had to be mindful of weather patterns. For example, Dani’s group of survivors spends some time near Lake Tahoe in the heart of winter, and it slowed down their travel pace quite a bit. I had planned for them to move faster than they did, but there was no working around it–snow slows travel plans, even in our own post-apocalyptic, fictional world.
LP: That’s sort of a funny and difficult question to answer. If you’re looking at the hardcover version, it’s a pretty intense Zoe chapter. She’s discovering how unnerving her developing Ability is, she thinks she’s losing her mind since she has no clue what’s happening to her yet, and she’s also starting to really process the fact that the world has ended and that her father is most likely dead.
LF: In the paperback version, Dani and her travel companions are just arriving at a swanky hotel in Portland…to squat. That is one thing to note about surviving in a post-apocalyptic world–the characters get to bunk down in some pretty interesting places, from mansions to wineries to barns. Let’s see, on this page Dani is also dealing with some tangled emotions regarding a certain man in her group–Zoe’s brother, Jason.
Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?
LP: This is one of the scenes I enjoyed writing the most. It’s a huge turning point in the Zoe chapters and her life is about to change more than she ever thought possible:
“Feeling alright?” Clara asked, batting her eyelashes and smiling innocently.
I hunched over as my stomach gurgled and churned, tangling into knots. Once again I reached for the water, but she yanked it away, dumping it out on the floor beside her.
Her grin lingered. “Sorry, I can’t let you do that.”
My stomach cramps worsened, and I broke out into a cold sweat–I knew I didn’t have much time. I needed to find help. Trying to run for the door I doubled over in pain and cried out. Fire seemed to be scorching my insides. Bile rose in my throat, and I began salivating profusely, unable to swallow. I spat desperately.
“I really hate you, Zoe. I’m not completely sure why, but I have to admit, this is a very good day for me.” Her cheerful voice was like a hammer in my head as I twisted and spasmed on the mess hall floor.
I prayed someone would find me before it was too late.
LF: I considered several different passages, some more dramatic and some more romantic, but I settled on this one because it shows the special relationship Dani has with one of my favorite characters, Jack, her faithful German Shepherd.
I tore open a peanut butter and chocolate chip protein bar as I exited the bedroom, tripping over my dog on the way out.
Jack wagged his tail happily while I righted myself. “Good morning, Sweet Boy,” I said between bites.
He yawned dramatically and bowed, earning the last nugget of the tasteless bar.
As I lumbered down the stairs, a plan of revenge formed in my mind. I waved at Chris and Ky, apparently the only other people awake at such an ungodly hour, as I neared the front room’s largest window. I peeked around the heavy tan and green-striped curtain and spotted Jason standing on the lawn—he was staring off into the woods. Smiling, I led Jack to the back door, and we silently slipped out into the damp morning chill.
Pausing on the back porch, I clicked my tongue, and my dog watched me intently. “Okay Jack,” I whispered, kneeling down in front of him. “You’re going to go that way.” I pointed to the left side of the house, and his eyes followed. “Find Jason. You need to be happy and loud.” I scratched his neck with both hands. He licked my cheek in return.
“Go find Jason,” I commanded quietly and stood. Jack instantly trotted away, barking every few steps.
Stalking in the opposite direction, I made my way around the house and found Jason watching Jack frolic like a month-old puppy. The grass muffled my steps as I snuck up behind him. I crouched, gliding the last few steps, and held my breath. Revenge is so sweet!
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Team Lindsey. We wish you much success!
LF: Thank you for having us and for the wonderful questions!