Apocalyptic

The Feeding Season

The Feeding Season - Stoyan T. Stoyanov

I love apocalyptic stories. LOVE THEM. Nothing sets my adrenaline in motion quicker than a plot containing the destruction of our current society and characters adjusting to that destruction. Some of my favorite books and authors have focused on this very plot (ahem, Terry Brooks). 

It's even more enjoyable to me when an author chooses not to go in the normal zombie direction as the majority of media these days. 

So I very much enjoyed The Feeding Season and the twists and turns that it threw as I followed the plot.

If you’re looking for a slightly different take on the end of civilization, I recommend that you give this one a chance.


Some Bio Information

Writing fiction novel is my dream come true - ever since my teenage years when I first experienced the thrilling emotion of sharing my ideas on paper. My work as a concept artist for the gaming industry fueled my imagination and helped me recreate into my book the imaginary worlds that I am drawing out of a sketch. I currently live in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria and work for one of the biggest German-based gaming studios. When not writing or drawing, I enjoy spending time with my family and playing with my two boys.  


Q&A

1) What inspired you to write this book? 

One night I had this idea about a boy, struggling to find his way and survive in an apocalyptic world. Then I spent some time just keeping the idea safe in my mind and giving it time to grow. The story seemed interesting enough and deserving the time and efforts to write it down and have a whole book to share with the readers. This seemed as the easiest way of idea-sharing but turned out to be a very hard task.

2) Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

After this one night’s inspiration I spent at least two months in fine-tuning the plot and characters, the setting and the twists. Then the real writing started and I used every single moment that I had to “waste” apart from my full time job and family engagements ;-).

I usually started writing in the evening and often I found myself spending two hours over just couple of sentences. I used every weekend and dedicated the afternoons to this project. I had a writer’s block, which took around two-three weeks to overcome. I managed to write the book in about a year and then my first private readers stepped in.

After I received their feedback and comments, I spent some time to edit some parts of the story, make it shorter or go deeper into more details, had some twists and characters’ development. Then I gave it in the hands of my editor and interpreter, while I focused on drafting and drawing the cover page. Being a concept artist made this part of the project the easiest ;-).

3) What types of readers would most enjoy your work? 

I believe that everyone, who enjoys stories with unexpected end would like and appreciate the book. Generally, it is targeted at young adults, seduced by sci-fi apocalyptic genre.

4) What do you hope that readers take away from your work?

I do hope that coming to the end of the book would be as inspiring and meaningful for readers as it was for me to write it.

5) Who is your favorite fictional character? 

Oh, so many names popping out in my mind ;-) I have a long-lasting relationship with sci-fi books, comics and art that it makes it really hard to say but definitely one of my top favorites is Samuel Vimes.  I’m a huge fan of Sir Terry Pratchett’s work and what he creates has been an inspiration to me since the very first book that I have read.

6) How would you describe your writing style? 

Unpretentious and easy to digest ;-)

7) What’s your ultimate writing goal?  

Books are a great channel for sharing of interesting ideas and stories, each of them with a capacity to change and positively affect the everyday life routine. If readers have had a nice time reading my book, then I have accomplished my goal.

Illusion of Choice

Illusion of Choice - Eric Ponvelle

This book combines just about everything I love: post apocalyptic, secret government agendas, zombies, and lots of action and suspense. 

It's written quite well and it's easy to fly through the pages. I had a bit of a hard time connecting with the main character, but truthfully, I wasn't sure I was supposed to. He's learning about his world at the same pace as we, the readers, are. 

Very interesting and lots of fun to read. 


Some Bio Information

Eric Ponvelle grew up in the swamps of south Louisiana. After clawing his way out of there, he relocated to Atlanta, Georgia to work as a writer in the Technology industry. From his southern upbringing, along with his fascination and love of horror, dreams, and technology, Eric seeks to create stories that shock, intrigue, and terrify his readers. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and pets.


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?

I want to preface the fact that I was 14 when this happened, but the book started as a video game idea I had with some friends. I had just played Deus Ex, a fantastic, transhuman game, and I was inspired to do something more in that vein. Naturally, being into video games, I wanted to go that route, but I am a terrible programmer. I started writing the back story in the meantime, and then, as fate had it, I was required to finish it for a school project.

