Today I’d like to welcome author Connie Ann Michael, to share about her new release, Forsaken.
A new resident of Montana, Connie Ann Michael grew up in a close family on the outskirts of Seattle. Drawn to the Lord she’s followed her calling of service and has taught for twenty-six years, currently the fifth grade teacher at Crow Agency Public School, on the Crow Reservation.
Connie loves her family and is lucky enough to have two grown boys. Living with her husband and two dogs in Big Sky country, Connie enjoys any activity that takes her outside and is working hard to overcome her fear of being eaten by a bear to enjoy more hiking trips in the mountains.
Welcome, Connie! We’ll start off with some quick questions so we get to know you a little better.
What is your favourite fruit?
Well, when I look at fruit I always think yum! But I actually don’t care for it when it’s sitting in front of me. If I had to choose I guess it would be a pineapple.
I love pineapple!
Which is your favourite season?
I love fall. I love the colour of the leaves and the cool crisp air and mostly I love football season.
Where is your favourite place?
My favourite place is Monument Valley, Utah. I love how incredibly quiet it is there and it has a way of refreshing my soul.
I’ve visited several of Utah’s National Parks, and they were all amazing. There is nothing like the grandeur of nature to refresh the soul!
What is your favourite Bible verse?
Psalms 91:4 He will cover you in with his feathers, and under his wings you shall take refuge, His truth shall be your shield
What’s something funny or quirky that not many people know about you?
I asked my family to help with this and they also drew a blank. So although this isn’t really quirky … I speak Spanish and I am trying to learn Crow at the reservation I teach at. I also have a need to take classes and learn new things all the time so I am constantly enrolled in college classes.
This wasn’t supposed to be a hard question! But I love that you are learning Crow.
Now, let’s talk about your book, Forsaken. Here’s the description off the back cover:
Eighteen-year-old Oli cannot remember life outside the barrier, a life before the oil spill that poisoned human kind, killing half the population and infecting the other half until they deteriorated from the inside out, forced to walk the earth as Screamers. It’s a dangerous new world in which barely anyone makes it past the age of twenty, and Oli’s time is running out.
Studying the Bible, Oli searches for words to help restore faith in a lost world, and when she receives a message from God telling her to leave the barrier, she knows what she must do. There’s only one problem: Her best friend, Coi, doesn’t believe her, and he’s showing the first signs of infection. But before she can convince him to leave with her, the Governor quarantines Coi and orders his execution.
Oli risks it all to rescue Coi, and they set out to find sanctuary away from the safety of the compound, not knowing who or what will get to them first: the Governor, the illness, or the Screamers. When they stumble upon a group of uninfected humans hidden among the rubble of an apartment building, they think they’ve found their salvation. But not everything is as it seems, and their enemies are closer than they thought.
I love your cover! How much input did you have into the cover design?
My publisher did an awesome job on this cover so I pretty much was sent the first draft and I said LOVE IT! I am given a worksheet to fill out, giving them my vision and they usually do a pretty good job of creating something great.
Forsaken is obviously Christian dystopian. Why did you decide to write a dystopian novel?
The idea of what the world will be like as the end of times comes near is very interesting to me. My old church did a Bible study on the book of Revelation and really got me thinking. There are so many early examples through the Bible which lead us to this ending of a society who blames God for leaving them behind and then refuses to have faith as if to punish God.
I like to think of the Screamers as the people who can’t find satisfaction because they lost their faith. I guess I’m attempting to use the walking infected as a metaphor for people who are lost and can’t be satisfied by the ways of the world and need to find God.
I love that metaphor! What a fascinating idea.
What inspired the plot?
The plot was inspired when the oil spill began in the Gulf of Mexico some years ago. My son was doing a research paper on the effects of the oil on otters in Alaska about the same time. We started reading what happens to the people exposed to the dispersant used to clean the area as well as the wildlife. Soon the towns on the edge of the Gulf began having health issues and the story took off from there.
So Forsaken is what could happen? Scary!
Forsaken is written in first person, which I personally enjoy but I know a lot of readers don’t. Why did you choose to tell the Oli’s story in first person?
I have written in both first and third and I usually don’t really think about it before I start writing it’s just how it came out. Oli wanted to tell the story, what can I say. 🙂
Who is your favourite character in this book, and why?
I love Oli for her faith and courage but Matty, who will be introduced in the story with his brother, is a personal favourite. They have much more impact in the next book.
Is there a particular theme or message in Forsaken?
I think the theme I am trying to get out there is I see so many people looking into themselves for spiritual fulfilment and making new belief systems that fit the sinful lives they may choose to live. I think we forget that we have a history book in the Bible that makes it very clear what the future holds and we need to hold onto that knowledge and not let outer influences take it away.
In the book I have all the Bibles burned. It’s my way of showing how I feel we are being encouraged to turn our backs on the word of God. Environmentally, I believe we are destroying our world with materialism, turning a blind eye to our environment when a profit can be made.
Great point. We have too much stuff, yet we always seem to want more. And we will pay a price that’s not just monetary.
Forsaken is the first novel in the Screamers series. What can you tell us about the next novel?
The next novel really brings Matty and his brother Brig into the mix. I think since I was able to explain the condition of the world in Forsaken I was able to delve more into the spiritual impact of the world and the direction it is going in the second book, which is with my editor as we speak.
What do you find is the easiest part of the writing and publishing process? What’s the hardest?
The easiest part is coming up with ideas. The hardest part is getting those ideas into a semblance of order on the page.
What impact does your faith have on your writing?
My faith has a huge impact on my writing and the topics I choose to write about. I believe my place isn’t so much to preach at people but to serve them to show them my faith. I hope my books allow me that opportunity.
Most of my books follow the idea that no matter how far away from God you are or how decayed your soul is, it isn’t too late. God has already forgiven you and now you need to forgive yourself.
That’s a great message, and one I think we all need to hear sometimes.
I see you’ve published other books in different genres. What’s your favourite fiction genre, and why?
Yes, I have a Christian Romance series, A Thousand Moments out currently. I love romance but have really been hooked by some of the YA books recently out that delve into the struggles and angst of youth today.
I’ve observed before that historical and futuristic novels can often explore contemporary issues in a way contemporary novels can’t. The same can be said for movies and TV shows—Star Trek comes to mind.
What book (or books) are you currently reading?
I have been reading a ton! this summer. I tend to stick to authors and gobble up everything they write before moving to another. My summer authors have been; Jessica Park, I’ve read about six of her books. She writes college age fiction and I just love her male characters.
Jenn Faulk is a great Christian author! And my all time favourite Christian Author L.N. Cronk released a new book this summer. She wrote the Chop, Chop series which made me have to lock myself in the bathroom and sob for an hour. Currently I am reading Rebecca Donovan, What If.
I’ll have to check out Jessica Park! I love great male characters.
What, in your opinion, are five must-read books for fans of dystopian fiction? (Not including Forsaken. We’ll take that as a given.)
I’m not going to be very original because I think the Hunger Games and Divergent are some givens. However, since I kind of lean to the world of worldwide illness, some of my favourites are The Apocalypse Z series by Manel Loureiro, and The Dead Empty World by Carrie Ryan. She also writes a series starting with The Forest of Hands and Feet that is great! And finally I love Charles Higson’s series The Fallen.
Some great suggestions – thank you!
Where can we find Forsaken online?
Amazon US | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo
Anaiah Press | Goodreads
Where can we find you online?
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | YouTube
Thank you, Connie! It’s been great to meet you, and learn more about Forsaken.
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Readers, what question would you like to ask Connie Ann Michael? Let us know in the comments! Meanwhile, you can read the introduction to Forsaken below: