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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.

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.

The Novel Is Finished

26 Jul

For those people who read and loved “The Shelter” you’ll be happy to hear that I’ve finished the follow up novel, “The Devil’s in New Hope City.” The novel is 50,000 words (approximately 250 pages).  The story follows the life of Sunni Brown after she leaves the shelter and moves to New Hope, a small southern city mired in poverty. Here’s the blurb:

“After four years of hellish cruelty in a sex trafficking gang, Sunni Brown moves to a southern city mired in poverty and despair. Her mom disappears and Sunni must fend for herself. But when the jaded teen meets a disillusioned cop, will hatred, rage and the burning desire for bloody revenge morph her from a helpless victim into raging vigilante?”

The novel is on schedule for it’s Fall 2012 release. Stay tuned for a cover reveal and sample chapters. To receive updates about the release date please sign up for the mailing list.

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