In 2017, Shawn Smucker introduced readers to the enchanting world of 12-year-old Samuel Chambers in his debut novel, The Day the Angels Fell. Now with The Edge of Over There (Revell), Abra is led to pursue the Tree once more—but she’s starting to think that some doorways should never be opened. In this interview, Shawn explains how Abra’s life has changed in the time between the books, where he heard about the concept of the seven gateaways, and how he hopes the book will challenge readers…
In The Day the Angels Fell, you introduced readers to a 12-year-old boy who lost his mother to a tragic accident and desperately seeks the Tree of Life to bring her back. How does The Edge of Over There continue the story?
In the sequel, Abra Miller takes on the role of the angel tasked with finding and destroying the Tree of Life. She and Sam have grown apart, but the ancient struggle around the Tree continues, and Abra is swept up in it.
Abra is the main character in your new book. How has her life changed since the events relayed in The Day the Angels Fell?
She is four years older, and she is lonelier after experiencing the events in book one. She is also hungry for more of the same adventure, more of the same otherworldly involvement, but four years is a long time, and she begins to doubt if any of it really happened or if she would see anything like it again.
You refer to seven gateways between this world and Over There. Would you explain them?
I scoured the Internet after finishing book one, trying to find out more legends about the Tree of Life, and came across this one legend, an ancient belief that there were seven gates between Earth and the afterlife. One gate on each continent. I started playing around with this concept, and that’s what led to The Edge of Over There.
What made you decide to write these books?
I decided to write the first book after spending time in Istanbul with a very good man who was dying of cancer at the age of 49. His story plunged me into thinking quite a lot about death.
I combined that theme with some questions I had about Bible stories I’d heard when I was a child, stories that don’t have much in the way of closure. Asking questions is what leads me into new stories.
What is one of the main points you hope readers learn from your book?
I’d like readers to continue to engage with me in considering the question, Could it be possible death is a gift? I think The Edge of Over There also explores themes of selfishness and power and control, and I hope it challenges our current cultural obsession with living forever and doing anything to remain young.
Visit Shawn Smucker’s author page here: https://www.familyfiction.com/authors/shawn-smucker
The Edge of Over There
Day the Angels Fell #2