Category Archives: author

The Pine Cones Writers Den is on fire…

with awards, new releases and milestones reached.

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What is the Pine Cones Writers Den? PCWD is a robust writers group based out of the Portland, Maine area. Comprised of ten members, spanning just about every genre you can imagine, each monthly meeting takes on a life of its own, as thriller writers critique memoir and chic lit writers critique post-apocalyptic tales. Without a doubt, the depth and variety of critique has led to vast improvements in my writing over the years, pushing me in directions that I likely wouldn’t have considered if I sat around, high-fiving with other thriller writers all the time. Not that I don’t like hanging out with other thriller writers!

The group is always busy; submitting to agents,  publishing on their own and striking deals to expand their author footprints. Each meeting brings exciting news and new manuscript samples to the table. There’s never a dull moment. With that said, I’d like to highlight a few of the most recent accomplishments/releases.

Tim QueeneyFirst up, Tim Queeney, with his second release in two months! Seriously, that’s impressive. Starting with his Perseid Collapse Series Kindle Worlds release, The Borealis Incident, in February, he follows up with book 3 in his Perry Helion thriller-adventure series, The Ceres Plague. I just finished a review for The Ceres Plague, which sounds something like this:

A1BejJmuU2L._SL1500_“The Ceres Plague, Tim Queeney’s follow up to The Atlas Fracture, takes the Perry Helion series to the next level. The action is more intense, the plot is deeper and the scope is wider. Carrying elements from The Atlas Fracture forward, Queeney continues Dr. Randall Crandee’s diabolical plan to manufacture a genetically programmed virus to “save” humanity in the most unexpected way imaginable, landing Helion and his reluctant partners in the middle of a deadly international conspiracy.

The story starts with agent Perry Helion, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agencey) agent, caught in the crossfire of a doomed salvage diving expedition. Never satisfied with the obvious, circumstances surrounding the diving operation lead Helion to dig deeper. What he uncovers sends shockwaves through the U.S. intelligence community, pointing to a shadowy international cabal with a reach so vast, Helion may no longer be able to trust the very people he’s relied upon for years. Cautious at every turn, he begins to assemble the devastating truth about the Paracelsus Group, and their burning obsession with Dr. Randall Crandee’s work.  

Queeney’s vision for the series expands throughout The Ceres Plague, briefly exposing the demons and exterior motivations that drive the enigmatic DARPA agent’s actions—clearly opening a channel for future exploration. Supporting characters are further developed, and the story’s antagonist—the twisted, but insanely rational Dr. Crandee—is delivered with a stunningly, devilish brilliance.

The author has a penchant for cold, desolate settings, because the reader is once again taken to the end of the earth—Alaska and the Bering Strait—the perfect backdrop to hatch an apocalyptic plot. With a surplus of abandoned Cold War bases spread among hundreds of islands of Alaska’s coast, Queeney couldn’t have chosen a better backdrop for the type of scientific research Dr. Crandee has in mind. I couldn’t help imagine the types of nefarious activities that could be conducted today on these islands, never to be discovered. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. For now, Tim Queeney has cornered that market. I can’t wait for the next installment in the Perry Helion series.”

61fMsCBfW0L._UX250_Next up, Joseph Souza, award winning author and prolific writer. Joe’s most recent novel, Unpaved Surfaces, was selected by the prestigious Kindle Scout program for a publishing deal with Amazon imprint publisher, Amazon Press. Unpaved Surfaces is a bit of a departure from Joe’s recent reign of terror, which includes three zombie/undead novels and two post-apocalyptic plague thrillers (one is on the way). Unpaved Surfaces is vintage Joseph Souza, tapping into the core writing node that launched his career. Not that he can’t write a mean undead thriller…HE CAN. Trust me.

Check out my review of Unpaved Surfaces:

814JpmlQayL._SL1500_“Joseph Souza’s award winning novel, Unpaved Surfaces, is a hauntingly beautiful story of loss, redemption and reconciliation. Set in Portland, Maine, Unpaved Surfaces weaves an unforgettable tapestry of sorrow, guilt and struggle around Keith, the father of a young boy who disappeared one year earlier. With his life derailed in more ways than one, Keith is starting to come unglued. Surreal visions of his missing son, Auggie, start to fill this void, creating a tempest of doubt and renewed vigor to uncover his son’s fate. Keith’s story is just one of several told by Souza, in a tightly wrapped suspense that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end.

Souza explores sach family member’s private journey through the aftermath of Auggie’s disappearance, masterfully putting the reader inside a family on the verge of falling apart. The experience is both heart-wrenching and rewarding—heavy and uplifting. Souza takes his considerable talents to the next level in Unpaved Surfaces, delivering an emotionally charged, exquisitely tuned suspense story.”

1414094820407Last but not least, Bryan WigginsBryan has hosted PCWD from the start, graciously opening his home to the group once a month. When he’s not writing, he’s a creative/graphic designer…the PCWD logo at the beginning of this post is Bryan’s creation. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. His graphic designs have become iconic Maine business logos.

Bryan recently finished Autumn Imago, a brilliantly constructed, exquisitely written literary fiction novel. Bryan delivers a powerful, emotionally charged story about loss, love and redemption set mostly in Baxter State Park, a raw, often chaotic wilderness in the shadows of Mount Katahdin—at the northern most tip of the Appalachian Trail. The setting, vividly and beautifully described by Bryan, is just as powerful as the narrative itself.

Bryan’s journey is about to take a serious leap forward…I can’t wait to see where he lands.

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Interview with Ross Elder

The Perseid Collapse Kindle Worlds Interview Series

Combat Veteran, author, columnist and conspiracy theory debunker: Ross Elder

Ross Elder918qveHQWPL._UX250_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.

Ross ElderScavenger 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.

61+yIVlDAUL._SL1041_71CNzxbn36L._SL1500_81fZm5GgT4L._SL1500_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.

81pSOxOD6UL._SL1500_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.

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Interview with Steven Bird

The Perseid Collapse Kindle World Interview Series

Post-apocalyptic novelist and commercial airline pilot: Steven Bird 

61zu9rp7zcL._UY200_I have been looking forward to this interview, given Steve’s choice of storyline for Edge of Civility, his novella for The Perseid Collapse Kindle World. On top of that, Steve’s an interesting guy, having served in the Navy for two decades before taking a job as a commercial airline pilot. Like me, you’ve probably assumed that he was a pilot in the Navy—and you’d be wrong. Steve learned how to fly on his own time and dime, which makes his background even more impressive.

where_is_tennessee_locatedSteve is the third member of the Tennessee Triad, a group of writers and friends that I’ve come to know over the past few years, who reside in…you guessed it, Tennessee. I told you the quiz would be easy. Can you guess what each member of the Triad has in common, outside of writing? Sorry, the quiz just got harder. Answer? They have all embraced a homesteading/readiness equipped lifestyle, well out of the social and public fray many of us consider home. If the SHTF, I know where I’ll be headed—assuming I’m invited. 😉

Given Steve’s interest in self-reliant living, it should come as no surprise that he’s written a bestselling series of books exploring life after a “collapse.” With his New Homefront Series taking the prepper-themed, post-apocalyptic genre by storm, I was very excited to learn that he would contribute to The Perseid Collapse Series Kindle World. I expected a prepper based story, in the same vein as the New Homefront books, but Steve took a different approach—and I couldn’t be happier or more impressed with his vision and originality. I don’t want to steal too much of his thunder, but let me say this ahead of the interview. If you’re a fan of The Jakarta Pandemic, you’re going to love Edge of Civility. All right. I should shut up and let Steve do the talking.

Steve, can you tell everyone why I’m so excited about your story?

Steven Bird Coming Soon

I’m really glad you’re excited, Steve. Edge of Civility is a prequel, or an introduction to the character “Manson,” as Alex Fletcher called him, in The Jakarta Pandemic, as well as his family members and the other occupants of the infamous Volvo wagon. The setting and timeline follow the development of the Jakarta Flu, just as it affects the Fletchers.

The infamous Volvo station wagon. I remember the scene bringing the Volvo to Durham Road very vividly. Alex Fletcher and his friends knew it spelled trouble immediately. Unlike the rest of the “refugees” fleeing the Boston area seeking food and refuge, Manson and his crew didn’t take NO for an answer.

