Anissa Stringer, a long-time Ahwatukee resident and author, has just released her two latest books in an apocalyptic series, The Glare.
Her latest books, “By the Oath” and “The Secret Lives of Healers” are her 13th and 14th novels, respectively, as well as numbers six and seven set in the world of The Glare, which begins in Ahwatukee.
“By the Oath” can be read as a stand-alone novel or as a continuation of a three-book series in which earth has changed greatly in 1,000 years – one difference being humans are no longer at the top of the food chain.
In this book, readers follow the heroine Lista, a newly trained healer assigned to help the sick of a nearby village. Some of the characters introduced in this book make their way into the next, “The Secret Lives of Healers.”
Writing apocalyptic fiction in Stringer’s hands isn’t all Dystopian doom and gloom, but it exists.
How Stringer’s characters, the majority are younger women, rise above dark conditions makes the author’s stories stand out.
Besides often scary surroundings and occurrences, the post-apocalyptic world, in which they must navigate, brings opportunities for learning and loving.
Stringer points out that her characters live very back-to-basics lifestyle.
“The apocalypse strips away the veneer of society and eliminates the social constructs that guide our lives. It also exposes our vulnerabilities in a way most other genres can’t,” she said. “The apocalypse offers a unique opportunity to delve into topics like resiliency and the dark side of human nature.”
These are but a few themes that run through her Glare series and the newer books she recently self-published. All are available on Amazon.
Stringer doesn’t view even the worst in a post-apocalyptic world as a dark ending, but sees it rather as “a do-over for human beings.”
“I think apocalyptic fiction is so popular right now because we’re all exhausted,” she said. “It doesn’t necessarily feel like we’re actually living. We’re just trying to get through the day. The Apocalypse gets us back to simpler times. You either succeed or fail depending on whether you adapt to your surroundings, on whether you can hunt or grow a garden.”
Writing was a natural offshoot of Stringer’s passion for reading.
Because her father was in the Army, she and her family moved around a lot.
“I discovered that books let me escape the anxiety that came with going to a new school and meeting new kids every couple of years,” Stringer said. “I started my first novel in college, although I never finished it – it was that bad. But I’ve been writing ever since.”
A magazine writer, Stringer published her first book in 2015 followed shortly by Blood of an Elf: Quinn’s Story.
In both, the protagonists were young women.
“I do tend to write about females, I like strong women characters,” she said. “They’re typically fairly young, depending on the book.”
The Glare series begins when a wavelength of light that the world’s scientists can’t identify until it’s too late. It reaches earth and affects how humans’ eyes function.
It occurs during an Ahwatukee August.
Jenna, who at 13 survived more than most, is one of the survivors who can still see in the series. She finds she can manage in the new reality.
Stringer’s books may be dark, but she says they show the resiliency of the human spirit.
“It’s not just about the Apocalypse, but what one does to survive,” she said.
Although she admits she is blessed with a vivid imagination and has honed her writing craft with years of freelance writing, her themes require much research.
“You have to research to make the stories believable -you have to know what grows during what time of year, and though it may sound gross, what a dead body smells like. I’m always researching.”
Writing is easy compared to the rest of the process.
“Marketing can be a problem. You have to know how best to market yourself and your books. I’m a whiz on Microsoft Word, but social media, I don’t know that as well,” she admitted.
“It used to be when the only way to go was with traditional publishing houses, they did everything for you. But with self-publishing, you’re also the editor, cover artist, marketing person. You have to be prepared to step out of your comfort zone.”
Despite the extra work, the author is a fan of self-publishing and in her visits to writer’s conferences and author symposiums, she champions the method.
“Yes, I tell writers that with self-publishing so accessible and inexpensive or often free, there’s no excuse for writers not to put their work out there,” she said. “With the indie publishing movement, there’s no reason people can’t write and publish the books they’re passionate about writing!”
Stringer said self-publishing can lead to mainstream success, but even without that, there are rewards.
“It’s an indie-writer’s dream to be discovered, but you have to decide how badly you want to get your stories out there. Self-publishing allows new writers far more opportunities than the traditional publishing process does.
“I’ve seen an increase in sales and good reviews as I keep going, and that’s heartening,” said Stringer who is also co-founder of Parchment & Prose, a writers group that meets at Ironwood Library.
Although many of her books feature young women, they are not purposely targeted to that group.
“The Glare is pretty dark and gritty and tackles topics like abuse and alcoholism. My advice for parents is to read the book first. If there are concerns, it’s a good way to start a conversation with their teens about those topics.”
Her first book was dedicated to her daughter, Jessica Stringer, a Mountain Pointe High School grad now in pre-nursing at the University of Arizona. Stringer said her daughter remains among her most ardent supporters and fans.
“I see my books actually as a bit of a legacy for my daughter,” she said.
Stringer’s website, StringerStories.com, is chockablock with content for writers and readers. Her free ‘Newsletter of the Apocalypse’ is available, as are many numerous free downloads that correspond with her books, and descriptions of other books in her library.