Today I have Demitria Lunetta here to talk about her debut novel In the After. I am so excited to have the opportunity to have her on My Friends Are Fiction. I loved In the After; I think it is such an original survivalist book that really ingrained in my subconscious. For weeks after reading it I couldn’t shake the world or characters
I’m so happy to have you here, thank you for joining us.
Thank you so much for having me. I’m very glad you enjoyed In the After!
In most survival stories the monsters dwell at night and the survivors during the day. Switching this dynamic really creates a different atmosphere for your survival tale. Was there a specific reason you went that direction?
I love horror books & movies, especially those that feature scary creatures. Most of these creatures stick to the shadows and use night as a cover. When I thought about my creatures though, I wanted them to be unique. I thought about taking these norms and flipping them. These creatures (referred to as They) are ravenous, flesh-eating monsters, but they have poor eyesight, making them more active during the day when it’s light out. They also hunt by sound. This means that my MC, Amy, lives in a world of silent darkness. She only goes out at night, making the usual world of frightening shadows her comfort zone. The day becomes a time of terror, when They own the world.
Amy was able to survive in her parent’s fortified home because her father used green technology and her mother was a bit on the paranoid side so had an electric fence installed. How did you figure out what Amy would need to survive? Do you ever think about how your house would stand up to aliens or crisis?
Since They are so relentless, I knew Amy would need a little help surviving the initial onslaught. I had to imagine how a perfectly normal 14 year-old would be able to live for so long after almost everyone else has died. I didn’t want her situation to seem contrived though, so I made sure her home fit in to the context of the story line.
My home, on the other hand, would not last so long. There is a fence, but They would tear through that in an instant. Even if I managed to avoid Them by being completely quiet, I don’t have a large supply of food so I’d probably be a goner!
I felt like In the After focused on humanity and the coping mechanisms different people utilize to try to survive a crisis. Amy and Amber have opposing methods could you relate to either of them?
Amy and Amber are very different. Amy is strong and determined, and sees Amber as weak. This may sound strange, but one of my favorite characters is Amber. She’s not a hero, by any means, but she’s very real. She’s a survivor, though not the kind most readers are used to. Her survival technique is to fit in and follow. She wants to be protected and are willing concede a few freedoms to be safe. She knows that survival is a tricky game, and she’s learned to play it to perfection.
After reading ItA I had nightmares for a couple of nights, did the process of writing or researching disturb your sleep?
Writing never gave me nightmares, I think I was too engrossed in the story, in the plots and dialogues for it to disturb my sleep. Not that it wasn’t disturbing to destroy the world, I just think as the writer creating the world was less frightening than reading about the world. Immersion through reading can feel very real and I’m glad that my book was able to draw you so far in to the After.
Is there any creature or superstition that really terrifies you? Mine is Bloody Mary—I will not to this day mutter her name three times.
If I think too long about any apocalypse scenario it becomes frightening…not so much zombies or aliens, but things that are more likely to happen, like an economic collapse or breakdown of society. People can be scary. That’s why I wrote New Hope the way I did.
I loved Amy and Baby’s relationship and how they were such a good team. One aspect that really stood out to me was that they created their own form of sign language. Would you be able to survive in a silent world?
I’m not sure that I could, but people are amazing at adapting. I think I’m kind of a loud person, even just walking across a room could draw Them, so I’d probably be taken out before I knew what hit me. But maybe if I knew I had to be quiet, if my life depended on it, that would change things.
Baby was immediately one of my favorite children I’ve ever read in a book. Was her character derived from anyone specific?
When I first started thinking about In the After, I imagined a teenage MC, but also a little girl. Baby was always there, from the beginning. I didn’t base her on anyone in particular, but she has always been a part of the story.
I felt like it was realistic that a small child would be capable of adapting to extraordinary situations. Did you research how children react to trauma and crisis to help you write her?
I did research the ways in which children react to traumatic events. Baby is so strong, but she’s been through an incredible amount…things that haven’t even been uncovered yet. I think that Baby deals with her trauma well, she’s learned to adapt even better than Amy has. This is especially clear in New Hope.
Can you tell us anything about In the End?
I can’t tell you much, but In the End, we get to learn more about Baby and Rice. Amy has left New Hope, but she can’t break the ties that bind her to the people she left behind.
What are you reading right now?
I am reading Grave Mercy…I’ve heard so many good things about this book so am really excited. I’m only a few pages in and already it’s amazing!
What are you working on next?
In the End will still need some edits and then I’ll work on how Amy and Baby’s story continues!