I want to introduce Lindsay Cummings to you. She just broke into the publishing world with two separate series releasing in the same year. The Murder Complex (Greenwillow Books/Harpercollins) and The Balance Keepers (Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins). The imprint of the second series is the same that published Veronica Roth and the blockbuster Divergent series. I came across Lindsay on facebook and was immediately intrigued by her outspoken faith to the generally secular publishing world in which she reviews and writes for. Her husband is a youth pastor and the two of them love Jesus and animals, but you'll read a bit more about both of those in the interview below. A savvy promoter, Lindsay has created a presence by reviewing books and coming up with a catchy brand called #BookNerdigans. You can even buy #BookNerdigans gear. Alright so without further delay let's get to the interview.
Brock: Lindsay thank you for discussing your writing journey with us and how your faith influences your writing.
Lindsay: Thanks so much for chatting with me! It’s really cool to be able to talk about my faith so openly in an interview, so I’m excited about this.
Brock: Lindsay would you introduce yourself to my readers.
Lindsay: The short answer, is that I’m a 23 year old author at HarperCollins, who lives in Texas and loves God. The long answer, which I like more, is that I’m a 23 year old author who only got to this place because God took me on a crazy journey, and when I finally opened up my eyes and paid attention to His voice, He lead me home. I live in Celina, TX with my husband Josh, who is a first-time Youth Pastor at LifeWay Church. I’m an animal lover, with dogs, a wolf, a draft horse, tons of chickens, and a hedgehog. I love singing worship music, reading far too much to be cool, and I love my God.
Brock: I like the long answer too. Lindsay, when did you feel called to be a writer?
Lindsay: I was always a writer, even as a kid. My dad wrote a book when I was younger, and I always wanted to be like him. I wrote little short stories all the time growing up, but the real honest writing started after I graduated high school, and got sick with Chronic Fatigue. It was about 2 1/2 years of surgeries and being bedridden, sometimes so weak I couldn’t get up off of the couch without someone helping me stand. Writing was an escape, a way to explore freedoms that my own weak body couldn’t give me at the time. I never wanted to be an author, not as a career. But God lead me here, and now, I don’t want to do anything else.
Brock: Amazing the journey and plan he has us on at times. I too never expected to be a published author. Tell us about your writing journey and the milestones along the way?
Lindsay: It started with the Chronic Fatigue, and simply writing to escape. But by the time I had finished my very first book (a terrible book, I might add), I realized that THIS was what I wanted to do with my life. It’s funny, all my life, I’ve bounced around to different hobbies (guitar, ice hockey, horses, hair styling, and so much more), but writing always stuck with me. When I finished my first book, I went to a writer’s conference in Dallas, called DFWcon. This is where my journey really begin, as I met my agent, Louise Fury. My first book that I pitched to her, she didn’t want. I kept her email address, and about 4 months later, after I had another new book, I took a shot and sent her an email. She was very enthusiastic about reading The Murder Complex, which is the series that, eventually, 3 years later, finally hit shelves in bookstores. It’s been a rough journey. I struggle with depression, exhaustion, and I worry too much. But God is always there to get me through to the next day.
Brock: Were there any amazing/miraculous doors God opened for you?
Lindsay: My agent is incredible, truly. She’s a South African spitfire of a woman, who knows how to sell a book :) I just adore her, and honestly, I feel like God plucked her out of the massive pile of agents and saved her just for me. She knows I worry and stress, and she knows how to calm me down. We got a lot of rejections for The Murder Complex when it was out on submission with publishers, but Louise continued to remind me that there was a plan. It would happen. We just didn’t know when. Eventually we got the book deal, and then another about a year later (with my children’s series, Balance Keepers), and I can see God’s hand in every step of the way. Sometimes, I imagine He’s up in Heaven, chuckling as He looks down at me while I stress and stress and stress. I imagine Him saying, “Lindsay, Child, I’ve got this. Just trust me!"
Brock: I have been reminded on more than one occasion that Go's always got me. He's always carrying me and His plan is perfect. Lindsay, how does your faith impact your writing? You are writing for a secular audience, so in what ways do you intertwine your faith into your work?
