It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Seven months ago, Vicki Morel was supposed to be happy, not in the midst of the apocalypse. She and her fiancé, Will, should have been married and about to celebrate the birth of their child. Instead, she is on the run in fear for her life and the life of her baby. Her only hope is Ambrose—the man she truly loves.
Vicki entered Ambrose’s life like a bomb and blew everything apart. Just when he thought they could get out of this hell hole alive, she walked away. Or did she? After a cryptic message on a satellite phone, Ambrose is willing to risk it all to find her. Through a plane crash, escaping crazy doomsday preppers, and invading a military base, Ambrose and his band of survivors is determined to rescue Vicki. He wasn’t born a leader, yet the people follow him, determined to carve their own path in this world.
When everything ends, the daisy’s song promises a new beginning, a different life, and a fresh path in this altered world.
*How did you develop a love for writing?
As a kid, I was homeschooled, which meant I had a lot of free time on my hands. Both my mother and I disliked math, so she always gives me an option to write a story about topics instead. Thus, I started writing historical romances from a very young age! This was cultivated over the years with journaling and writing poetry, but I never lost my intense obsession with historical figures and romance.
*Writer. Editor. Teacher. Mother. Wife…Is it hard wearing so many different hats?
Yes, definitely. I couldn’t do it without my husband, who is a disabled veteran who stays home to help with kids and things. Wearing so many different hats requires precise time management; my days start at 4am and end at 9pm, and in that short amount of time I have to fit in writing, editing, teaching, and grading. It’s very tiring, so I have to snatch a little downtime whenever I can steal it. And wine, lots of wine.
*How does being an editor and teacher influence your writing? And vice versa?
Being and editor and teacher has influenced my writing because it made it more precise with the rules of grammar, and also concise and clear writing. As an editor I’m able to quickly fix my own grammar mistakes with commas and dialogue, and as a teacher (in technical writing and GED studies) I’m also able to say things with less wordiness. I can’t believe how much my writing has increased in quality just since I started teaching five years ago! My writing also influences my editing and teaching, because I’m able to look at things more creatively. When a client is stuck on a scene I can help them pull through with a new idea or piece of dialogue, and when my students are frustrated with assignments I’m able to communicate clearly how to overcome their issues.
*What do you love most about history?
The fact that it’s ALWAYS changing, and most of what we know isn’t really what happened. What we know is never fact; it’s just based on anecdotal pieces of evidence that we have based on a triangulation of artifacts: painting, first-hand accounts, records, and all of that. But I’m more interested in the little details: what did people look like? How did they walk? What did they do for fun? Those are some things we have lost to time in many cultures.
Also, I’m really fascinated with food. In my book Mirrors I spend three days researching medieval banquets for a simple 3 paragraphs of writing! It was awesome to be able to describe it through my time traveler’s eyes! You’ll notice I’m always about the food in many of my books.
*Is it challenging writing in different genres?
No, not at all. It’s very refreshing. When I’m stuck writing romance, or I don’t have any fresh ideas, I switch to fantasy to unlock my creativity. The (time travel) fantasy I write isn’t far from science fiction, so that seemed a logical jump. It’s also exciting to go back to plain ol’ romance where all I have to worry about is boy + girl, or boy + boy, or girl + girl or… well, you get the drift.
*There seems to be an underlying theme of love and romance in all of your series. One of your catch phrases is “Love even in the apocalypse.” Can you tell us more about this and how it bleeds into your writing process?
I think all my characters start with a small motive of love. In my Curse of Lanval series, I knew he was going to find Marie, who is based on the historical poet from the 12th century, Marie de France. I didn’t know they’d have such an epic time at figuring it out, however. In Life After Us, I knew Vicki and Ambrose were going to fall in love after the airport, I just wasn’t sure how it was going to happen.
Romance plays a huge part in my process because it makes everything more intense and dangerous, I feel. The dialogue is more exciting, and so is the body language. When friends fight, for example, they aren’t staring deep into each other eyes or wanting to hold the other person. I love writing a romantic angle because it shows us some raw human emotion: the need to be loved, held, and care for are fundamental, “lizard” brain stuff. It’s as old as time itself.
*Daisy Song in the Life After Us series is awesome. How did you take the initial idea and shape it into a compelling story?
Oddly enough, this book series Life After Us was born from the song “Leavin’ on a Jet Plane” by John Denver. I was at the gym one day when the song came on and I started thinking about a couple embracing at an airport where one of them is leaving and not coming back (that became Vicki and Will).