I mentioned that you took an unexpected path with this story. You explored the prepper-themed genre from a different perspective.

Unlike most prepper fiction, where highly prepared individuals face an event that calls upon their knowledge and preparations in order to survive, this story shows how the unprepared and ill-equipped may face such a scenario, and how it may challenge their notions of civility and humanity.

1057 Steve Konkoly ebook JAKARTA PANDEMIC_update_2_LThis is one of the primary reasons I think readers of The Jakarta Pandemic will REALLY enjoy this story. It’s the “path less chosen” when it comes to prepper-themed fiction, and it perfectly complements the other perspective. In fact, readers naïve to my novels could easily start with Edge of Civility, reading The Jakarta Pandemic second. I’d really be interested in hearing what they think after reading about Manson’s plight first, then Alex Fletcher’s view of events. I seriously wonder how their view of my novel’s characters might change.

The main character in your story is most definitely an underdog. Actually, that’s putting it mildly. He’s the kind of person many of us would cross the street to avoid—without knowing a thing about him. What can you tell us about him?

It all started early on in life, when a bully had stolen Manson’s toy panda, refusing to give it back.

Manson, which is how Alex Fletcher referred to Jake Turner, started life off on the wrong path, surrounded by neglect, abuse, drugs, and violence. After almost destroying his life early on, he was attempting to set himself straight for the sake of his family, when the pandemic swept across the United States and the world.

In the Jakarta Pandemic, Manson was a cold-blooded thug of a character that was easy to hate. This story however paints the complete picture and fills the reader in on how exactly he found himself in a bloodthirsty competition for the critical resources of Durham Road.

I swore I wouldn’t feel sorry for Manson when I read your story. I knew what he did on Durham Road, and Alex Fletcher’s black and white mind, nothing could excuse Manson’s actions—but you succeeded in garnering “sympathy for the devil.” Succeeded brilliantly.

Is this a theme you explore in The New Homefront Series? Competition for critical resources forcing people to take drastic, if not terrible steps to survive?

Not everyone comes from an ideal background to prepare them to face a cataclysmic event. We aren’t all ex-special forces operators with hardened and equipped underground bunkers, stocked with a year’s supply of food and water. In fact, many people live a life molded and shaped by unfortunate events and less than desirable circumstances, leading them to poor choices when times are the good, much less when facing what appears to be insurmountable odds. Desperation can motivate people to abandon civility, especially when that desperation is driven by hunger and the inability to feed one’s own children.

912ca+W0CpL._SL1500_ A1kBr2SaCJL._SL1500_ 91KrGvqsoYL._SL1500_This theme develops throughout The New Homefront series, where people who once lived an average life in an abundant society are now forced to fend for themselves and are ill-equipped to do so.

As the main characters in The New Homefront come to terms with their new world, and begin to carve a new niche for themselves, they begin to see even in those who would attempt to loot and rob them as people who could have been a good neighbor in a world without hunger. Unfortunately, many people became much to dependent on the safety net of society always being there for them, and were unable to provide for themselves without resorting to desperate measures, setting their civility aside.

Many readers thought Alex Fletcher had abandoned his civility by refusing to help many of his unprepared neighbors. I think this theme can surface in many ways, and always yields a fascinating, controversial moral dilemma. How far would you go to protect your loved ones? The possibilities are unlimited, along with the answers.

Your experience writing Edge of Civility was different than most writers in The Perseid Collapse Kindle World. While others reported doubling their writing productivity, I get the sense that this wasn’t your experience.

Actually, I found the opposite to be true, at least for my scenario. I believe most writers were going off in a direction of their own, using the Perseid World as a launching point. I however had to reverse engineer a story, starting with the ending that already existed in The Jakarta Pandemic, matching it to an existing rigid timeline and set of characters that had many aspects undefined.

If I was just blasting off on my own tangent of the story without a rigid structure to follow, I would have probably had a pretty high output. But then again, with two toddlers and a ridiculous ‘day job,’ I’ve pretty much already mastered the art of doing a lot with just a little time.

I don’t suggest typing and flying with toddlers. 😉

Beyond the theme we mentioned above, how are your other books similar to your novella.

Humanity is both beautiful, and ugly. My three other books that encompass The New Homefront series: The Last Layover, The Guardians, and The Blue Ridge Resistance are just that. There are ugly and gritty parts, just like in the real world, but there are also moments of beauty, love, kindness, and compassion. The good guys in the real world don’t always win, and they don’t always make the right decisions, and that’s how I like to portray things in my books. I want to paint a picture where the reader can see themselves as an average person, struggling along side our friends in the book, in a realistic and human way.

The dichotomy between humanity’s best and worst behavior can be quite stark. It’s even more interesting when explored in the same character, instead of painting black and white battle lines. This was brilliantly portrayed in Edge of Civility with Manson-Jake Turner’s character.

You’ve very recently started writing in the grand scheme of Indie publishing, publishing your first novel in March 2014. What got you started?

I was flying over New York City, looking down and the intense concentration of people and the vast urban sprawl, when I looked over to my co-pilot and said, “That’s the last place I would want to be when S Hits The Fan. Especially to be in our situation where we travel with very limited resources, everything being confined to a carry on bag.” I then said, “Hey, that would make a good book.”

Being a like-minded individual, he replied, “Yes it would… You should write it.”

With that, I pulled out my Android phone, opened my word processor app, and The Last Layover was born. I literally wrote a majority of the book with my phone.

That’s incredible. I’m trying to juxtapose the picture of you typing on your phone in the cockpit of an airliner, with Stephen King sitting perched on a stool in his laundry room pecking away at an old fashioned typewriter. It all starts somewhere.

Speaking of NYC, I have the same feeling every time I fly into La Guardia. Looking down, I can honestly say that’s the last place I’d want to be in ANY kind of crisis. Don’t get me wrong, I find big cities alluring on many levels. The energy, diversity and the sheer defiance that keeps them together against all odds. Unfortunately, those same forces will be their undoing in a SHTF scenario, and it won’t take much of a disruption to initiate a serious problem. I’ll take the suburbs, or better yet, something a little more rural. I’m not ready to join the Tennessee Triad, but the concept is sounding better and better.

This might be a silly question, but are you more of a homesteader than a prepper? Worrier?

Yes, yes, and yes. More of a hobby farmer than a homesteader. I guess you could say a wanna be off the grid homesteader who’s still on the grid. I’m also a firearms enthusiast to an extreme level. I’m pretty sure that’s evident in my writing.

Never met a firearm you didn’t like? I might know a few other people that fall into this category. 😉

Does The New Homefront Series reflect your greatest fears about a potential crisis?

Yes. I’m worried about the potential for social upheaval due to an economic collapse, either engineered or due to dereliction of governmental duties for personal political gain.

I wish I could say that your outlook is unrealistic. Let’s hope it remains fiction long enough to finish plans on the homestead. What are you working on next?

There is a high demand for The New Homefront, Volume 4, so that’s on the way. Also, a dystopian book with a different twist tentatively titled Erebus.

Indeed there is a demand for book 4, so don’t let me stand in your way. A dystopian book? Excellent. I’m in the midst of writing my next series, which is more dystopian than post-apocalyptic, so we should definitely compare notes over beers…if the weather cooperates.

Check out Steven’s novella, Edge of Civility, and head over to his website to take a look at his New Homefront Series.

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Interview with Murray McDonald

The Perseid Collapse Series Kindle World Interview Series:

Bestselling thriller writer and Highland warrior: Murray McDonald

Photo-on-2011-05-04-at-16-241x300Murray McDonald is a long time friend in the grand scheme of my writing career. Pretty much from the very start. We both rose through the Indie ranks with covert operations/political thrillers, sharing strategies, comparing story ideas and having some good laughs along the way. He’s been unflaggingly supportive of my writing, and didn’t hesitate to offer a story for The Perseid Collapse Series Kindle World.

