THE BOOK: Into Shadow.
PUBLISHED IN: 2015.
THE AUTHOR: T.D. Shields
THE EDITOR: Aaron Shields
THE PUBLISHER: CreateSpace
SUMMARY: Into Shadow looks at what the world could be like in another 200 years. There are high points (incredible advances in technology)… and low points (cities in ruins after years of world wars and climate change). It’s 2259 and the entire planet has been changed by the melting of the polar ice sheets. As the land was overrun by water, countries ran out of room for their populace. The need for more land eventually led to the 3rd World War – a global conflict that lasted thirty years and drastically changed the political landscape and the physical environment. Many countries banded together for protection and power, including the former countries of Canada, Mexico, and the United States of America, which are now collectively known as the North American Alliance. The North American Alliance is led by President Walker: a war hero, a widower, and a father. His nineteen-year-old daughter Poppy serves as First Lady until she finds herself caught in the middle of a government takeover and dodging assassins. She is forced to go on the run and is completely on her own for the first time.
Hiding from the assassins and robotic soldiers (mechs) who want to eliminate her, Poppy finds an ally who helps her escape to the war-torn ruins of Denver. The city was bombed extensively during the war, leading to destruction so complete that the area, like many cities attacked during the war, was deemed uninhabitable and the evacuated citizens never returned. But what few people know is that the neglected cities are not empty after all. Not just dystopian fiction, “Into Shadow” is also a coming of age story that examines social issues from a near-future perspective.
THE BACK STORY: I was reading a book that was set a few centuries in the future and one of the characters made a passing comment about an abandoned city. That sparked my imagination and I started thinking about what it might be like to have entire cities that have been destroyed and abandoned. And what if not everyone was gone from the city after all? The whole story grew out of that mental picture of a broken, empty city.
When it comes to research, thank goodness for the Internet! I was able to research various technologies and extrapolate from current information to what might be happening to technology in the future. Much of Into Shadow is set in Denver, Colorado – which is about thirty minutes from my house. I spent many years working in downtown Denver, so I was able to use that knowledge of the geography to create my future-version of Denver. It was actually a lot of fun taking these areas that I knew so well and twisting them into a shattered landscape filled with frightening creatures.
I spent about a year working on Into Shadow from conception to editing and release.
WHY THIS TITLE?: I actually started with the title “Betrayal,” reflects the opening chapters of the book; but I realized that I wanted a title that better represented the entire book. Eventually I hit on the concepts of Shadow and Light. In the first book, it’s really focused on these people who are surviving in the shadows and living on the fringes of society. The shadows are also indicative of the secrets and plots that send Poppy (the main character) running for her life. In the second book, the secrets are brought to light. You’ll actually see a lot of that imagery if you look for it. Settings in Into Shadow are dark; while Into Light takes place in a city full of dazzling lights. The covers reflect that difference, too.
WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: The dystopian genre is pretty popular these days, but I like to think that mine has its own twists. The world and civilization haven’t come to an end. People haven’t had to go back to living without technology or medical advances; quite the opposite in fact! Yet at the same time, you have groups of disenfranchised who choose to live without those benefits in order to avoid government control over their lives. There’s a very strict divide between the two sides, and Poppy has come from the high-tech, priviliged world and must now learn to survive in this wild new society.
Readers who enjoy a strong heroine will like Poppy. She grew up privileged and pampered, but she’s no helpless damsel in distress. She’s tough, strong, and can take care of herself without being hard.
“Absolutely loved the first book! Looking forward to reading the next!”
“I loved this book! If you liked Divergent you would probably enjoy this. I got drawn in immediately into the story, with its exciting, futuristic premise, and endearing and spunky female protagonist Poppy.”
“Shields creates a scary and realistic future”
“I loved this book! The story pulled me in from the very beginning. It was full of suspense and even a little romance. I couldn’t put it down! Can’t wait for the sequel.”
AUTHOR PROFILE: People who know me have asked how on earth I find time to write. After all I have a full-time job, take on contract work for evenings and weekends, and have a husband and four kids to take care of… so where does time to write fit in? Luckily, I’m a bit of an insomniac and my most productive hours are between midnight and five a.m. – It’s the perfect time to write! If I tried to go to sleep I’d just be laying there writing a story in my head to entertain myself; so why not just write it down instead?
I have been writing stories in my head for as long as I can remember. I’m an avid reader, but if I find myself without a book handy I can pass the time by just writing a new story (or continuing an old one). Even though I’ve had the stories in my head for all these years, I never quite took the plunge into writing them down to share with others. The idea of letting other people into that private world in my imagination was just too scary. What if they’re bored? What if they laugh? Worse, what if I’m trying to be funny and they DON’T laugh?