Lindsay: The books that I write are not Christian, but strangely, The Murder Complex is my own take on a dark science fiction version of Revelation. Balance Keepers is just a fun fantasy book that kids can enjoy. While I don’t write Christian fiction, I do try very hard to let people know that I’m a Believer. On my social media accounts, I’ll post pictures of my Bible. I’ll post a cool shot of a verse. I always try to mention, when I’m speaking, that God is the ultimate reason for my success. I want readers to know that it’s “cool” to be a Christian. You can still write dark scifi, and fantasy, and love God! I’ve been able to talk to some teens who aren’t Believers, but have taken an interest in it because of my posts…and honestly, that’s the coolest part of it all.
Brock: Our mission field is around us everyday in all we do. Colossians 3:17 says, "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (ESV) What does a typical writing day look like for you?
Lindsay: I write full time from home, so I like to sleep in. Once I’m up, I snuggle with my giant German Shepherds for a while, and then I write for an hour or two. I give myself a break, maybe take a nap (I have to nap every day because of my energy levels), and then write a little more. I also try to read every single day. Reading great books inspires me to write great books.
Brock: Any particular habits while you write?
Lindsay: I can’t write with music unless it’s instrumental only! (Lately, the Mockingjay Part One Score has been lovely). I also like to be alone, with no distractions.
Brock: Tell us about your blogging/reviewing?
Lindsay: I started book blogging before I was picked up by my agent and then HarperCollins. I think it just helped me have a solid start to an online presence, and I was able to stay up to date on the newest books and trends in the industry.
Brock: Tells us about #Booknerdigans
Lindsay: #Booknerdigans is a silly hashtag I created a few years ago. It’s just for people to use, if they love books. I didn’t realize it was going to explode in a big way. It’s been fun to see people using it all over Twitter and Instagram. I also started a booknerdigans.com site, for some teens around the world to post their thoughts about new book releases.
Brock: What authors have influenced your writing if any?
Lindsay: I loved CS Lewis growing up. His fantasy worlds are so rich and alive. I also loved JK Rowling, and Suzanne Collins. While the latter two aren’t Christian writers, they’ve definitely got God-given talents for creating incredible stories.
Brock: Alright now we'll switch gears from author life to the books you've just released. First share about The Murder Complex series with us.
Lindsay: The Murder Complex takes place in the futuristic Florida Everglades, in a walled-in city called the Shallows, where the murder rate is higher than the birth rate. It’s a dark story, but there are patches of light littered throughout. There is also a prequel novella, The Fear Trials, that’s out in ebook format, and book 2, The Death Code, comes out in April 2015!
Brock: Who is The Murder Complex written for?
Lindsay: It’s Young Adult, which typically means high school to college, but honestly, I think it’s a series that everyone can enjoy.
Brock: Who are the main characters in The Murder Complex?
Lindsay: It focuses on Meadow Woodson, a 16-year-old girl whose father has trained her to kill to survive, and Zephyr James, a 17-year-old orphan, whose job is to clean the streets of carnage once the latest murders have happened.
Brock: What elements of your faith are woven into The Murder Complex?
Lindsay: It’s my take on Revelation—with a futuristic, assassin twist.
Brock: Is there anything you wish for your readers to take away from The Murder Complex?
Lindsay: I simply want readers to enjoy the book. I want them to be able to connect with the story, and just have fun with it. I wrote this first book while I was very sick, post-surgery, and writing it was therapeutic for me. If one person is struggling with the same type of thing, and my book helped them get through it…well, that would be pretty cool for me!
Brock: How many books are planned for The Murder Complex, and can you give us any insight on what to expect next.
Lindsay: The Death Code is book 2, and it has the same fast-paced, short chapters that alternate between Meadow and Zephyr. It’s a fun book. It took me about 7 drafts to get it right, so now that it’s done, I’m really excited for readers to get it in 2015.
Brock: Now you also have a Kids fiction series. Tell us about Balance Keepers.
Lindsay: Balance Keepers is a fantasy trilogy, about kids who go to school in the Core of the earth. From there, they learn to harness one unique set of special powers through a Tile necklace they each get. In the Core, they train to enter hidden Realms that, when they are out of Balance, threaten the surface world above.
Brock: Who is Balance Keepers written for?
