Welcome to another awesome Blogiversary feature and Giveaway!! This time I have E.E. Isherwood here talking about his Since the Sirens book. This sounds so good and I have a signed copy to give to one very lucky reader. Let's find out about the book first, then read the interview the author was nice enough to do for me.
The world is ending. Who will save Grandma?What would you do if a mysterious plague began to devour your city and the dead started banging on your door? Fifteen-year-old Liam Peters is spending the summer with his great-grandmother (not by choice) when the authorities of St. Louis spin up the tornado sirens to announce a civic emergency. Police robocalls declare mass disturbances throughout the city, suggesting citizens try to escape to safer jurisdictions. Radio offers contradictory instructions: stay inside, hunker down, ride it out. The President tries to convey a message of hope to calm a scared populace, but the tone is interpreted as a goodbye. The mixed messaging sends society--already on the verge of panic--into a tailspin. When the President signs off, half the city hunkers down while the other half dashes for the interstate. Now Liam is faced with his first dilemma of an increasingly complicated morning. Should he stay with Grandma and attempt to defend her urban home against both the living and the dead, or should he try to get her out of the city to his parents' home in the suburbs? Nothing is ever as simple as it sounds when life and death are on the line. As an avid reader of zombie literature, Liam realizes you go into the zombie apocalypse with the army you have, not the one you want. He sees himself as an unlikely savior, with an unlikely ally, but he embarks on the hero's journey nonetheless. As the city implodes, they race against the clock to outpace desperate refugees, gang violence, criminal opportunists, overzealous military units, scared civilians, and a growing horde of bloodthirsty zombies. He does it while burdened with a woman who is unable to walk more than ten feet without help. As they chase the elusive vision of safety, Liam comes to appreciate why there are no atheists in foxholes.
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Since-Sirens-Zombie-Apocalypse-Book-ebook/dp/B018H82ZYU/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1467921003&sr=8-1 (FREE at time of posting this!!!!)
Where do your ideas come from?
Writing about zombies gives me the opportunity to delve into all kinds of adventures. Most of my ideas come from my characters, rather than something I plan. I let them guide me into the Zombie Apocalypse, and I see what they see. Sometimes, what they see comes out as something really cool I never would have thought of on my own, as odd as that sounds. Some of the best scenes are those written spontaneously as my characters do something that later I think—hmm, how the heck did that happen?
Where do you find inspiration for your characters?
Initially, my books were written as a tribute to my grandmother, who passed away in 2014 at the fine age of 104. She was sharp and healthy all the way to the end. She was also religious, kind, and would do anything for her huge family. I used her as the inspiration for Martinette Peters (also 104), the great-grandmother of my fifteen-year-old co-hero. It was a way I could celebrate the life of the matriarch of my family, and pass on her wisdom to my own young family, as well as the readers of my books. Though my stories are about zombies and all the trouble they bring, reviewers have commented that the books are as much about family, too. I think the balance of the two is what makes my books compelling.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I penned my first short story, simply titled “104,” in the summer of 2014. It was about an elderly woman who lives with her nurse, but all hell breaks loose when the nurse becomes a zombie. That short story morphed into the first chapter of my first book, Since the Sirens. Over the next year I wrote three books about her adventures with her great-grandson Liam and his new friend, Victoria. Only after I lost my IT job in the fall of 2015 did it occur to me I might be able to sell my stories and more formally become a writer. Even today, in the summer of 2016, I'm not sure if I'm a writer or an IT person writing books to put food on the table. That is a subtle but important difference I'm hoping to solve by the end of this year.
What makes you unique as a writer?
Every writer is unique. The voice in our heads is absolutely unique and every story comes out different. But there are 6000 books a day going into Amazon, so being unique has become commonplace in that respect. I think what makes my stories unique is that I don't use traditional heroes. Obviously, one of my main characters is 104. While she isn't running around firing shotguns and physically rescuing survivors, she does offer constructive help in the books and isn't a helpless bystander—even though she often feels she is. Without giving too much away, one of the big mysteries of my books involves people over the age of 100. As you might suspect, in a zombie apocalypse, the elderly are the first to go. That puts tension in the series.
Describe your book in 140 characters or less.