Through the years, I added more and more layers to it. Brave New World is in here, 1984 is definitely here, and a lot of other smaller things that meshed to create a story I could see in my mind.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

Writing has always come easy to me. I work as a Technical Writer, and I have done that for several years now. Because of that, my process is very second nature. In fiction, I usually start with an idea. It may not be a plotline or anything, but it’ll be something that is just below the surface. I can see it, but it is murky, so I have to start working on that idea.

Writing is a very fun thing to me, and I have no problem failing at it over and over as long as I get something out of it.
 
3. What was your favorite part of writing this book?

The layering. One element I used was flashbacks to tell how everything came to be the way it is in the main storyline. I normally love this element, but I wanted to do something I always looked for: bread crumbing.

Every instance of flashback parallels something happening in the main story. I hate to point that out in case it was really obvious, but it is something I think is really neat, and I hope people enjoy that part of it.

4. What does the perfect writing environment look like to you? 

Chaos.

It’ll become very apparent that I am a very disorganized person who will just drop into a situation and make it mine very quickly. I love writing in public places, not because I want to be seen writing, but because it gives me a little something extra to draw upon. Something about writing about things and seeing people gives a little humanity to it.

I will say my absolute perfect set up will have a computer with some very minimal software, coffee, a notebook with a pencil, and some music.

5. How would you describe your writing style? 

As a professional technical writer, I have to, often, remove my tone from pieces. As such, my narrative style tends to be very sterile and concise while my dialogue and characters tend to be very colorful but detailed.

I’d say one flaw I am working at overcoming is my lack of detailing everything. I tend to assume a lot when writing, and while I am far better now than I was, I think I have some work to do.

I guess the best way to describe my style is if a journalist for a small newspaper read a lot of Lovecraft, and since he knew no one really read his columns, he decided to have a lot of fun.

6. What would you like readers to take away from your book? 

At the absolute minimum, I want my readers entertained. I am very much an amateur fiction writer, and this book is my first long-form attempt. I am happy with the work, and I am proud it is done, but I would keep working on it, if I could. As long as someone walks away thinking, “that was fun,” I am pretty happy.

If I have to get a bit higher level, I want to push the idea that everything is subject to change. My belief system dramatically changed from when I started this book until it was released. My characters should reflect that. I never outwardly accept things anymore because I know that what is now may not be tomorrow.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

I want to entertain while enlightening. I think I’d consider my goal genre to be “High Pulp” or “High Pop” fiction. I want to give the reader a fun experience in a story, but I always want to have something of substance below the surface. Ideally, you would read this book once, walk away enjoying it. Then, you try it again, and you start to find little things to investigate. I think that’ll be a really rewarding experience when I can get to that level.

Dark-Boy Vol. 1: The Dead Blue

Dark-Boy Vol. 1: The Dead Blue - Alexander Engel-Hodgkinson

While some books do well at telling a story, I always appreciate the author that's able to take their skill to the next level. 

To me, the next level is creating this beautiful bubble like atmosphere so that while you're reading, you completely forget where you are and what's going on around you. 

This author has created such an environment. The characters are great, the action is well written, and I'm quite interested to see where this series goes. 

My only complaints are that I had a difficult time following the plot in the first couple of chapters, but that sorted itself out quite quickly, and that I couldn't always understand the characters' motivations. But it was more of a mild confusion and it didn't stop me from enjoying the plot. 


Some Bio Information

Alexander Engel-Hodgkinson lives in Ontario, Canada with his two crazy dogs, his younger brother, and his mother.  There, he frequently seeks out new and old films to watch and is constantly thinking of new things to write whenever he isn’t looking out for potentially exciting things to learn and gain experience from.


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?

A mixture of things.  I grew up with anime, comic books (both Eastern and Western), and action films, so that was an essential source of my inspiration.  A lot of my Dark-Boy ideas are derived from history and current events, too—mostly from the wars of the 20th century (especially the Second World War and the Cold War), but also things from the last fifteen years, like the rapid growth of technology and my own pessimism regarding a few factors of society, I guess (LOL).  The biggest factor, however, would probably be Brian Jacques—more specifically, his Redwall novels.  I was in fourth grade when my mom dragged me to the book store and made me pick something out.  My brother picked up a Geronimo Stilton book.  I picked up Martin the Warrior.  It was the first intermediate-level novel I’d ever read, and since then I’ve read several novels in the series.  They were so many things that I just couldn’t list down; each book blew my mind and helped greatly expand my imagination.  Brian Jacques is pretty much the main reason I started coming up with my own ideas, and I guess you could say I probably wouldn’t have started writing if it weren’t for him.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

