Mia Kingslie - We are More Vulnerable than we Think
Mia Kingslie has always been fascinated about the human response to apocalyptic scenarios and in her book, ‘Survivors of the Sun’, she explores the day to day responses of the ordinary person living in an ordinary urban setting. Known for her brilliant in-depth research on the subject of her books, Mia shows her true talents in writing fiction novels. An avid world traveler, Mia uses her experiences of living and working in Europe, the United States and the South Pacific region to build characters that lead you on exciting journeys and leave you wondering what will happen next. Mia Kingslie is married and has two boisterous dogs and an extremely bossy cat that just moved in one day. A Goldsmith by day and a writer by night, Mia also enjoys renovating houses and establishing productive gardens for friends and neighbors to enjoy. As our Author of the Day, Kingslie tells us about her award-winning book, Survivors of the Sun.
Please give us a short introduction to what ‘Survivors of the Sun’ is about.
‘Survivors of the Sun’ is a story about survival. Georgia was a happily married woman, at home with three children and their Boston Terriers. In an instant, everything changed. The power went off, and no-one knew why. By nightfall, Nathan her husband had still not returned. In time, the water stopped running. With only three days of food left in the house and dwindling water supplies, she has no choice but to flee Kansas City. Their world changes dramatically, entering a post-apocalyptic age, with looting, rioting, and violence becoming the norm. As they escape across country, Georgia has to overcome her fears and keep her loved ones safe. Together they face heart-wrenching decisions as they encounter the inconceivable. Their journey leads them through a harsh new reality. The struggles and hardships that they endure threaten their very existence, testing their loyalty, fortitude and love for each other in ways they could never have imagined.
What inspired you to write this book?
We live our lives and make our daily decisions and choices based on the stability of the community around us. The staples of life that are always in place. We are no longer self-sufficient. We have supermarkets and malls, Medical facilities and a company or business for every need.
Two events, one shortly after the other, made me realize just how vulnerable we are. The first was when I was living in a remote area and the rivers flooded. I was part of two households that were completely cut off from the world for nearly two weeks. We made do, sharing our food and waiting for the floodwaters to recede. The second event was a little more serious. I had moved (to avoid being trapped by floodwaters), to a larger community. Some four thousand residents.
The main transformer supplying our area was targeted by vandals and destroyed. For over a week our township lost internet, phone, and power. At first, it was just a matter of bringing out the candles. Then the seriousness of it all made itself known. We quickly learned that we could only shop at the local supermarket with cash. ATM machines were not working and cash ran out very quickly. Transport became an issue because we could not purchase fuel as the petrol pumps relied on the transformer.
Food became scarce. The elderly and lower-income people simply ran out. Contact with the outside world stopped and the most frustrating part of it all was not having any idea how long this would last, or how widespread it was. It led to the thought…, what if this is how it is always going to be? Then the kernel of an idea that became ‘Survivors of the Sun’ germinated and Georgia arrived in my thoughts.
Tell us more about Georgia. What makes her tick?
Georgia is like so many of us. Far from perfect, filled with self-doubt, but leading a productive and full life. She grew up on a farm in Australia, ran wild exploring nature, preferring the adventure and company of wild creatures to children of her own age. In college, her career aptitude test recommended that she would be best suited to outdoor work where she supervised herself, but instead, she became a jeweler, running her own business.
Meeting Nathan was her fairy tale come true. He became the love of her life and practically her reason for being. There is so much more to what makes Georgia tick, and small snippets of who she is are gradually revealed in ‘Survivors of the Sun.’ There is a brief exchange in the book which shares one such insight.
“Rebecca came up beside her, face flushed with exertion. ‘Aren’t we going in the wrong direction? I thought you said we were headed that way,’ and as she spoke, she waved her hand towards the horizon to the south of them.
Georgia nodded. ‘You’re right, and we will change direction as soon as we hit the tree line; just a precaution, in case someone is watching us.’
‘Good idea,’ Rebecca said.