Lindsay: Balance Keepers is considered Middle Grade, so upper elementary through middle school. But again, it’s a fun, light-hearted book that anyone can enjoy!
Brock: Who are the main characters in Balance Keepers?
Lindsay: Albert Flynn is an eleven-year-old boy whose parents are divorced. He goes to spend the summer with his dad in Herman, Wyoming, where he discovers the Core. Albert is fun as most boys his age are. He has a companion dog named Farnsworth, a magical dog that has glowing blue eyes! Albert is joined by Birdie Howell, a spitfire of a girl who’s whip smart, and Leroy Jones, a somewhat nerdy, scaredy-cat kid who is the comic relief in every chapter.
Brock: What elements of your faith are woven into the Balance Keepers series if any?
Lindsay: Not many—but when I do school visits, I’m not afraid to tell kids who I put my trust in!
Brock: Is there anything you wish for your readers to take away from Balance Keepers?
Lindsay: I just want them to have fun while they read it. I want them to smile and laugh. It’s such a fun series, and I feel like the books can just make people happy!
Brock: How many books are planned for Balance Keepers?
Lindsay: There are 3 books planned for Balance Keepers. Book 2 comes out September 2015.
Brock: I noticed your acknowledgements in the back of the books mention Jesus. Why did you feel it necessary to give Him credit?
Lindsay: I am nothing without God, and I want the world to know that.
Brock: Tell us all the amazing ways readers can find you and connect with you.
Lindsay: I’m on Twitter @authorlindsayc, Instagram @authorlindsaycummings, and www.lindsaycummingsbooks.com
Brock: Thank you Lindsay for introducing us to you and for giving us a look into your work.
Lindsay: Thanks for chatting with me! It’s great to be able to openly talk about my faith, and just let people know that God is the reason for it all. God bless you, and everyone else who reads this!
You can read more about Lindsay Cummings through her websites lindsaycummingsbooks.com and booknerdigans.com.
Her three released titles are:
The Murder Complex (Greenwillow Books/Harpercollins)
The Fear Trials (A Murder Complex Prequel Novella) (HarperTeen Impulse)
Balance Keepers: The Fires of Calderon (Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins)
Your phone won't work. Water isn't coming from the tap anymore. Your car won't move. Your refrigerator is warming up. The lights won't turn on. There's no radio or television. THERE'S NO POWER!
I couldn't put this book down![/caption]While browsing book covers (which always helps to inspire me) I came across The Rule of Three by Eric Walters. After reading the book synopsis I was drawn in. I originally read the book on my Kindle, but have since purchased a hardback copy to sit next to the just released hardback of Fight for Power, Book 2 in the series. The Rule of Three made me consider my preparedness in the event something catastrophic happens. I began running through a list of questions on how I would protect and provide for my family should our world, as we know it, come to a sudden stop. Yes there has been a lot of focus on this in the entertainment industry in recent years and I'm not talking about dystopian novels like The Hunger Games, Divergent, or Matched. I'm talking about near-time dystopian stories like the current TV show Revolution or Jericho from a few years back. Add these TV dramas to the craze of zombie movies like World War Z and shows like The Walking Dead (which I don't watch because zombies terrify me) and a reality show like Preppers and you have to stop and ask, "Am I ready if everything changes in the blink of an eye?" All with the exception of Preppers the above shows and books are fictional portrayals of what could be around the next minute of our lives and you might shrug off the possibility something could happen. But if you've been paying attention to the news you'll find plenty of real stories that make these realities just hours away from possible. For example a mutation of the Ebola virus that became airborne, a cyber attack on our nation's power grid, a biological, chemical, or nuclear terrorist attack by Al Qaeda or ISIS, the Russians deciding Ukraine isn't enough and they want or need all of Europe so they strike us with tactical nukes, maybe the Chinese with their vast military and small but capable nuclear arsenal are hankering for more resources and territory so they have to bump off their biggest competitor in the region; us, a solar flare that takes out or disrupts our power grid and communications network of towers and satellites. So now that you won't sleep tonight take a moment and read the interview I did with Eric Walters author of The Rule of Three.
Brock: Eric, first of all thank you for answering these questions about your book The Rule of Three. I found this book to be an amazing tale of a reality just moments away at any time. What was your inspiration or motivation behind writing The Rule of Three?