Like everything else, it starts with an idea.  The idea could come to me from anything.  From baling hay to camping out in the middle of nowhere without cell reception for four days to listening to music.  Ideas just pop in there.  And like that, I start to think up scenarios based on these ideas.  As they develop, I start picturing scenes in my head, as if my brain was a film projector or something.  If I really like the idea, it’ll keep coming to me and I’ll write out a rough synopsis and tweak it until I’m satisfied.  Then I’ll sit there and dream up potential plot ideas, characters, environments, etc.  It takes me a while to get to the writing bit sometimes.  Other times, I’ll just start with an idea, and just let my fingers fly across the keyboard and fill up a few pages in a blank document, and see where my imagination takes me.  If I start it that way, then I just develop the plot and add coherency and all that good stuff to it while I write through it.

3. Who is your favorite character in Dark Boy?

I can never decide on just one.  I actually like Damian, despite how much of an ass he makes himself out to be most of the time.  He’s one of my oldest characters, too, so he feels like that really crazy brother you sort-of know and can’t decide if you like or dislike half the time.  Other common favourites include the Knight Sisters, Jenny and Aria, because I like their personalities and for some reason I think they’re hilarious and appealing in their own weird ways.  Jonathon Silverstein, because he inherits my appreciation of relics from the past, and I like severely misunderstood villains who think themselves to be the hero despite their ‘means to an end’ logic..  And Matthew Corridian, just because I really like his style… and there’s the fact that he’s also something of a feral version of a good friend I used to have.

4. How would you describe your writing style?

I’m not really sure… maybe I’d describe it as ‘punchy’ and ‘to-the-point.’  My writing style is mostly derived from the short, gist-of-it style of film screenplays and the long, descriptive narrative of Brian Jacques.

5. Do you have a favorite author?

Aside from Brian Jacques?  LOL.  I’d say Frank Miller, Shirow Masamune, and Koushun Takami.

6. What made you decide to become an indie author?

I’ve been writing since I was ten and I’d always dreamed of becoming a big-name author with a big publisher and movie deals and blah, blah, blah.  When I was sixteen, I really took it seriously and learned the basics and more from a good friend of my mother’s, who’s also an indie author.  She informed me about how strict publisher companies can be with royalties and deadlines and all of that, which made me go, “Well, screw that.”  I work better (albeit slower) when I’m doing it at my own pace, and since indie authors also (of course) can control the royalty rates and maintain total creative control over their own work without worrying about requests or deadlines from publishers, I figured it was a no-brainer.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

My ultimate goal is to maintain a stable lifestyle with my writing work, and perhaps even make enough to become something of a film producer and/or film director (another job I’ve long admired) and develop films either based on past ideas through adaptations that improve upon the original work, or new ideas that come to me.  I mean, could you imagine being able to direct a film adaptation of your own work?  That’d be amazing!

Scavenger: Red Sands and Blue Dawn

Scavenger: Red Sands and Blue Dawn - Timothy C. Ward

I love when authors transform our current world for the sake of fiction. Whether it's apocalyptic, set in the future, or in an alternate dimension, I enjoy seeing Earth twisted and manipulated into something unfamiliar. 

Timothy Ward does this well, blending Earth into a strange and dangerous planet. While I have not read the Sand series that his plot is based on, I saw connections to Frank Herbert's Dune and Terry Brooks' Shannara series. 

It takes special talent to find the appropriate middle ground between familiar and completely foreign, and Ward nails it. I loved the connection between Danvar and Denver, and the rumors behind it. This connected me to the story and gave me a frame of reference for visualization. 

Rush and Star are both engaging characters that have an emotional journey to go through as well as their physical journey. And I'm interested to see if River pops up again. She seems determined to interfere with Rush's life, but I'm not sure why. I'm very interested to read the conclusion of this series. 


