The Perseid Collapse Kindle World Interview Series:
Sean T. Smith—author, songwriter, family man.
Did I mention Sean lives in Florida? I’m a little focused on Florida these days, thanks to the five feet of snow accumulated on the ground in my yard, so I particularly enjoyed the setting of Sean’s Perseid Collapse Kindle Worlds novella—The Florida Keys. Not the Keys I remember from Spring Break, but the descriptions of the mangrove swamps, sweltering heat and lush vegetation took me away from a harsh New England winter for a few hours.
Of course, Sean’s novella was not a peaceful Margaritaville interlude. Set several months after the “event” that paralyzes the United States in the original Perseid Collapse Series, things are vastly different. Sprawling FEMA camps dominate the landscape, providing the only refuge for the vast majority of Americans caught off guard by the “event.” Not everyone lives in the camps, which is where Sean’s novel starts. Unfortunately, life outside of the camps is dangerous—in a Mad Max kind of way within Sunshine Patriots.
Without giving any more of the story away, let’s kick off the interview.
Sean, your story is the first novella published in the Perseid Collapse Series Kindle World that is set several months after the collapse event described in the original series. I was really excited to learn that you would take this approach, which turned out to be a fantastic look at life, in the post “event” world, from the eyes of a family man that had prepared for a major disaster. Which of the apocalyptic genres do you explore the most in your story?
The story is a thriller, with strong prepper themes. After the Jakarta Pandemic, the family decided to become better prepared for a catastrophic event; their preps did indeed allow them to fare better than most after the Event. Some things are impossible to prepare for, though.
Right. I hinted at the fact that he was prepared, because the main characters in the original series fall into the same category, but as you quickly highlight, there’s absolutely no way to fully prepare for an event like the one described in The Perseid Collapse. Eventually the circumstances catch up, taking the story to a whole new level, which is what happens in Sunshine Patriots.
What major theme comes across the clearest in your story? Is this a theme found consistently in your other works? Don’t hesitate to share!
I’m drawn to the struggle between light and darkness, and how this conflict affects those engaged in the battle. How does a good person drive out evil without drowning in it? Evil cannot be negotiated with…it must be destroyed. It’s bloody work, and the wounds often linger. This theme is intertwined with a family in peril, and the question of “what would I do to protect my children?” I never thought about how consistently this appears in my books, but it’s in all of them. Probably because I wake up in the middle of the night, worrying about my kids.
The Wrath trilogy is published by Permuted Press, beginning with Objects of Wrath, which was released last February. It’s a post-apocalyptic epic, spanning four generations following the next world war. The themes of faith, family, and firepower are strong in the books. The conclusion to the trilogy releases on Feb. 3, the same day as the Kindle World launches! http://www.amazon.com/Objects-Wrath-Volume-Sean-Smith/dp/1618682245
Beyond the light and darkness theme, how is the Wrath series similar to your novella? I sense there’s more.
The themes are definitely similar. Beyond that, there are other similarities. The main character is a soldier, heroic and flawed. There is an element of lawlessness and anarchy in the Wrath world similar to that of the Perseid Collapse universe, although in my trilogy, the whole world is smashed. I try to write characters that face terrible hardships, not because they make stupid decisions, but in spite of their essential goodness and intelligence. Also, shooting. I like lots of shooting.
Tell us more about your main character. Why do you think readers will like him?
John Goodwin is a retired combat veteran, an Army Ranger, trying to keep his daughters alive in the wake of the Event. He is tough, resourceful, and smart, but deeply wounded by the loss of his wife, barely keeping it together for the sake of his kids. His older daughter, Alexandria, is also a viewpoint character, a high-school senior who is forced to grow up faster than she should. I think readers will relate to this family and the way that their love for one another sustains them despite their brokenness and the deadly adversity they face.
I enjoyed the addition of Alexandria’s point of view. Seeing the apocalyptic world from a more vulnerable point of view really added depth to the story, giving us a dual tale that is almost too relatable for me. I couldn’t help but imagine my own kids in a similar nightmare scenario. Gave me goosebumps.
Let’s talk about your experience with the process. Most writers in the The Perseid Collapse Kindle World reported that they nearly doubled their normal writing output. Did you experience something similar?
I did. Some of this was out of necessity, having a hard deadline of about two weeks to crank out twenty-thousand words. There was a great deal of caffeine involved. There is also a kind of freedom in not having to worry about the world- building aspects of a story, since this story exists within the Perseid Collapse universe. I was able to focus on one family, and a small region affected by the Event.
I can relate to the caffeination process, Sean. I still wake up far earlier than I should, a habit I picked up while writing before heading out to the day job. I’m usually two cappuccinos into the day before most people’s alarm clocks buzz.
Songwriter and author? Obviously, songwriting came first—when did you start writing fiction?
