Before the Dawn
Lindsey Fairleigh & Lindsey Pogue
(The Ending #4)
Publication date: November 20th 2015
Genres: New Adult, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance
A year ago, the Virus killed off most people in the world.
A year ago, strange things started happening to those who survived. Some of them transformed into something dark and sinister, while others evolved, becoming something more, something beyond human.
A year ago, Dani and Zoe were lost. They traversed the country to find one another, losing some of the people dearest to them along the way. They fought for their right to simply live, uncovered long-buried secrets, and discovered irreversible truths. And after everything Dani and Zoe have been through—even with the battle wounds that they bear—they’re still not safe.
It’s time for the struggling to end, for survivors to take back their lives, their families, their safety. It’s time to really begin to live, and to do that, they must wait for the first rays of dawn.
For three hours, I’d been sitting at the dining room table, my sketchpad washed in the baleful color of late morning that shone through the narrow windows, overlooking what appeared to be a deserted farm. Everyone was hiding indoors, dehydrating food, wrenching, painting, and—in Annie’s case—playing with kitties, all sheltered from the sudden downpour.
Hearing the creak of the front door opening, I looked up. Tavis stepped inside, rain dripping off his coat as he leaned forward and peered into the dining room at me, his feet planted firmly on the welcome mat.
“Hey,” I said, folding my arms in front of me.
Tavis smiled, his warm, customary greeting. “Morning.” But even in his natural, easy air, there was something about the way he looked at me that made even the slightest linger of his gaze and the quickest glance seem like something more. I could’ve pried, could’ve peeked and prodded, but I was a little too hesitant to learn the reason.
“You seen our animal whisperer anywhere? We’ve got a horse with colic out here. We could use her Ability.” Tavis pointed to his head.
His facial expressions always made me laugh, and I couldn’t help but smile back at him as I glanced outside. Darker clouds approached quickly from the west. “She’s out with Jason,” I said, “foraging. Hopefully they’ll be home soon.”
“Ah, foraging,” he said with a wink. “Got it.” And then he was out the door, and I watched as he strode back toward the stable.
I took a sip of lukewarm coffee, settling back into work mode, and let out a sigh as I stared down at the start of my second blueprint of the day. I tapped my charcoal pencil on the tabletop and glanced between Jason’s hasty, ill-proportioned sketch and my own, hoping I was interpreting his floorplans for the new smokehouse accurately. I’d gotten quite good at looking past his scribbled letters and numbers, relying mostly on the arrows and the drawing itself to help me decipher the rest.
Footsteps creaking overhead and feminine laughter were followed by a muffled “You wish, buddy” that floated down the stairs of the otherwise silent house. No wonder Harper had been so anxious to rearrange the infirmary. Chris laughed again, a sound I’d been hearing more and more frequently over the months. My eyebrow rose of its own accord, and I reached for the mug beside my sketchpad. A contented smile splayed my lips as I appreciated the happy routine we’d all seemed to fall into, gloomy weather or no.
After draining the contents of my mug, I absently set it aside, deciding the beams in the smokehouse roof needed to be closer together if they were going to support the wide—
An ear-piercing cry rolled in with the distant rumble of thunder.
Eyes narrowed and heartbeat thrumming, I jumped to my feet and gazed through the window at the gravel drive. Opening my mind, I felt Dani’s desperation and anguish before I even saw her.
“—shot!” With hair matted from the rain and her clothes drenched, Dani sprinted clumsily up the driveway, her eyes wide with terror. “He’s been shot!
Q&A with Lindsey Pogue & Lindsey Fairleigh
1. What inspired The Ending series?
LP (Lindsey Pogue): We were both working at a bookstore a few years ago, and we were on our way home from a tradeshow in Oakland. I think we were high from the smell of new books or something because we were giddy and started chatting about writing and stories and it bloomed from there. We started brainstorming characters and story arcs, and before we knew it, we had Zoe and Dani outlined and a title for our project.