I kept thinking about it all day – why wasn’t he coming back? What if he doesn’t love her, and he’s trying to escape? But why would he do that? Does he get kidnapped by terrorists? What if the airport was bombed and America was invaded, and one of them was lost?
It just rolled downhill from there: what if they had to escape the end of the world and flee Portland, Oregon, a perfect place for an invasion that no one ever considers. So, I sat down to write what became chapter two of Poppy Bloom that very day. Over a few months, a friend and I started bouncing ideas between each other, and Vicki, Will, and Ambrose as characters were born.
And actually, there’s a bit of a joke in there, as well. My best friend and beta reader at the time challenged me to sneak some WWE characters in there, so you’ll notice some names of famous wrestlers sprinkled throughout. Which ones? I won’t say…
*What is your creative process for characters?
A LOT of looking at pictures and photographs! Before I even write much about them I make a graphic or teaser about the character, so I know exactly what they look like, so I can refer to it when they need to do something like rub their chin or push back their hair or something. Then – and this is weird, but – I write out a modified Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying sheet, where I know their alignment (morality, basically) and what they look like, their strengths and weaknesses, and what their fears and dreams are. When I get stuck in a scene, I have an arsenal of things to work with. No more dialogue? Well, talk about dreams. Run out of scenes? Drop them in their fantasy. It’s grand fun.
*Tell us about the relationship between Vicki Morel and Ambrose Palamo.
Vicki and Ambrose really have some things they have to get over in their past, and that prevents them from having a real relationship. In Lavender Dream, we learn Ambrose had his heart broken and hasn’t been able to move past that. In Daisy Song, we learn more about Vicki’s parents and her abuse as child, which lead her to an “easy going” man like Will. Both of them quickly learn they lacked affection growing up, and that’s what they truly seek from each other.
In the beginning, though, they hate each other. Vicki doesn’t like to be ordered around: she has an absent fiancé, so she does what she wants. Ambrose isn’t used to ordering people around but suddenly has to step up. After the airport attack, it’s all about not dying, but then Ambrose realizes that he’d like Vicki to die less, and one day he wakes up and realizes he can’t live without her (like I said, it’s that need for affection thing). That’s when the story changes (at the end of book 1, Poppy Bloom), when Ambrose realizes that there’s no one else he’d rather be stuck with than her. And even though they only spend a few short weeks together in Book 2, Lavender Dream, he will go to the ends of the earth to save her in our third and final book.
I guess you could say they are enemies turned friends turned lovers, but that’s not entirely true. I think they were both lonely for a long time and it took the end of the world to see that time was of the essence to be happy, or as happy as they could be. In the end Vicki ends up being very broken, and Ambrose becomes the leader, and so their roles change, and with it does their relationship.
I’m excited to show you what this means in the new Series release, which will include exclusive content with Vick and Ambrose a year after the Daisy Song ends. Look for it in March 2019!
*How has writing this series affected you?
This is the first book I ever wrote in third person (my preferred writing style is first person, and first person POV switch between male and female) and I learned a great deal about “head hopping.” My first editor for Poppy Bloom left me a crying, sobbing mess in the corner when she destroyed my book for “hopping” between Ambrose and Vicki’s innermost thoughts. But I fixed it, and the next too books came out even better!
In fact, I’d say this series affected me because in Daisy Song, Vicki had to go to some dark places. She’s suffering abuse and has PTSD, and I did a lot of research on the victimization of women especially. As a result, my next novel, a standalone called Road More Traveled, is a romantic suspense about a woman who is feeling a criminal from her past. I channeled a lot of Vicki into my new character, but instead of giving them PTSD, I’m watching it unfold and allowing the character to heal. I’m glad I was able to write Vicki’s anguish to the point that it influenced another new book. And guess what? It’s also in 3rd person, which is quickly becoming my new favorite way to write. Stay tuned for a release date, likely it will be April!
Rebekah Dodson Author Bio
Rebekah Dodson is a prolific word weaver of romance, fantasy, and science fiction novels. Her works include the series Postcards from Paris, The Surrogate, The Curse of Lanval series, several stand alone novels, and her upcoming YA novel, Clock City. She has been writing her whole life, with her first published work of historical fiction with 4H Clubs of America at the age of 12, and poetry at the age of 16 with the National Poetry Society. With an extensive academic background including education, history, psychology and English, she currently works as a college professor by day and a writer by night.