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What Post-Apocalyptic Societies Really Look Like

8 Jan

When we think of post-apocalyptic worlds many of us envision alien invasions, zombie infections and bloodthirsty vampires. But post-apocalyptic doesn’t have to come in the form of the fantastical and other- worldly, it can be much more insidious.  When we look around the world we see many post-apocalyptic societies. Societies at war, suffering from lack, famine and oppression. And even within the borders of the United States, it can seem that a dystopian like state is upon us. Bankrupt cities and homes with no running water or electricity are more common than many Americans imagine.  The collapse of the real estate industry left many American towns littered with abandoned homes, filled with the newly homeless and freshly minted poor. We got a taste of what it feels like when a system collapses. But what happens when one too many systems collapse? What happens when systemic collapse reaches a tipping point? When I wrote New Hope City, I wanted explore a society where nothing quite works the way it’s supposed to, a society where collapse occurs in a creeping fashion, one small failure at a time.  In New Hope City, things seem normal enough, but once you scratch beneath the surface, that’s not quite the case. A story told through the eyes of 14-year-old Sunni Brown, we get a first-hand account of what happens to a human being forced to live in a collapsing society. Let’s take a look several core failures that exist in post-apocalyptic New Hope City:

Culture of Corruption

Like most dystopian societies, in New Hope City corruption is endemic. But it’s not just the police, city officials and the villains that are corrupt. Corruption infects everyone, even those who try to do good. Corruption is like a fast spreading cancer that will completely consume its host if not stopped. In this type of a society a do-gooder might help the poor but only after they fatten their own wallet and belly. In this type of society a parent will exploit their own child. In this type of society, gangsters own the politicians. And it is corruption that ultimately destroys the society.

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Lack of Vision

Societies experiencing a creeping collapse are filled with people who have no vision for the future. They are incapable of preparing for the future because they don’t really believe there is a future for which to prepare.  Every action is about immediate satisfaction. In these types of societies the education of youth is abandoned, infrastructure is never developed and there is no preparation for future generations. In New Hope City many residents give lip service to the future but few truly make an effort to build towards it. Cynicism is a city motto.


Real life post-apocalyptic societies often isolate themselves from the outside world.  Even if they don’t physically erect walls, they may ignore the world around them. They become insular, only concerning themselves with what’s happening within their city, neighborhood or family. In societies in the later stages of collapse, they may even ignore what’s happening right outside their door, instead choosing to focus on themselves and their immediate family.  In New Hope City crime is out of control because no one wants to get involved. No one considers victims of crime their problem. And in some cases they blame crime victims for their own suffering.

DIY Justice

DYI justice, more commonly known as vigilantism, eventually supersedes official law enforcement channels in a collapsed society. The people not completely consumed by corruption may choose vigilantism to get the justice they want but can’t find through normal channels. In New Hope City there is no justice through the police department or the court system.  While the police and court system exist, they don’t function properly. And it’s with this system’s collapse that Sunni Brown’s story begins.

In New Hope City I tell the story of a teenage girl living in a collapsed society and I explore how this post-apocalyptic world impacts her interactions with others and the choices she makes.  New Hope City is a full-length novel written for adults (not YA fiction). While I think the novel is appropriate for mature teens 16 years and older, parental guidance is advised. Available on Kindle, Nook and Kobo. Other formats coming soon.

SunHi Mistwalker writes fiction set in dystopian and post-apocalyptic worlds. Her new novel New Hope City, a dark coming-of-age story set in a post-apocalyptic America, follows the life of Sunni Brown, a teenage girl exploited by sex traffickers who tries to get a fresh start when she meets a disillusioned cop. She is also the author of the science fiction series After The Darkness. Please sign up for the mailing list for receive updates, freebies and special discounts. You can also follow SunHi on Twitter and Facebook.

Happy Holidays! Book Updates

20 Dec

New Hope City is now available on Nook. Other formats are coming soon, including a paperback. Episode 4 of the Science Fiction series is moving along slowly but surely. I’ve been quite exhausted lately so I’ve limited my online time and focused on recuperating and writing. I hope that all of you are enjoying this Holiday season. I look forward to publishing even more books in 2013.


“New Hope City” Is Now Published

29 Nov

I’m excited to let everyone know that the novel “New Hope City” is now published.  “New Hope City” is a full-length novel that’s approximately 230 pages.  It’s a follow-up to the short-story “The Shelter.”