Some Bio Information

Timothy C. Ward grew up on DragonLance, Stephen King, and Dune. Read how he blends these influences in his serialized epic, Scavenger, where sand divers uncover death and evolution within America's buried fortresses. Parts one and two, Red Sands and Blue Dawn, are now available on KindleScavenger: Evolution will be the first compilation of these parts into a print book. Sign up to his newsletter for exclusive news and giveaways. His first printed story, "The Bomb in the President's Bathroom," released in the Amish SciFi anthology, Tales from Pennsylvania. Signed copies are available in his store: Spike Publishing.


Q&A

1. Was there an inciting incident that prompted your desire to become a writer?

My first word was ‘book’, so I’m sure my parents deserve credit for my love for stories. Other than that, in Kindergarten I co-authored some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comics. In high school, depression and boredom led to writing poetry and fiction, and I pursued that in college as well. To maybe flip your question around, there was a suppressing incident after college when I was left to my own devices to continue writing, and gave up. I thought, I’m just a skateboarder from the suburbs of Cleveland, what do I know about adventure? (My first novel attempt was about skateboarding mice in a mansion ruled by cats, but for some reason I never finished that. You know. Excuses.)

I stopped writing for three years, taught English in Korea and then moved back to the States to pursue ministry. While in seminary, a SciFi fanboy/roommate asked me to write a novel with (see: for) him. I joke about that with him, but it was that idea that turned my life back toward writing. I fit in all I could between work and studies, listened to writing podcasts every spare second on the road or working out, and was on my way. That was seven years ago and I’ve averaged 100-150k words a year. And I’m still not “there” yet. No worries though, this is in my blood. I’ll see it through, Lord willing.

2. If you could give Scavenger Red Sands and Blue Dawn any soundtrack you wanted, what song would you use from the opening credits?

Funny question, partly because the beginning of Red Sands is kind of like a Western, where my main character is stewing over a prostitute as he mopes in his beer. As I write this, I’m listening to Power Trip by Lecrae. It has a base beat that promises future problems, but the confidence that when weapons are drawn, my hero will step up and prove hard to take down. If you’re not a hip hop fan, Muse would be a good soundtrack as well. This story strives for an epic range from down in the pits to surprising victory in battle.

3. Why did you decide to write in short segments instead of putting out a full length novel? 

Hugh Howey, author of Sand, the story world Scavenger is written in, published Sand and an earlier novel, Wool, in parts. The basic idea is to release episodes to help generate buzz so that when the final episode is released there is a large following.

For me, while that was surely a goal, my first goal was to write a stand-alone novelette (Scavenger: Red Sands), and if people liked it enough in the reviews, decide if I should continue the story.

I was encouraged by the early reviews for Red Sands. Without them I may not have taken on this project. But, releasing it without the next part written may have left many readers thinking it was the only story. I mentioned at the end a plan to write more if readers wanted, but there has been a drop off in sales from Red Sands to Blue Dawn that makes me wonder if serialization requires too much work from the reader.

I’m trying to promote my newsletter so that readers will know when and how to buy the next episode, but I still may not return to this serialization model. One bonus has been splitting the editing costs out over each part, which has helped with my budget. 

4. Who's your favorite author? Is it purely due to entertainment value or do they inspire you?

Many authors have unique attributes that make me huge fans, but character is king for me, and Hugh Howey’s characters are the best I’ve read. T.C. McCarthy and James Smythe are close seconds. Hugh also inspires me with the advice he’s given on self publishing, and simply by the way he lives his life. He is a role model for sure.

5. What time of day (or night) do you prefer to write? And why? 

Right after work is the best time for me. I’ve had time to think over what I’ll write and I’m still awake and motivated. I also get in a session before bed, though sometimes that is harder with how tired I am with parenting my one-year-old child.

6. Do either Rush or Star resume anyone famous in your mind? 

I don’t really imagine famous people when I write characters. I’m not a huge visualization person, especially with fictional people, so I don’t really know what their faces look like. This may be seen as a weakness or an annoyance to readers who prefer hawklike noses and scars on cheeks, but I like to let the reader have some freedom to imagine what they look like. I’m more interested in their hearts, what motivates them, and the emotions within their actions.

7. Describe your optimal writing environment. 

I love my recliner and being alone, with headphones and a solid album on high. I guess it’s best to learn to write whenever and wherever, but those are some things I like to have. During the summer I went out to my garage and wrote with my laptop on the trunk of my car, dancing a little as I wrote, with a breeze at my back and a carpet square under my feet. Writing outside is really peaceful.