I’ve wanted to write for a living since I was in college at the University of Florida. Unfortunately, I’ve not yet managed to pull it off. I moved to Nashville to pursue a songwriting career, and I lived there for ten years. I was lucky to be mentored by some great writers, guys with armloads of hits, who wrote songs with me and made me a better writer. I ended up moving back to Florida and starting a family right about the time my songwriting career was kicking into high gear. I don’t regret it for a minute, though.
Once I moved away from Music City, I started writing Objects of Wrath, finding that I needed to keep writing in order to stay sane, and enjoying the broader canvas that fiction afforded me. In a song, you’ve got three and a half minutes, a total of sixteen lines, and every single word has to count. The scale of a novel is much larger. I love crafting a world, filling it with characters that feel as real to me as people I know.
The Nashville days must have been amazing, as will the full time writing days I have no doubt are in your near future. Outside of writing, what makes you interesting? I’ve found that authors are some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met.
I love the outdoors. Whether it’s fishing down in the keys, diving for lobster and making the run from Largo to Flamingo across the flats, or climbing in the Rocky Mountains, I’m happy. I like the wild places off the beaten path where there is always danger lurking, and the danger makes whatever it is I’m doing more vibrant. It might be that shark circling while I’m spear fishing, or it might be the Grizzly bear a mile down slope, but knowing those things are out there makes the whole experience more memorable, makes me feel alive. I’m a history buff, and intrigued by patterns over time. I like to shoot firearms, although I no longer own one. I’m thinking about purchasing another one.
Quick question for the SHTF readers. Are you a prepper or homesteader? Worrier?
I’ve got a bug-out bag, but really, I’m woefully unprepared if the SHTF. I live close to a huge military base, and if there’s war, I’ll be dead before I’ve got the chance to run. I do have some contingency plans in the event of something less catastrophic, all of which involve getting the hell out of the city!
Living next to a military can have its advantages, as long as your SHTF event isn’t a full scale nuclear exchange, or something that involves a base-wide FEMA camp, like Sunshine Patriots. 😉
How did you become interested in post-apocalyptic fiction?
My father read Lucifer’s Hammer out loud to our family when I was maybe twelve or so. This lead to long discussions about what we would do in the event of a war or other great calamity. This was back in the eighties, at the height of the cold war. These long family talks lead to an abiding love for post-apocalyptic fiction. The whole “what would I do?” idea is very appealing. Some of my favorite PA books are The Road, The Stand, A Canticle for Leibowitz, and Wolf and Iron.
Wow, was your dad trying to scare you guys to death? LOL! Must be something about dads. Lucifer’s Hammer was one of my dad’s favorite books. He especially loved to describe the guy that surfed the tsunami that hits Los Angeles.
I get the feeling from the Wrath series that you’re not a comet guy. What do you see as the most likely threat to life as we know it?
World War Three. It’s only in the last seventy years that man has possessed the ability to cause his own extinction. With Russian aggression on the rise, China building a navy, and global warming leading to the melting of the arctic ice pack. As that ice melts, new opportunities for oil drilling are opening up, and now the Russians are reactivating bases, shifting their fleet around to militarize the arctic. The Chinese are doing the same thing in the Pacific, turning disputed islands into airstrips. A conflict between nuclear powers frightens me more than terrorism, although I believe terrorists may well trigger the global conflict. That’s how the war in the Wrath books begins.
Unfortunately, it’s not unrealistic at all, especially given the resurgence of political and military posturing we’ve seen from the Russians and Chinese lately. What are you working on next, aside from the next novella in The Perseid Collapse Series World? 😉
I plan to publish The Tears of Abraham in the late spring; it’s a novel about the next American Civil War. The premise is that Congress is broken, Democrats have been in control of the White House for sixteen years, and Texas secedes from the union. A special forces soldier tries to make it home to his family in Key West, hunted by the Directors, who caused the war—because the soldier holds the key to the global conspiracy.
I’ve also got a series of novellas I hope to release. The Fate of the Fallen is about an angel who has lived and died many times over the last two thousand years. He is unique in that he has free will, and his decisions ripple through time as he attempts to stave off a nuclear apocalypse.
Finally, I’m part of the development team for a post-apocalyptic video game called The Seed, for Misery Development. It’s a two-D interactive novel, a “choose your own ending” experience for readers, in which the choices the reader makes lead to different branches in the plot. That project is a blast. The developers did photo shoots all over Eastern Europe and Russia.
As a parting note, thank you for including me in this project! It’s an honor and a pleasure, and it’s been a great deal of fun.
Sean, the pleasure has been all mine. Seriously. Sounds like you have a lot of “irons in the fire,” enough to keep you busy for most of the year, if not longer. Thank you for taking the time to write Sunshine Patriots. Readers of The Perseid Collapse books and fans of post-apocalyptic fiction everywhere are in for a treat.