Eric: I’ve always liked science fiction and dystopic stories so I thought I’d try my hand at writing one.
Brock: Good answer. I tend to do that when I start thinking of new stories. I center in on what I myself enjoy reading. The title to the book actually has a meaning inside the story, what is "The rule of three?"
Eric: You can last three minutes without air, three days without water, and three weeks without food.
Brock: In your words and three sentences tell my readers what The Rule of Three is about?
Eric: An event robs the world of computers, electricity, transportation and communication. A neighborhood bands together to try to create a safe haven where they can survive. Other groups try to take their survival away.
Brock: Well described. Eric, how many books are planned for the series?
Eric: The second, Fight For Power, is out in January, and the third – which I just finished editing today – is called Will To Survive and comes out in January 2016. There could be a fourth – we’ll see!
Brock: A whole year? Yikes I'm not sure I can wait. And if there is a fourth book I'll really be in trouble. It's a bit of a conundrum, I want the story to keep going, but I don't want to wait that long to finish it. The setting for the story is a place anyone of us in a modern society could find ourselves living. To me that makes the story all the more chilling. Why did you choose to place your story in the now instead of the far future?
Eric: Most dystopic novels seem to involve some undefined time in the future, a place in space, or hinge on something bizarre like zombies. This story is more disturbing because it happens right now, right here. This is what would happen if suddenly the lights went down. This is what would actually happen.
Brock: You're absolutely right about the "now" being the secret sauce on making it more disturbing. Readers can't help but place themselves in Adam's shoes and consider what they would face. I’ve recently read several news articles about how vulnerable the United States power grid is to terrorism, both cyber and otherwise. Were these articles an influence on your writing, or your choosing of this topic?
Eric: I think we like to believe we’re too ‘civilized’ to allow a complete disintegration of society. I think the power failure on the East Coast in 2003 and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans showed how thin that veneer of civilization really is. There is a greater level of vulnerability that any of us would like to admit.
Brock: True, when we're faced with survival and protection of the very ones we love, we can feel helpless, which can make us desperate. How real do you think the threat to our power grid is?
Eric: I remember clearly the blackout of 2003. That was simply a cascading series of accidents that nobody tried to make happen. What if somebody deliberately overloaded the system through a cyber-attack?
Brock: And not only are there large sophisticated countries that don't like us, but there are terrorist organizations, and groups of hackers. If our countries (United States or Canada) went dark, do you believe that the governments would be unable to respond? Does the book reflect what you truly believe would happen in the aftermath?
Eric: If civilization crumbled the way the book describes than no government would be able to respond. The responders would be reduced to simply trying to protect their own families and would be robbed of the tools to respond – no transportation, no communication, no computers.
Brock: We rely so much on electricity. This winter our power went out for a couple of hours and our heat wouldn't work because our thermostat unit runs on power and doesn't have a battery backup. I think of water, if we didn't have power here in Colorado for our water plants to pump the water to us, we'd be without. Unlike where I lived in Illinois, water isn't abundant. Tell my readers about the characters in the series. Why did you choose to focus on a high school boy as your main character? What makes Adam special?
Eric: There’s an exciting dynamic involved with being that age. Those of us who are older can all remember that time of our lives – the excitement, the uncertainty and trying to figure out the future. Adam possesses a morality, a belief in doing the right thing even when things are desperate. It’s his inherent morality that drives the story.
Brock: Herb is a very interesting character, and one whose secrets I look forward to learning about in the rest of the series. Tell us about Herb and Adam’s relationship. How do you see their bond? Why would Herb choose someone like Adam to invest in?
Eric: I love Herb as a character. The ‘old man’ who is more than some guy who yells at you for being on his lawn. I see so much of this story as not only Herb using his skills and experience but also him seeking redemption, trying to make up for the things he’d done in his life. Herb will continue to be revealed through the next two books.
Brock: Tell us about Lori and why you chose to include her character in the books? Can you share one fact with us about Lori that’s not in the books?
Eric: Lori is strong. Her strength will be revealed more in the coming books. She’s a much better shot than Adam and saves him on one occasion.
Brock: Further I enjoyed the short e-novella, Nothing to Fear, you wrote about Lori and Adam. Why did you choose to focus on their relationship in the novella?