Georgia shrugged her shoulders. ‘Actually it’s not really my idea, just something I remembered from when I was a kid chasing iguanas, so often when I was chasing them, they would head for the scrub and immediately they were undercover they would change direction; made it nearly impossible for me to find them.’
Rebecca laughed. ‘Smart lizards.’
Why did you decide to add step-kids into the mix?
Step-children became part of the story because life is not cut and dried and simple. It can be awkward and unconventional. We are not always prepared for everything; we are not always in control of everything. When disaster strikes, it will be at an inconvenient time because that is how life is, and I wanted to show that Georgia was not in an ideal situation. One way to emphasize this was for the children in the story to be step-children.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Hmm, I had to think about this one. I paint, oils and acrylics mainly and I am a goldsmith. Goldsmith by day, writer by night. But I think my secret weapon is listening; listening and observing.
Why a post-apocalyptic thriller? What drew you to the genre?
I didn’t realize there was a post-apocalyptic genre until after it was written. When I decided to publish it through Amazon, I was researching keywords and came across a whole new world.
Readers say that your characters were relatable and felt real. How did you pull this off?
The characters became my friends during the writing process. Whenever I struggled with a section of dialogue, I would shut my eyes and listen. Deedee, the youngest of the group never shut up!
Do any of your characters ever take off on their own tangent and refuse to do what you had planned for them?
Absolutely. Lola was introduced into the story fairly early on and I had a vague idea that things were not going to end well for her. She simply refused to be killed off and instead became Georgia’s sidekick and an integral part of the story.
Which of your characters has been the most challenging to write for?
That would be Rebecca. Writing about Rebecca, the eldest child, was the hardest to write about, as she kept herself very much to herself. I am happy to say that in book two, Shadows of the Sun, she comes into her own.
Is there something that compels you to write?
I write mostly for myself. Stories that I would like to read. Books are the greatest of all adventures. Growing up, my parents lived their own lives and I was often left to fend for myself. I was six years old when a family friend gave me a copy of ‘The Silver Chair’ by SC Lewis. My first feeling when I unwrapped the book was one of great disappointment. While the cover was intriguing, the ensuing pages were seriously lacking in pictures. Seeing my disappointment, the friend pulled me onto his lap and read the first chapter to me. Over the next few weeks, I struggled my way across a landscape dotted with ‘big words’ determined to keep up with all that was happening to Eustace and Jill. It led to a lifetime of loving to read and becoming a storyteller.
When I first start a project there is a lot of time spent staring at my screen, drinking coffee (decaf), and listening to music. Earphones and music are a must. Earphones to block out this world, music to transport me to another.
Sometimes I write to songs by Enya, but mostly I write to Celtic music by Adrian von Ziegler. The first week of any project is filled with self-doubt and constantly coming up with other unrelated things that desperately need doing. Spots on the ceiling that need cleaning, the bathroom needing grouting and weeds coming up amongst paving cracks.
Then the words begin to flow and I lose myself in the story, often forgetting to eat and losing track of time. I don’t plot my stories, they happen. Though I do start with a situation and go from there. The characters appear and sometimes try to take over. I have learned to follow them. Ignoring their wishes only leads to writer’s block. The characters have a will of their own. When I am unable to write, due to other commitments, they keep me awake at night, refusing to leave until I sit back down at my computer.
Some of my characters are based on real people, others just arrive, complete with their own personalities. In survivors of the sun, the three children, Rebecca, Jamie, and Deedee are all based on real children and it is their voices I hear while writing their parts. Ruby is totally fictional and her appearance was most unexpected. I first met her when I knocked on the front door of the house where Rebecca’s BFF had lived.
Mostly the words come faster than I can type and there are frustrating moments when a phrase gets lost in all the commotion.
What are you working on right now?
I had to take time out from writing for a while. Dealing with drought and bush fires and the devastation and trauma that came with that, made writing impossible. Now that has settled down and I am back to working on book two in the series. ‘Shadows of the Sun’.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Readers can follow me on Facebook and Twitter, and contact me via my website. My work is available on Amazon.