The Perseid Collapse Kindle Worlds Interview Series
Combat Veteran, author, columnist and conspiracy theory debunker: Ross Elder
To say that Ross Elder jumped into writing for The Perseid Collapse Series Kindle World would be an understatement. He figuratively dove headfirst into the project, and absolutely nailed it, which came as no surprise. As a professional writer and author, Ross is no stranger to telling stories, fiction and non-fiction. His dedication to a diverse range of writing, on top of an equally interesting (and wide-ranging) life story shined in Scavenger, the first book in the Scavenger Series. Ross is hard at work on Book 2, Defender, and plans to jump right into Book 3, Avenger, after that. I keep telling Ross he can take a break…when he’s finished. 😉
When we first spoke about the project, I knew this would be right up his alley. Having followed Ross on Facebook for a while, I knew his interests directly intersected with The Perseid Collapse World. Ross steals the show during this interview, so I won’t spend any more time with possible spoilers. Let’s jump right into Scavenger and your involvement in Kindle Worlds.
Scavenger is linked to the Perseid event, but follows it by about two weeks. Being based in a Midwest location, I made some assumptions that the total collapse of society would take a bit longer to take hold here, since there were no direct impacts, tsunami, etc. What we have in Scavenger is a rapid decline of civilization due to food shortages and a lack of government services. So the rioting and looting that takes place within the cities spills out into the more rural areas as people seek out the resources needed for survival. There are no interactions with original characters due to the location being used for the storyline.
This is a classic set up for The Perseid Collapse World. Taking an area the author knows well and developing a story based around the Perseid event. You definitely take the road less travelled with your character and initial setup. Scavenger is the perfect name for the novella.
Obviously, your novel is post-apocalyptic. Does it fall under any other genres?
I think psychological thriller could also apply due to the nature of the main character’s mental state and life.
Right. The main character is on his own, under extreme duress…in an exceptionally unusual situation. I don’t think there’s any way for you to avoid digging into the psychological thriller realm, which you handle perfectly. His background also plays a big role in this development.
Writers always talk about themes, but frankly, I don’t sit down with a list of themes to incorporate into my novels. How did you approach this in Scavenger? Is this something readers will find in your other work?
I think the theme behind this story is not only preparedness but the need for people to cooperate and help each other when possible. Yes, it is a theme I use in many of my books. In The Fireman Saga, the main character, Jack, is beginning to learn about creating a preparedness plan, geocaching, and other things along those lines. Of course, his is a different motivation. He is planning for the potential need to disappear and go on the run. (He’s a vigilante) But many of the principals are the same.
Let’s talk about the main character in Scavenger. I alluded to the fact that he is unique in the genre.
Zack Morris, who was born Zack Williams, was orphaned at a young age and is eventually adopted by a retired couple who were both medical professionals. Coming from an abusive childhood, Zack knew what it was like to be hungry and not have a parental figure to care for him so, at a young age, he learned to take care of himself, more or less. Especially when it comes to food. Zack feared not having anything to eat so he followed a predictable pattern for abused children and began hiding food in his bedroom just in case he found himself hungry. For these traits of the character I enlisted the aid of a professional who has spent most of her career working with abused and neglected children. Allyson Blake, an attorney, provided much of the background for the character and helps me keep the character realistic by guiding his actions and memories. These are all based on real-life children with whom she has worked over the years.
Reading the novella, I was haunted by Zack’s background. It felt real to me, described in amazing detail. I wondered whether this was based on some kind of real experience, but was afraid to ask! I’m glad to hear that this was not your personal experience. It’s quite a traumatic, overcoming the odds background, unique…but perfectly suited for the crisis thrust upon him.
I mentioned that you are already deep into writing Book Two. I’ll be honest, you’re another writer in Kindle Worlds that makes me feel like a slacker. The Perseid Collapse Kindle World seems to create writing monsters. What’s the secret? I would like to finish my next novel at a much faster pace than it’s progressing.
I did experience a surge in productivity. I think it was inspirational to delve into a story that was so different from my previous work. Often times, as writers, we get stuck in a rut and we need a muse, so to speak. In this case, it was the ability to create something completely new and to do so within a world that had very few rules. My other writing takes place in a world most people already understand so there are restrictions and boundaries within which I have to work. In Perseid, I can wipe that slate clean and allow my mind to go beyond its normal restrictions for both character development and what might occur within the world. So it is pretty exciting to have those restrictions lifted and just create.
I think you captured the essence of what many of the writers have experienced. No restrictions and boundaries in a new writing world. Even the authors who have written post-apocalyptic novels found it liberating to play in someone else’s sandbox, with very few rules.
Let’s talk about your own writing sandbox.
My other books are primarily related to The Fireman Saga series. In that world, I created an angry father who sees the world around him in a new light following an incident with his daughter. Driven by guidance in the form of advice from his late father, Jack decides to do his part in regards to cleaning up the neighborhood and eradicating some pesky criminals. It is good, old-fashioned, vigilante justice with a military twist because he surrounds himself with professionals who help train him within the tactical world. He has no military or law enforcement experience so the entire series is a training ground for him as he learns this new skill.