As a native Scot, and a denizen of the U.K., I didn’t expect Murray to write a story about Doomsday Preppers surviving the Perseid Collapse “event.” Prepping hasn’t caught fire in the U.K., like it has in the U.S., and it’s not for a lack of post-apocalyptic imagination or a spirit of rugged individualism. Murray offers a bit of hilarious insight into WHY, a little later. I had something else in mind for his story, and so did Murray! As a matter of fact, he far exceeded my hopes and expectations with the story he pursued, helping to answer one of the primary questions readers posed about the series. Obviously, he had some of the same questions.

Without further delay, let’s hear it straight from Murray.

Being the questioning type, I wondered how the Chinese managed to pull off the attack, and how could the US have been blind sided. A quick call to Steve revealed we had roughly the same idea as to how they would have done it, although most definitely from a fictional sense!

Murray is being kind here. He essentially confirmed that I had taken some liberties with the story’s initial set up. I think he more accurately called it “bullshitting.” Sorry. Had to set the record straight. 😉 Your story?

Yes. My story therefore centers around the final 24 hours before the event and the massive operation to ensure that Red Dragon succeeds.

For those that don’t know, Red Dragon is the multifaceted operation led by the Chinese that is responsible for The Perseid Collapse.

Rockland2The Perseid Collapse Series obviously falls under the post-apocalyptic genre, but it also delves into the technothriller realm. I hear you’ve come up with a new genre to describe ROCKLAND.

Technoprepper, I more or less just made that up. I wonder if it will catch on?

I think you’ve just redefined a thriving subsection of post-apocalyptic writing. I hope to see this category on Amazon shortly. 😉

One of your strengths as a writer is character development. Tell us a little about your main character. What will readers like about him or her.

There are a few, the goodie, the Police Chief, a large powerful guy who lost his wife during the craziness of the pandemic and is struggling to have a relationship with his son because of it. He also is convinced another event will happen and has prepared his town to make up for his previous failings during the pandemic in DC. The baddie, Special Agent Eva Young, is a calm, beautiful—cold hearted killer. Her job is to make sure the Chief’s son is killed.

Both characters make quite a splash in your novella, particularly Special Agent Eva Young. She really embodies some of the sinister characters you present in your other work. Ruthless, brutal and single focused. She leaves one hell of a trail of dead bodies in her path.

Fans of your books will absolutely love Rockland. This is classic Murray McDonald. For those not familiar with your work, how would you describe your stories?

I try to write books I’d love to read myself. Plenty of action with a twist and turn here and there that once you see it you kick yourself as the clues were there. I also take a view on storylines that pretty much anything is possible, when it comes to fiction I sometimes consider the things that have happened in the past. For example, had I written in the 1930’s (and maybe even early 40’s!) of a fascist state that would commit the holocaust that would kill 6,000,000 Jews and another 4 million+ ethnic or religious peoples in death factories, it would have been slammed as unbelievable, inconceivable in the modern world, as they viewed it then. Even recently, Rwanda, almost 1,000,000 people slaughtered in 100 days, hard to believe but that happened only 20 years ago. There are many more examples, as I’m sure you know. Sometimes as strange and ridiculous we make our fiction, if we look back to the past, we don’t even come close to how ridiculous reality can become. 

Whether fiction imitates reality, or the other way around, is often difficult to distinguish. Let’s just hope that none of our plots materialize in the real world. I don’t think the people are ready!

You’re another one of those authors that picked up a pen (or keyboard) later in life and started writing stories. No Master of Fine Arts and twenty years of querying agents. How did this all come about?

My son couldn’t find anything to read when he was fourteen and I had an idea for a story, I started to write it and who knew… especially given my background is in business with a degree in Chemical Engineering!!

I should have consulted you on my Black Flagged series. I delve into the world of designer chemical and biological weapons. Or maybe not! Your bullshit detector is pretty strong. 😉

Murray’s backlist is impressive. I’ll post a few of them here. Kidnap is the first in the series he wrote for his son, and is appropriate for that age. The rest are Rated R action/espionage thrillers.

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I alluded to the answer to my next question, but I’m going to ask it anyway. I suspect a hilarious answer. Are you a prepper in any way, shape or form?

I’m European, our governments will make sure we’re safe – LOL!

Glengoyne 17I nearly spit out my Scotch laughing, which would have been a grave crime. I can sense you tensing up at the thought of it. Don’t worry; it’s not the good stuff. If you’re ever looking for advice regarding Scotch, look no further than Murray. He introduced me to fine Highland Scotch Whisky, Glen Goyne 17 Year to be precise, and I haven’t looked back.

Besides a critical shortage of Scotch Whisky, 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)?

Definitely an object from space crashing into us, it’s happened before….

And I didn’t pay him to say that, though I should have. Though the chance might be remote (if we spot the incoming threat…and that’s a big IF), it would be catastrophic.

What are you working on next, aside from the next novella in The Perseid Collapse Series World? 😉

Something a little different, still an action based novel, just a different kind of action, cough, ahem…

I hear a Barry White song playing in the background.

You can check out the rest of Murray’s bestselling novels at his website HERE. If you’re a fan of fast paced thrillers filled with twists and turns, you can’t go wrong with ANY of his novels. And of course, check out ROCKLAND to uncover more of the mystery behind The Perseid Collapse.

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Interview with David P. Forsyth

The Perseid Collapse Series Kindle World Interview Series: 

Post-apocalyptic author and California man of mystery: David P. Forsyth

David ForsythIt’s my pleasure to introduce David P. Forsyth, author of RETRIBUTION, the first novel length story in The Perseid Collapse Series Kindle World. David brings a unique nautical based writing expertise to the table, having written two previous series based on the high seas. His Sovereign Spirit series and Sedulity books put readers in the relative comfort of luxury cruise liners. I use the world “relative,” because neither story gives the reader much time to relax. Sort of an occupational hazard when you’re a post-apocalyptic writer. I’ll let David describe these series later.

When we spoke about writing in the Perseid Collapse World, I had a general idea in mind that complemented both David’s maritime storytelling strength and some of the research he had just conducted for a separate novella. I think it was love at first sight. Between the idea and David. He took this vague suggestion and turned it into a quick-paced, intelligent technothriller exploring a topic I had more or less left open in my final novel. In Dispatches (the 4th and final book), readers witness the end result of America’s revenge against the aggressors responsible for The Perseid Collapse. In RETRIBUTION, readers follow the crew of the USS FLORIDA, as they deliver that revenge. You don’t want to miss this one.

Can you tell readers a little more about your “love at first sight” experience?

After reading and loving the first three books of the Perseid Collapse series, I wondered what impact the “event” would have out on the West Coast, and more importantly what happened to the rest of the world. In particular, I wondered how the USA would respond towards China if/when their role in the “event” came to light. You were kind enough to share an advance scene from book four, “Dispatches,” and that was all I needed for “Retribution” to take shape in short order. My novel follows the captain and crew of the nuclear submarine, USS Florida, from the time of the “event” through the end the year, culminating in an epic clash with China that ties into a few scenes near the beginning of “Dispatches.” My characters don’t have direct contact with yours, except for a satellite call by a Marine Captain to Lt. Col. Grady in search of news about his family who lived along the coast of Maine. There are also references to places and events mentioned in the Perseid Collapse books; enough that perceptive readers will have “ah-ha” moments. Nevertheless, “Retribution” is written as a stand-alone book that can be enjoyed independently, as well as being a companion to your books.

That’s one of the many outstanding features of your story. You don’t have to dig through 1,500 pages of the original series to thoroughly enjoy David’s book. It’s based far enough away from majority of the action in my series, yet it’s connected enough on a big-picture level to give readers a good taste of what they can expect in the original series. And at 200 pages, you’ll feel like you’ve read a prequel to the action.

I hinted that this is a technothriller, but it’s far more than that.

RetribRETRIBUTION is clearly a technothriller along the lines of Hunt for Red October. It would also be at home in the military and war category. However, I listed post-apocalyptic science fiction as the primary genre. I feel that any story set after the end of the world as we know it belongs in the PA category.

And you bring your own strong post-apocalyptic/dystopian element to the story, when the crew visits their homeport, and has to deal with some very personal issues in a vastly changed landscape. Those scenes provide a stark and eerie vision of the lawlessness and chaos that has spread across the United States, even reaching an area not directly impacted by the “event.”

