What: Author Jeremiah Jimenez (writing as Jeremiah Franklin) discusses “Dark Tomorrow: Rise of the Crow”

When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday

Where: Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 2690 NE U.S. Highway 20, Bend

Cost: Free

Contact: barnesandnoble.com or 541-318-7242

For Bend author Jeremiah “Jerry” Jimenez, one of the biggest obstacles to completing his debut novel was finding the time to write. As a special education teacher and former varsity boys soccer coach at Mountain View High School, and the father of two young children, spare time was in short supply.

“I worked on it off and on for eight years,” Jimenez said. “But when I decided to write seriously, I cut out television. You’re not going to finish a novel if you’re binge-watching the latest hit TV series.”

That sacrifice paid off with the Sept. 18 publication of “Dark Tomorrow: Rise of the Crow.” Jimenez released the book under the pen name Jeremiah Franklin (Franklin is his middle name), to avoid the mispronunciations and misspellings of Jimenez he often encounters.

Set in the near future, the coming-of-age story centers around 16-year-old Sawyer Bradshaw, who is one of the few survivors left alive in Southern California after a deadly virus decimates Earth’s population. In the violent and chaotic aftermath of the pandemic, Sawyer teams up with a teenage girl named Sara and the two try to survive as they navigate a web of conspiracies, power struggles and betrayals.

A largely self-taught writer, Jimenez was a psychology major in college and went on to earn a master’s degree in education. He made some early attempts to write a book, but only got about halfway through two different manuscripts which he thought were terrible when he revisited them later.

“I think I needed maturity and life experience to write this novel,” 42-year-old Jimenez said.

He credits his psychology studies and time working as a private investigator in his early 20s for helping with the story’s character building and also with contributing some of the darker elements in the book, which he witnessed as an investigator.

“My psych degree gave me a lot of insight into how people think and their motives,” Jimenez said. “As a P.I., you do a lot of people watching, and you do it anonymously. I felt like I was seeing human nature unfold … and not always the best side of human nature.”

Jimenez conceived “Dark Tomorrow” after reading “The Road,” by Cormac McCarthy. The premise and the writing of that Pulitzer Prize-winning novel inspired him to craft something similar, with younger central characters.

“As a coach and teacher, I think I’m pretty in touch with kids and teenagers,” Jimenez said. “I’d envisioned the story with young adult characters, but kind of wrote the book to appeal to a wide range of readers, not specifically to a Y.A. audience. There’s not a lot of heavy swear words or sexual content, but there are some graphic descriptions of violence.”

Jimenez says he’s always been a bit of an armchair survivalist. He’s not interested in doomsday prepping, but is intrigued by aspects of surviving in the wild such as how to start a fire, shelter building and how to eat indigenous plants. He was able to incorporate many of those details into his narrative as Sawyer and Sara struggle to survive. Readers may also be surprised to find there’s also romance, conspiracy and mystery plots interwoven with the darker, post-apocalyptic survival story.

After finishing his manuscript in 2016, Jimenez began researching and querying agents who represented writers publishing similar work. He had sent out just eight query letters when an agent requested a manuscript and soon after, offered to represent Jimenez. At his new agent’s suggestion, Jimenez split his original manuscript into two books that were then sold as part of a three-book deal, based on the detailed outline for the third installment of the “Dark Tomorrow” trilogy.

Jimenez is completing final edits for the second novel in the series, which is scheduled for release in spring 2019. He has finished a draft of the third book which is due for release later that year.

Jimenez resigned as the soccer coach at Mountain View High School this year in order to give himself more time to work on his writing and promote his books. While he misses coaching, he has found a new way to mentor his students, establishing and advising a creative writing club at the school.

21544815