After surviving the Infection and a perilous journey through the wasteland that was once the United States, Carly and Justin have found a safe home in the isolated town of Colby.
Even so, balancing the duties of survival and a growing family isn’t easy. As they emerge as leaders, they face difficult questions about justice in a lawless land, basic human rights, and freedom in a world where strength defines worth. More than ever, they have to rely on one another for strength and support during the darkest of times.
The Crisis is far from over. Their fences won’t keep the world out forever, and a new threat is emerging—a gang of predators who see the town as easy pickings. When danger looms over Colby, Carly must decide how far she’ll go to protect those she loves.
It’s a journey down the long and broken road through The Land of the Shadow.
Jess: Hello, Justin. It’s good to see you again. Things have changed a lot since last we spoke. How are you?
Oh, it’s you again. You’re that author who said she had a crush on me last time, aren’t you?
Jess: I have a soft spot for you, but I don’t hit on married men. You’ve settled down and I’m glad to hear it. How’s the family?
Well, the family’s bigger, as you might have noticed. We have a son now: Kaden. Seems strange to say I have two kids. I never thought I’d make much of a father, and here I now have a toddler and a teenage boy. Sometimes, I’m not sure which one of them is the greater challenge.
Jess: Oh, yeah, tell me about it! Each has its own set of unique challenges. I suspect your definition of family has changed since last year.
I think most of our definitions have had to go through a change. “Family” is the people you love, plain and simple. We’ve had all sorts of families here in Colby, and they make it work, as long as they have that love to hold them together.
I guess you could say I’ve gone through some changes myself to be saying something like that. I never really thought family and love were all that important before Carly came into my life, but she’s helped me to see that it’s the thing that holds all of human society together.
Jess: You lead a community now, with Carly. Tell us about Colby.
We’re growing. We’ve got almost thirty people in our town now. Carly and I tell people that we’re co-leaders, but really, it’s more like I’m vice president. What’s amazed me the most is watching how Carly has grown into the role of leader. I always knew she had talents and smarts, but it’s like she was born to do it. She’s had to make some very hard choices, as I think you know, and there’s been a price she’s had to pay for it. But she’s strong. Stronger than she knows.
Jess: Yes, she is. How does your community function?
By the skin of our teeth, honestly. It’s been hard. Our farming hasn’t been as successful as I’d hoped, and so we don’t have a lot of food. Trade’s been bad, too, because people are starting to avoid this area on account of the rumors there are some bad guys in the area, preying on travelers.
Still, we’re getting by. We’re going to make it. We just figured out how to get a tractor going using a wood gasifier for fuel, and that will help. And despite small squabbles here and there, we’ve got good people in this town. They’re hard workers and they care about making this community work.
Carly has faith that we wouldn’t have been brought this far just to fail. She’s certain our destiny is to lay the groundwork for the future, like we’re the founding mothers and fathers of the next chapter of human history. You ought to hear her. She gets all poetic when she talks about it.
In any case, I’m glad she’s so confident. I don’t want her worrying about this stuff. She has enough on her mind with running the town.
Jess: People must lead very different lives now than they did before the Infection. What’s normal now that would have been thought extraordinary then?
I mentioned that family groups have changed. We’ve got families comprised of several adults instead of just a pairing… gay, straight, bi, different ethnic groups… no one blinks an eye any more. The kids all seem happy and healthy, and that’s all that matters.
I know one thing that bothers Carly is that kids aren’t getting to go to school. We’ve got them working alongside the adults these days. Maybe one day we’ll have the luxury of leisure time for formal education, but right now, we just don’t have the ability. Carly tries to encourage reading as much as she can. She was tickled pink to see Kaden reading Beowulf the other day.
Jess: As a leader, what is of most concern to you?
My first priority has to be security. Here’s the thing… You build a nice community with walls to protect it and start storing up food, and someone’s gonna want to take it from you. That’s just the way it is now. We have to defend what’s ours. But I can’t just hand someone a gun and say, “Here, go guard the Wall.” They have to know what they’re doing, or they’re going to get themselves killed. I’m trying to train them as best I can, but with the struggle of daily living, finding time for training is hard.
Food is my second worry. We’re just not getting enough calories out of the farming right now in comparison to the labor we put into it. I’ve done the math. Maybe the tractor will help with that. It’s a constant, nagging worry in the back of my mind, but we can’t concentrate on farming if we’re not safe and secure here.
Jess: What values and skills do you want to pass on to the next generation?
Right now, the focus has to be on giving them the skills they’ll need to survive. It’s a harsh and cold reality, but a lot of that social stuff and academic stuff has to take a background role. Carly’s doing what she can to fill the gaps, but I know she worries about what kind of future we’re building. She wants to do this right, you know?
Jess: It’s important to get it right. Mistakes are so costly. I’m going to ask you this again, because I’m wondering if your answer has changed: Will humanity survive?
If Carly has anything to do with it, yes. That woman has more determination than any human being I’ve ever seen.
Jess: I’m glad to see that you and Carly have made so much progress. I’m rooting for you!
Thanks. If Carly were here, she’d tell you we’re going to learn from our mistakes as a society and build something even better for the future. And I’m actually starting to believe it myself.
Lissa Bryan is an astronaut, renowned Kabuki actress, Olympic pole vault gold medalist, Iron Chef champion, and scientist who recently discovered the cure for athlete’s foot…though only in her head. Real life isn’t so interesting, which is why she spends most of her time writing.
She is the author of three other novels, Ghostwriter, The End of All Things, and Under These Restless Skies.
Don’t miss out on this Amazing Rafflecopter Giveaway!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Praise for The Land of The Shadow:
“What a ride! Carly and Justin are people that I’d like on my side, and on the side of my community. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants a story that will keep you glued to your reader or flipping pages in a paperback just as quickly as you can.” –Kathie Spitz
If you haven’t already, check out-
The End Of Things Book I