Story Description:

After four years of hellish cruelty in a sex trafficking gang, 14 year old Sunni Brown moves to a southern city mired in poverty and despair. She walks with her head bowed and her shoulders slumped like the world is weighing her down – a real victim of the system as they say. However, something inside her is brewing; she slowly grows angrier and hardened. But when she crosses paths with a disillusioned cop, will her growing hatred, rage and the burning desire for revenge change her from helpless victim to raging vigilante?

Buy “New Hope City” Now

“New Hope City” is part of a triology that follows the life of Sunni Brown. Please join our mailing list to receive notifications about future publications and for the opportunity to receive an ARC (Advanced Readers’ Copy).

Publication Update: Novel Complete

11 Nov

I know I’ve been really quiet lately, but that’s only because I’ve been very busy. The good  news is that I’ve completed the final edits on the novel “New Hope City.”  And once my proofreader completes her read through I will publish the book. We’re looking at publishing the novel this month.  I will be giving out a limited number of ARCS (Advanced Reader Copies) once proofreading is complete. If you would like to receive a copy, please contact me.

In other news, the next “After The Darkness” episode is delayed because of my work on the novel.  It doesn’t look like publication of Episode 4 will happen this month because I don’t have enough time to complete it. So, we’re looking at a December publication date for Episode 4 and then we will return to our normal schedule. I apologize for the delay.

October Update: Novel On Schedule

20 Oct

I just want to give an update to everyone on my progress. The novel is still on schedule for release this Fall. I’ve edited 145 pages and I have about 45 more pages to go. But this little baby is growing. Right now we’re looking at 60,000 words as opposed to 50,000 words and by the time I finish the edits it may be even longer. If you haven’t seen it already here’s the cover designed by Keri Knutson.

If you haven’t already, read the short story prequel “The Shelter.”

Keri also redesigned the covers for the After The Darkness series. The fourth episode in this series will be released by the end of November. Below are the covers she’s already designed.

After The Darkness: Episode 1After The Darkness: Episode 2

I’m Still Here and Busy, But Here’s a Preview of…

9 Oct

I’ve been busy working on the final edit of my novel “New Hope City” and getting the covers redone for the “After The Darkness” series. I have edited 121 pages so far, so I’m making a lot of progress. Here’s a preview of the tweaked blurb for “New Hope City” and below that is a mockup of two of the covers for the “After The Darkness” series.

New Hope City blurb

“After four years of hellish cruelty in a sex trafficking gang, 14 year old Sunni Brown moves to a southern city mired in poverty and despair. Her mom disappears and Sunni must fend for herself. She walks with her head bowed and her shoulders slumped like the world is weighing her down – a real victim of the system as they say. However, something inside her is brewing; she slowly grows angrier and hardened. But when she crosses paths with a disillusioned cop, will her growing hatred, rage and the burning desire for revenge change her from helpless victim to raging vigilante?”

After The Darkness Covers

These covers are not finalized. I’m just giving a little sneak peak so you guys know I’m over here working — that’s the reason I’m so quiet. Keri Knutson is the designer and she’s doing a great job. She will do the covers of all six books in the first season and the compilation.

Novel Cover Reveal: “New Hope City”

26 Sep

Thanks to Keri Knutson at Alchemy Book Covers who created this wonderfully designed cover for my novel “New Hope City.”

“New Hope City,” which is the continuation of Sunni Brown’s story (The Shelter) is scheduled for publication Fall 2012. That’s soon! So sign up for the mailing list so you won’t miss an opportunity to get the novel.

Focusing On Novel: “New Hope City”

19 Sep

The follow up to The Shelter is almost done. I’ve decided to focus most of my energy on finishing the final polish, cover and other administrative tasks so that I can get this baby out on time this Fall.  Please join the mailing list for an opportunity to receive an advance reader’s copy. Also, here’s a free sample:

Long black hair flows behind the thin frame of a teenage girl. As her tattered sneakers slam into the slush covered road, her jeans become sullied with mud. She pumps her fists harder as she tries to run faster, her worn leather satchel hammering against her hip. The boys close in on her. There are six of them. They are fast.  But the fastest, a freckled face boy with blond hair, quickly closes the distance. He reaches out to grab her. She can feel his talon-like fingernails stab at her shoulder. She pumps her arms harder and digs her sneakers into the mud in earnest. Panting heavily, sweat soaking her brow, she comes to a chain linked fence on the edge of the trailer park; but there is no exit, no way to get through. She claws at the fence trying to scale it; but the blond boy’s talons hook onto the hood of her jacket and yank her to the ground. Not more than a few seconds pass before the other boys swarm Sunni as she lies in a dirty mix of mud and snow. Baine lifts his talons, palm jutted out towards his pack of fellow hunters, “Back the fuck off!” The other boys stop, back up, but only slightly, just enough to allow Baine room to bend over and relieve Sunni of her leather satchel and dump its contents onto the ground. Four tins of sardines, a box of saltine crackers and a pair of tiny pink ballerina shoes pour out of the bag and onto the slush covered pavement.

Sunni drags herself backwards and presses her spine into the fence.  Her lips mold into a snarl; but she keeps her angry gaze hidden.  The sound of shuffling feet draws nearer. She lifts her head to find a grinning boy standing shoulder to shoulder with Baine.  Not wanting to look the boy in the eye, she lowers her head slightly and is greeted by the skeletal face of an angry clown resting between the teeth of his jacket zipper.  The zipper teeth widen as the boy extends his arms wide like a circus grandmaster, “Ladies and gentleman….,” circus boy says as if he’s talking to a large audience.

“It look like there some fucking ladies out here?”  Baine interrupts, his freckles turning a fiery red.

Sunni drops her head. She secretly considers herself a lady on good days and despises the entire concept on others.  But the idea of not being considered a lady at all feels humiliating.

Circus boy chuckles, gives a goofy grin and pipes up a correction, “Faggots and gentleman!”

“You saying I hang with fags now?” Baine’s freckles seem to grow into pulsating suns.

Circus boy’s goofy grin disappears. “That ain’t what I meant…,” he says.

Sunni smirks at the conflict.  For a moment it’s as if she is just one of the guys participating in some twisted joke.  But the feeling of normality doesn’t last.  Baine gives circus boy one last nasty look and then squats in front of Sunni. He is so close that Sunni smells the deep musty funk of his unwashed body.  With each breath Sunni takes, her anxiety level rises.  She nervously rubs the silver ring on her middle finger and avoids eye contact as the other boys close in on her from all sides.

Circus boy’s voice lowers to a conspiratorial whisper, “Live and in person…”

Baine plucks a sardine tin from the snow and holds it up for examination. “Who am I?” he asks Sunni.

Circus boy chimes in without missing a beat, “Pimp 007!”

“Shut the fuck up!” Baine presses the edge of the sardine tin into Sunni’s forehead forcing her to lift her gaze. “I want her to answer.”

Sunni’s brow furrows and her lips purse as Baine taps the sardine tin against her forehead…one…two…three times.  Sunni’s eyes shutter closed.

“Look at me!” Baines blares.

Sunni’s eyes open again, narrowed and intense.  “The collector,” she says.

Baine smiles with satisfaction. He shifts the sardine can into her line of sight just as Circus boy steps closer.

“Give her some money,” circus boy says and the other boys hum a collective agreement.

“I ain’t giving her shit,” Baine retorts.  He reaches into his back pocket just as the streetlights flicker on.  “She the one that should be paying…ain’t that right?” He pulls out a switch blade and flicks it open like a seasoned pro.  Sunni focuses on the blade and her breathing grows panicky.  Her eyes shift to the boys as she frantically searches the crowd for a sympathetic face – she finds none.  But wait, there is something.  A glimmer in the eyes of one of the boys?  Barely noticeable, Jin, a thin boy wearing a jacket two sizes too small is partially concealed in the crowd of boys. He wears a stiff smile but his eyes – is that sadness — regret?  Jin notices Sunni watching him so he quickly averts his gaze focusing on the pink ballerina shoes instead.  But Jin isn’t the only one who notices the exchange of glances; Baine locks onto Sunni’s line of sight and his narrowed eyes settle on Jin, placing the boy in the spotlight.  Baine’s smile is a hybrid of a snarl and a grin as he speaks, “You got a fan.” Baine’s declaration doesn’t stop Sunni’s staring.  She continues to look, hoping to see those sympathetic eyes again; but Jin only lifts his gaze momentarily for fear of what it might reveal.   Irked by the silent exchange of glances, Baine presses the cold blade into Sunni’s neck – carefully. “He ain’t the one you owing,” he says.