What major theme comes across the clearest in your story? I teed this up for you on purpose.

The title speaks volumes, but my underlying theme is more about justice than vengeance. The USA was sucker punched in Perseid Collapse. The “event” crippled the nation and caused America to withdraw from the role of global policeman in order to lick our own wounds. It was only a matter of time before others would see a chance to fill the power vacuum. China was poised to exploit the situation with political, military and economic moves, backed by detailed disinformation campaigns, aimed at replacing the USA as the global superpower. The US Navy has recalled almost all of its forces from across the Pacific, except for a few submarines. Will that be enough to exact justice and retribution?

We’ll have to let readers decide, but I’ll go on record saying that they will be very satisfied. The U.S. is far from out of the fight.

Tell us a little about the skipper of the USS FLORIDA. Why do you think readers will like him?

290px-USS_Georgia_(SSGN_729)Captain Sean McMillan is Commanding Officer of the USS Florida, an Ohio class SSGN cruise missile submarine. He’s a patriot and good leader with a head for tactics, as well as compassion for his crew. Readers will also get a good look at his role as a husband and father of two teens. It is clear that family is Sean’s top priority. Nevertheless, his responsibilities as a naval officer trump personal concerns, taking him into harm’s way and even putting the fate of his home and loved ones in jeopardy to complete a mission that could change or even end the world as we know it.

Captain McMillan is in a unique situation onboard the submarine, with a vast responsibility to the United States and to his crew. It’s overwhelming at times, and you paint a realistic picture of the conflicts and tensions that would arise given their situation. Being “trapped” on a submarine is unlike any other military duty. This is an inside joke, but with China in the crosshairs, do Panda bears make an appearance in your story?

No panda bears appear in this book, but there is a singular reference to one in the epilogue.

I knew I could rely on David to slip a Panda reference into the story. That alone is well worth the reader’s money. 😉

RETRIBUTION is nearly as long as your previous novels, and you wrote it in less than a month? I think you kept your vast sea of fans waiting nearly 9 months for your second Sedulity book. Now that I’ve dimed you out, would you care to explain yourself? 😉

I wrote “Retribution” in record time. I started page one on January 7th and clicked “publish” on February 2nd. I attribute this to several factors. First, I had already completed my preliminary research on the submarine and begun writing a story that will also feature the Florida in a cameo appearance for a prequel to Hugh Howey’s Kindle World of the Silo Saga. You gave me a seemingly impossible deadline to write “Retribution,” but I quickly realized that I had the whole story ready to pour out of my fingers. All I needed to do was set my other project on the back burner and dive into this one headfirst. The second, and most critical, enabling factor was knowing the outline (and even many details) of the world in which “Retribution” takes place. I knew the general conditions and I had a clear idea of where the story was going (to converge with the scene from “Dispatches” that you shared with me). It may seem like an oxymoron, but I found it liberating to write within the confines of your world. So much easier than dreaming up another world of my own. It saved days, probably weeks, of note-taking and second-guessing. All I had to do was paint a picture inside the lines – just like kindergarten.

You make it sound so easy. Trust me, David’s story is ANYTHING but a Paint by Numbers enterprise. Discipline, skill and a dedication to the craft played a part, no matter what David tells you. Only a handful of authors could have pulled this off, and I’m not one of them.

Tell us about your other books, and don’t be the normally shy David P. Forsyth. 😉

 810fAewuWKL._SL1500_71T4ATxVe8L._SL1500_81e8N2ziC7L._SL1500_All of my books to date have involved characters aboard ships at sea during EOTWAWKI scenarios. I self-published my first three novels in 2012. Voyage of the Dead (which is free on Kindle), Flotilla of the Dead, and Deluge of the Dead comprise the 300,000 word Sovereign Spirit Saga: Volume 1. They revolve around survivors aboard a mega-yacht sailing through a world overrun by the zombie apocalypse. The characters could easily sail off to a deserted island, but choose instead to rescue and assist other survivors along the coast of California.

81k2I0oXNzL._SL1500_Sed2My most recent (and popular) books in the Sedulity Saga focus on the passengers and crew of a cruise ship sailing to Australia when a mile-wide asteroid strikes the Pacific Ocean. The focus is on the threat posed by a natural disaster. As you know, that threat extends far beyond the lives of those aboard the ship.

You have to read David’s Sedulity series to get an idea of the scope of that threat. It’s vast, and quite realistically paints an end of the world as we know it (EOTWAWKI) scenario. I’ve done similar research on asteroids for my novels, but David took it several steps further. What he describes in nothing short of a cataclysm for mankind.

Would you share some of your story about becoming a writer? You’re not one to mince words about your journey as an Indie writer.

I’ve always wanted to write fiction. My mother was a published author of YA fiction and my father was editor and publisher of a magazine, so writing might be in my blood. However, watching the disappointment my mother went through with rejection letters, and the angst of disagreements with her agent, publisher, and editors, sort of soured me to the process. I wrote parts of three novels during high school and college, but never completed one. Other things always got in the way. Then, in mid-2011, I downloaded the Kindle Reading App to my laptop. I only had to read a few 99 cent titles to realize that the rules had changed and a revolution in writing was underway, one that bypassed the gatekeepers who had turned me off to writing in the past. I realized that I could write something, release it online, and let the readers decide if it was worth buying. Three and a half years and half a dozen novel length books later, I’m a full-time indie author.

It’s a great feeling. I share your enthusiasm, having left a lucrative day job a few years ago. Do you have a background related to your writing? You’re a pretty intriguing fellow, far more interesting than yours truly.

You’re an interesting guy too, Steve. With your background as an officer in the US Navy and Annapolis grad (majoring in literature no less!), I would have expected you to be the one writing adventures set on the high seas (maybe we’ll do one together someday). Me? I have a BA and MA in international relations with an emphasis in strategic studies. I spent years studying history, politics, military strategies, diplomacy and foreign affairs. Sadly, I never found any want ads for ambassador or National Security Advisor. Instead I went through several career phases ranging from international development and business, to travel marketing and air charter broker. After several business ventures failed to take off, I spent five years as a construction superintendent on multi-million dollar commercial and public works projects – which is what I was doing while I wrote my first novel. I’ve been a licensed pilot since I was eighteen and am also a certified scuba diver. I’m a Jack of all trades, but master of none. Sort of like a Renaissance man or Heinlein’s “Every Man” concept. That is probably a good background for a writer. Contrary to popular assumption, I was not in the Navy, nor have I worked on a ship, but I love to fish, sail, and cruise. I reside at the heart of the Left Coast in Malibu, California, where my world view is marginalized by my far more “interesting” and influential neighbors.

One of these days I’ll write a story based on a warship. I have more than enough material, and a Facebook page of connections to fill in the gaps. You win the interesting contest by the way. That’s two Kindle Worlds authors with pilot’s licenses (one is a commercial pilot), time to step up my game.

I know you love the classic post-apocalyptic novel, Lucifer’s Hammer, but I gather there is more to your love of PA fiction than one book.

I was ten years old when I read “Star Man’s Son” by Andre Norton. That was my first PA book and I was hooked for life. Earth Abides, Alas Babylon, I am Legend, Lucifer’s Hammer, Trinity’s Child, Failsafe, The Stand and hundreds of other books and movies fueled my passion for the genre. Fictional worst-case-scenarios also provided me with valuable perspectives on international relations and human nature in general. So, yeah, PA is my favorite genre. And even though you didn’t ask, my advice to those who want to write is to read, and read, and read, until you feel the urge to write. Then write something you would want to read. Kindle Worlds offers a great venue for new writers to get their feet wet too, so I hope that many of your fans will consider writing their own contribution to the Perseid Collapse. Thanks for inviting me to be part of the vanguard.

While asteroid strikes make for fascinating PA fiction, I’m going to guess that you see something different as a more likely threat to life as we know it.

