The Perseid Collapse Kindle World Interview Series:
A.R. Shaw—Post-apocalyptic thriller writer and former Texan
A.R. Shaw is unique within the initial wave of launch authors, because she’s the first post-apocalyptic writer I approached with the idea of writing in The Perseid Collapse Series Kindle World. Her popular series, Graham’s Resolution, tackles the idea of a devastating pandemic, but goes much further than I ever did in The Jakarta Pandemic. Her first novel, The China Pandemic (she’s on the no visa to China list with a growing number of Kindles Worlds authors), launches a much deadlier pandemic—on par with the “Captain Trips” superflu in Stephen King’s The Stand. This change alone yields an eerie, dystopian feel to her series, which readers will find mesmerizing.
She takes this same approach in her novella, Deception on Durham Road, creating an unnerving feel to a mostly quiet and serene setting in the neighborhood featured in The Jakarta Pandemic. Of course, Durham Road immediately following the “event” is anything but safe and placid, as readers quickly learn. I’m straying into spoiler territory, so let’s get on with the interview.
When we discussed your story idea, I was really excited by the prospect of going back to Durham Road to see the disaster from a different perspective. What motivated you to return to Alex Fletcher’s neighborhood and pick up where he left?
After reading the series, starting with the Jakarta Pandemic, I chose to explore Jamie McDaniel’s character to explore. She was unique in the fact that she succumbed to the virus and survived where her husband did not. She was a fighter and she had two children that she knew who would be more or less orphaned without her. Six years later, during the Perseid Collapse, after remarrying a bad guy, she again proves she’s a fighter, when she tries to alert Alex to her situation.
This is where I picked up her story and continued to develop her character to prove she had what it takes to survive. So after the Fletcher’s and his group “bug out,” I had Jamie assess her situation on Durham road and stay there to deal with the challenges. All of the characters in my story are found in the original series, except for bicycle guy and the dog characters. Steven did such a great job seething up the world, I found plenty of material to work with. It was a great experience as a writer to play in someone else’s world.
Most writers brought their own characters to the table, interacting lightly with the original Perseid Collapse crew. This is one of the things I enjoyed the most about your story. Seeing Jamie in a different light, as a survivalist and protective mother was a view of her that I never had time to explore. Jamie’s not the only character you brought back to readers. Another, shall we say, disturbed character still lives on Durham Road. I don’t want to give this away, since it plays such an important role in the story, but readers of the series will HIGHLY appreciate what you did with (or to) that character.
I sense genre crossover in your novella, and your Graham’s Resolution series. Elements of suspense, horror…among the more obvious. Which genre or genres do you explore the most in your story?
I had not thought about this until this question but I’m surprised to say elements of the story do cross, not only from post-apocalyptic, dystopian prepper fiction but even horror to a small degree. Perhaps the most frequent is post-apocalyptic.
I couldn’t agree more. You have several very suspenseful scenes that I’d classify as horror, plus the dystopian element is strong. Like your Graham’s Resolution series, there’s also a solid prepper-themed fiction base. Jamie has learned a lot since The Jakarta Pandemic, and the skills you chose to give her come in handy to meet the challenges in your novella.
I think I just hinted at my next question. Themes. Jamie seems to embody your view of survival and readiness. Am I on the mark with this?
Survival certainly is a theme in my own series, with a flair of ingenuity. Having a female mother explore ingenuity the way Jamie does, with a sense of humor, is new for me. I think it works…we’ll see.
I would never have guessed this was a new theme for you. I think it works well within the context of Deception on Durham Road, and adds dimension to the survivalist/survivor character meme.
Tell us a little more about your main character. Why do you think readers will like Jaime?
I believe readers will like her because she’s innovative in her approach to the serious situation she’s cast in. She’s also a mother and a woman in her forties, with a sense of humor. She does it with grace, and I think this is a refreshing change for the genre. Not too many female lead roles in the genre today. It may not be a die-hard prepper novel but it’s a small look into how we as individuals look at situations differently. For Jamie, this disaster, wasn’t such a bad thing.