Sunni lifts her chin and swallows hard as the cold steel presses against her skin.  She can feel its sharp edge threatening to slice her neck wide open and she can sense that Baine’s threat is no empty bluff. She wiggles her right leg; but keeps her gaze trained on Baine’s intense eyes. “My shoe,” she says, her voice just as shaky as her hands.

With a tilt of his head Baine orders circus boy to take off Sunni’s shoe.  The boy complies and discovers a fold of dollar bills and some change.  He counts it.  “Three dollars,” circus boy says.

“That ain’t enough.” Baine removes the blade from Sunni’s neck. “Take off your coat,” he says as he slides the blade across her coat collar.  Sunni’s foot is already stinging from the winter cold; so she hesitates.  Getting another coat would be tough. Her chipped fingernails lightly scratch at the zipper; but she’s no closer to disrobing.

I can’t wait to share the entire novel with you. Please join the mailing list to be notified of the release date.

The Darker Side Of Childhood

19 Apr

When I wrote “The Shelter” I was terrified of writing something that would offend a lot of people.  But then my old writing mentor’s words rang in my ear, “Bleed on the page!”  Bleeding on the page is when a writer creates something without censoring themselves. And it is in this spirit of non-censorship that I wrote “The Shelter.”  Why was I initially afraid of my own words? Well the truth is that  so much of today’s dystopian fiction chooses to avoid tough issues around growing up, especially when it comes to issues concerning girls. Issues like poverty, sexism and sexual exploitation are often avoided or treated in such a way that the end result can only be compared to magical thinking. Because of this I knew that my story might be viewed as extreme.

Last Spring I was reading a YA novel that’s been compared to Hunger Games, while the book was well written I found myself unable to continue reading. Why? Well, some of the storyline just did not ring true for me. How can you have a dystopian story about a teen girl living in an oppressive society who is jailed by a brutal ruling class; but she doesn’t even face the threat of sexual assault? I know that it’s YA literature and you don’t want to depict graphic upsetting images; but come on let’s be real here.  I’m not saying that every dystopian story about a young girl in an oppressive society has to have some type of sexual assault issues, all I’m saying is that oppression and rape usually go hand and hand in the real world.  And if you try to completely avoid even the slightest innuendo about how sexual assault is often used as a weapon in an oppressive society, I think that you’re cheating your reader, especially young readers.

Sometimes Childhood Is Hell

Sometimes childhood really is hell. There isn’t a week that goes by that we don’t hear about some tragic story about a young girl being killed or exploited, especially in undeveloped countries.  A matter of fact, some people in this world have so much hatred of girls that they try to kill them for doing something as wonderful as going to school. Look at the recent story about Afghan schoolgirls being poisoned. How terrible!  Are these men who did this just naturally spiteful and sexist? No, I don’t think so. But I do know that when a society has collapsed the worse in some people is bound to come out.  But the hell of childhood is not confined to some far off lands. We can look right here in the United States to find children facing challenges most of us can’t imagine.  Right now, we have cities and towns in this country that have collapsed. Municipalities are returning roads to gravel, cutting back on public services and many citizens are finding themselves unable to survive financially. Some of those people turn to illegal means to survive, many of those people are children.  Did you know that there are millions of underage girls (and some boys) trafficked in America’s booming sex industry and that the number is growing?  Girls are especially vulnerable in collapsed societies because there is no rule of law that will wield it’s mighty force to protect them. If you add poverty into the mix, girls have even fewer rights in societies that are in the process of imploding.

Why The Dark Side?

For the past few years I’ve had a very strong desire to tell stories about young girls living in dying societies. How do they survive? How do they cope? Who will become their allies?  I didn’t want to tell these stories in a milquetoast way. I wanted to write it honestly and authentically. It feels good to know that I achieved that authenticity with “The Shelter ” and I hope that I’ve also reached my goal with my new novel New Hope City which continues Sunni Brown’s story when she’s 14 years old. If you want to receive updates about the about sales, new fiction and other things related to my work please sign up for my mailing list.

If you haven’t purchased your copy of New Hope City please purchase it on Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iBookstore | Paperback Version