Virus, plague, pandemic. Take your pick. A deadly contagious disease of some sort tops the list of logical culprits, especially with unrestricted global air travel (see my novella “Lukan” for a glimpse at how that sort of apocalypse might be unleashed). And it doesn’t take a 90% kill ratio to create a TEOTWAWKI scenario. Even a 10% event could cripple our infrastructure and make everyone wish they were preppers. The least likely of the popular PA scenarios is “zombies” (even though I write ZA books too). Asteroids are also statistically unlikely in our lifetime, but pose a real and ever-present danger. One thing I find disturbing, however, is the almost total disappearance of worry over nuclear apocalypse since the end of the Cold War. Recent events prove that the USA and Russia are not exactly best friends, and we both have nuclear weapons ready to fire at each other. China has greatly expanded their nuclear missile and submarine force – most of their nukes are pointed towards the USA or our allies. Other actors (North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, etc…) are building their own nuclear weapons. The levels of predictability and stability are far lower now than during the Cold War. The truth is that mutual assured destruction (MAD) was a logical and relatively stable strategy. Nuclear war was “unthinkable” when there were tens of thousands of nuclear weapons poised to strike at a moment’s notice. The problem with continual nuclear arms reductions is that at some point nuclear war will become “thinkable” (i.e. winnable or survivable), at least in the eyes of whoever pushes the button. Sweet dreams! 

You’re the second author to bring this up as the most frighteningly likely scenario, and I couldn’t agree more. We’ve gone nearly 70 years with nuclear weapons, and outside of their use to end the war in the Pacific, we’ve somehow managed to refrain from using them again. With unstable, regional players on the market (or in possession) of nuclear weapons, the venerable concept of Mutually Assured Destruction might not apply. Especially when one of those players has no physical state or country to wager.

What, you’re not done with Kindle Worlds? Sedulity fans are going to be upset. Especially now that they know how fast you can write.

I’m back to writing “Submerged” for Hugh Howey’s @KindleWorlds “Silo Saga.” The USS Florida will make another appearance in this prequel to Hugh’s world. It should also be a fast project, since I was a few chapters into it before you lured me away to write “Retribution.” And thanks for doing that, Steve. I totally enjoyed writing it. I’m thinking that after making a couple cameos in Kindle Worlds set in the future, the Florida may return to fight the current War on Terror in one or more techno-thrillers of my own making. I’m afraid I have too many of my own projects on-deck to expand “Retribution” much further. That’s why I wanted to make it a self-contained book. I think my contribution to your world is complete and I am proud to have been invited to contribute to it.

I understand that Kindle Worlds was envisioned as a Fan-Fic outlet for Amazon, and I’m sure that it performs that task well, but I also see it as a chance for authors to cross-promote and expand their audience. I’m happy to see that fans of my other books are already thanking me for introducing them to your Perseid Collapse series. I’m hopeful that your fans will want to read some of my other books too. Perhaps fans of Hugh Howey will be lured into reading all of our books! Bwaa-Ha-Ha! 

My other works in progress include “Sedulity 3: Consequence” and another installment in the Sovereign Spirit Saga (as well as a secret project that only panda bears are privy to at this point). Readers can find and follow (like) my author page to keep track of my progress @ http://www.amazon.com/David-Forsyth/e/B006PLOMMK/ or follow me on Twitter @davidpforsyth or even email me@davidpforsyth.com Did I mention how egotistical I am?

Egotistical? Nah. You’re an Indie author. Cross promotion and marketing is the name of the game, especially when you have fantastic books to share.

Thank you David! Don’t forget to check out his other work. Zombies and high seas cataclysms. What’s not to like about that?

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Interview with Ian Graham

The Perseid Collapse Kindle World Interview Series:

Thriller writer and Virginian: Ian Graham

Ian GrahamToday we hear from one of my early thriller writer buddies. Ian and I met while I was heavy into writing the Black Flagged series, a hardcore covert operations/political thriller saga. Ian had recently launched his first Declan McIver book, a story about a “reformed” IRA black operative thrown back into a world of violence, and we hit it off grand—as his character would say.

I admire Ian’s writing style and the story building he demonstrated in the Declan McIver-Black Shuck series, so it was natural for me to reach out and ask him to contribute a story to the Perseid World. We’d talked in the past about my leap from writing thrillers to post-apocalyptic books, so I hoped this might pique his interest. I think it did more than spark a little interest. Ian has published one novella, The Amsterdam Directorate, and is feverishly working on the second installment. It probably goes without saying, but The Amsterdam Directorate is a natural extension of his talent as a thriller writer, and an unveiling of new skills in a new genre. Without giving away the rest, let’s here it straight from the man himself.

I mentioned your story building talent in my opening paragraphs for a reason. Beyond the taut thriller beats and compelling action found in your Declan McIver novels, I gathered a sense that you had spent an immense amount of time creating the background surrounding Declan’s early years. In my view, this contributed heavily to the success of a complicated and tortured character, and I wasn’t surprised to see that you took a similar approach to The Amsterdam Directorate.

Right. I chose to make the only connection between the original series and my novella the initial event. Everything else is entirely new. The Amsterdam Directorate explores a new geographic area and new characters, but in a familiar post Jakarta Pandemic United States where the economy is decidedly weak, militias are a part of everyday society, and the government is largely invisible outside of the larger cities.

Ian Graham

I know readers will agree that you’ve created a complex, rich world that stands on its own within the Perseid World. With The Amsterdam Directorate, you’ve demonstrated one of the key approaches to writing in Kindle Worlds, especially in a world as vast as The Perseid Collapse. The “event” described in the original series affects everyone in the United States, and has serious repercussions around the world. Introducing readers to a new perspective reinvigorates the series and proposes new challenges. Plus, it gets readers out of New England…even I was starting to feel a little claustrophobic in my series. 😉

Beyond your knack for world building, what else really transfers strongly from your previous work?

My stories always revolve around characters that have very traumatic past experiences in their lives that color and even dictate their actions in the present to a degree. That’s continued in The Amsterdam Directorate. As I read myself into the Perseid series, what I really wanted to know more about and delve into was the experiences of people between the events of the Jakarta Pandemic and the Perseid Collapse. What did they have to do? Did the world just return to normal when the last vestiges of the plague were gone? History would tell us no. If you look back at major medical events like the Black Plague, you see that the aftermath was a time of enormous societal change. The old ways died and each time a sort of new world was born. But sometimes it took decades for the change to take hold and like anything, the old ways didn’t just go away quietly—they fought hard for their survival.

That’s the world I dropped my characters into. Like the Fletchers in the original series, the characters in The Amsterdam Directorate are at a point where several years have passed and things almost seem like they could become normal again even though there’s still a deep fear and uncertainty about the state of the world.

Like Declan McIver, in your Black Shuck books, Reverend Jacob Craft is indeed a character defined by personal trauma. His presence in the story is like a dark, overcast sky, lending an emotional anchor to a post-apocalyptic situation already wracked with trouble. We’ll talk about him in more detail shortly.

Before that, I want to address a unique aspect of your story. When we first discussed your idea for the novella, you had a ton of questions about my vision for the post-Jakarta Pandemic world. I had to do some deep thinking…scary thought for me. To me, the story in the Jakarta Pandemic was more about what happened to the Fletchers and their friends, within the narrow scope of their neighborhood. As the story progressed, the focus pulled inward, until they were essentially locked inside their homes. You had a different vision of the post-Jakarta Pandemic world, based on the story setting you chose, which once again demonstrates your strength for world building.

All right. Let’s hear more about your main character.

In just about every way, Reverend Jacob Craft was your typical rural-to-suburban American male. He was a high school football star with an ego to match his status, until a mid-season injury put an end to those hopes and dreams. Then, in the fever of patriotism that many Americans experienced after the events of September the 11th, he joined the Army and shipped off to Afghanistan. Unfortunately real war wasn’t quite the heroic Hollywood-like experience he’d imagined, and after a few tours in country, he returned to his community with a host of demons gnawing at him. After attempting to chase them away with alcohol for a number of years, it was a determined member of the opposite sex that set him right and introduced him to a higher calling. Then the Jakarta Pandemic happened, and events like those in Afghanistan came to the home front. Fortunately for those around him, Jacob was able to hang on and pull his community together in the face of more than one type of threat. The aftermath of these events is where we find him as The Amsterdam Directorate opens.

I wanted to make all of the characters, but most certainly Jacob, realistic and relatable, giving readers the sense that these could be your neighbors. They could be the guy next door, the farmer down the road, the pastor of your church, and I hope that comes through to people as they read it.              

