I am honored to have on my blog today
and her book Into the Outside
About the Author
Conferences and Workshops:
October 2003: Children’s Authors’ Bootcamp in Newton Mass, held annually by Laura Backes and Linda Arms White.
June 2004: 8th Annual SCBWI Upstate NY Conference for Writers & Illustrators, Poughkeepsie, NY
April 2005: NE SCBWI 2005 Conference, Nashua, NH
April 2006: NE SCBWI 2006 Conference, Nashua, NH
April 2008: NE SCBWI 2008 Conference, Nashua, NH
June 2011: The Copywriter’s Workshop, Rockhurst Univ. Continuing Education Dept, New York, NY
Middle grade fiction novel, The Forgotten Isle, published in November 2011 by CreateSpace (ISBN: 9-7814-6620232-0), 132 pages. This historical fantasy story plunges 12 year old Arthur, future king of the Britons, into the Bronze Age where he must help keep a small city in Ireland from being destroyed by evil invaders. Illustrated by Noa Chaikin.
Into the Outside, YA novel. Fifty years ago the Earth died. In its place emerges a dangerous jungle world with oddly altered wildlife and a handful of short-lived mutated humans. Below ground, survivors wait. 16-year-old Isabella has grown up believing mutants are sub-human, stupid and would eat every shelter person if they had the chance until a chance encounter with 17-year-old mutant tribe leader Malcolm. His ebony skin, straw-colored hair, rippling muscles, 4 fingers on one hand and 6 on the other captivate her. Night after night she sneaks out in her grandfather’s safety suit until he locks it up. Isabella must choose between the safety of the shelter that is her entire world and facing the dangers Outside if she is to save the mutants and the man she loves from extermination. Into the Outside (working title at the time was Out of Ewr) placed in the top 250 of 5000 entries in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest.
Into the Yellow Zone, sequel to Into the Outside. A month after leaving her underground shelter with the passing mutant tribe, 16-year-old Isabella, her new husband Leon, two young tribe members plus two little children, seek the mad scientist Telemark Village’s priestess saw in her visions. Is he looking for a vaccine to keep humans from suffering the ravages of their poisoned world? Or are Aradia’s visions merely hallucinations born of her mutated mind? Meanwhile Luke, Isabella’s cousin-brother chases after the group, desperately trying to find them to deliver medication that can save them from a disease they don’t even know they have contracted. But Luke isn’t just delivering meds… he has knowledge of a sadistic government plan that will help clean up their toxic and irradiated world, but at a tremendous cost to mutants. (Approx Word 85,000-90,000)
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Into the Outside
by Lynda Engler and Henry Dixon
Genre: YA post-apocalyptic science fiction romance
Word Count: 69,542.
Into the Outside is a thought provoking YA post-apocalyptic science fiction romance, set in a world that projects vivid imagery and conveys powerful emotions that draws the reader in and rivets his attention.
Fifty years ago the Earth died. In its place emerges a dangerous jungle world with oddly altered wildlife and a handful of short-lived mutated humans. Below ground, survivors wait. 16-year-old Isabella has grown up believing mutants are sub-human, stupid and would eat every shelter person if they had the chance until a chance encounter with 17-year-old mutant tribe leader Malcolm. His ebony skin, straw-colored hair, rippling muscles, 4 fingers on one hand and 6 on the other captivate her. Night after night she sneaks out in her grandfather’s safety suit until he locks it up. Isabella must choose between the safety of the shelter that is her entire world and facing the dangers Outside if she is to save the mutants and the man she loves from extermination.
“Into the Outside” is a short story, and the basis for the author’s upcoming novel, coming in 2014.
SYNOPSIS: Into the Outside
99.9% of humanity died fifty years ago, when the old world ended. The Earth is now a fertile but dangerous jungle world. Wildlife has prospered although often in oddly altered forms. Survivors live in underground shelters waiting generations for the environment to become safe enough to emerge. Above ground, the radiation and poison has mutated the few humans that are left, but they do their best to survive for the 20 to 22 years they might live before the toxic planet or disease kills them.
