First up in The Perseid Collapse Kindle World Author Interview Series:
Accomplished author and professional journalist Tom Abrahams.
I’ve known Tom for most of my writing career. We met online…wait a minute, this sounds like a Match.com testimonial. Rewind. Tom and I became friends during my Black Flagged Series days, when I was writing globe-spanning covert operations novels. His first novel, Sedition, a political thriller set amidst a nation-toppling conspiracy in Washington D.C., captured my attention, along with his blistering follow-up, Allegiance. The rest was magic…there’s really no way to write this without sounding like we’re couple.
Tom has penned a three novella series for The Perseid Collapse Series Kindle World. Fans of my series will undoubtedly enjoy the story he has custom crafted.
Let’s get started. Tom, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself outside of your writing life.
I’m a husband and dad who works for a television station. I love reporting on politics and traveling around the country with our political leaders. It’s fascinating and fun and gives me a real appreciation for how a representative democracy works (or doesn’t in some cases). More than that I like watching Downton Abbey and Homeland with my wife, seeing my son kill it on the golf course, and my daughter jump and kick on the dance floor. Other than that, I’m a dullard.
A dullard indeed. I think you forgot to mention “travelling the globe.” Tom has been to Chernobyl for his “boring” work, spent time inside the hallowed halls of the Capitol Building (he essentially described it from memory in Sedition) and has produced a widely popular new segment covering the Keystone Pipeline controversy. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Trust me, it shows in his novels. Read more about Tom here.
When I contacted you about writing in the Perseid World, I was ecstatic that you said “Yes.” Match.com again. I was even more impressed that you formed a story idea so quickly. How did you link your story to The Perseid Collapse Kindle World? Is there any crossover or meetings between your characters and any of the original characters?
I created my central characters, the Rockwell family, on a scene in Chapter 27 of PERSEID COLLAPSE when Alex and Charlie attacked the militia compound in Acton, Maine. Alex sees a family being led to slaughter and he takes action against the would-be-assassins: “A third shot passed through the man’s neck, showering the pavement with blood and dropping him instantly. The family ran for the tree line, screaming.”
That family became James, Leigh, Max, and Sloane Rockwell. And it’s where CROSSING begins. The Rockwell’s never meet Alex, who saved their lives, but they do come across several characters from the PERSEID COLLAPSE who encounter the Fletcher’s at various points in the story.
The tie-in’s are exceptionally clever. When I read his first chapter, I enthusiastically nodded my head, muttering, “this is going to be awesome.”
The Perseid Collapse is different than your Sedition or Allegiance novels, with I would classify as political action thrillers. We’ve talked about writing in the post-apocalyptic genre before (Top Secret discussion), so I knew you’d be interested in this type of story. Outside of post-apocalyptic, what genres do you explore the most in your story?
I most explore the world’s prepper and dystopian aspects. The Rockwells, having survived the Jakarta Pandemic, and are moderately prepared for another SHTF scenario. But they’re not nearly as ready as the family they encounter in REFUGE, part two of the PILGRIMAGE series. That’s when the prepper element is fully explored. The dystopian aspect runs throughout the novellas as the Rockwells try to navigate their way home from a tsunami-ravaged island off the coast of Maine to their home in northern Maryland. It’s not quite Cormac McCarthy, but it’s close.
While we’re talking about overarching aspects of your work—what major theme comes across the clearest in your story? Is this a theme found consistently in your other works?
I think the theme of self-discovery amidst crisis permeates all of my works. In SEDITION, the heroine, Matti Harrold learns the world is not black and white; there are shades of gray. She has to navigate that reality to stop a violent political coup. In ALLEGIANCE, Jackson Quick is the protagonist. Through the course of his action-filled adventures across the globe, the reader learns his back story and how he’s become the man he is. That man changes and evolves as he weaves his way through life-threatening challenges. And of course, the Rockwells are forced to face their fears (and demons) as they attempt to survive in a brutal post-apocalyptic landscape.
The theme of self-discovery is powerful, and you explore them perfectly in all of your novels. Jackson Quick, from your Allegiance books, is a case study in self-realization, starting out as a confused victim of an international/regional based conspiracy, and morphing into one of the hunters. James Rockwell felt similar. Easily underestimated, “Rock” rises to the consistently rises to the occasion to protect his family. I’m jumping ahead here.
Tell us more about the “Rock.” Why do you think readers will like him?
James “Rock” Rockwell could be a panda. But he’s not. And he’d likely find sharpened bamboo a weapon rather than a snack. James is a high school physics teacher who’s taken up extreme adventure vacationing since the death of his eldest child (in the Jakarta Pandemic). He’s coped with her death by forcing his remaining family to adopt his coping mechanisms of life-affirming risk. He’s a smart man who loves his family. And as the story evolves, we learn he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get his family home, no matter the cost to his soul or sanity.
Let’s shift gears a little and talk “the process” again. Most writers in the The Perseid Collapse Kindle World reported that they nearly doubled their normal writing output. Did you experience something similar?
At least double. I normally write about 500 words a day. It takes me about seven months of writing to complete a novel. I completed CROSSING (at 27,000 words) in 11 days. I finished REFUGE (32,000 words) in 12 days. The tight deadline helped me push harder than I would normally. And I think it’s some of the best writing I’ve put to paper. I’m a journalist by trade, and so I work very well under deadline pressure. I’ll probably finish ADVENT (the third in the series) in about two weeks. There’s no deadline now…
That’s what you think. I expect it much sooner. 😉
Were you able to carry any similarities from your previous work to your novellas? Anything to smooth the transition?
My books are similar only in that the characters are thrust into a dangerous, life-altering dilemma not of their own doing. They have to use their wits, ingenuity, and limited survival skills to prevail. Though, truth be told, political fiction and post-apocalyptic fiction aren;t that dissimilar. Both involve egomaniacal villains, well-meaning, out-matched heroes out for the common good, greed, violence (or the threat of it), and the illuminati. Maybe the illuminati. I can neither confirm nor deny it.
One of the major discoveries I’ve made since writing The Jakarta Pandemic, is that prepper-themed fiction can be an amazing way to spark an interest in readiness. This is one of the most common themes I see in emails, reviews and comments from readers of my novels. Without a doubt, readers will walk away from your Pilgrimage stories with PLENTY to chew on. You go into great detail about the Rockwell’s travel/mobile preps (which saves their lives) in Crossing (book one) and you top it with an incredible “prepper” compound in book two (Refuge). Readers will want to know. Are you a prepper or homesteader? More of a Worrier?
I should be. The best I can do is tell you I have a gas-fueled generator. We bought it when we lost power for two weeks after Hurricane Ike.
Worrier/beginner—that’s exactly where I stood when I wrote The Jakarta Pandemic. I have no doubt you will start to get the “fever” as the lessons you’ve distilled in your novellas will take hold.
Speaking of worries. What do you see as the most likely threat to modern living in our lifetime? In other words, what might cause TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It)?
Amazon Algorithms, undoubtedly.
What are you working on next, aside from the next novella in The Perseid Collapse Series World? 😉
I have two ALLEGIANCE novels written and sitting with my publisher, Post Hill Press. ALLEGIANCE will be re-released as a paperback, with a new awesome cover, on July 28, 2015. ALLEGIANCE BURNED is out August 25, 2015. And HIDDEN ALLEGIANCE will be available December 22, 2015. I am currently writing INTENTION, the sequel to SEDITION. It has a tentative release of 2016.
Tom, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to answer these questions…but most importantly, I know my readers will thank you for expanding The Perseid Collapse World. I’m both excited and humbled by your effort. THANK YOU!