When Brit Lunden created The Bulwark Anthology, she envisioned a series of bite-sized novelettes, each written by a different author, each with one common thread: their setting, the small, fictitious town of Bulwark, Georgia. Before handing over the reins to her writer friends, Lunden sets up the anthology series with The Knowing, her personal contribution.
In this light read, Lunden tells the story of a boy and a girl who met, years ago, and fell in high school puppy love only to be ripped apart by time and some unknown force. This begins as a straightforward love story, recalling the “football star meets and falls for quirky, offbeat girl” trope, but moves in a decidedly different direction when the girl moves out of town and leaves no forwarding address.
Where did she go? Will he ever see her again? And did she simply move away, or are there dark forces at work?
We asked Brit Lunden a few questions about the first entry in The Bulwark Anthology:
BookTrib (BT): Did you originally conceive Bulwark as a setting for more than one story? Or did you find, as you wrote about it, that there were many stories to be told about the town?
Brit Lunden (BL): I was asked to participate in an anthology by a bunch of authors who write horror. I had never published adult fiction, so I thought it would be a good place to ‘get my feet wet.’ We decided to do a release for Halloween and I started writing immediately. I usually jump into a story midstream, catching a wave of action. I created the main character and his bumbling deputy in a Mayberry type of town, thinking I would be going for a vampire story. It seems my characters had other plans and it went in a totally different direction. I had no idea it would involve children or witches with age-old curses. Since I finished first, I incorporated lots of hooks for the other authors to pull from. Needless to say, nobody finished their stories but me, so I published and was delighted with the favorable reviews. A year later, a few indies approached and asked if we could turn Bulwark into an anthology. I was thrilled, opened the book and picked the first character on the page—JB Stratton. JB is a retired football star. I have never watched a football game. If anyone would have told me I’d be writing his story, I would think they lived in a fantasy land. Yet, I did and I loved JB and his wife. Now Dayna Dalton has tapped me on the shoulder and said it’s her turn.
BT: How did you capture a high school romance so realistically in The Knowing?
BL: Well, that was the easiest part to write. All I had to do is think about my high school romance with my husband. While JB’s and Ellie’s experiences are all their own, their feelings and tenderness are not. Even the confusion that comes with learning to love another person is… well… probably autobiographical.
BT: The ending, with the clock and the wall, is left ambiguous. Could you explain the supernatural forces at work here?
BL: I think about time all the… time. Life passes so fast, and it feels like it’s never enough. Sometimes time throws us together, other times, it keeps us apart. In The Knowing, JB and Ellie have lived and loved before. Have you ever felt that, as if you know a person from another place? I know I have. Time and circumstances have gotten in the way of JB and Ellie from staying together and fulfilling their lives. This clock is a silent observer watching them struggle with life and the obstacles that get in their way. It’s ticking and chimes are a gentle reminder that life is short and shouldn’t be wasted.
BT: What were your influences in creating the town of Bulwark? It’s a bit reminiscent of Twin Peaks.
BL: I never saw Twin Peaks. Up until this year, I haven’t watched much TV. I read a lot. Bulwark reminded me of a little town we passed through on the way to Miami forty-nine years ago. We drove all night because my parents didn’t have money to get rooms in a motel. We stopped in Georgia for breakfast and when I got out of the car, I was awed by the sights and smells of the small roadside stop. It was so quiet. I had never experienced such silence. The air was filled fragrance of peaches ripening in the orchard and the sky… those stars. I felt lost. Weightless in their wonder. I had never seen so many stars in my life. I fell in love with that small town in rural Georgia, tucked it away and it rose right to the surface when I was looking for a magical place.
BT: How about literary influences? Do you have any favorite spooky stories?
BL: I never read the scary stuff. I don’t like horror or violence—go figure. It’s ironic that’s the genre I ended up writing. I read mostly historical fiction. I love anything with history. When I finish a book, I end up looking for more information about the time period and am fascinated about life during different times of history. I love James Clavell, Tracey Chevalier, Bernard Cornwell, but I enjoy popular books too, like Jo Jo Moynes, or Jodi Piccoult. Really, I’ll read anything I can get my hands on.
The Knowing and the rest of the Bulwark Anthology series are now available for purchase.
About Brit Lunden
Brit Lunden is a prolific author who’s written over 50 books in assorted genres under different pen names. Bulwark was her first effort in adult fiction and was chosen by several of her fellow authors as the basis for a new series, The Bulwark Anthology. Using her characters, they are creating new denizens in spin-off stories to this bizarre town. Brit Lunden lives on Long Island in a house full of helpful ghosts.