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In a world where safety is a luxury and honor is found only among outlaws, two people attempt to outrun dangers lurking around each corner and the tragedies that define them.
Bonnie is an outlaw on the run. Beautiful but dangerous; her dark past stalks her like the crater beasts that roam the desert. As the notoriously cruel outlaw Jones sends his henchmen to track her down and retrieve the gun she stole from him, Bonnie hopes she can stay one step ahead. Because if he catches her, a fate worse than death awaits.
Jesse always dreamed of leaving the farm to explore the ruins of the big cities he’d heard about his whole life. He just never imagined he’d be forced to flee after strange men burned down his rural mountain town and murdered everyone he loved. Responsible for his kid brother and searching for an uncle he’s never met before, he isn’t sure he can navigate the perils of life among con artists and thieves long enough to find him.
Their two paths collide as they find themselves thrown together on the adventure of a lifetime.
Together, they may just discover that life is about more than just surviving.
TRIGGER WARNING: This book contains depictions of graphic violence, language, sexual violence, attempted rape, depictions of child abuse, and depictions of human trafficking.
What can we expect from you in the future?
So much! Guns & Smoke is the first in a four book series. In addition to those four, we have a couple of sequel series, a prequel series, a few novellas and an anthology set in The Fools Adventure world. We also have plans to write a Victorian-esque fantasy romance as well as a paranormal romance series together. Individually, Lauren is working diligently on the sequel to her YA Fantasy debut, Songs of Autumn, and I’m working on a Fantasy Romance novel with the intention to traditionally publish.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
There is one side character in Guns & Smoke who pops up out of nowhere. It’s someone who was a big part of one of the main characters’ lives.
Where did you come up with the names in the story? Love this question! So, because this novel is a Dystopian/Western Romance it’s set in a not-so-distant future where the world has been ravaged by the effects of nuclear warfare. It’s the American Southwest and in a lot of ways, society has reverted back to a time much like the chaos of the Wild West from a not-so-distant past. There are themes in this book about history repeating itself and that’s definitely the case with the names of the characters in this book. Bonnie, for example, is literally name after Bonnie Parker of the infamous Outlaw duo Bonnie & Clyde. She explains in the book how she got her name. Jesse is also literally named after a murderous outlaw from the past. Jesse James. Only in his case, his father thought it would be funny to name him after an outlaw from his childhood and his mother lost a bet. Harry, Jesse’s younger brother, is affectionately coined ‘The Kid’ by Bonnie early on in the novel and this completes the main cast of characters, however, there are several other characters who share their fate with having wonderfully outlaw-inspired names throughout the book and the series as a whole.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Really delving into romance. While all of the projects I’ve written before have been centered around a romance, I’ve never embraced the genre until Lauren proposed it to me. Being able to fully dive into these characters in an adult genre really made them pop off of the page and come to life.
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
My favorite part of the book are the quiet moments, when Bonnie and Jesse aren’t at each other’s throats and they’re actually being vulnerable with one another. There’s just something about two characters that push past their defenses and come together that really touches my heart. There’s this really great scene between Bonnie and Jesse in chapter ten of Guns & Smoke where they’ve just gone through something really terrible. They open up to one another, which leads them farther into the unknown, but also closer together.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
Literally tons. I have a novel that I’ve been working on for fourteen years. I have really terrible depression and anxiety, and I continually get in my head about it. The story has literally changed so many times, and it’s still not ready for the public just yet, but get this: a secret society of witches, New Orleans, and romance. I also have more than a dozen works in various planning stages that I cannot wait to write.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
I read almost anything that I can get my hands on! While Fantasy is probably my favorite genre right now, I have always had a soft spot for dystopian literature like Divergent or The Hunger Games. I’m really big into Sarah J Maas right now. I really love her mental health representation, plus Cassian from A Court of Thorns and Roses is basically my one true love.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
Silence is the death of my writing! I have to have music. Lauren and I both will find one song when we’re writing a particular scene that encapsulates the mood and listen to it over and over again. When there’s silence or I have background noise, I struggle to focus, so I plug in my earbuds and just go!
If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?
Harry Potter. Because I’d be set for life!
Pen or type writer or computer? Computer. All the way. I’m no good with dictation software and I think I need the textile feel of the keys on the keyboard to get into a good writing rhythm. There are times when I long-hand scenes that I need to sit with and really nurse the words to make them sound exactly right, but that’s when I can take my time with a section. I write a LOT slower than I type, so for initial drafting and not refining or re-writing, it’s always the computer for me.
Tell us about a favorite character from a book. I feel like people are sick of this answer from me, but Kaz Brekker from the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo is currently my favorite character. He’s almost like the rebirth of the anti-hero in modern fiction and I’m living for it. I have a soft spot for misanthropes and anti-heroes in literature, I seriously fall way too hard in love with them. The amount of character development Bardugo was able to write into his character is still something that astounds me to this day.
Advice they would give new authors?
I feel like I give this advice so much, but I feel like it is the one thing that has really helped me: read. Read every single thing that you can get your hands on. You have to study the craft of writing, which doesn’t mean just reading non-fiction craft books. It’s important to read what is big in the market and find the things that you enjoy in those novels and figure out how you can incorporate that feeling into your own work.
“Those for me?” she asked. I hadn’t realized she was awake. I nodded, once again helping her sit up. I eased off the ruined dress and put the dry clothes on her as carefully as possible. I started to climb from the wagon to let her rest, but she reached out, grabbing my wrist.
“Please don’t go,” she said, her voice barely a whisper.
With a nod, I moved behind her, sitting with my back against the stolen crates. She leaned between my legs, resting her head against my chest. I brushed some of her matted hair away, pressing my lips to her temple. I held her, not tight enough to hurt her, but enough to let her know I was there.
“We can’t stay here,” she said after a while. Her voice startled me into alertness. “Coyotes are gonna come when they catch the scent of that horse.” Suddenly, I had an idea about what to do with the horse.
“I know,” I said. “But you need to rest.”
“We need to keep going,” she said. Neither of us moved as I sat there, holding her, lips pressed against her hair.
“Just let me hold you,” I whispered. “Just a little while longer.”
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!