After the Flood

A dream of a tsunami sweeping across the plains of Nebraska helped form the plot of Kassandra Montag’s After the Flood, her novel about a time in the future when rising waters engulf the earth, leaving only small chunks of land suitable for living.

A dream of a tsunami sweeping across the plains of Nebraska helped form the plot of Kassandra Montag’s After the Flood, her novel about a time in the future when rising waters engulf the earth, leaving only small chunks of land suitable for living.

Montag, who is from Nebraska, had just moved back from Amsterdam when she had not only a dream as well as a vision.

          “I was pregnant with my first child and I saw the image of a mother with her daughter sailing on a boat in a future flooded world but separated from her other daughter,” she says. “Then I re-discovered a line from a journal I had kept— ‘a group of people huddle around a campfire, struggling to survive and looking for a safe haven.’ Group dynamics has always been an interest of mine and these story lines—a mother separated from her daughter and people trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world all came together and were part of the inspiration for writing the book.”

After the Flood tells the story of Myra and her seven-year-old daughter Pearl who live on their small fishing boat and visit what’s left of dry land to trade for goods and gather information. When Myra learns her long missing daughter, Row, who was kidnapped by her father, has been seen near the Arctic Circle, she and Pearl make their way through the north treacherous  and frozen waters. Their hope is that Row will still be there when they arrive. During their voyage the two join up with others who are also struggling to survive.

          To create this alternate universe, Montag studied a variety of subjects including stories of the Bajau, a group of nomads in Southeast Asia who are sea dwellers, so used to spending time in the water they can hold their breath for up to 13 minutes.

          “I also researched ancient seafarers like the Vikings, read guidebooks on how to build fires, fish and other survival skills,” says Montag. “And I watched sailing videos while eating my lunch.”

          Montag, who is a published poet, says that she was surprised at the reaction to her book, which is scheduled to become a television series.

          “As a poet, you don’t get this type of interest,” she says.

Ultimately, she says, the book is about what parts selfishness and selflessness play in the fight for survival.

“It interested me how the survival instinct can be inherently selfish in a dangerous world without enough resources and others transcended those feelings,” she says. “I was also interested in the way that survival can be seen as selfless as well, as an act of love carrying on.”


What: Reading and Q & A with Kassandra Montag

When: Thursday, October 17 at 7 p.m.

Where: Anderson’s Bookshop La Grange, 26 S La Grange Rd, La Grange, IL

FYI: (630) 355-2665;

Muse of Nightmares: Second in the Epic Fantasy Series Strange the Dreamer

Strange the Dreamer, the epic fantasy series written by Laini Taylor, began as a dream. Now Taylor, a National Book Award finalist, has just released Muse of Nightmares  (Little, Brown 2018; $19.99), the second book in the series.Laini Taylor_Author Photo_AliSmith credit

“The story has been in my mind for 20 years or more,” says Taylor, whose author photo shows her with a shock of long seriously pink hair.  “I think I dreamed Sairi, the character that came to me, who lived high above the city and I thought of her as the Muse of Nightmares. I started writing about her for my first book but then that became Lazio’s book.  But this is about Sairi, the way trauma changes us and if it is possible for a person to overcome this. Sarai doesn’t know what she’s capable of and she feels helpless, but is she?”

The journey of Sairi and Lazio is one of intrigue and mysteries (what was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? where did the gods come from, and why? and  how do they defeat a new foe?) and it’s interesting to note that as we follow Taylor’s story-telling, we often are only a few steps behind her as the story plot evolves. That’s because as much as she wants to shape her story, it often, as she builds her characters and scenes in her mind, takes on a will of its own.

Taylor says she always hopes to get to the ending she has in mind.

“But it doesn’t always work that way,” she says.

Immersed and—dare we say—co-dependent–with her characters, Taylor is sad when they make a bad choice though she can understand why they did so.

“It just give me so much empathy for them,” Taylor says.  “I ask what causes people to do that. When my characters don’t survive, I really wish I could save them, but I can’t.”

But though she doesn’t often know how her books will end or save a character, she did know that she wanted to eschew the typical epic ending of a massive battle between good and evil and instead resolve it by asking and answering a powerful question “must heroes always slay monsters or is it possible to save them?”



When: Thursday, October 11 at 7 p.m.

Where: Anderson’s Bookshop, 123 West Jefferson Avenue Naperville, IL

Cost: Free and open to the public. To join the signing line, please purchase the author’s latest book, Muse of Nightmares, from Anderson’s Bookshop. To purchase please stop into or call Anderson’s Bookshop Naperville (630) 355-2665.

FYI: (630) 355-2665;

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