My sister finally convinced me to give it a try and I first wrote this book just for her. I was scared to death to share it with anyone else! Finally I found the courage to form a little group of beta readers and then release it to the world at large. I’m so thrilled and gratified that people have been reading and enjoying my work.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: While the book is mostly just about providing an entertaining story, I’ll admit it does tie into some of my fears of what government, left unchecked, can turn into. But because I am an optimist at heart, you can bet that somehow things will turn out for the best in the end.
Mateo and I followed the diagonal street southeast until we came to another street still boasting a street sign. We turned off Speer to head east on the mostly cleared 11th Avenue. In this section it was easier to see why the pack would want to claim the territory. There were dozens of high-rise apartment buildings in this neighborhood, many of them still partially intact. If the buildings were still being explored, there could be all sorts of useful things to scavenge.
I kept close watch for anything threatening as we continued east. Mateo conducted spot checks on some of the intact buildings by giving the doors a firm shake to ensure that they were still chained closed. I was tired of just trailing along behind him, so I moved to the other side of the street and started doing my own spot checks. He ignored me but kept to his own side of the street and left me to mine.
11th Avenue came to an end at another wall of debris. Instead of climbing this one, Mateo turned north then headed east again on the next street. 12th Avenue, I would assume. We continued our silent patrol, conducting spot checks on opposite sides of the street and watching for anything out of the ordinary. We followed the numbered avenues as much as possible to criss-cross the section several times as we worked our way north toward the wall and the transport station.
I wasn’t certain where the wild territory shown on the map would be in real life, but I thought we must be getting close. Even the little animals we had seen scurrying through the streets had disappeared. I hadn’t even realized that I was hearing sounds from birds and other wildlife until all their noises stopped; now it was disturbingly quiet. I moved as quietly as possible as I walked toward a squat red-brick building. Whatever might be out there, I didn’t think I wanted its attention. A blaze of bright red paint streaked the doors and part of the walls.
“Mateo?” I asked softly, “is the red paint some kind of boundary or warn-away?” He glanced at me dismissively and turned back to his side of the street.
“Vandalism, I guess,” he said shortly.
Not particularly reassured, I still moved carefully when I approached the door. I didn’t have to tug on it; the door stood slightly ajar. It was obviously not locked up anymore.
“Mateo,” I called again. “The door is open.”
He raised an eyebrow; he didn’t do it nearly as well as Rivers had managed it. “Well then, I guess you’d better go inside and check it out. I’ll wait for you here.”
I glared at him. I was quite sure that sending your partner in alone was not the proper procedure. On the other hand, having Mateo as my backup was so unappealing that maybe going in alone was better after all. With a last scowl in his direction, I eased the door open.
Before stepping inside I listened intently for any sounds. All the windows here were covered, so the interior was very dim. I couldn’t see more than a foot or two inside. I swallowed hard, very aware of my racing heart and shaking hands. Anything could be hiding in the darkness.
Taking a short step inside, I paused for a moment to let my eyes adjust to the lack of light. My vision improved slightly after a couple of minutes, and I could at least see the outlines of furniture still in place; so I started a quick walkthrough to look for intruders.
This building had once been a small school apparently. The hallway was mostly empty with a bench or two placed along the walls. Open doors lined both sides of the wall, gaping pools of deeper dark opening off the main path. I tried looking inside a couple of classrooms, but it was too dark to make out anything. Instead, I settled for a quick tour of the main hallway, promising myself that once I reached the end of the hall I could turn and race back to the outer doors. Mateo was waiting outside and wouldn’t know of my headlong sprint to leave the building.
I walked faster, anxious to have this over with. I saw nothing to indicate that a person was squatting in this building. Maybe someone had intended to move in but disliked the dark rooms as much as I did. I was only yards away from my destination when something caught my eye. A tiny gleam of paleness against the wall where it should have been dark. I turned my steps to investigate and crouched down against the wall where I had seen the object. It took me a minute to realize what I was looking at; when realization came, I shoved my hand hard against my mouth to hold back a whimper. The white gleam came from bones piled in a jumbled heap against the wall. Judging by the empty skull peering from the mound, the bones were human.
Even worse, behind the first heap of bones was another. And another. I wasn’t sure how many there might be continuing back through that hallway. I wasn’t going to find out either. Investigating this was not a job for one guard on her first patrol. I stumbled to my feet so I could turn and run for the exit. Suddenly, I heard a noise behind me. Not much, just a whisper of sound like a sliding footstep against the tiled floor. I whirled, trying to locate the source of the noise, but I could see nothing.
“Is someone there?” I called. I admit it, my voice shook a little. Silence answered me. “Hello?” I called again.
A heartbeat later, strong arms wrapped around me from behind and yanked me off my feet. All my training was not for nothing though. I didn’t freeze in surprise or struggle uselessly to escape his arms. I immediately threw my head back as hard as I could manage. Because my assailant had lifted me, my head was in perfect position and I heard the distinctive crunch of cartilage as the back of my skull smashed his nose. He howled and dropped me as he staggered back clutching his face. The only reason I didn’t follow up with more strikes was because I had recognized his voice when he screamed. It was Mateo. Doubtless he thought it would be a funny prank to sneak up on me and terrorize me in the dark. I wanted to hit him again but restrained myself.
“Bitch!” he shouted at me, his voice muffled by his hands cupped over his face. “Look at dis! You broke by dose!”
“You deserved it,” I responded icily. “You are an ass with the emotional maturity of a ten-year-old.” I stalked past him, determined to make my way back to the bikes and leave immediately. I had spent more than enough time with this jerk. I was stomping down the hall when I heard another slither behind me. I spun around to confront Mateo, incensed that he would try to sneak up on me again. What I saw instead was the biggest freaking snake in existence sliding down the hallway toward me.
The snake’s head was easily the size of a watermelon – a large watermelon. The snake’s body was a couple of feet in diameter and patterned in dark green and black diamonds. Each individual scale was as large as the tip of my thumb. The snake’s dead-white eyes were bigger than my clenched fist, and when its tongue flickered out to taste the air it was as thick as a rope and very long. Though the snake was still about three feet behind me, the tongue almost touched my face.
The near brush of the snake’s tongue snapped me out of my stupor, and I bolted down the hall. Mateo’s footsteps suddenly pounded behind me as he ran up from the end of the hall, hurdled the snake, and brushed past me, disappearing through the door and slamming it closed behind him.
“Mateo!” I screamed, “Open the door! Please, Mateo, I can’t see! Let me out!”
I reached the end of the hall and frantically felt along the wall for the door but couldn’t locate it in the pitch black. I could hear the dry slip and slide of the snake’s scales as it undulated toward me. It wasn’t in a hurry; it knew I had nowhere left to run. I stared back into the darkness trying desperately to get a glimpse of the snake. Finally I saw its outline; it had almost reached me. If I took time to find the exit door, it would have me.
The snake was sliding along the right side of the hallway, so I jumped left, running with all my might for one of those open classroom doors. The snake realized I was trying to escape and moved to stop me. It struck with terrifying speed, and only sheer luck let me duck and dodge just in time. The snake’s jaws closed on empty air as I dove through the first door I came to.
Jumping to my feet I grabbed the edge of the door and slammed it shut as the snake struck at me again. The door swung closed but not quite fast enough. The snake’s head was inside the room, pinned just behind the jaws by the heavy steel door. I thanked whatever city code had required classrooms to have reinforced fire doors as I braced myself against the door, pressing it closed with all my might.
The snake’s head was just above mine and I could see and feel its tongue lashing the air frantically as it tried to escape. I heard the snake’s body thrashing against the tiles in the hallway. It was big and strong and really determined to move the door crushing its throat, but I was fueled by life-or-death adrenaline and had the assistance of pneumatic hinges attempting to do their job of closing the door.
I had the stunner in my pocket, but I was afraid to shift my grip on the door to grab it. I wasn’t sure what a stunner would do to the monster snake anyway. Unable to think of anything else to do, I braced my feet against the floor and shoved back even harder. I heard a dull crack and felt the snake’s thrashing slow. Slower. Slower.
When it finally stopped moving altogether I still couldn’t bring myself to open the door. I stayed there, door pinning the snake tight, for at least ten minutes before I dared to move. When I finally left the doorway, I did it in one huge leap to the other side of the room. I didn’t want to be anywhere near that thing if it wasn’t dead after all.
Without me bracing the door, the snake’s weight pushed it open again. The head fell limply to the floor, striking the tile with a thud. I stared through the darkness, barely breathing. The snake seemed to be dead, but the thought of walking past the enormous thing to leave the room was nauseating. In the end it was only the realization that the snake might not live here alone that got me moving.
I took a deep breath and bolted for the doorway. I raced past the snake at top speed and almost knocked myself unconscious when I slammed into the wall at the end of the hall. Gasping for breath, I ran frantic hands over the wall looking for the door. At last my hands touched the smooth metal bar of the door handle, and I wrenched it violently open, leapt through the door, and slammed the door closed again behind me. I leaned against the door shaking from head to toe.
Mateo was nowhere in sight. When I found him I was going to skin him alive.
LOCAL OUTLETS: Right now Into Shadow is available only through Amazon. You can buy both paperback and ebook versions.
WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: http://www.amazon.com/Into-Shadow-Light-Book-ebook/dp/B00RTV2NYY/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
PRICE: Paperback, $8.99; ebook $2.99; Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read for free