Monday’s Friend: Lyndi Alexander

I am pleased to welcome Lyndi Alexander to the blog today, talking about the themes in her newly released YA post-apocalyptic novel.

By Lyndi Alexander

Several summers ago, I gave in to the hype and read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. I knew it depicted a post-apocalyptic world before I read it, so I was prepared for some darkness. I just didn’t expect that future to be so black.  Same with The Hunger Games. Children killing other children for the entertainment of those not required to participate is pretty grim.

Merriam Webster defines an apocalypse as “a great disaster : a sudden and very bad event that causes much fear, loss, or destruction.”

So, an event. One (perhaps extended) moment in time that changes life from that point on for a number of people.

But even in light of the significance of such an event, the outcome doesn’t have to be a pessimistic one, does it? Each of us as human being has a choice when faced with events—we can succumb to our negative tendencies, or we can take hold of our swaying reality with both hands and steer into a positive current.

I don’t know a person who hasn’t suffered a loss that hasn’t sucked their own life into a void for a period of time, whether that’s the death of a parent/spouse/child, a divorce, loss of a long-time job, or the outcome of a natural disaster. What shows their character is how they react to this event.

Or as it says in the Chinese proverb that is the epigraph for my latest YA novel, “When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.”

In WINDMILLS, what’s meant as a local terrorist act becomes a global apocalypse as a virus that targets Caucasians spreads to wipe out most of the white population of the United States and the rest of the world. Minorities become majorities. Power shifts. But the important battles don’t take place on the field of war, but in the heart and soul of each individual.

In contrast to Stephen King’s similarly post-apocalyptic THE STAND, this story doesn’t base itself on the traditional religious lines between God and the Devil. Good is personified by young Lin Kwan, who is challenged to bring healing herbs across a lawless Pacific ocean to her scientist father in what’s left of America, with the hope of stopping the mutation of this virus and saving everyone who’s survived. Or Xi San, a former pre-med student who’s lost his whole family and has set himself up as a vigilante, saving people in his neighborhood from the gangs, awaiting his own death. Or Eddie Garrick, just turned 18, a gifted electrogeek who sets off across the country to help get radio communications working again.

Of course there are others with less honorable motives. The assassin Jin Piao, sent from China to kill Kwan and her father before they succeed.  Gabriel, a white supremacist, emerged from his bunker to exact revenge on the non-whites who have changed his world. Others determined to live by lootings and murders. They’ve made their choices. But will they triumph?

How about you? If an apocalypse—a terrible event out of your control—came to your life, would you give in to those base urges and run wild, or would you hold tight to those moral teachings that have guided you all your life?  Would you build a wall, or a windmill?


She had a few family heirlooms, things her parents hadn’t felt safe carrying with them across the ocean: an abalone-and-pearl hair comb of her mother’s; and her father’s treasures of some old military medals, a handful of Japanese military yen he’d kept from an earlier war, and three gold yuan that predated Communist rule of the People’s Republic. Even to a collector, these  personal possessions would hardly bring much in the way of cash. She could think of no way they could possibly raise the money they’d need to make the trip.

Doomed from the start.

Shuai peered shyly around the corner from the bedroom. Even though she wasn’t included in this conversation, she could scarcely avoid overhearing them.

“I can sell my hair,” she whispered.

The thought struck horror into Kwan’s heart. Women of her family had always been encouraged to grow long hair, feeling that even if they didn’t have a lot of money, at least they would have beautiful personal assets.

“No, Shuai,” she said quickly.

The little girl stared at her. “We both could. They could make several wigs for the fancy women. They can afford to pay.”

Kwan’s breath caught in her throat, or was that rising nausea? Her long, thick hair had defined her for years and hadn’t been significantly cut since she was five years old. Boys complimented her on it. Other girls coveted it. She had no parents, no money, old hand-me-down clothing, nothing worthwhile, but others had envied her hair.

It was her one vanity.

Ehaung stood in the doorway, plate trembling in the hands she held clenched on its edges. “Your hair…”

Tears came to Kwan’s eyes. She studied Shuai’s hair, lying free and loose on her back. Maybe twenty-four inches. She knew hers was the same. Their hair was tended and well-cared for. “We could make a thousand yuan, maybe more. But, no, Shuai. I couldn’t ask you to do that.”

“I want to,” the little girl insisted. Her bottom lip stuck out as her eyes glittered with determination. “It will grow back. If my hair can see you safely to the care of my uncle, then why should I not give it?”

Kwan’s throat was full, and she could not speak. Her cousin’s generosity, the support of the entire remainder of her family, amazed and pleased her.

“Mine, too,” Ehuang said, her voice a soft murmur. She set the almond cookies on the table and returned to the kitchen for the teapot.

The scent of the baking cookies had filled the apartment all afternoon; Kwan’s mouth had watered, waiting for them to be served. Now, their festive promise had changed to the taste of dust in her mouth.

Kwan turned to look at Zhong, who sat nodding with approval.

“All great causes require sacrifice, Kwan.”

The pain of anticipating her new shorn look sat on her shoulder for a moment then faded. This was only a means to an end. A small price to pay for what she must do.

For more information about WINDMILLS:

Website    Facebook  Goodreads


Lyndi Alexander is by day a lawyer fighting domestic violence, by night a single mother of two special-needs children. She enjoys thinking of “what-ifs” and “what might be” and sharing those musings with her readers. Stop by the Polka Dot Banner book battle and read the first chapter of WINDMILLS for free–

1 comment so far

  1. Lyndi Alexander on

    Thanks for hosting me!!

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