Guns & Smoke Blog Tour: JB’s Bookworms with Brandy Mulder
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Guns and SmokeThe Fool’s Adventure Series Book Oneby Lauren Sevier and A. Smith Genre: Dystopian/Western RomancePublisher: Lauren SevierDate of Publication: July 10, 2021ISBN: 978-1734402346ASIN: B08RW6JNGGNumber of pages: 364Word Count: 134,000Cover Artist: Stefanie Saw Life should be about more than just surviving. In a world where safety is a luxury and honor is found only among outlaws, two people attempt to outrun dangers lurking around each corner and the tragedies that define them. Bonnie is an outlaw on the run. Beautiful but dangerous; her dark past stalks her like the crater beasts that roam the desert. As the notoriously cruel outlaw Jones sends his henchmen to track her down and retrieve the gun she stole from him, Bonnie hopes she can stay one step ahead. Because if he catches her, a fate worse than death awaits. Jesse always dreamed of leaving the farm to explore the ruins of the big cities he’d heard about his whole life. He just never imagined he’d be forced to flee after strange men burned down his rural mountain town and murdered everyone he loved. Responsible for his kid brother and searching for an uncle he’s never met before, he isn’t sure he can navigate the perils of life among con artists and thieves long enough to find him. Their two paths collide as they find themselves thrown together on the adventure of a lifetime. Together, they may just discover that life is about more than just surviving.
Interview with Lauren Sevier and Abbie Smith
Welcome to JB’s Bookworms with Brandy Mulder. Tell us about your newest book.
–Guns & Smoke is a Dystopian/Western Romance novel set in what used to be the American Southwest exploring themes of courage and perseverance, redemption, and love. In the first volume of The Fool’s Adventure series, we meet Bonnie and Jesse; two lost souls trying to escape their demons. Their paths collide, sending them on the adventure of a lifetime. Together, they may discover that life is about more than just surviving.
Writing isn’t easy. What was the most difficult thing you dealt with when writing your newest book?
–Abbie: Time management has been difficult for me specifically. While we work really well together, sometimes we have time constraints such as family, day jobs, and home life. I have three rescue animals that are quite demanding. As long as I was able to have the time, writing Guns & Smoke wasn’t all that difficult for me. I love this world and the characters, and wish I could spend all day in it!
-Lauren: SAME! Time management by far has been the hardest thing developing this book. The act of writing, editing, marketing, publishing, etc. has just fallen into place so beautifully and naturally for this book. I’m sure mostly due to the fact that we’ve been working on this story in some form since 2012 so we were really grounded in who the characters were and what the stakes should be. Being the mother of a wild and wonderful two-year-old, working full-time in Cardiology, managing publishing deadlines, and running my editing business… it gets chaotic to say the least. If I had four more hours in the day, it would be crazy the amount of things I could get accomplished.
Tell us a little bit about your writing career.
-Abbie: I have always wanted to be a published author. I started writing little fan fiction-esque stories when I was younger. I never had the confidence in myself to believe I could create my own world. It wasn’t until Lauren and I started writing together that I truly thought I could get published. Guns & Smoke is my debut novel, but I have several other projects either in the drafting, editing, or plotting phases. I plan to seek traditional publication for my solo works.
-Lauren:Guns & Smoke is my first co-authored novel, but my second published work. I published my debut novel last year, a YA Fantasy novel titled Songs Of Autumn. It is also the first in a series of books that I am still currently developing and is available platform wide. I had the option to traditionally publish Songs Of Autumn and realized that indie publishing and having complete creative control of my stories felt more natural to me. I think when you decide how you’ll publish you really have to re-evaluate your goals and expectations. I realized that, for me, publishing was less about garnering renown or making money than it was about the act of creation and story. As well as a desire to connect with my readership. I wanted to take the ‘corporate business’ mindset out of developing my books to keep the story and not sales the number one priority in my publishing journey. Of course, everyone’s journey to publication is different and valid, this was just the way I discovered what was important in mine.
They say Hind-sight is 20/20. If you could give advice to the writer you were the first time you sat down to write, what would it be?
-Abbie: Just write. Don’t let the pressures you put on yourself or the pressures that others place on you cripple your creative drive. You are an amazing writer.
-Lauren: Whew! Loaded question. I had to think really hard on this one. When I first started to write seriously it was with Abbie as a co-author and I think that actually hurt me a little at first. Abbie’s fantastic and insanely talented, don’t get me wrong. But, the first draft of this novel was back in 2012 and I was really green. I hadn’t gained the confidence to write on my own yet or discovered my own individual author voice as Abbie had and as a result we ended up letting this book languish in a computer file for years before we could come back to it. I tricked myself into thinking that somehow I wasn’t good enough on my own. That I didn’t have anything of real substance or value to bring to the table. Essentially, I was riding on her brilliant coattails. So, I needed to take a break and write solo for a while. After publishing my own work I realized I was, in fact, an author in my own right. With things to say, and a unique way in which to say them. I think in hindsight I would’ve told my younger self to start earlier, do it on my own for a while, and gain that confidence I needed to combat imposter syndrome. Because until I did that, I didn’t think I was a very good writing partner. I was always second guessing any decision I made or the validity of my choices, which didn’t make for very good storytelling overall.
What was your most difficult scene to write?
-Abbie: There’s a moment toward the end of the second act of Guns & Smoke, where Jesse has come to terms with his feelings for Bonnie. They’re so close to admitting their love for one another when they’re faced with the ultimate choice: jump together into the unknown, or certain death. The scene that follows that decision was hard for me to write because Jesse didn’t want to acknowledge a lot of his thoughts or feelings. As we were editing, Lauren kept pointing out the spots where I was writing around the emotions. When I was finally able to nail it all down, the scene became that much deeper and more impactful.
