Sarah H. Baker is a retired engineer turned author of more than 20 published novels and numerous novellas and short stories. In 2020 she released The Prisoner, book one in her Promise Me Tomorrow speculative fiction series. Visit Sarah’s website at SarahHanberryBaker.com and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. Read more about Sarah in her 2015 and 2019 interviews for SouthWest Writers.
What do you want readers to know about the story you tell in Promise Me Tomorrow?
I wrote Promise Me Tomorrow in order to create a positive picture of the future of human beings. I spent much of the last decade of my career working in sustainability and studying issues like climate change. The whole thing can be depressing. But I believe humans will live on after society as we know it now changes to something totally different.
Who are your main protagonists, and why did you choose them as point of view characters?
Kole is the Protector of New Village. He protects a society based on love and kindness. Shylah, who starts out as a bandit injured and left behind when a group of bandits raids New Village, has never known the concept of love. All her life she’s had to fight to survive and can’t imagine a different world. These two characters represent opposite views of humanity, so they are naturally in conflict.
What is the main setting? How does it impact the story and the characters?
The main setting, New Village, is in the mountains of Colorado, founded at the opening to a cave housing a hot spring. After New Village is attacked, Kole leads a group into the ruins of Denver, looking for the rest of the bandits. He must find them in order to make New Village safe again.
Staying in New Village and watching the way villagers treat each other has a profound effect on Shylah. After a while, she realizes she doesn’t want to go back to her violent past. And when chasing the bandits, Kole must face the fact that he, too, can be violent when he’s protecting the villagers and their peaceful way of life.
Tell us how the book came together.
The spark for the story was the setting—a world based on love and peaceful coexistence. Kole came to me quickly; Shylah I had to work at. The story came together over several months, but then I had a break from writing while battling cancer. Several years later, I picked it back up and finished the story. After editing with beta readers’ feedback, I self-published the book as the first of a series.
What was the most difficult aspect of world building for the book?
The most difficult aspect was putting a group of people with a modern understanding of the world into a stone-age existence. I did a lot of research on edible plants and making clothes from native fibers.
What was your favorite part of putting this project together?
Creating the vision of New Village. I’d want to live there if I were alive at that time.
Promise Me Tomorrow is a departure from your romance releases. Why did you choose to go in this new direction?
The book isn’t a romance, but it certainly has a central romance running through it. Still, you’re right; it is a departure. I chose this because of my need to create a vision of the future that didn’t include zombies or a nuclear apocalypse.
KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy posts to a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.