I think you nailed his character, and the characters supporting him. The story has a strong “regular people rising to exceptional circumstances” feel, which readers in the post-apocalyptic genre appreciate. I could probably take a lesson from this.

The elements found in your thriller series successfully support The Amsterdam Directorate. How do you feel about stepping into the post-apocalyptic realm?

I tried to follow the post-apoc and prepper themes, because those are what interested me most about the world. I’ve been a big fan of the Walking Dead since it began airing, but my primary interest in that series has never been the zombie / horror elements, which really serve more as a backdrop to me. What interested me from the beginning is the idea of TEOTWAWKI or “the end of the world as we know it.” I’ve been itching to explore that for awhile now and The Perseid Collapse Kindle World provided the perfect opportunity.

I think you’ve found a new home, or a cabin in the woods (more prepper friendly), when you want to take a break from the covert ops thriller world.

This is a fun question for me, because it’s a matter of public record how often each of the authors writing in the Perseid World publish work. When I discussed the details of launching the world with my “handler” at Kindle Worlds (shout out to Sean-he’s good people), I remember saying, “I think we’ll have two, maybe three novellas at launch.” We had a tight timeframe to get novellas ready for the launch. The first wave of authors, which included Ian, blew my theory away! What happened? Red Bull. Methamphetamines? I’m not liable for any substance abuse addictions incurred while writing in the Perseid Collapse world. I think that might be in fine print, somewhere.

From the moment you contacted me about this and told me the launch date, I knew I was going to have to work extremely hard to get finished on time, much less have a sensible, edited, and formatted product. This is the first time I’ve worked on a deadline and I must say that I’m very happy with the results.

That’s it? Hard work? I’m tired of hearing that. It sets the bar too high for me. I was hoping for a Misery like story, where the crazed creator of the Perseid World, or Sean from Kindle Worlds, takes you prisoner and subjects you to enhanced interrogation techniques until you’ve finished the novella. Hobbling if you try to escape. Hard work, huh? Not even a few Sam Adams beers? Ian’s nodding in my mind. I knew there was more to it than hard work. 😉

I’ve mentioned your Declan McIver character. I think readers will be interested in this well received series. Care to expand?

VeilofCPatriotsSignsMy other works are primarily in the political thriller genre and tell the story of a former IRA volunteer named Declan McIver. Declan has tried to move on from his past, but is pulled back into the shadows by circumstances well outside of his control and is forced to fight for the life he’s worked so hard to build in America.

Like The Amsterdam Directorate, the Declan McIver series is centered around characters fighting to keep hold of the things they hold dearest. As such there’s a high degree of action and adventure in each and a lot of common themes. There’s even a sort of prepper element to Declan in that he’s prepared himself and his home for the possibility that someone from his past will one day come looking for him. That possibility is never far from his mind and that shows in how and where he lives as well as the kind of things he’s invested his time and money into.

Characters fighting to keep the things they hold dearest. I believe this is the core of thriller writing. I didn’t know this before I started writing, but when I look back, this is the nexus that connects all of my stories. Awesome.

Everyone’s story is different, which is why I always ask. How did you become a writer?

It was a dark and stormy night and there sitting on my grandmother’s antique roll top desk was a typewriter…

No, not really. It was much more mundane than that. Ever since I was a little boy I’ve simply loved stories. It didn’t matter what it was as long as there was a larger-than-life hero, soaring deeds of daring or a quest to save the world from some sort of wicked fate, I was there and more than happy to act it out in the living room and daydream about it for days afterwards. As I grew older and people started looking at me funny when I rolled across the floor in my Indiana Jones fedora, I turned to scribbling down daydreams in notepads with the idea of “someday” doing something with them, though I had no idea what.

In 2010 my daughter was born and at the same time the industry I was involved in was going through a rough transition. So I saw the writing on the wall that it was time to start looking for something else. For some reason that’s really hard to explain I just couldn’t get the idea of writing a novel out of my head. So I said a disbelieving “okay…” to that still, small voice in my head and went to work. Three years later my first novel Veil of Civility was published to great reviews and here I am. I couldn’t quit now if I wanted to. Writing has become a part of who I am and has given me a creative outlet for all of my ideas and seemingly useless knowledge that I’ve collected over the years.

That’s far from mundane. In fact, we share the exact same motivation for taking the leap to putting our words in a novel. After three “restructurings” at my job, I knew it was only a matter of time before the game of corporate musical chairs would leave me half standing, half sitting, trying to squeeze myself onto a chair that had been occupied by someone just as worried as me about job searching in their forties (or fifties) in a shrinking job market.

Do you have a background related to your writing?

Nothing spectacular to speak of. My background is in small business. I’ve owned and operated (and still do) several businesses including real estate rentals, car washes, and mobile auto glass replacement, but my passion has always been reading, watching, or listening to stories (fiction or non-fiction) about incredible people involved in incredible things.

When I began my own writing journey I was convinced that the popular writers must have backgrounds in things like the military and intelligence and was shocked to learn that two of the most popular authors in the thriller genre, Tom Clancy and Vince Flynn, actually had backgrounds similar to mine. Tom was an insurance salesman with a lifelong interest in naval warfare and Vince was a self-described “grape nuts salesman.” This was hugely motivating to me and despite never having met either man, I owe each of them a little debt of gratitude simply for being who they were.  

Tom Clancy was always a favorite of mine, which fueled my temporary jump out of post-apocalyptic writing. I think most of the truly popular genre fiction authors have little background in the writing world.

I confess this often, but I’ll do it again. Prior to writing The Jakarta Pandemic, I had never heard the word “prepper.” Survivalist, sure, but I was neither of these things. What about you? And I’ll completely understand if you don’t want to share the details of the forty-story silo buried on your property, as long as I’m invited.

The “end of the world as we know it” is something that has transfixed me for a long time, but always in a fictional setting. I never considered that it could actually happen until I realized just how fragile our society really is during a recent, unexpected windstorm.

During this storm trees fell, windows shattered, and most significantly, the power was knocked out for a large portion of the area in which I live. My family and I live in a newer section of town where the utilities are almost all underground and fared pretty well, getting our service restored within about 24 hours. So, no big deal. But for other people in the older areas of town where poles had to be dug up and replaced and wires had to be restrung it became a very big deal as the outage stretched from days into weeks. All said, it took about three weeks for every single resident to have service restored to their homes. In that time, there were shelters (at churches and schools) full of needy people, fights breaking out in places like public libraries where people wanted to use the power outlets to charge items like cell phones, and a collective shrug from the local government who wasn’t the least bit prepared for any of it. To make a long story short, there was a general sense of anxiety throughout the area for several weeks and it made me realize just how little it would take for things to spiral out of control.      

I think becoming a father was a major factor in the realization as well. The idea of not being able to provide for my family, especially my little girl, is terrifying to me. So, my family and I are having some conversations about emergency preparedness and such. I won’t say I’m a full on “prepper” just yet, but I may be before too long.

I can only think of one response to your last sentence. You have to cue up the raspy Yoda voice. “You will be. You will be.” For obvious reasons, The Jakarta Pandemic got me thinking seriously about what it takes for a family to survive a disaster. The Perseid Collapse series was like a PhD study, with Randy Powers as an adjunct professor. It’s hard to create these stories, without changing your mindset. Within a month, you’ll start to notice that your Amazon browsing history is mostly prepper related items, then the brown packages will start arriving weekly, if not daily. My advice is to somehow intercept these packages before you wife sees them. Less questions that way.

Inevitably, your wife is going to figure it out, and want to know why a significant portion of the children’s college savings is going to things like tactical tomahawks, waterproof matches, MREs, and rifle optics. What will you tell her? What is your most convincing, and fully vested end of the world scenario?

There’s a ton of scenarios that could technically happen, but I think the major one is something like I just mentioned above; a natural disaster of some sort that effects a broad section of territory and just throws things into a tailspin. In that situation you wouldn’t want to be out on the road trying to get somewhere else. You’d be better off in your own home with enough supplies to ride out the panicked reactions of other area residents.