Lauren: The first chapter. I think I rewrote it about a million and a half times. The book has gone through so many iterations and first chapters have to accomplish so many things. You set the stakes, introduce characters, integrate worldbuilding elements that set the scene and tone for the rest of the book. It was really hard for me because I wanted it to be just right. In the end, however, I’m really pleased with the results. All the stress and anxiety, the endless rewrites, it all fueled the chapter that starts the book now and I happen to think it’s pretty great. So, it was worth it, even if it drove me a little crazy. LOL!
Are themes a big part of your stories, or not so much? -Abbie: Not intentionally. I write for the sake of telling a good story. I don’t really think about themes while I’m writing them, but when I’m done, the themes usually appear. Lauren is much better at picking out themes and being intentional with them than I am.
-Lauren: Yes! Abbie hit the nail on the head. I’m much more intentional about themes. Not during the initial drafts but more in the developmental editing phase. I work independently as a developmental editor so I got really good at discovering themes from a rough draft so that the authors I work with can edit intentionally and deepen their narrative storylines. I do the same thing in my own written works. Discovering the themes and essentially the heart of this story made it really easy to pinpoint all the little moments that were missing, the scenes readers needed to see to feel satisfied, the ways to make the stakes higher and the tension palpable without becoming melodramatic. I also think this is another good example of why we work so well together as Co-Authors. We bring different things to our writing that help lead to an overall great reader experience.
What are you working on now?
-We just finished up the first/zero draft of Guns & Smoke’s sequel, Leather & Lace. We’re dipping our toes a little into the third book in the series together. Individually, Abbie is working through edits of the project she drafted during NaNoWriMo in 2020, and Lauren is currently working on the sequel to her debut novel, Songs of Autumn published in November of 2020.
Is there a release date planned?
-We anticipate releasing Leather & Lace sometime in 2022.
Who is your favorite character from your own stories, and why?
-Abbie: In Guns & Smoke, I really adore The Kid. Like Jesse, he’s learning so much about the world that he never knew existed. Being able to get his fresh perspective on things is really great. Also, he is loosely based on one of my nephews, so it’s really fun to see this character on the page.
-Lauren: Bonnie. 100%. She’s so strong and independent. She’s confident in who she is and isn’t afraid to stand up for the things she believes in, even if that means putting herself in harm’s way. I love seeing an example of a character who is completely a product of her environment while still retaining her own individuality. It was a true honor to write her story.
Most writers were readers as children. What was your favorite book in grade school?
-Abbie: Hands down, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. We are of the generation that grew up with Harry, waiting years between releases just to get the next installment. What I loved about Prisoner of Azkaban was that Voldemort wasn’t the villain behind the conflict. I loved getting to see more about Harry’s family history. Also, the idea of having a godparent out there that could save me from a rough home life was incredibly appealing to me.
-Lauren: Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. I read it for the first time when I was in the 4th grade and I remember vividly the descriptions and character motivations. I remember thinking about Captain Ahab and his character flaws obsessively. I didn’t get on the Harry Potter train as early as other kids did when I was growing up, like Abbie, but I really think about Moby Dick a lot now that I’m older and how that shaped my reading preferences when I was young.
What are your plans for future projects? -We have so so so many! The Fool’s Adventure series is planned to take place over four books. In this world, we already have a prequel duology, two sequel series, two novellas, and one anthology planned to explore life before and after the Culling. We each have our own solo projects, but also intend on writing a dark fantasy romance series as well as a paranormal romance series. Expect lots more to come!
Is there anything you would like to add before we finish?
-Keep your guns loaded and your flasks full!
Good luck with Guns & Smoke, and thank you for being with us today.
-Thank you so much for having us!!
One small change in position and now each of my soft curves was pressed intimately against the tall, hard length of his unyielding body. His blue eyes blazed in the dim light of the alley, reading something on my face that urged him on. This was supposed to be my trap.
His hands were buried in my hair now, a thumb tracing over my cheek to land on my bottom lip. I knew what he wanted. Parting my mouth, I wrapped my lips around the pad of his thumb, my tongue flicking against it before sucking softly. A deep thunderous sound rumbled through his chest to shake me down to my bones. His hand in my hair slid to the back of my head, pulling my mouth closer to his. He wanted me to kiss him. He wanted this to be more than a transaction. He wanted me to want him back.
I brushed my nose against his, and he stilled. All other motion and sensation forgotten as his eyes landed on my mouth, inching closer to his. I drank in the taste of his breath, a faint echo of the taste of his lips from before. My head tilted to the side, and he brushed the hair away from my face to see me more clearly as I angled toward him. He swallowed down whatever desperate words were on the tip of his tongue, and I took his chin in my hand, mouths open and millimeters apart.
About the Authors:
Lauren Sevier and A. Smith are longtime friends and co-authors from southern Louisiana. Guns and Smoke, their first joint publication, began as a “short” story after having too much wine on girl’s night.
Nine years later it is now the first novel in a Dystopian/Western Romance series.
The duo has plans to publish several series together in the future. A. Smith spends her time with her two rescue dogs and rescue cat surrounding herself with books and Labyrinth paraphernalia.
Lauren Sevier collects antique tea cups and tries to stay sane, though as the mother of a toddler she fails brilliantly most days. She also has a growing collection of crowns and tiaras and likes to act silly on TikTok. Look for more thrilling novels from The Fools Adventure series in the future! https://www.laurensevier.com/