LF (Lindsey Fairleigh): Yeah, we had the entire premise set up by the time we parted ways that evening.
2. What motivated you to write a post-apocalyptic romance series? Have you always been science fiction fans?
LP: Romance fan, yes! Science fiction…not so much. My dad was a sci-fi reader when I was growing up, so I was surrounded by books with spaceships and laser guns on the cover. I assumed that was all the science fiction genre consisted of. Clearly, I was wrong. When LF and I first started The Ending project, I wanted to write and embrace my creativity. Our collaboration was going to be that outlet for me so I committed myself, not caring what the genre was. Since then, I’ve started to read more dystopian novels and am fascinated with the intricacy of some of the more epic science fiction storylines.
LF: I, on the other hand, have always been a fantasy and science fiction fan. My love of romantic themes didn’t develop until later, but now I find myself losing interest in a book if it doesn’t include at least a little romance or sexual tension. As for our motivation to write a new adult post-apocalyptic romance series—we both love YA books like Divergent, Shatter Me, and Hunger Games, and wanted to create something similar, just with more adult themes.
3. How much of the series is realistic?
LP: Although our book is fiction, we tried to make it as realistic as possible. We did as much research as we could before taking our own creative licenses and adding things into our post-apocalyptic world that might not have been there otherwise. Overall, we try to keep the reader engaged and constantly thinking “what if”.
LF: There were a few “real world” things that we tweaked for the sake of the storyline, possibly the most obvious being that the internet stays up for a few weeks after almost everyone is dead, but we stuck with it because of the way the project originated. In the beginning, the entire thing was epistolary–it was all written in the form of emails between Dani and Zoe. We changed that, thankfully, but felt the need to retain the email communications because they were the original heart of the story–everything else formed around them.
4. How would you describe Dani?
LF: Dani is definitely someone who proves that first impressions can be misleading. She’s a tiny redhead with a feisty personality to match her fiery hair, and if you don’t spend much time getting to know her, she seems silly and a little flighty. But, as we learn throughout After The Ending and Into The Fire, this is simply a disguise she’s been wearing since childhood. She fears that if people get to know the real her—the intelligent, thoughtful, independent, and deeply caring person she really is—they’ll reject her. Of course, she doesn’t wear this emotional mask around her best bud, Zoe…and therefore not around Zoe’s older brother, Jason, either…making them some of the few people who know the real Dani.
5. How would you describe Zoe?
LP: Zoe is…complicated. She’s in her own head a lot, stands in her own way, and is loyal to a fault when it comes to Dani—the one consistent person she’s ever had in her life—so she clings to their friendship above all else. But on the flipside, she’s also extremely passionate and determined, which in the end, will help her rediscover herself in the new world of The Ending. We see her growing a bit stronger in book two, Into The Fire, but it’s book three where the readers will really get to know Zoe Cartwright.
6. Do you have any advice for writers?
LP: Go with your gut and keep in mind that you will NEVER please everyone—the latter is something I’m coming to terms with during this process.
LF: Put your manuscript aside for a month or two—like lock it away in a safe and don’t peek at it even once—and then when you look at it again, you’ll have all these new ideas for improving it. I know a ton of people have already said it, like Steven King, but there’s a reason–they’re right!
7. What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?
LP: Not everyone writes the same, has the same imagination, or shares the same work habits. Find what works for you and embrace it. Try not to compare yourself to other authors because it’s exhausting and your quirks are what make you unique.
LF: Write for you…the only way you’ll know if other people like (or hate) your words is if you write them down. And yes, no matter what, some people will hate them.
8. What made you first decide to become a writer?
LP: It has always been easier for me to write down how I feel as opposed to communicating it to someone aloud. I started writing in journals at a very young age and inevitably my ideas, dreams, and life experiences starting turning into more than that. Little bits and pieces of my observations and of my life turned into story lines, and soon fictional characters and plots began to develop until I had so many story ideas that I had to invest in cases of floppy disks (yes, real plastic floppy disks) to save all my stories onto. I’ve been writing so long that as I go back now and read through some of my stories from ten years ago, I can’t help but laugh because they are so horrible.