HAHA! Yes, she had a big reason to celebrate when events conspired to “remove” her second husband from their lives. You don’t want to mess with Jamie McDaniels. I think she’s a clever and much-needed addition to the prepper-novel world. She takes a more subtle approach to survival, and provides valuable lessons about readiness, while entertaining the reader.
I ask everyone this question. Did you have any trouble jumping into a novella based in someone else’s world?
Quite the opposite. I never realized before how much time a story’s foundation took. Having that environment set up for you made it so much easier.
One author described it as coloring between the lines. It’s a lot more complicated than that, but I agree based on my own experience writing Kindle Worlds novellas for other authors. The amount of time put into creating a realistic, viable world for a series is immense. Kindle Worlds shortcuts that process…somewhat. I know you weren’t typing this while watching TV!
In the Graham’s Resolution series, I start off with a pandemic and I’d say it’s a true dystopian event. I explore a survival situation, but the theme is very different. It’s darker. Most families are completely destroyed. My characters have to reform connections. Deception on Durham road is lighter and the family bonds that remain are strengthened for the most part.
I never thought of it that way. They’re both dystopian and dark, but the family element is a huge difference between the two. The China Pandemic takes away 98% of the population, and tears families apart, literally right in front of each other. I sensed a profound sadness in Graham’s Resolution that wasn’t present in your novella. Still, I’m not going to file Deception on Durham Road under the “uplifting, beach read” category any time soon. 😉
Would you share some of your story about becoming a writer?
Mine is similar to Steven’s, really. I wrote the China Pandemic, not really knowing what I was doing. I never submitted to a publisher and I don’t have an agent. It was very well received. I was surprised. I certainly learned some do’s and don’ts right away, but I put up the second one and then kept writing. It’s been an amazing experience.
I knew exactly what I was doing when I first wrote and published The Jakarta Pandemic—about a year later. Isn’t it amazing? Indie publishing has really changed the landscape. I went from an obscure idea to a full-time writing career all because I decided to give the novel to readers on my own terms. Time for a self-publishing high-five!
What else are we missing?
I’ve always written as a hobby but publishing is new to me. I was a radio operator in the Air Force Reserves. I’m a mom to four and married. I have a HAM radio operator license. I have a yellow lab named Oakley. I read a lot…really, I’m very boring but I like it that way.
Another author that claims they are boring. I suppose your reading is boring too?
I’ve always read post-apocalyptic fiction. I’m drawn to it without knowing why. I feel like something tells me, as a society, we’re headed in that direction. But I’m not a doomsday person. It’s more of an instinct. I might be wrong, but what if I’m not?
I don’t mean this to sound rude, but I hope your instinct is wrong. What do you see as the most likely threat to our safety?
Stupidity. Pick the avenue…government, CDC, terrorism… Or, it’s possible, Mother Nature. She’s proven to be a sly caretaker. She’s done it before and she’ll do it again.
Yeah, I’m not sure which one will win that race. Human Nature or Mother Nature. I hope it’s a really long race, or the race gets called off. I’m not holding my breath for either.
What are you working on next, aside from the next novella in The Perseid Collapse Series World? I’m like a bad comedian, returning to the same joke for a laugh.
I’ve left an opening to go back into Deception on Durham Road to write a sequel. I might do that at a later date; it depends on how well it’s received. Now, I’m working on the fourth novel in the Grahams Resolution series. There will be a fifth in the series and possibly a prequel, as well. After that I may move on to a new series.
It had been received really well. Time to continue Jamie’s story on Durham Road. I have to try. Well, I’m looking forward to book three in the Graham’s Resolution series, and I’m psyched to hear that you have a fifth planned…and possibly a prequel. I get the feeling there’s more to the pandemic in the series than you have let readers know. Very exciting!
Check out A.R. Shaw’s website to learn more about her series, and please pick up a copy of her novella, Deception on Durham Road. I want to know more about what happens to Jamie and her daughters!