Author Interview with Chantelle Atkins

Welcome to an interview with author Chantelle Atkins and news about her latest book.

Chantelle has just released the first in a brand new young adult post-apocalyptic series ‘The Day The Earth Turned book 1: Summer’. Here’s the blurb: The adults are all dead. Society has collapsed. Two groups of teenagers emerge on either side of a rural village, traumatised, bereaved and determined to survive. As tribes form and territorial lines are drawn, can they overcome their differences and find a way to rebuild? Or will gang warfare end this emerging new world before its even begun? Each of them have their theories about what killed the adults and as the dust settles on the old world, a far bigger, darker, and angrier threat is bursting to life all around them.

You can read my 5* review below but first, let’s find out more about Chantelle and what inspired this book and her writing.

Welcome Chantelle! First of all – please introduce yourself.

I’m a writer, mother of four, director of Chasing Driftwood Writing Group, dog lover, and avid reader! I live in Dorset, UK and write in young adult and adult genres.

What prompted your latest novel/story?

‘The Day The Earth Turned Book 1: Summer’ was inspired partly by where I live – a semi-rural village with a four main roads and a river running through it. Hurn is very beautiful if you get away from the roads but a lot of the land is currently under threat of development. When I heard what they wanted to do to parts of this area, threatening wildlife and changing the character, widening roads and felling trees, I felt absolutely devastated and helpless and angry. As I walked the quiet lanes and listened to birdsong I felt so guilty for what humans have done to the natural world and I felt like nature itself ought to be furious with us. I started thinking about Mother Nature as a conscious entity – one that must kill us before we kill her. And that’s where the idea for this series came from.

Were you encouraged or discouraged to write as a child/teenager, and if you were discouraged – how did you overcome this?

My English teachers and my mum encouraged me but I felt like everyone else was negative about writing, as a career and as a hobby. They just didn’t understand it and even today, barely any of my friends and family are interested or supportive. I’ve found that to be very common, sadly. But other authors are the best and the indie community, in particular is a great source of encouragement. As for overcoming the discouragement – as a child and teenager, I just kept at it and did it anyway. It was always my favourite thing to do. As a young adult, with the pressures to get jobs and make money and move out, I did end up putting writing aside. In fact, I didn’t write for ten years, while I went to University, started work and had children. I completely lost that side to myself, and I do blame the lack of encouragement. I viewed it as a waste of time and something that I would never do well at so why bother? But that changed and I clawed it back and I would never let it go again!

How do you keep yourself motivated when your writing doesn’t flow?

I never get writer’s block. If anything, I get the opposite problem of having too many ideas. But there are times when I don’t like what I have written, and it’s not gone as well as I hoped. I try and write through it, knowing that I can make it better another day. Or I go for a long walk and that usually clears the block or sparks off new ideas.

How much of yourself is in your stories?

More than I realise a lot of the time! I think that whatever genre you write in, whatever stories you come up with, you can’t escape yourself or your own life, thoughts, etc, so they creep in somewhere, inevitably. Sometimes it might be within a character. I wouldn’t say any of my characters are totally like me, but there are bits of me in all of them, if that makes sense. There are also bits of people I know or who have known, sometimes even strangers in the street. Writers absorb and observe and collect information, images and emotions from the world around them. I also seem to like writing about characters who are viewed as outsiders; a bit quirky, or odd in their own way, and that’s definitely something I can relate to!

What is the biggest challenge the characters in your latest book face?

The biggest challenge these characters face is survival. The adults are (mostly) all dead and the kids are surviving as best they can in a new, and hostile world. They have to find food, learn how to grow it, make the water safe, deal with first aid situations and more, plus there is another threat coming to life all around them. Nature is still angry. The adults have been culled but the children could be next!

Will there be a sequel?

Yes, it’s a four-book series and the second book Autumn will be out at the end of September!

Where can we buy ‘The Day The Earth Turned – Summer’?

How can we follow you?

And finally, tell us about your other writing

My debut YA novel ‘The Mess Of Me’ deals with eating disorders and self-harm. ‘The Boy With The Thorn In His Side’ is a coming-of-age crime thriller series. Also available; ‘This Is Nowhere’, ‘Bird People and Other Stories’, and the award-winning dystopian, ‘The Tree Of Rebels’. In 2018, ‘Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature’ was released followed by the gritty YA trilogy: ‘A Song For Bill Robinson’, ‘Emily’s Baby’ and ‘The Search For Summer’. I have since released a short story and poetry collection, ‘The Old Friend’ and a YA paranormal trilogy co-written with Sim Alec Sansford. I run my own Community Interest Company, Chasing Driftwood Writing Group.

Thanks so much Chantelle. Here’s my 5* review of ‘The Day The Earth Turned – Summer’

Maybe you’d think this would compare to Lord of the Flies, but it’s so much broader and more terrifying.

The setting is a quiet English village in a pretty rural setting. But the teenagers and children in it are surrounded by dead adults, and a normal life which has completely disappeared.

This is not a book for the faint-hearted, there is plenty that’s gruesome and terrifying as the teenagers in particular work out how to deal with the dead and survive. However, this is only part of the story.

What I loved about this in particular are the characters, who are so well drawn I felt I knew them straight away. Chess – dealing with her grief not just for her parents but for the future way she saw her life that will never come – having to put her feelings aside to care for her little sister. Reuben – loner, victim of bullies but standing strong, bubbling with anger, but practical and compassionate. Gus – glad the adults have gone, but choosing to take control as soon as he can. George – independent, determined to go it alone, forced into a situation he couldn’t have envisaged.

Having grown up in a village in a rural community, I could believe the way that the children and teenagers all behaved. What will the school bullies, without adult restraint, actually do in a crisis? How soon will shops run out of food? When will fear and grief turn into violence, and how far will that violence go? And underneath it all, what is happening with the animals? And why has the situation come about in the first place? Who or what has killed the vast majority of adults? Could it be more than a laboratory accident or just a freak of nature?

This book is terrifyingly believable.

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