LF: I think it goes back to the fact that I tend to spend half of my life in some other, completely fictitious world. I loved the worlds and characters that other people created so much that they almost seemed real to me. And, without meaning to, I started to create my own imaginary worlds and my own imaginary people…but they only lived in my mind. To make them more “real” I needed to write their stories, to describe their worlds on paper. Once I started, it was like everything slipped into place. Writing just feels…right.
9. What is one thing you hope readers will take away from this series?
LP: I’d like the readers to consider this our interpretation of the humanistic side of things. I think we provide a pretty realistic picture of what life would be like after The Ending (maybe minus all the hot guys running around). Yes, Zoe and Dani are in their twenties, but that’s young and they’re alone, and the world as they know it is ripped out from under them. There is so much for them to process, and they are scared and grasping for any sense of normalcy they can find. For them, sometimes that means crying too much, distracting themselves with men, and making poor or rash decisions. Are they acting immature? Maybe, but unrealistic would be having them pick up a rifle and start blasting people without a second thought. Our heroines have a lot of maturing to do throughout the series, so partially I think we wanted to show Dani and Zoe as they were prior to The Ending, and as the series progresses, how they grow.
LF: Hmmm…maybe that the apocalypse doesn’t have to be entirely about death and sadness. That’s not to say that those things aren’t present throughout the books–I think Dani and Zoe have emotional and mental breakdowns nearly every other chapter–but we really wanted to highlight the undeniable power of hope, love, and friendship. For Dani and Zoe, a life without those things would have been only a half-life.
10. When will The Ending Series be made into a movie?
LP: I think I speak on behalf of both of us when I say that as much as we would LOVE to have The Ending Series turned into a movie or show, it’s not something that’s necessarily up to us. It’s been our experience that producers approach authors, not the other way around. And we aren’t out there pitching a screenplay to anyone at this point in time. Plus there’s always the fear that once the rights to your work are sold to someone, you have no control over what they will do with those rights. Many books get picked up by movie studios but nothing ever comes of it, so you’ve sold the rights to your book that you can’t get back for years, if you can ever get them back again. BUT, even with all of that being said, we would love the see the world of The Ending on the screen, to see it more developed and explored and our characters in action. The idea of having the series turned into an AMC or HBO series would be our dream come true. We wouldn’t scoff at a movie, either, but there’s just so much that can be done with the story, a TV or mini series would be able to dive in more and would be our ideal choice. We shall see what happens…
LF: What she said! All of it is dead on, which makes sense because this is something we talk about with each other A LOT. I mean, how could we not? What author wouldn’t love to see their creation come to life? I’d be ecstatic to have the chance to see how someone else interprets our world and characters, but…I’d also be scared. Because, you know, what if it’s all wrong?! That being said, I’d be way more ecstatic and excited than I would be scared, so, yeah. 🙂
11. What projects, if any, are you both going to work on together? Will they be in the world of The Ending?
LF: LP and I have three Ending projects planned down the pipeline – two that are much more immediate and one that’s definitely a several years out project, as we’d like to develop our other, separate projects and grow individually as writers and creators. The two more immediate projects are titled The Ending Series: World Before and The Ending Series: World After, and both are story collections featuring our favorite Ending Series characters, but not focused solely on Dani and Zoe.
LP: The stories in World Before will take place prior to the Virus outbreak–five, ten, maybe even twenty years before in some cases. The stories in World After will be continuation stories that take place after The Ending Series book four. Depending on the characters we choose to write about, their stories could take place months or maybe even years after Before The Dawn. As for the third project, that will be a ways out, as LF mentioned, but we’ve left the world of The Ending open for many possibilies. 🙂
12. What made you both choose this type of story?
LP: If my memory serves correctly, the type of story was LF’s idea. She’d been playing around with a dystopian, post-apocalypse idea for a while. Maybe not for an actual book, but a project around two friends and their communication during such a cataclysmic event. Clearly, it turned into much more, but that’s the spark that lit the fire, so to speak.