Eric: Even with the entire world falling to pieces there are some things that are even stronger. Despite everything going on it wouldn't change how they felt toward each other.
Brock: What sort of research did you have to do for The Rule of Three? For example using Chlorine tablets to purify water and ultralight flying.
Eric: I read books about surviving disaster, consulted with engineers, airplane pilots and preppers to help with the authenticity of my story.
Brock: Have you ever flown in an ultralight?
Eric: I would never get into an ultralight! Those things are terrifying!
Brock: You did a great job or putting a few comedic moments in the book as well as a budding romance. Why did you find these two elements important to include in the series?
Eric: I worked in a hospital E.R. for 18 years. Bizarre, strange humor seems to be a part of the most desperate situations. I thought the story needed humor to temper what the characters were going through and form a counter-point to action.
Brock: What can we expect in Fight for Power?
Eric: The action heats up as the world becomes more desperate.
Brock: Will we meet any new characters in Fight for Power?
Eric: A few new characters but mainly twists with existing characters.
Brock: What is your thought on the ‘phenomenon’ of prepping or those people who we refer to as ‘Preppers?’
Eric: I can see where they’re coming from. Writing this trilogy has made me more aware about the possibilities and the need to prepare. My family has talked about what we’d do in the event of an ‘incident’. We know where we’d meet and what we’d do. Does that make me paranoid or realistically prepared? I guess you have to decide.
Brock: Can you give us the top five items you would stock up on in preparation for an event like what occurs in your books?
Eric: I hope there’s no possibility . . . but it’s better to be prepared.
Brock: Eric, how has your faith impacted your writing?
Eric: It’s amazing how much my faith and beliefs have found their way into my writing. Looking back at my books I realize that I’ve actually written sermons into four different books and the concepts of faith and hope are constantly there. I never try to ‘hit somebody over the head’ with my beliefs but they are fairly solidly embedded in the thoughts, actions and beliefs of my characters. Even in a book like Shaken – built around the Haitian earthquake – my characters questioning faith is the foundation on which his faith is ultimately confirmed.
Brock: Have you embedded any spiritual themes within The Rule of Three?
Eric: In The Rule of Three the concept of morality, acting correctly and not allowing situational ethics to overwhelm a belief system.
Brock: Do you have a favorite Bible verse and what is it?
Eric: I’m very much a follower of James. I believe that your actions are the definition of who you are. It may sound strange for a writer to say, but it doesn't matter what you say, it’s what you do, that matters. It isn't a Biblical quote but my favorite from St. Francis, "Preach the Gospel every day and if necessary use words."
Brock: Can you tell me a little about Creation of Hope. What is it? How did that come about?
Eric: This program was founded by my wife and I and a family in Kenya, Ruth and Henry. We were visiting Kikima, Kenya and found an area with 25,000 people including 500 orphans – many living on the streets, sleeping in garbage dumps, living and dying without care or support. We started with one orphan, which became 4, then 40 and now close to 400 orphans and impoverished children are being supported on a regular basis. We have 55 children in our residence and 42 children in residential high school or post-secondary with the rest being in the homes of extended family members. We have 118 sponsored children – with 15 of these sponsored by Kenyans – as well as sponsors in the U.S. and Germany. Last year we had over 100 schools involved and we promised schools that 100% of funds would go directly to service and we show them exactly how we spent their money. We believe in complete accountability and transparency and through the website we try to show each month how money is raised and spent. My wife and I spent close to 30 hours per week administering the program. It is a great deal of work, but more than that, it is a true blessing for us. We are practicing our faith through our actions.
Brock: It's heartwarming to know that other authors are using their time and talents to share the plight of the orphan as well as to highlight the needs of these impoverished nations. I myself work for a ministry called Compassion International. It's a wonderful Christ centered ministry that provides holistic development for children in poverty in 26 countries.
Eric: I know Compassion International and the high standards it maintains. God bless you for what you’re doing!
Brock: Eric thank you for your answers and for shedding more light on The Rule of Three and Fight for Power. And thank you for being open about your faith and for the amazing ministry you founded and are leading in Kenya. You can learn more about Eric Walters on his website EricWalters.net and Creation of Hope at CreationofHope.com.