Review & Author Interview:
The In-Betweener by Ann Christy
I recently continued my Ann Christy obsession — err, umm, wait — okay, I’m just going to own it — by picking up The In-Betweener. I am not generally a fan of zombie books but I really think I would read a cereal box if Ann Christy wrote it, so I dove in and hoped for the best. What did I think?
The In-Betweener (Between Life and Death #1) by Ann Christy
Category: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Horror
Publication: March 20th, 2015
Two years ago a new medical nanite advance divided humanity into three types: humans, deaders and the frightening in-betweeners who crave human flesh. Emily’s world has grown quiet and ordered, her day bounded by mornings killing deaders at her fence and nights alone in a warehouse office. She’s begun to believe life will always be this way, days alone with the dead or fighting in-betweeners for her life. But even that life is better than the alternative.
Everything changes when one of the deaders at the gate isn’t a deader at all. He’s an in-betweener different from any Emily has seen before…and he has a message.
The In-Betweener is book one of the Between Life and Death series. Book two, Forever Between, will release in March 2015. Book three, Between Life and Death, is scheduled for release in May 2015.
The Between Life and Death series is suitable for ages 16 and up, with occasional violence and mild language.
The In-Betweener is the first book in Ann Christy’s Between Life and Death trilogy. A devastating read, this is Emily’s story of survival after a nanite virus unleashed its destruction upon the world.
Emily has been surviving on her own for approximately a year when she is contacted by an in-betweener, someone who is recently-dead-but-newly-resurrected who still might have a bit of humanity left within. The in-betweener needs Emily’s help, and Emily has to decide if she will leave the safety of the nest she has so painstakingly created to help him.
As usual, the world Ms. Christy creates is well-researched and fully realized. I loved Emily, and I loved her mother and their relationship. Both of these women are smart and tough. It was nice to read a book with a positive mother-daughter relationship, as so many parental relationships in dystopian novels are terrible or non-existent. Emily is alone for most of the story and I couldn’t help but ache for her loss and loneliness.
I am not normally a fan of the typical zombie book, but I love and trust Ann Christy’s work. Thankfully, The In-Betweener is not a typical zombie book. Yes, there are “zombies,” but the basis for their condition is scientific and medical, not simply because of a crazy supernatural virus. Christy is at her best when she is highlighting the dangers of human hubris and our shocking ability to ignore the fact that we are doing things we just should not be doing. There is some violence and a little bit of gore in the story but nothing gratuitous, which I appreciated.
This is a quick read, just slightly over the length of a novella, and I am excited to finish the rest of the trilogy (Book 2 is Forever Between; Book 3, Between Life and Death) and find out what happens to Emily.
I absolutely adore the indie community. I love the books, the fans/stalkers, the Facebook world, etc., but, my favorite thing is how generous and accessible the authors are. I asked Ann Christy if I could interview her for BookCrushin and she didn’t hesitate to answer with an enthusiastic “Sure, send the questions on over!” (I hadn’t even drafted them yet.)
Ann Christy is intelligent, funny, and engaging, as is obvious within seconds of reading her answers, and I was honored that she took time from her busy schedule to chat with me (several times, if I’m honest). Enjoy the interview!
- You were a commander in the Navy; for how long did you serve? How would you say your experience in the Navy shapes your writing?
I was in for more than 28.5 years, so yes, I went in directly after potty training. (Just kidding.) As far as how it shapes my writing, it does so in every way because I changed so much during that time. I was exposed to so much of our world, in both good and bad ways, that I couldn’t help but be changed by those experiences. I think it gives me an edge when it comes to creating characters and designing a world.
- Your novel Strikers takes place largely in Texas. Why did you choose Texas as the setting for Strikers?
I chose Texas as a setting for Strikers for lots of reasons. The Strikers world is an extrapolation of extreme elements in our current world, taken into a future that was meant to be better…for some. Of course, it’s dystopian so that clearly didn’t work out well for the majority. It took a lot of research to decide where things would go. I literally had to get a bunch of big maps and draw out the political, socio-economical, and physical factors for all the independent “states” that develop in Strikers world. Texas just won that draw.
- You just finished your trilogy, The In-Betweeners. Was it bittersweet for you? Will you miss that universe and those characters?
Oh my goodness, I do miss them already! Emily and Veronica—and all the others to varying extents—w ere so much a part of my life for a good long time. When I’m writing, I work…and I mean that with italics. Sixteen hours a day isn’t unusual. By the time I’m done, they are telling their own story and I’m just going along with it. What an incredible bunch they were and I’m not sure I’m ready to let them go yet. I’ve gotten some mail asking for side stories, origin stories, etc. I might do that if the books do well.
- Why do you think you are drawn towards writing dystopian/apocalyptic novels?
I’m not sure really. Perhaps it’s because I’ve seen so much in the world. For every person in power that thinks they’re “correcting” course and creating a better world, there will be a million who suffer for those decisions. There is no paradise here if humans are left to create it. One person’s paradise is another person’s hell. But I also love the hope aspect of it. All of my books have very strong themes of hope, perseverance, courage, and the will to do right, even when no one else will. So, in a way, writing in these genre is my way of reinforcing that all is never lost. There is always hope.
- What genres/authors do you like to read in your spare time?
I’m a devour-er of books. I read in so many genre that I’d be hard pressed to list them all. I just love a good tale. Since I got turned on to indie fiction, I do find that I favor those now. I like how indie books color outside the lines of genre and really challenge our expectations.
- What’s next for the cast of Strikers? (Please tell me something will be out soon!)
LOL…I wish I could. Books like Strikers are a far different beast to write. They require so much intense world building, logic checking, moves and counter-moves (from individual to governments), and more that they take forever to write. It’s truly a labor of love. Editing for them involves even more steps as each event is logic checked again and again. I’ve started Strikers: The Eastlands but I have no idea when it will be out. Either way, each of the books can be read stand-alone and don’t need each other for it to make sense. That’s another reason it’s harder.
- If you could have dinner with one person, past or present, real or fictional, living or deceased, whom would it be, and why?
Hypatia. I would want to have dinner with her, ask her endless questions about her work (most of which was lost) and then sweep her away and hide her from her fate. My head would probably explode from all that wisdom, but it would be worth it.
- Name three things you would want to have in the event of a zombie apocalypse.
Wow, that’s a shockingly hard question! The easy answer would be a fully equipped, barricaded hideout with endless weapons and ammo, but I’m guessing you weren’t asking the easy question there. If I could take one, slightly easy, answer, it would be to have everything I already own. Then a decent sailboat and good fishing gear. I’d ride it out on the water.
I’m a recently retired Navy Commander and secret science fiction writer. Since retiring, I work on my books as obsessively as I worked for the military and I still can’t figure out what I should wear if I can’t wear a uniform. I live by the sea under the benevolent rule of my canine overlords and a variety of unruly family members.
My first published series, Silo 49, cemented my desire to write fiction and it’s paved the way for a whole slew of new books. Strikers, Yankari: A Talking Earth Tale, The In-Betweener as well as a bunch of creepy (or creepily-cool) stories in published anthologies have already come out. And there is so much more to come.
I love to hear from readers so drop me a line! (No, really, I’m not even just saying that to be nice. I really do love to hear from readers!)