I’m delighted to welcome author K.S. Jones back to the blog with her new release for 7-12-year-olds, Black Lightning. It landed on my Kindle this morning and I can’t wait to get to it, having absolutely loved her first book, a young adult historical novel called Shadow of the Hawk which I can thoroughly recommend!
Over the past couple of years, Karen has been an amazingly supportive online friend – she’s a lovely lady and a very talented writer, and of course I had plenty of questions to ask about her new book.
But first, the striking cover and the blurb . . .
Life moves on — no matter what…
Following his father’s puzzling disappearance and his mother’s death, ten-year-old Samuel Baker goes through the motions of living in a world turned upside down. He wears an Apache talisman, a long ago gift from his father, in hopes its promise of strength and guidance is true. But what he truly wants is the power to bring back his parents.
Heartless Aunt Janis is elated at the prospect of becoming Samuel’s legal guardian. She is sure an orphan boy will elicit such an outpouring of public sympathy that her husband will win his Senate bid by a landslide. But when Grandpa Tate arrives, things don’t go as expected, especially when black lightning strikes!
And a short excerpt . . .
Samuel stood beside his mother’s rain-speckled casket. He had cried his tears dry, so there was no point in trying to find more.
“Chin up, young man,” Aunt Janis said as her fingers nudged Samuel’s jaw upward. “Death is just part of life, and our photographer needs a good picture of you for the newspapers.”
A camera flashed, leaving Samuel’s red and swollen eyes burning as if stung by the sun instead of grief.
So many important days had come and gone without his father, but surely he would come home today, wouldn’t he? Samuel closed his eyes. He pretended his father was beside him holding his hand. They had a right to hold hands, he told himself. Not because he was ten, but because it was his mother’s funeral. Two years had passed since his father left, never to be seen again. Vanished, was the word his mother had used. Into thin air, she’d said.
“Take that silly thing off.” Aunt Janis flicked Samuel’s wood and bead necklace.
“No,” he said and shook his head. “My dad gave it to me.” It was a pinewood tile, the size of a domino shaved nickel-thin, which hung from a leather cord around his neck. Burned onto the front side of the wood was a lightning bolt. Its flipside bore the blackened imprint of a tribal dancer. It had a turquoise nugget and a shiny black hematite bead strung together on each side. His father had given the talisman to him with a promise: It will guide you and give you strength when you need it most.
Today, dressed in a black suit and starchy white shirt, Samuel wore it in hopes the promise was true.
And now to find out more . . . Karen, what was the initial spark that gave you the idea for Black Lightning?
Fantasy and Sci-Fi writers keep a unique eye on the world, and I suppose I am no different. Although I live in Texas now, I raised my children in the beautiful Sonoran Desert area of Arizona. The desert monsoons (which are more than just rainstorms) are dramatic weather events consisting of intense rains, powerful winds, and a high number of lightning strikes. One evening, my family and I were driving home on an almost deserted highway. Out my passenger-side window, I watched as a monsoon, many miles away, raged. The lightning show was incredible! During one wondrous flash, I saw a lightning bolt—solid black—pierce the lighted sky and travel downwards striking the ground. My astonished gasp woke my children who had been sound asleep in the backseat. It was an unforgettable sight. Was it my imagination? I’ll probably never know for sure, but at that moment, the story of Black Lightning was born.
That sounds like an amazing experience!
Your first book was a young adult historical. What led you to write your next book for a younger age group and move into sci-fi/fantasy?
I actually began writing Black Lightning first, but my YA historical, Shadow of the Hawk, pulled me away. At my first opportunity, I returned to Black Lightning, being ever so grateful that Samuel waited so that I could tell his wonderful story!
I’m already fascinated by the Apache talisman that Samuel wears. Does that have any particular significance to you?
Growing up, my parents had an intense interest in the Old West, and in the Anasazi who were ancient Puebloans (a Native American culture) who lived in the present-day Four Corners region of the United States. For that reason, they carted the whole family around the Desert Southwest learning about the Native Americans and the Old West. We learned to make fry bread from an elder woman of the Zuni tribe, and we watched jewelry, pottery, and blankets, all made by hand. And we heard countless stories from many tribes. My love for the culture sunk deep into my soul. Of all the places we visited, my personal favorite was the Chiricahua National Monument in southeastern Arizona. That’s where my interest in the Apache flourished. The talisman Samuel wears in Black Lightning is modeled after true Apache amulets, each unique and different, yet the same in many ways.
What wonderful, priceless experiences! No wonder you have such an interest in those cultures.
Tell me, have you started your next book yet, and if so, can you tell us a little about it?
I am currently working on two books. One is another middle-grade fantasy adventure, similar to Black Lightning, which is in the polishing stages before marketing, and the other is a historical romance, which I am only midway through writing. It is a wonderful story and is such fun to write!
And finally, can you tell us something weird and wonderful about yourself?
I love dogs! In fact, I love dogs so much that since I have the luxury of staying home to write full-time, I became a dog-sitter! The dogs come and stay with me while their owners take vacations or go on business trips. We have such fun! I have three dogs of my own, so what’s a few more?
They sound like a lovely but tiring handful. 🙂 Thank you so much for visiting today!
You can get your copy of Black Lightning at these links:
Here’s what people are saying about Black Lightning:
“If you’ve forgotten the magic that lives in a child’s heart, this book will remind you. Black Lightning is a rare and beautiful mythic journey about one boy’s struggle with paralyzing grief and the powerful bonds that can carry a person through this world and beyond… W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear USA TODAY and NEW YORK TIMES bestselling authors of People of the Thunder
Five Stars for Black Lightning! “Jones gave the right amount of attention to every aspect of the story. Character development, setting, dialogue between the characters, action scenes, and a unique charm set this story apart. I admire the author’s creativity. This story was so much fun and refreshing to read. This is perfect for younger audiences who love adventure!” Readers’ Favorite
You can see the trailer here: https://youtu.be/7NCLVhv_wuc
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Author K.S. Jones, whose first name is Karen, is currently working on another historical novel, but she has two published books available — Shadow of the Hawk, a young adult historical, and Black Lightning, a middle-grade sci-fi/fantasy. Her debut novel won a gold medal in the Literary Classics Book Awards and recently placed first in the esteemed Chaucer Awards. Karen lives in the beautiful Texas Hill Country with her husband, Richard, and their three dogs, Libby Loo, Red Bleu, and Jack Black.
You can find Karen at these links: