By FRAN MAYE
Jodi Byrne, an English teacher at Unionville High School, earlier this month released her debut novel, “Dead Land,” the first in a trilogy that tells the story of an 18-year-old teen who must choose between good and evil in a post-apocalyptic world.
“The idea came from a dream I had when I was a teen-ager,” Byrne said. “An apocalyptic event sets the spark for the storyline.”
Dead Land combines Byrne’s love of fiction, appreciation for young adults and the many challenges they face, and a passion for the spiritual components in life. The novel is set in Pennsylvania and local residents will be excited to find many familiar landmarks in the book.
Byrne said she’s always been a big book reader, and always wanted to author a book. She was an avid reader ever since she was young, she said.
She has been a teacher at Unionville High for 12 years. She said some of her students have checked her book out of the school library, and some read it straight through, about five hours of reading.
“It took me about two years to write,” she said. “Since I work full time, I didn’t have the opportunity to work on it every day. The first year I spent writing, the second year editing and revising.”
Byrne said she finds it easier to write when she’s alone, and when she gets a writer’s block, she goes on a run or walk to help her through the plot wrinkles.
Dead Land, published by Take Two Publishing, is the first installment in the post-apocalyptic series that follows eighteen year-old Sarah Cain. Caught up in the rave of the ultimate high school party, Sarah finds herself outside at 3:10am with her high school crush. Together they witness a violent explosion that tears through the sky. Knocked unconscious, Sarah awakens to a world she no longer recognizes. The sun does not rise, there is no moon or stars, and black rain falls heavily on her shoulders. Forced into survival, Sarah is frequented with strange words and dreams that mystically draw her toward a mountain promising life, even amidst her dying world. Setting out on foot to follow this vision, Sarah meets up with other survivors and discovers that some of them have shared her same dream. Together the group sets off to find The Mountain. Tempted by good and evil at every turn, survivors must decide which path to take.
As an undergraduate Journalism student at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, Byrne took the advice of one of her professors and changed her major to English, specifically focusing on the art of writing. This decision laid the foundation for a career in technical writing, teaching, and eventually fiction writer.
Byne is also part of three local book clubs and runs a Book Club Blog, which provides book suggestions and discussion questions for book clubs every month.
Byrne and her husband live in West Chester and have two sons, both in college.
She will sign copies of the book Dec. 21 at the Kennett Square Book Shoppe, 113 South Union Street, on Dec. 21 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
She is now working on the second installment of the Dead Land series with a book to be called “Hollow Land.” The final book will be called “Promised Land.”