LF: Yep, that’s pretty much right. I’m not sure where I got the idea, but it had definitely been rolling around in my head for a little while. Maybe it was because I’d been away from my own hometown for several years at that point, and I was feeling the distance that can develop between friends even in our uber-connected age. What might it be like if we didn’t have cell phones, etc? I was curious, so LP and I explored the idea together…and voila! Dani and Zoe sprang to life. 🙂
13. Have you both enjoyed writing them?
LP: I can easily say that without LF I probably would never have dove head first into the writing world, or I should say publishing world. Writing is one thing, but turning it into something that hundreds–maybe thousands–of people have the potential to see is taking a passion for writing to a whole other level. It was amazing embarking on this journey with someone, and I know I will never regret it, as long as I live.
LP: Yes! Word! Precisely! Writing is hard and painful at times, and putting our story out there was terrifying…and sometimes VERY painful. But the hard times were minimized by sharing this journey together, that’s for sure. Aaaaand, the good times, the joys and successes and holy-sh!ts, felt so much bigger because there was always someone else who was just as invested, just as excited. Writing the Ending Series has been highly enjoyable…writing it together has only made it more so.
14. Your characters feel like real people to me, are any of them based on people you know?
LP: Ha! Not really, though there are aspects of people I know that are sprinkled throughout Zoe and “her” characters. There are some aspects of my fiance in Jake, mostly because his characteristics felt natural to write having known him for over 10 years, and Harper is the best guy friend I always wanted–Morgan from Criminal Minds. I can’t think of any others….
LF: Nope! Just people I know in my head…
15. Did you start writing from an early age? What are your inspirations?
LF: I didn’t, but I know LP did. I was more of a voracious bookworm.
LP: I did start writing at an early age, and I think it was a coping mechanism for me. Life and puberty was difficult for me, especially in high school so it helped to have an outlet, so to speak. My life is pretty much normal now, but writing is a way I can experience living through someone else’s eyes–in another world with people I find fascinating and going on adventures I wouldn’t otherwise have. I can research things I would never learn about otherwise, and just have fun. Although writers say this a lot, it’s true: being out in the world, living everyday life in the presence of others is where I get my inspiration. People’s losses, their conflicts, the things that make them smile…there’s nothing like going to a funeral or witnessing a couple making up in a public place to bring you back to humanity and the way people interact.
16. Where did you come up with the idea for each “disease”?
LP: I’ll let LF take this one. She was the brains behind this. There was a day-long note and study session at the library that helped us move things along, but the Virus lives inside her head. I’m still fact-checking with her to make sure certain things work and make sense.
LF: Oh my gosh, this part was hard! I guess you could say we reverse engineered the virus. We decided on the “rules” – that some people would be affected differently than others (Abilities vs “Crazies”). I created some psuedo-science and mixed it together with modern genetics and came up with a type of gene therapy delivered to the patient/victim via a flu virus. It makes sense, you see. Because science. Sort of…
Lindsey Fairleigh lives her life with one foot in a book—as long as that book transports her to a magical world or bends the rules of science. Her novels, from post-apocalyptic to time travel and historical fantasy, always offer up a hearty dose of unreality, along with plenty of adventure and romance. When she’s not working on her next novel, Lindsey spends her time reading and trying out new recipes in the kitchen. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her two very confused cats.
Lindsey Pogue has always been a little creative. As a child she established a bug hospital on her elementary school soccer field, wrote her first YA manuscript in high school, and as an adult, expresses herself through writing. Her novels are inspired by her observations of the world
around her—whether she’s traveling, people watching, or hiking. When not plotting her next storyline or dreaming up new, brooding characters, Lindsey’s wrapped in blankets watching her favorite action flicks or going on road trips with her own leading man.