When I think of prepping, this is really what I think of. I don’t think you can prepare for everything and nor should you try. I think you should focus first on the short term. Can you stay in your home for one, two, three weeks, maybe a month and be able to eat, drink, warm up, cool down, protect yourself, and ultimately live a relatively normal existence without having to rely on grocery stores, gas stations, and the availability of public utilities? That’s the question I think every head of household needs to take a hard look, answer honestly, and then get to work. That’s where I’m at.  

Make sure she reads your novellas, and all of mine. I’ve been able to slide quite a few items past the censors that way. I think I added a .308 to my collection (I mean necessary stockpile) by including a chapter that reinforced the need for a heavier caliber rifle. This writing gig pays off in more ways than one. And anyone that tattles will be unfriended on Facebook.

What will you write next in that beautiful writing cabin? Check out his digs. Amazing.

Next up for me is two more Perseid Collapse novellas that will round out the story of The Amsterdam Directorate. The first “sequel” if you will is going to be ready on or around March 20th and the last installment on or around April 30th.

After that, it’s back to work on the long-awaited second Declan McIver novel. I have it nearly completed, but might wait until the third quarter “reading season” begins to publish it. Generally speaking spring and summer aren’t good times to publish because that’s when people are putting down their e-readers and looking outside for sources of entertainment. We’ll just have to see if I can sit on a completed product that long. I’m horribly impatient. 🙂

The Amsterdam Directorate being your first foray into the post-apocalyptic genre, do you think you’ll revisit the genre with your own future books?

I can totally see that happening. My first love in any story is action and adventure and I can’t imagine a genre with more unexplored opportunities for that than post-apoc fiction. While on vacation last summer I had an awesome idea for a post-apoc novel that involves a family on the run from a truly gag inducing TEOTWAWKI and an old civil war fort. So, who knows…it might happen sooner, rather than later. In the mean time, I hope readers will check out the Declan McIver series for a look at what I’m capable of in novel-length fiction.

I sincerely hope we see a stand alone post-apocalyptic novel by Ian Graham. Until then, it sounds like readers have a full novel length read ahead of them with The Amsterdam Directorate series.

Take a look at Ian’s website HERE, and check out his other work. You won’t be disappointed.

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Author Spotlight and Cover Reveal: Ross Elder

The Perseid Collapse Series Kindle World

Author Spotlight and Cover Reveal: Ross Elder

Ross ElderRoss Elder is not an easy man to describe in a blog post, which is a good thing as you’ll see. I’ve known Ross for a while through Facebook, eagerly awaiting his next scathingly accurate assessment of current events, conspiracy theories and our nation’s politicians. He doesn’t mince words, and he most certainly doesn’t mince the truth, which is what I’ve come to greatly admire about him. On top of that, Ross is a combat veteran, having fought in Afghanistan. Even more interesting, his military career spans 30 years and more than one military branch—starting in the 80’s! He took a short hiatus somewhere in there to give everyone else a chance to catch up. 😉

When Ross recently announced his intention to write in the Perseid Collapse Series World, I was ecstatic. He has extensive experience writing: a freelance writer, columnist for Soldier of Fortune Magazine, author of The Fireman Saga book series, and a contributor at several online media outlets such as SOFREP.com, TheLoadoutRoom, and Special-Ops.org. I knew without a doubt that his novella would hit all of the right notes for the readers of the Perseid series, and from what I’ve read so far, he’s knocked it out of the park.

ScavengerSCAVENGER, the first in a series of novellas, will be available soon. His story features Zachary Morris, a street savvy twenty-five year old plying through the harsh aftermath of the Perseid Collapse event, the story promises a gritty look at the lethal reality of urban life—in a world suddenly deprived of everything we take for granted.While we eagerly await SCAVENGER, check out his public persona at ROSS-ELDER.COM

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Interview with A.R. Shaw

The Perseid Collapse Kindle World Interview Series:

A.R. Shaw—Post-apocalyptic thriller writer and former Texan

AR shawA.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, Grahams 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.

A.R. Shaw

A.R. Shaw

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 McDaniels 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!

China PandemicCascade81kchkI6zML._SL1500_Tell us about the Graham’s Resolution series. I briefly explored how your novella is similar in tone and theme to your other novels. Can you expand on that a little? Are there any differences?

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 Stevens, 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!

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Interview with Tim Queeney

The Perseid Collapse Kindle World Interview Series:

Tim Queeney—Renaissance man and thriller author

TEQB&WHeadShotIITim Queeney is one of those rare authors I’ve met in person. Quite a few times, actually. We are members of the Pine Cone Writers Den, a diverse collection of hardworking, talented authors living in and around Portland, Maine. In this day an age of virtual friends, social media contacts and email buddies (all good), I can’t tell you how satisfying it feels to sit down with in front of live writers (Skype doesn’t count…though it’s a step in the right direction). Tim anchored the action/thriller contingent of the group, treating us to his Perry Helion Series, which he explains later.

Tim is an avid sailor, and coincidentally keeps his sailboat less than fifty yards from mine. I could easily swim to his boat from my mooring—if I didn’t mind the cold water. We didn’t figure this out about until a year ago. I’ve resisted the temptation to head out on Tim’s boat, because I heard a nasty rumor that he doesn’t like to rely on electronics for navigation. Old world brute. Tim explains his disdain for GPS and all things non-Christopher Columbus era in the interview.

Sit back and enjoy my talk with Portland’s renaissance man.

We might as well start with your stubborn refusal to accept the GPS gods above as the primary method of knowing “where the hell” you are. What is wrong with you? 😉

I’m actually the member of the world’s most obscure sect, the teachers of celestial navigation, you know, using a sextant to find your way. There are only two of us left, and the other guy lives in shack in Patagonia. I actually teach people how to navigate across oceans with just a sextant, a watch and a book of sight reduction tables. No electrons, no satellites, no app store — wild thought, huh? And it’s actually so easy to do. Gives you a great feeling of self-reliance — like the first time you changed a tire or unhooked a girl’s bra. A rush of satisfaction — “I can definitely do this!”

I’m not sure how unhooking a bra relates to self-reliance, but I’m sure many of my male readers are nodding their heads in agreement. Ladies, feel free to chime in with the female equivalent. Why do I have a bad feeling about the responses I’ll get.

Where were we? Yes, Celestial Navigation. I gave Tim some hassle about not trusting GPS, because I’m very familiar with the timeless navigation methods he teaches. Once upon a time, they taught this at the United States Naval Academy (ended in 1998), and I was subjected to an entire semester of Master and Commander-esque adventures with the sextant. Times lost.

As for Tim’s claim that it’s easy to do, well, I’ll chalk that up to “instructor enthusiasm and optimism.” One thing is for sure. In the event of an EMP, the sun, moon and starts will still be there (those lights never go out), so if I’m planning to escape the U.S. in a sailboat, Tim has earned a berth on my boat…as long as he comes with his own set of reduction tables (heavy books from what I remember).

Tim Queeney

Tim Queeney

Let’s talk about the novella you wrote for The Perseid Collapse Series Kindle World. How did you link your story to the original series?

While many of the Perseid Collapse Kindle Worlds (gonna go all acro here and shorten that to PCKW) are set in the U.S., my story, The Borealis Incident, takes place far away at Thule Air Force Base in Greenland. The connecting events to The Perseid Collapse series are the meteor strikes and the EMP. Even though the Chinese target mainland U.S. for major EMP effects, my story has the EMP energy concentrated by the magnetic lines of force at the Magnetic North Pole (only 500 miles west of Thule AFB) and so Thule is hit hard too.

Since we know Alex and Kate Fletcher & company never get to the Greenland in the series (howz about an extended road trip, Steve?), there aren’t any meetings between the original characters and the folks in The Borealis Incident. I thought about what the character tie-in could be and since the main character in my story is a woman, I decided to invoke “sister power” and so Lt. Colonel Dana Wright is Kate Fletcher’s older sister.

After the events of August 19, Dana is certainly concerned about Kate, but she also knows that Alex and Kate have been through the Jakarta episode and that Alex, in particular, is almost born to succeed in an environment where he must use his training, experience and smarts. As a woman who has risen to deputy commander of an Air Force base, Dana is no slouch herself and it would be interesting to bring the two of them together in a story. They’d both have strong ideas about how to proceed — sparks, baby!

