Thanks for inviting me to hang out on your blog today. So many readers have asked my why, after writing four contemporary young adult romance novels, I decided to write a dystopian trilogy. This goes along with the age old question—where do you get your ideas?
For lack of a clear answer, most writers will say, “My ideas come from the dark recesses of my warped imagination,” or “I pull them out of thin air.” The reason for the short answer is that we really don’t know. Ideas are as intangible as a breeze, and sometimes just as fleeting. But if you can capture them, discover their true essence, and bring them to life on the page, you will find what all storytellers find…a desire to share an intimate and soul-deep part of themselves with the world.
Everything I see and do brings story ideas to mind or introduces me to new characters I want to write about. Life is full of interesting people and exciting scenarios at every turn if you’re willing to see beyond the surface and let your imagination run wild. Observation and experience are the fodder for every novelist and every story starts with the question…what if? From there, it’s as simple and as complicated as letting the characters in your head tell you their story.
After many discussions with neighbors and friends about “end of the world” scenarios, the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael Trilogy came to me fully formed with the questions, “What if I was a healer in a world where killing to survive became a necessity? Could I overcome my true nature to save myself or to save the ones I loved?” That question became Lily’s main internal conflict and the overall arc of her journey from the beginning to the end of the trilogy. Each book brought her closer to discovering that answer.
I never saw myself as a sci-fi/fantasy fan, so writing in that genre was a huge step outside of my comfort zone, but Lily’s story, regardless of the time period and setting, is still about a teenager trying to find her place in the world while negotiating the twists and turns of falling in love for the first time. That concept is at the heart of YA Romance whether set in 2015 or 2057. I went out on a ledge switching genres and tackling the daunting process of writing a dystopian trilogy, but it was worth it. I loved Lily’s journey, and as with all of my stories, I learned a lot about myself along the way.
Have you ever stepped out of your comfort zone with your writing, or tried something totally out of character for you?
The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy Book 1
In the year 2057, in a post-apocalyptic world where a polar shift threatens the survivors of a widespread pandemic with extinction, sixteen-year-old genetically enhanced Lily Carmichael has more immediate problems. Her uncle is dying of cancer and her healing abilities are ineffective against the blood ties that bind them. In order to find a cure, Lily must leave the protection of her quiet town and journey to the trading city of Albany, all while avoiding the Industry, an agency that would like nothing better than to study and exploit her abilities.
Seventeen-year-old Will Callahan has been searching for his father since severe storms blasted through the Midwest, killing his mother and sister. When he learns that his father may be in the city, he catches a ride with Lily, a girl who has come to his rescue more than once. As the two embark on a dangerous journey, the tension between them grows. But the secrets Will’s keeping could put Lily in far more danger than traveling to the city with him, and if he was any kind of man, he would have told her to run the minute she found him.
The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy Book 2
WESTERN DESERT, Book Two in The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy, takes off where WANING MOON ends. Genetically enhanced sixteen-year-old Lily Carmichael, and seventeen-year-old Will Callahan embark on a journey across a sun-ravaged and decimated US in the year 2057, bound for the Western Desert on a dangerous rescue mission. The survivors they meet along the way put Lily’s healing abilities to the test and challenge Will’s resolve to find his missing father—no matter the cost. But even with the burden of life and death on their shoulders, and the Industry hot on their trail, the greatest challenge they face is trusting their hearts to each other.
The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy Book 3
Healing Waters, book three in the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael, a young adult dystopian trilogy, picks up with sixteen-year-old genetically enhanced Lily Carmichael and friends in the midst of a daring escape from Las Vegas.
In this final installment, Lily faces her ultimate challenge. After a failed rescue attempt, and no home to return to, Lily and Will reunite to join with her uncle and his Network of rebels, taking on Vice President Malevich and his army of agents, drones, and Guardians. With Malevich systematically enslaving the city-dwellers who depend on the New Government for their survival—he’s made it clear he will eliminate anyone who stands in his way.