I can’t imagine a more emotional topic than capturing the fear and helplessness of a parent, and turning that around on the world responsible—from the ground up.
I know you’re a freelance writer and columnist for several magazines. Can you shed more light on how you got the point where you are writing fiction and non-fiction?
Wow, my story? Okay. I started writing many years ago. It was pretty bad too. (haha) When I was a young soldier stationed overseas during the Cold War, I had a lot of free time on my hands. I read constantly and eventually thought I could write a compelling story of my own. I tried. Several times. I think I still have those unfinished manuscripts somewhere in a box in the attic. Although I never finished those first few attempts, I kept writing. I began writing for a local newspaper doing community related stories on a weekly basis and wrote for a few online outlets over the years. Nothing that would make me famous or make me any money. Eventually I started writing Op-Ed pieces. Surprisingly, people liked them so I kept doing it. When I deployed to Afghanistan, my friends over at Soldier of Fortune magazine, for whom I had written a few things over the years, suggested I become a columnist during my time overseas. I’ve been writing for them regularly since that time. I tend to write a lot so it couldn’t all be contained by what was printed in SOF or posted online at places like SOFREP or LoadOutRoom, so I created my own website so those little nuggets of brilliance weren’t lost. Haha (sarcasm) Much of my professional writing now is the review of firearms and other equipment. Testing and Evaluation stuff.
Reviewing firearms and tactical equipment? Sounds terrible. Who’d want to do that? I’m drooling right now, in case readers are curious.
You no doubt have a background related to your writing, which lends to the authenticity of your stories and characters. Has anything in particular influenced your interest in writing post-apocalyptic stories? You dove into the Perseid project with more gusto than I ever anticpated.
Where to start. I’ve seen the aftermath of hurricanes, flooding, extreme winters, and drought. I even rode out a hurricane once in Gulfport, Mississippi. Aside from terrorism, which I don’t believe would affect a wide region of the country for any length of time – it would be more isolated – I think natural disasters are our greatest threat. I think you could add mismanagement by mankind to that equation. Look at what is happening in California, my birthplace. They are running out of water at a pretty steady pace and it has been happening since I was a kid. They could have addressed it correctly 40 years ago but chose not to do so. The state, which provides a lot of agriculture, could eventually become useless as a producer of anything except bad films and liberal politicians. We have enough of those. A collapse of the water system there could throw that entire region into chaos. So, I think those types of threats are greater than say a foreign invasion or civil war.
I might be five thousand words into an entire series, based around the state you referenced. 😉 Hey, I liked Avatar!!! I’m waiting for Avatar 2—which would probably signal the end of the world.
I see you posting in some of the prepper related groups on Facebook. Is it fair to say you’re a “prepper?” Personally responsible for your readiness?
I think it is safe to say that I am a prepper, yes. I am not a homesteader, yet, but someday I think I would like to give that a try. My friends out at The Valhalla Project in Arkansas have a great educational program for combat veterans teaching them how to do homesteading, animal husbandry, permaculture, and all sorts of other things. Someday I hope to get back out there and really learn how to do those things so I can settle my own little slice of prepper heaven. For now, ensuring I have enough critical supplies to get my family through a disaster or a breakdown of society is more than a hobby for me. My father taught me many things about being prepared and he himself was a bit of a prepper. His insights and guidance can be seen in Scavenger as well as the Fireman Saga.
It’s really cool to hear that your father had an influence on your writing, not to mention such an important aspect of your family life.
The Valhalla Project is a fantastic Veteran’s related cause, if anyone is interested in…you know, helping out veterans. I highly recommend readers check them out and consider HELPING.
What are you working on next, aside from the next novella in The Perseid Collapse Series World? 😉 Hey, agreeing to do one novella is like inviting a vampire inside your house.
Tell me about it! I am approximately halfway through the next installment of The Fireman Saga and hope to have that completed in draft form by summer. Other than that, you can still get your frequent dose of all things Ross at my website, Ross-Elder.com, and in Soldier of Fortune magazine. This year I am going to do something completely different. I am going to attempt to produce a documentary film. I have no experience with such things or any idea how to go about doing it but I’m going to try anyway.
I suggest a documentary about the plight of The Perseid Collapse Series Kindle Worlds authors. Actually, scrap that idea. I won’t go on record about the work conditions at Camp Kindle Worlds. Seriously, that sounds like an amazing venture. We’ll have to stay tuned at Ross-Elder.com for news on the film project. Until then, check out Ross’s Fireman Saga, available at Amazon.
I forgot to mention his Conspiracy Debunking Tool/Novella—JUST STOP. Scathingly hilarious and sadly accurate. A must read for the conspiracy based mind, OR anyone wanting to debunk any of the thousands of conspiracies bombarding us daily.