Judging from what I’ve seen when my wife and sister-in-law are in charge of family get togethers, I don’t know if the post-event world in The Perseid Collapse series could survive! No doubt that Alex would have to take a back seat. Not a bad idea for a sequel to The Borealis Incident. I wonder who could write it? Hmmm.

This is a loaded question for you. I probably had your novella in mind when I wrote it. The Perseid Collapse can be classified under a number of sub-genres. Obviously, it falls under post-apocalyptic, but it also delves into the realms of technothriller, prepper fiction, military, dystopian and even horror. Which of these genres do you explore the most in your story? Hint…all of them.

Borealis is a fun house ride — plenty of thriller elements mixed with some other nastiness popping up. Whereas preppers in the U.S. have to deal with the collapse by themselves, the characters in Borealis are members of the military or ex-military contractors and have resources most people don’t have. Yet, as the saying goes, we’re always preparing to fight the last war, so when “the ejecta hits the air circulation device,” the result is not what anyone expects.

Without giving anything away, readers will not expect the devious twist you through at them with Camp Amorak. Shortly in the novel, readers will begin to suspect that the camp isn’t what it seems, but you have no idea. I’ll shut up.

Given that you’ve pretty much covered every genre possible in your story, let’s talk about themes. What major theme comes across the clearest in your story? Is this a theme found consistently in your other works?

Early in the story Dana thinks she really has a handle on the deputy commander job. Then a meteor strike and the EMP knock everything ass backwards and her eyes are opened, learning firsthand what has been going on right all around her.

shivaatlasMy Perry Helion thrillers (The SHIVA Compression, The Atlas Fracture and soon to be released, The Ceres Plague) exhibit a similar sense that hidden priorities and dangerous groups lurk within structures we think we understand. Who can you trust? What is really happening and what does that mean for the future?

One iconic scene from the movie The Matrix said it well (and referenced the similar scene from Alice in Wonderland): “Do you want to swallow the red pill and see how deep the rabbit hole goes?”

Your main character is a woman? Dana? I was thinking Dana Carvey. I don’t know if I would have approved your novella if I knew Dana was female. How can this be a cool apocalyptic tale? For the record, I’m totally kidding…and looking over my shoulder for my wife, who could no doubt sense me typing that.

Dana is tough and smart, and though she starts the story a little naïve, she rolls with the punches and thinks well on her feet. She thinks the main challenge as deputy commander of Thule Air Base is to keep everything running smoothly as it has for decades. Then August 19th happens and she is forced to deal with events way outside her training, including rescuing her husband and daughter, who are nearby the base on an expedition to the ice cap. Dana has to make some tough decisions along the way.

As for pandas, they aren’t indigenous to the Arctic, but what if an air shipment of the critters crashed near Thule AFB and the ravenous fiends escaped and as they scampered toward the base… ah, never mind.

Like my wife, Dana is not to be messed with or underestimated on any level. I particularly like how she quickly hardens to the situation, giving no quarter when it comes to the people under her command or her family.

I know you wrote The Borealis Incident in record time. Do you care to explain why we don’t see at least two full size novels from you per year? Does this feel like an interrogation?

Without Russell Blake’s direct line to cartel warehouses, I had to sleep. So I didn’t get it done nearly as quickly. Was a fun effort, though. Glad to be a part of the PCKW launch.

I’m not sure what’s in those warehouses, but we could all use some of it. I know you busted your butt to meet the deadline, and sincerely appreciate that…readers will too.

You’ve written three books in the Perry Helion series (the third to be released soon). How are they similar to your novella?

Seems the main characters in thrillers are either hyper-capable and super intelligent or are just resilient men or women doing their best — like Alex Fletcher (although Alex is so well prepared and experienced, he sometimes fits into the hyper-capable category). The main character of my Perry Helion books falls onto the Alex side of the spectrum. Perry, an agent for DARPA is resourceful and savvy and does whatever he can to get the job done. In the upcoming The Ceres Plague, Perry turns a 95-ton Belaz 7555 mining truck into the world’s biggest lock pick to gain entry into a Russian mobster’s luxury compound.

Dana in The Borealis Incident is a lot like Perry. She has to decide on a course of action without a lot of information or time. She and Perry are both good at thinking on their feet. They’d make a pretty good team.

Lock pick is an interesting term for battering ram. A bank heist with you might not be a great idea…unless it’s Fort Knox.

Here’s the question readers are waiting for. Are you a prepper or homesteader?

Not a prepper, as such, but I respect the desire to be prepared and self-reliant. That’s a great way to be. I’ve always thought I could peddle my knowledge of celestial navigation to folks after the apocalypse. You know, how to get around using sun and the stars in exchange for a side of beef? Hmmm, yeah, maybe I should start buying survival gear.

I’m trying to picture you carting around your sight publications, sextant case, recording logs and reams of paper through the post-apocalyptic streets of Portland. Might be easier to spend an afternoon at Cabelas with a credit card.

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)?

Nuclear war remains the biggest threat. And not even a general thermonuclear exchange between Russia and the U.S. or China and the U.S. Some studies have predicted that even a regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan could cause sufficient burning to throw vast amounts of smoke and soot into the atmosphere. The result could be “a death shroud” of nuclear winter that would end all food production for years. Any larger exchange of nukes between the major nuclear powers would be a foregone conclusion to produce a nuclear winter. So, although all the fear of nukes may have been pushed aside by zombie and plague phobia, they are still the most potent danger on the planet. You can read how Perry Helion keeps the world safe from a U.S./Russia nuclear war in my book The SHIVA Compression.

Some type of killer pathogen would also have to be considered a huge threat. Although the human immune system has been kicking ass and taking names for millennia, there’s always the possibility it’ll run up against a bug more badass than any it has encountered before. If our immune systems screw the pooch then we’re probably in big trouble, too, right? What about an organism brought up from a subglacial Antarctic lake that has had a million years to mutate? That’s a chilling element to my Perry Helion thriller The Atlas Fracture. How the hell does Perry deal with that one?

Perry Helion shout-out! This is a scary thought. Whether it’s a virus buried in the ice for thousands of years, or released from a meteorite (ala The Andromeda Strain), the concept of a virus novel to our immune system makes for great nightmares.

What’s next? I assume another Perry Helion story?

Yes. Working on the next book in my Perry Helion series, The Proteus Evasion. Perry gets himself in another bind. Hope he knows how to get out of it because I sure don’t!

That’s kind of how it works for us, isn’t it? The plot kind of works itself out.

Check out Tim’s website HERE. You’ll find an eclectic range of fascinating articles, along with more information about his work. And don’t forget to grab a copy of The Borealis Incident. It’s a great addition to the Perseid Collapse World.

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Author Spotlight and Cover Reveal: Alex Shaw

The Perseid Collapse Series Kindle World

Author Spotlight and Cover Reveal: Alex Shaw

Alex Shaw An international thriller/covert ops writer by trade, Alex and I have a lot of common ground outside of the post-apocalyptic genre. Like many of the authors writing in the Perseid World, he broke onto the scene with rapid fire, timeline driven thrillers. Hetman, his first novel, received critical acclaim in the UK and has been translated into several languages. Follow up novels featuring Alex’s signature protagonist, Aidan Snow, include Cold Black and Cold Blood. 

Alex  spent many of his earlier years in the Ukraine, teaching and business consulting out of Kyiv. Currently, he splits his time between family in the UK and business development opportunities throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa. When I first spoke with Alex, I was particularly intrigued by his character, Aidan Snow, a former SAS trooper living in Kyiv. Coincidence? Write what you know? I’ll quit speculating now, before I get in trouble. 😉

cover 3 cyanReaders are in for a treat with BLACKLINE. He’s remained quiet about the plot, but I have learned that novella features an SAS trooper “on holiday” in Maine…during August 2019. I know—Bad timing. As you probably guessed, this won’t be a story about sitting around a dark hotel room, parsing food and hoping the lights come on. An unruly group of tourists, with thick Russian accents, has taken residence nearby, and their presence in Maine, on the cusp of the “event,” is not likely a coincidence.

Check out Alex’s website. 

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