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Lauren Sevier & A. Smith are long time friends and co-authors from southern Louisiana. Guns & Smoke, their first joint publication, began as a “short” story after having too much wine on girl’s night. Nine years later it is now the first novel in a Dystopian/Western Romance series. The duo has plans to publish several series together in the future. A. Smith spends her time with her two rescue dogs and rescue cat surrounding herself with books and Labyrinth paraphernalia. Lauren Sevier collects antique tea cups and tries to stay sane, though as the mother of a toddler she fails brilliantly most days. She also has a growing collection of crowns and tiaras and likes to act silly on Tiktok. Look for more thrilling novels from The Fools Adventure series in the future!
Please tell us about your newest release.
Twenty years ago, the world went to hell. Government representatives were assassinated. Bombs dropped around the entire country. Millions died. Lawless chaos rose up. Those who remained in cities fell victim to gangs of madmen who seized control of the world, from trading to the agriculture industry to human trafficking for slave labor. Life became about surviving, and the American Dream evaporated. They called it the Culling.
Guns & Smoke is a story of the ones who were left behind.
Bonnie is an outlaw on the run from murderous gang leader, Jones, and his henchman, Sixgun. She’s on her way out of Vegas when she spots an attractive man who definitely does not belong. With his chiseled jaw and too trusting eyes, Bonnie decides she has time for one last con.
Jesse grew up in the relative safety of the north, isolated from the rest of the world after his parents escaped the Culling. When a fire engulfed his home and took his parents, Jesse fled with his younger brother in search of an uncle they’d never met.
Their two paths collide, sending them on the adventure of a lifetime. Together, they may discover that life is about more than just surviving.
What inspired you to write this book?
Guns & Smoke began as a short story where the two main characters, Bonnie & Jesse, are forced to flee together to escape a murderous outlaw–after Bonnie robbed Jesse at gunpoint (of course). We both love the dystopian genre in general. We wanted to have some modern elements (specific weapons, etc.) that weren’t exclusive to the western genre.. Additionally, Abbie spent a lot of time growing up with her grandfather, who is a fan of old westerns, which heavily influenced the themes and plot of Guns & Smoke.
Excerpt from Guns & Smoke:
One small change in position and now each of my soft curves was pressed intimately against the tall, hard length of his unyielding body. His blue eyes blazed in the dim light of the alley, reading something on my face that urged him on. This was supposed to be my trap.
His hands were buried in my hair now, a thumb tracing over my cheek to land on my bottom lip. I knew what he wanted. Parting my mouth, I wrapped my lips around the pad of his thumb, my tongue flicking against it before sucking softly. A deep thunderous sound rumbled through his chest to shake me down to my bones. His hand in my hair slid to the back of my head, pulling my mouth closer to his. He wanted me to kiss him. He wanted this to be more than a transaction. He wanted me to want him back.
I brushed my nose against his, and he stilled. All other motion and sensation forgotten as his eyes landed on my mouth, inching closer to his. I drank in the taste of his breath, a faint echo of the taste of his lips from before. My head tilted to the side, and he brushed the hair away from my face to see me more clearly as I angled toward him. He swallowed down whatever desperate words were on the tip of his tongue, and I took his chin in my hand, mouths open and millimeters apart.
What’s the next writing project?
Together, we just finished the zero draft of Guns & Smoke’s sequel, Leather & Lace. We have three books planned for Bonnie & Jesse’s story after Guns & Smoke, and an entire host of novels and novellas exploring the world.
Lauren’s next project is the sequel to her debut novel, Songs of Autumn, which was released in November 2020. Abbie is currently working vigilantly on editing a fantasy romance novel she wrote during NaNoWriMo in 2020.
What is your biggest challenge when writing a new book? (or the biggest challenge with this book)
Abbie: When writing a new book, my biggest challenge is working through the set up. I often have a strong start, then it tapers off until I hit the midpoint. Once I get to that midpoint, the story usually takes off and is really strong, but I find that I have to go back to the beginning of act two and really shape and structure things so that the story is coherent and well rounded from beginning to end. I also think I get impatient sometimes, and I really just want to see my main characters get together before I actually have to put in the work.
Lauren: Finding the time to write them. Between working full time in Cardiology, being a mother to an amazing (and exhausting) toddler, and working around my husband’s shifts as a first responder… it can be incredibly hard to carve out enough time to dedicate to writing, editing, publishing, etc. In a perfect world I’d be able to work on my books full-time, and that might be something that happens in the future, but for now I’m content putting out one or two high quality novels a year.
If your novels require research – please talk about the process. Do you do the research first and then write, while you’re writing, after the novel is complete and you need to fill in the gaps?
Most of our writing involves fantasy or dystopian elements that we create, which doesn’t require extensive amounts of research. For Guns & Smoke, we had to do a lot of research on weapons and specific locations in the southwestern United States. For example, the characters take a train in Arizona. We spent time researching train lines that run across the southwest to find out which stops might get them closest to their destination. Pair that with knowledge we already had from our experiences growing up in the south (Lauren is actually a pretty good shot and rides horses) and it was a pretty seamless process.
What’s your writing space like? Do you have a particular spot to write where the muse is more active? Please tell us about it.
Abbie: I have a library in my house, with my desk in front of a window that overlooks my backyard. While I think I could write just about anywhere, I find that my muse tends to be more active at specific times of day: first thing in the morning, as the sun rises, or very late at night when the world is quiet.
Lauren: I have a writing room in my house. It has my large antique bookcase, a double desk, lots of storage, and of course doubles as a video recording studio for TikToks, Youtube videos, and livestreams. It’s a mess most of the time, because my creative process is literal chaos. I love it because it has a set of French doors that lead to the covered front porch and let in a ton of natural light. It’s really spacious and easy for both of us to set up when we have in person ‘work days’ where I can still be close to my family and occasionally we get visits from my little boy.
What authors do you enjoy reading within or outside of your genre?
Sarah J Maas is an author we both enjoy reading. She does a really wonderful job of building characters and worlds, and crafting unpredictable stories that take your breath away. Abbie enjoys devouring books by authors like Alexandra Bracken, Sara Raasch, Stephanie Garber, and Marie Lu. Lauren will read just about anything, from Jane Austen to Leigh Bardugo. She reads extensively in YA Fantasy and YA fiction in general as market research for her YA Fantasy series, but is really eclectic with her reading. From craft books to literary novels to self-help.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
Guns & Smoke initially started back in 2012, when we really didn’t know what we were doing. Over the years, we’ve spent a lot of time crafting these characters and building this world. It’s as much ingrained in us as the real world. We hope you love Bonnie, Jesse, and The Kid as much as we do.