Atmosphere is the most delicious aspect of any book. I connect strongly with stories that envelop me into its world and make me feel like I’m living it along with the character. I like to unsettle readers and immerse them in the same way, so they feel there’s no escape until they reach the last page.
I wanted to write a modern noir inspired by the black and white movies and dark fiction of the 40s and 50s, The danger lurking in the quiet corners, the unspoken emotions, the dialogue delivered in short patter, hits all the right buttons for me. So I was pleased as punch that someone called it “Midwest noir” in a review.
My protagonist, Val, came from my enjoyment of reading characters that are a little off-center. People who are not so nice, with twisted thoughts and less-than-savory motivations, yet not quite villains. Characters who are less than successful, especially when they don’t realize how much. They feel more like real people than we’d maybe care to admit.
His love interest, Sandra, as well as his agent, Graham, are both antagonists as well as the story’s brighter characters. Though I consider Sundown pretty dark, they counteract the shadows with a little lightheartedness. Sandra’s dry wit was fun to write, and Graham is the type of friend anyone would be grateful to have in their corner.
The idea for the plot came from asking “what if” to things I was seeing on the news at the time. Val (a much more successful author than I am) decides to write a dystopian conspiracy thriller about the crime rate in his city, with a nameless society covertly ending the lives of its residents when they no longer serve a purpose. Being an older gent himself—Val’s personal “last chapter” looming closer than he’d like to admit—this concept feels urgent and chilling. Unfortunately for him—and quite a few other people—the idea isn’t new. It isn’t fiction. And the members of this society are prepared to do whatever it takes to keep Val’s book from hitting shelves and revealing their secrets.
One of my favorite subgenres to read is the fugitive story. Although Edge of Sundown doesn’t qualify in the traditional sense, a few of the final chapters have that feel, and they contain some of my favorite scenes.
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Val Haverford’s sci-fi and western novels made him a household name. But that was then. A decade of creative stagnation and fading health has left him in the literary wilderness. Attempting to end his dry spell and secure his legacy, Val pens a dystopian conspiracy theory set in a tangential universe where alien invaders eliminate ‘undesirables’ perceived as drains on society. But as he digs deeper into violence plaguing his adopted home of Chicago, he discovers unsettling similarities between his work in progress and a life he thought he left behind. Soon he finds his fictional extremists are not only real—they’re intent on making sure his book never sees the light of day. As he pieces together haunting truths about his city and his motives, Val realizes his last chance to revive his career and reconcile the past could get him—and the people he loves—killed. Will he make the right choice? Or will it be too late? Edge of Sundown is a provocative story that shows how the desperation of lost opportunity can lead to drastic and unexpected consequences.
If Jennifer were to make a deal with the Devil, she’d ask to live—in good health—just until she’s finished reading all the books. She figures that’s pretty square. In case other bibliophiles attempt the same scheme, she’s working hard to get all her ideas on paper. She writes multi-genre fiction and is currently working on a sci-fi novel and a handful of picture books that may or may not be suitable for children. Edge of Sundown is her first novel. Her short fiction and essays appear in Write City Magazine, Writing Disorder, Raconteur, Little Old Lady Comedy and Beneath Strange Stars.
Buy link: mybook.to/edgeofsundown