December 21, 2012

Guest Post by Author Suzanne van Rooyen

“Now I'm all alone
Kept the pain inside
Wanna torch the world
Cause I'm breathin fire”
by Cold - End of the World

The lyrics above pretty much encapsulate the world for my protagonist Kyle in Obscura Burning. According to some, the world is going to end today thanks to the Mayans and their limited calendar. The world was supposed to end before, dozens of times, but we’re still standing (for now). 

Many have speculated about the end of times, about how the world will end - climate change and super storms, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, space junk colliding with our planet, bioterrorism or nuclear destruction. We’re obsessed with our inevitable demise, whether it be by virus, zombie, alien or a second coming of religious figures. T. S Elliot wrote a most poignant and chilling poem called The Hollow Men, the last stanza of which I think paints a far more accurate picture of how humanity will eventually expire:

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

In Obscura Burning, Kyle gets tangled up in a quantum event that may or may not bring about Armageddon. His world degrades as does his psyche with the end daubed in fire. No zombies or germ warfare here - just a boy struggling with reality and his penchant for flames. Writing this book got me thinking about what I would do if I knew without a doubt that the world was going to end. Would I stay home with family? Would I splurge on plane tickets and get in some last minute travelling before the world goes boom? Would I even stick around for the end or check-out early?

Although Kyle’s story centres around the Fourth of July, I wonder what he would’ve done had he had one last Christmas to spend with his loved ones. I imagine it’d go something like this:

We’ve gone all out this year, stringing every ribbon of tinsel we can scrounge from attic boxes around the house. All that gold and silver - it makes my eyes hurt. Dad’s doing the lights too, strangling our house and the oak tree outside my window with blinking LEDs. Mom’s on a mission with dinner. She’s getting ready to feed the whole state of New Mexico. Not that any of us can eat with the knots in our stomachs as we wait to expire. I wonder if it’ll be slow and painful? If I’ll even know it’s happening or if it’ll be like flicking a switch from light to dark, life to death. Mom and Dad hold hands and reach for mine. This is the way the world ends, families coming together at the last supper with bowed heads and sweaty palms, mumbling prayers to gods with iron fists. I just wish it was over already, so that my atoms could spread across the void to make new stars.

About Suzanne van Rooyen

Suzanne is a freelance writer and author from South Africa. She currently lives in Finland and finds the cold, dark forests nothing if not inspiring. Suzanne is the author of the cyberpunk novel Dragon’s Teeth(Divertir), the YA science fiction novel Obscura Burning (Etopia) and has had several short stories published by Golden Visions Magazine, Space and Time and Niteblade. Niteblade nominated her short story Where dreams are grown for the Pushcart Prize. Her non-fiction articles on travel, music and other topics can be found scattered throughout the Internet. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When not writing you can find her teaching dance to ninth graders or playing in the snow with her shiba inu. Suzanne is represented by Jordy Albert of the Booker Albert Agency.

Her latest novel:

The world's going to end in fire…and it's all Kyle's fault.

Kyle Wolfe's world is about to crash and burn. Just weeks away from graduation, a fire kills Kyle's two best friends and leaves him permanently scarred. A fire that Kyle accidentally set the night he cheated on his boyfriend Danny with their female friend, Shira. That same day, a strange new planet, Obscura, appears in the sky. And suddenly Kyle's friends aren't all that dead anymore.

Each time Kyle goes to sleep, he awakens to two different realities. In one, his boyfriend Danny is still alive, but Shira is dead. In the other, it's Shira who's alive...and now they're friends with benefits. Shifting between realities is slowly killing him, and he's not the only one dying. The world is dying with him. He's pretty sure Obscura has something to do with it, but with his parents' marriage imploding and realities shifting each time he closes his eyes, Kyle has problems enough without being the one in charge of saving the world...


  1. I'm reading it now, and I'll be posting a review this week. I'll let you know when it's up.