Jeyn Roberts’s Dark Inside, currently one of our featured reads (read it here, available until November 14), celebrated it’s fifth anniversary last week. It’s a riveting post-apocalyptic story—or rather, an apocalyptic one, as it takes place during the apocalypse itself—in which four teens are forced to band together to survive as the world crumbles around them, succumbing to brutal natural disasters…and a mysterious ancient evil. VOYA described it as “a fascinating blend between Matheson’s I Am Legend and Collins’s The Hunger Games,” and it certainly is a page-turner, read it while it’s available and see for yourself! In honor of it’s fifth anniversary, we asked author Jeyn Roberts to tell us a little about how Dark Inside came to be:
I decided to move to South Korea in August of 2009. It turned out to be an easy decision. After being fired from a job I hated, I turned my attention towards Asia as a chance to travel and earn some money teaching English. While doing my Masters in England, a good friend of mine had told me all about Korea. It made me want to go. And being a poor, starving wannabe author, it made perfect sense to me. I had three manuscripts that I had failed to sell and thought I could spend the next little while revising them.
Moving to a new country is never easy. I remember getting off the plane and stepping out of the Incheon Airport into a gust of insanely humid weather. I wanted to turn around and go back home. A week later I had the same thought again when I sat in my school principal’s office for fifteen minutes while several teachers had a conversation around me that I couldn’t understand.
It’s never easy being the only foreign teacher in a school. The language barrier wasn’t as bad as I imagined. There were several people who spoke English and Koreans are infamous for making sure you never eat lunch alone. I quickly made friends with some of my co-workers, one of which I’m still constantly in touch today.
And this is how Dark Inside started. After spending a few months, failing to rewrite my manuscripts into something good, I finally decided it was time to take on a new book. And I knew exactly which book I wanted to write because Dark Inside had been brewing in my mind for many years. The end-of-the-world novel based on dreams I’d had as a teenager.
So I started writing in a coffee shop named Angel-In-Us. I took the bus down almost every night and worked for a few hours. Not all stories come fast, but this one did. I didn’t know a lot of people in Daejeon and that gave me a lot of extra time in the evening. And I was isolated, just as the characters in my book. It was winter now and cold. When I needed to think things through, I took long walks in the snow.
One of the amazing things about being a writer, is that you can be anywhere in the world. I remember sitting in the coffee shop one night, working on a particularly difficult scene that didn’t want to be written. So I turned on the live feed and watched the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. It was a very surreal moment for me. Living in Asia, writing about Vancouver and watching people walk down Robson Street when I was thousands of miles away. It made me very homesick for the first time since I’d left.
In a way, Aries, Mason, Michael, and Clementine helped me through my homesickness. I spent a lot of time with them, getting to live through their adventures. I especially loved being back with Aries in Vancouver and Mason in Saskatoon. And of course I was lucky to have some wonderful friends message with me on Skype and help me through some tough scenes. Every writer needs good muses (aka friends).
I sold Dark Inside while I was still in Korea. At three in the morning. It was actually quite funny, considering my agent was in England and the publishers in New York. It turned out to be a very bittersweet moment for me. I’d always imagined being surrounded by my friends and family when I sold my first book. Turns out, I couldn’t even message anyone back home because it was too early. The celebration had to wait.
So that’s the story about how Dark Inside started out as an idea and turned into a novel. And why I’ll always look back at my time in South Korea and think of it as one of the best in my life.
And kimchi. Mmmm kimchi.