16-year-old Isabella has grown up believing mutants are sub-human, stupid and would eat every shelter person if they had the chance, until she spies a wandering mutant tribe through the glass bottom swimming pool that is her shelter’s only light source. Isabella is fascinated by them, but it’s their 17-year-old leader, Malcolm, who truly captivates her – ebony skin, straw-colored hair, rippling muscles, four fingers on one hand and six on the other. Night after night she sneaks out of her shelter to watch the tribe, dressed in her grandfather’s chemical/radiation suit. When Malcolm discovers her, they are wary of each other at first but eventually become friends and then lovers. Isabella finally leaves the safety of her shelter to follow Malcolm into the perilous Outside.
Isabella knows the government plans to exterminate the mutants once it is safe for the shelter-folk to come Outside, and she expects radiation and disease, but no one in the tribe is prepared for cannibals!
Isabella’s family mourns for their lost daughter, knowing that she will die Outside, but Grandfather refuses to search for her. Even if they found her, he knows that she will not return without the mutants, and he will not allow them into the shelter. But everything changes when her brother, Luke, learns of Colonel Ericssen’s deadly plan for the mutants. Luke defies their grandfather and leaves the shelter to track down Isabella and warn her of the threat she knows nothing about. But he is no more prepared for the dangers Outside than she is. Hunted and finally captured by the military, Luke must escape their grasp, find Isabella, and save her life.
Battling the cannibal Eaters, taking on orphan children and trying to convince mutant tribes about the dangers they must prepare for makes Isabella question her decision to leave her shelter. She dreamed of making a difference in the lives of those Outside, but now she isn’t certain has the courage and strength do it.
Lynda Engler, co-author of “Into the Outside,”
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in New Jersey, spent 22 years in Connecticut and now make Vermont my home. I live in the scenic northern part of the state with my family and one ADD yellow lab (ADD=Attention Deficit Dog). My first book, The Forgotten Isle, 2003, started as a school project with my son Colin but then morphed into a novel for Middle Grade readers. The concept for Into the Outside has been around since about 2005, and the novel – along with its sequel – have been floating around in my head since then. As my kids got older, I moved from MG to YA. I have always loved sci-fi and everything I write has always, and will always, have some sci-fi in it.
2. Can you tell us about the characters in your book?
Into the Outside has two main characters: Isabella and Malcolm. Isabella is a 16 year old Shelter Girl, and she’s full of spunk and sarcasm. She’s also caring, smart and able to see past her own fears. I wanted her to be fearless at first, but as Isabella formed as a character, she gained fears: terrible fears of all the awful things in the world. But she doesn’t let those fears stop her from accomplishing what she sets out to do.
Malcolm is the leader of his mutant tribe and becomes the love of Isabella’s life. He’s a character that actually came to me in a dream. Physically he’s probably a combination of Will Smith, the Hulk, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon and probably the product of a few too much spicy food before bed, but Malcolm is probably also my favorite character. He’s tall, black as midnight, has straw colored hair and mismatched number of fingers on his hands. He’s emotionally strong too; he has to be. But Malcolm is also a loving caring father, responsible for his whole tribe, a responsibility that comes naturally to him and he’s also a lot smarter than he thinks he is.
3. How do you come up with the characters names?
I have a list of keep of really cool names I’ve thought of, dreamt of, heard, or just made up. Seriously. I’m a list keeper. But Isabella’s name just came to me because she is of Italian heritage (as so much of NJ is!) and I must have heard the name somewhere early in life and it stuck. It’s a beautiful name. Malcolm on the other hand was much harder to name. He actually went through three name changes. In the end, my co-author Henry came up with it and it fit the character so well that it stuck.
4. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
First, learn about the publishing world, and then keep learning because it changes all the time. I was lucky because I began my career straight out of college working for a national book store chain (yes kids, there used to be STORES that sold physical books!) Learn about what editors and publishers want. Learn about writing; this is where spelling DOES count… and grammar, and tense, and punctuation, and word order. All those rules your English teachers tried to teach you… PLEASE learn them. A great plot with awesome characters will NOT make a good book if it’s badly written.