Leading the rebellion while staying one step ahead of the Industry, takes Lily, Will, and their friends, on a harrowing journey from the desert southwest to the new Capitol in Chicago, where they’ll face a fight to the death. But Lily’s greatest gift—her driving instinct to heal and protect—may also be her greatest enemy. As Lily’s abilities grow, can she do what it takes to save humanity, while taking down the madman bent on destroying it?
Excerpt from WANING MOON
The sound of water caught my attention. “The sewer!”
Will understood immediately. “After you,” he said letting me go and then limping toward the storm drain. Water ran down through the holes of a large sewer grate.
We both groaned as we lifted the heavy iron cover. I dropped down into the icy churning water, sucking in a breath while Will climbed down the ladder. He paused, grunting as he pulled the heavy cover in place behind him.
Just in time. We heard rushing footsteps overhead, voices loud and angry. Will and I exchanged a look and then turned toward the dark tunnel. Will’s hand slipped into mine as he took the lead. “Stay with me. Don’t let go.”
I let him pull me forward. The water deepened as we dragged ourselves along. The sound of rushing water ahead had me backing up against the current. “This is not a good idea.”
Will tugged me by the hand, wincing in pain. “It’s the only way out. Trust me. It’ll be all right.”
“Trust you? That’s a joke, right?”
“Can we fight later?”
Before I could argue, a wave of turbulent water rushed in from a connecting pipe, and swept us off our feet. Will’s hand tightened around mine and we dropped abruptly downward. As the slope steepened, the water picked up speed. Darkness and the stench of sewage overwhelmed my senses. I prayed a quick prayer that the end of the tunnel was near. What I worried for next was how far of a fall it would be to the murky waters of the Hudson below when we reached it.
Another rapid decent shot my stomach to my throat and Will’s hand pulled free. “Noooo!”
But the thunderous roar of the cascading waterfall swallowed the sound of my scream. It launched us into the darkening horizon like a torpedo, and then dumped us thirty feet into the icy roiling waters of the Hudson River.
With my arms and legs flailing, I hit the water hard and was immediately plunged into the freezing depths. I kicked for the surface, but the water pummeled me back down. My breath escaped me and panic set in, but my will to survive made me kick and claw my way under the thick debris until I hit something solid.
Dragging myself to the surface, I took great gulps of air as I clung to the roots of a tree sticking out of the embankment next to a bridge. I held tight while water rushed by. Will was nowhere to be seen. My chest ached as I choked out water. Finally, I managed to crawl up the roots of the tree and roll myself onto solid ground.
I lay there looking up at the night sky, my breath ragged. The lights of the city dimmed the shimmer of scattered stars, and a dark haze of clouds threatening rain snaked across the full moon. At least that meant no one would be on the streets. When my head stopped spinning, I sat up and scanned the river. My heart took another plunge. A body lay motionless a little further down the embankment under the bridge.
Slipping along the muddy hillside, I made my way to where Will had washed up on shore. When I reached him, I dropped to one knee and felt for a pulse in his neck. A wave of relief ran through me.
I shook him gently. “Wake up, Will.” His eyes fluttered open. A small dimple appeared in one cheek.
“I told you everything would be all right.”
I wanted to punch him, but then I realized how close I’d come to losing him. I helped him sit up. “What now, oh wise one?”
He grinned at my sarcasm. “We get the hell out of here, that’s what. They’ll be looking for us for sure. We need to catch a boat down river and get as far away from Albany as we can.”
In spite of my desire to heal the deep purple bruises on his face and the ribs I knew to be cracked, my better judgment told me to cut my losses then and there. “I think now is the time we part ways,” I said. I couldn’t leave Albany without Sam’s medicine, and Will was a liability I couldn’t afford. Not only was he in no shape to be pulling off a robbery, I clearly couldn’t trust him as far as I could drag him.
Award winning author of young adult books, Massage Therapist, Personal Trainer, and Yogi, PJ Sharon has been called “a powerhouse of positivity and productivity.” Her mantra is “find balance in all things, and live every day to the fullest.” A black belt in the art of Shaolin Kempo Karate, avid kayaker, and singer of Italian art songs, PJ has two grown sons and lives with her brilliant engineer husband in the Berkshire Hills of Western MA where she writes YA…because every teen deserves a hopefully ever after.