A plague of epic proportion sweeps the globe, leaving less than one percent of the world’s population immune. Among the living is Autumn Winters, the teenage daughter of a famous actress. When Autumn’s parents don’t come home and the city is overtaken by a dangerous faction, she goes into hiding with a small group of underground survivors. They’re led by a mysterious young man who harbors an unearthly secret, and with whom Autumn feels a deep connection.
Dana Melton and Jessica Alexander, who write under the name Kirby Howell, have been writing together since 2000 when they met as freshman in their first script writing class at the University of Alabama. Dana, a native Southerner, quickly showed Jessica the ropes and the joys of living below the Mason Dixon Line. Having lived in nearly every other part of the country, it didn’t take Jessica long to acclimate to sweet tea, grits and football. Four years later, with a couple of film degrees under their belts, they moved to Los Angeles to pursue their professional writing careers.
1. Give our readers a brief description of your novel and its main theme.
The first book in the Autumn Series, Autumn in the City of Angels, follows 17-year-old Autumn Winters after an apocalyptic plague wipes out almost all of Earth’s population. Alone in what’s left of Los Angeles, Autumn must learn how to care for herself in this drastically altered world. Finding food and clean water, securing electricity and safety, and deciding who is trustworthy and who is dangerous becomes her day-to-day fight for survival. Among Autumn's newfound friends are siblings Ben and Rissi, motherly Connie, and mysterious Grey, a young man much wiser than his 18 years who harborsan unearthly secret.
The main theme running through the entire series is the importance of family and loyalty to friends. Our main character has her mother, father, and best friend taken away from her, along with everyone else she knows, in chapter one. The people she meets afterward become her family, and she learns the importance of their presence in her life and throughout the rest of the series, fights for not only her own survival, but her new family’s survival as well.
2. Where did the inspiration for Autumn in the City of Angels come from?
Jessica had a very frightening dream about an apocalyptic plague. The basic elements of this dream became the backbone of The Autumn Series: survivors hiding in subway tunnels from a dangerous group that had taken over control of what remained of LA, a single father and his young daughter befriending the main character, and a mysterious young doctor who seemed to know more about the plague than he was letting on. The story evolved as we worked with it – the main character went from an engaged girl in her mid-twenties to a privileged teenager, daughter of a famous actress. The single dad and his daughter changed into the brother/sister duo, Ben and Rissi. The whole story was made younger to appeal to the young adult age group, which was the age that we truly fell in love with reading and realized we both wanted to be writers.
3. Working as a team, who writes what and what area are you each best at? (Dialogue etc)
Jessica: I tend to take the more romantic scenes and most of the ‘thinking’ scenes where Autumn is mulling something over or processing something. I find it kind of amazing how similar my writing voice is to Dana’s, however we’re always led toward different scenes when we’re splitting up an outline to write!
Dana: I’m a bit less introspective in life, and it would seem also in writing. I like scenes with lots of characters and lots of talking. Witty banter, verbal sparring… whatever. I love making characters interact and seeing what happens!
4. How many books are planned in the series?
Autumn in the City of Angels is the first book in a trilogy, followed by Autumn in the Dark Meadows. The third and final book in the series, Autumn in the City of Lights, should become available later this summer!
5. What benefits do you gain from working as a team?
There’s always someone right there next to you, knowing exactly what you’re going through. No matter what we experience, whether it’s typing ‘THE END’ or hitting the ‘publish’ button on Amazon to release one of our books, or it’s reading a scathing review from a reader, we’re there for each other, feeling the same thing. It helps to not have to explain anything and just be joyful or supportive!
6. What future novels are you working on currently?
After the third and final book in the Autumn Series is released later this summer, we’re going to get to work on our next young adult trilogy, The Wayfarer. It’s the story of a teenage girl that gets trapped in a bad foster situation and ends up running away. She accidentally finds a passage to another world, which she comes to realize is Limbo – the place between life and the after-life. She begins a quest to find and bring back the one person who can save her from her real life situation.
7. What advice would you give to novice writers?
Write, write, write, WRITE!! And then write some more! If you want to be a writer, you have to WRITE! Focus on one project until you finish it! Reading is also key – in order to be a good writer, you have to have a toolbox. And you get some of these tools by reading! So read the good stuff. Read authors that are award winning, read the fun stuff, read the bad stuff – all so you can see why it’s award-winning, fun, or bad!
I AM AN AUTHOR, BLOGGER AND A JOURNALIST.
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”