Second, read everything you can. Don’t even think about becoming a writer if you haven’t spent your lifetime being a reader. Read in and out of your genre. Read the top sellers because your manuscript will be compared to those. Read the Classics – ok read SOME of the Classics. Some are just awful. I’m sorry but some of the “great” books are unreadable in this day and age. Don’t get me started on the Classics that I hated.
5. Do you have a specific time during the day that you find better to write?
I’m a morning person. I wake up with all thrusters firing in my brain, but not the rest of my body, so sitting at a computer works best for me. I also like the early morning hours before the rest of the house is awake. Often I think of things for my novels while sleeping; No one has figured out a means of dream-writing yet, but someday maybe I can hook electrodes to my brain and write while I’m sleeping. Until then, I’ll stick with mornings.
6. Is writing your full time job? If not what do you do?
My degree is in Marketing and I’ve always worked in the field. I would love to be a full time writer, but financially it’s not in the cards. I have bills to pay. Besides paying the bills, my career has given me a lot of expertise in dealing with sales, promotion, advertising, vendors, buyers, creating websites, graphic design, finances, social media, and handling people in general. Being a world-famous writer who is also a recluse and never leaves her house isn’t for me. My books may take place in invented worlds, but my characters have their feet grounded firmly in reality.
7. When you read what format do you prefer to read in (Paper/Hard Cover or E-reader)?
Kindle baby, all the way. I still have a library of hardcover and paperback books in my house, way too many and collecting way too much dust. But the Kindle has saved my eyes. My house also didn’t come with a maid so dusting all the paper that I’ve accumulated over the years gets a bit time consuming and there is much sneezing and complaining going on while it happens. So now everything I read comes via Kindle or Audible. I have a long commute so audio books have been another great means of consuming the written word for me. I’m always reading.
8. Can you share a little of your current work with my readers?
So far we’ve only published the preview version of Into the Outside. Call it a short story if you want but it’s really just a tease. We haven’t even bothered to have printed copies made… only Kindle, Kobo, Nook, and Smashwords. But it’s ready to show to publishers and agents. Meanwhile I’ve been working on its sequel for about two years. Into the Yellow Zone continues the story of Isabella and Malcolm as they get captured by the military and taken to Mt. Weather, the underground complex that houses what’s left of the government, including the mutants that they have captured and are “using” … but no spoilers on that. The second novel also spends a lot more time on Luke’s side of the adventure. Luke is Isabella’s cousin-brother who sets off during the first novel to find her and warn her about what the government’s plans for the mutants.
I’ve got about ¾ of it done; once I’m nearer to completing it, my co-author Henry Dixon will start helping me get it polished. He’s never considered himself a writer, but he is absolutely fantastic at “polishing.” He is the one who keeps asking “why” and “what about…” and finding logically flaws. He also fixes my genetic problem with word order. Without Henry my writing wouldn’t be worth sharing.
9. If you can recommend one book for someone to read what would it be?
The best book I’ve read in years is The Martian by Andy Weir. It’s the near-future story of the 3rd manned mission to Mars, supposed to last about a month, but on Sol 6 everything goes wrong and the team is ordered to bug out. But astronaut Mark Watney, presumed dead, is left behind. The story of how Watney stays alive for years until NASA can send rescue is absolutely fantastic. Weir’s writing is sharp, funny and irreverent, and the story seems to get all the technical details right, as least as far as I could tell, with just the right amount of geekery. I would recommend this not only to science fiction readers but to anyone interested in a fun, thrilling, seat-of-your-pants exciting novel. I confess I listened to this one on audio … again that long commute thing… and that I listened to it twice. I’ve heard they want to make it into a movie, but since all the scenes of Watney are done in first-person log-entry style, the movie would have to use voice-over narration of the stranded lone man on Mars to do it justice. I won’t vote for a movie… just read the book. Or listen to the audio – the narrator of the story adds so much to this impressively geeky debut novel.
Thank you for stopping by my blog today to check out this amazing author and her book!
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