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Zombie Week! Guest Blog and Giveaway: Aftertime Trilogy by Sophie Littlefield

Submitted by on October 29, 2011 – 6:00 am11 Comments


I just put the finishing touches on the final book in my AFTERTIME trilogy (HORIZON, February 2012) so it seems like a fitting moment to look back over the last two years during which this project developed.

In the summer of 2010, my agent, Barbara Poelle, and I talked about how we’d both love to read a series in which it was a female character who was battling the hordes of zombies at the end of the world. Barbara is a zombie fan from way back, and I love horror fiction, so we’d both considered the genre from a variety of angles, and thought about what hadn’t yet been done, and whether we were the team to give it a try.

I’ll just put it out there right now that Barbara’s more badass than me. She likes fierce heroines with balls – er, uh, intentions of steel; she’s into a good action sequence, impossible odds, stunning firefights and the like. As for me, I like damaged heroines, women who have a whole lot of internal ground to cover before they encounter their first significant external obstacle.

But none of this was news; we’d worked on several books together by that point so I think we had a rough idea that this would be a character-driven novel whose protagonist would have a significant emotional arc spanning the entire series. And a romance – there’s always a romance, and knowing I would be writing a trilogy afforded me the chance to make it a complex one, with multiple love interests.

That was all well and good, and that brought us to the “how:”

1. How did the world end?

2. Where did the threat/monster come from?

I knew I wanted to do something a little outside of the zombie “canon,” something a little more complex than shambling undead with a single kill zone and a taste for brains. But it was Barbara’s idea that launched the central plot point of AFTERTIME.

She had read about the gojiberry, which is used for medicinal purposes but has a murky, dangerous side, with all kinds of terrifying side effects. What if – we thought, as we brainstormed – there was a plant whose benefits masked hidden dangers? What if people were forced to rely on the plant – say, as a food source – even knowing that it was potentially a source of calamity?

Interestingly, after I’d decided on a plant as a central plot point, it took several forms over revisions. At first I thought I’d use a berry bush, but I envisioned a yellowish berry, like a sort of creepy mistletoe. But that was too close to the actual gojiberry. Next I wrote it as a fern-like plant. I spent one fascinating day researching ferns, with their spooky-looking spores on their undersides of their fronds. Truth is, I’ve never liked ferns…I tried unsuccessfully to eradicate a patch that grew in the back yard of a house we once owned in the Midwest…the ferns won, with their creepy primordial tight-coiled malice – well, that’s how I saw them, anyway. I don’t exactly remember why we gave up on the fern thing – there was a good reason, at some point – but one aspect that remained in the final story was the koru, which is the symbol of the evil Rebuilders in AFTERTIME, and also the Maori symbol of regeneration. The koru is a simple spiral shape, and the Rebuilders tattoo it to their wrists; that image is powerful in my imagination.

A final thought about the trilogy: an early lesson I learned about writing dystopic fiction is that a satisfying does not tie up all loose ends or end forever the threat driving the action. Instead, it provides hope. That is all. Our imaginations, as readers, are far more satisfied when allowed to participate in the telling of the next, unwritten chapter, especially if the writer has been successful in making us care about the characters. That is what I hope I accomplish in HORIZON.

I’m both worn out and exhilarated from the writing of this series. It covers a seven-month span of a post-apocalyptic world, and took nearly two years to write, but I think it will affect everything I write in the future.

Sophie’s first novel, A BAD DAY FOR SORRY (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2009) has been nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, Barry, and Crimespree awards, and won the RTBookReviews Reviewers Choice Award for Best First Mystery.

Sophie is also the author of:
A BAD DAY FOR PRETTY (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2010)
BANISHED (Delacorte, October 2010)

Upcoming titles include:
AFTERTIME (Harlequin Luna, February 2011)
A BAD DAY FOR SCANDAL (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Minotaur, June 2011)
UNFORSAKEN (Delacorte, October 2011)

Sophie grew up in Missouri, attended Indiana University, and worked in technology before becoming a stay-at-home Mom. She lives in California with her family.

Website – – –

Next and Last in Sophies’ Aftertime Trilogy due for release January 24th 2012!

The end of the world was just the beginning

Civilization has fallen, leaving California an unforgiving, decimated place. But Cass Dollar beat terrible odds to get her missing daughter back—she and Ruthie will be happy.

Yet with the first winter, Cass is reminded that happiness is fleeting in Aftertime. Ruthie retreats into silence.

Flesh—eating Beaters still dominate the landscape. And Smoke, Cass’s lover and strength, departs on a quest for vengeance, one that may end him even if he returns.

The survivalist community Cass has planted roots in is breaking apart, too. Its leader, Dor, implores Cass to help him recover his own lost daughter, taken by the totalitarian Rebuilders. And soon Cass finds herself thrust into the dark heart of an organization promising humanity’s rebirth—at all costs.

Bound to two men blazing divergent paths across a savage land, Cass must overcome the darkness in her wounded heart, or lose those she loves forever.

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  • I can’t wait to start this series!!!

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  • Kelly W says:

    I’ve been watching Zombie movies all week. This series sounds awesome!

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  • Library Lady says:

    I’ve read the first book and loved it! I can’t wait to read the others. I love Smoke!

    Reply to this comment »
  • says:

    This series sounds great! I have now added it to my TBR list :) Thanks so much and GREAT POST!!


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  • Emily L says:

    I can’t wait to read this

    Reply to this comment »
  • erin says:

    OMG! How have I not heard of this series! Love it!

    Reply to this comment »
  • Julie Witt says:

    I’ve had my eye on this series for a while now and would love to win this book!! Thanks so much for the chance:)

    Reply to this comment »
  • thegirlonfire27 says:

    I actually just started reading Aftertime and I am really enjoying it. I would love to win the next one!

    Reply to this comment »
  • Vivien says:

    I absolute LOVE this series. I was lucky enough to be able to listen to it. I’ve been wanting to get my own personal copies!! :crossing fingers:

    Reply to this comment »
  • Lauren says:

    I’ve heard so many good things about these books. I can’t wait to read them! :)

    Reply to this comment »
  • Anne says:

    I like Sophie’s Stella Hardesty books (mystery) and I’ve read great reviews for the zombie series, but I just haven’t read them yet.

    Reply to this comment »