A centenarian grandmother and her great-grandson try to survive the Zombie Apocalypse by escaping a collapsing city.
What writers inspire/d you?
One of the earliest books I can remember reading that was of the genre I'm writing (post-apocalyptic) was Earth Abides, by George R. Stewart. I think it was cited by Stephen King as one of his inspirations for The Stand. It's about a virus that wipes out humanity, but it's more about how the works of man atrophy over the course of a lifetime. In my books, Liam is an avid reader, too, and he cites Earth Abides from time to time, and uses fictional books to solve some of his own problems. There is so much literature about survival, plagues, zombies, and the like, it seems to me if any of those things really did happen, we would have a deep bench of material from which to draw lessons. Other books that inspired me were the Battle Circle trilogy by Piers Anthony, Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, and the Zombie Fallout series by Mark Tufo is probably most directly responsible for showing me how to write about zombies.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I'm still pretty new to the scene, so my social media platform and website aren't destinations for my readers, yet. However, I do read the reviews on Amazon. Most of the reviews are positive, which of course warms my heart, but one in particular affected me on a personal level. The key line was this: “As the widow of a sniper and the mother of three veterans I was especially pleased with the way he handled the military and LEO involvement.” This statement made me appreciate that my books—even though I write about zombies—are read by real, multidimensional people. They have their own personal perspectives that color their enjoyment of the words I put on a page. They can't be fooled. This bit of affirmation let me know that not only did I get something right, but I got something important right. My goal is not to write a book that is a flight of fancy, but a realistic look at real people facing a calamity, while keeping it entertaining. As I've mentioned above, reviewers have also mentioned family several times, as well as enjoying that people of faith have a role in my books. Those are the kind of things that keep me writing.
Some Get to know me Questions
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
My stress reliever is running. Last year I trained for ultra-marathons, but this year I have to keep my running goals a little shorter. Because I am writing for a living, I can't take three hours out of my day to go train for races. Instead, I pick and choose shorter runs just to stay healthy. I also enjoy road biking, mountain biking, and hiking. Most of my free time is spent with my family.
What’s the best vacation you ever had?
Growing up, my parents loved to take two weeks out of every summer and pack the family into the Suburban and drive all over the western part of the United States. Yellowstone. Rocky Mountain National Park. Sequoia National Park. We got around. It would be hard to pick any one of those, or even any of the more recent trips with my own family, as my favorite. The takeaway is all the great memories I have of being in those places with the people I care about. For my job I've been to some pretty fantastic destinations, including Moscow, Russia, but they are just locations. I didn't have my family with me. I tell my kids from time to time that the best day of my life is the one I'm living right then, with them!
If you could have personally witnessed one event in history, what would it be?
History has a special place in my heart. I worked for ten years for a military history magazine. I could think of a lot of military events that would be neat to witness, but if I had to pick one event in history, I would want to see Adam and Eve getting tricked, eating the apple, and getting kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Think about it. If I showed up and witnessed it, that would tell me something important about existence itself. If this mysterious time travel force couldn't grant that wish, that would tell me something, too. In that case, I'd probably ask to see the last minute of our universe.
What's you favourite place to read?
Not very exciting, but I read in bed. It's comfortable, peaceful (after the kids are in bed), and I'm with my best friend/wife. It allows me to relax and invest myself in the story.
When you walk into a book store, where do you head first?
Bargain book tables. I'm always searching for a good deal. Often I look for books my children might enjoy, priced to move. On a writer's salary (ha!) I can't afford to pay full price. The second place I go is the Science Fiction section.
If you had a million dollars, what would be the first thing you would buy?
A nicer chair for my desk. You can't overestimate how important a good chair becomes when you sit in it for ten hours a day banging on the keyboard. And, if I had a million dollars and didn't have to worry about food, clothes, and schooling for my children, I would spend a good part of my life in that chair doing what I love. Writing!
****Thanks so much for answering my question! I have to say that your Grandmother sounded like an amazing lady!!! Also guys, take a look at E.E's about me page on his site! http://zombiebooks.net/about/, it's fascinating.
About the Author:
E.E. Isherwood has been a storyteller for over 30 years. As a young teen he would create elaborate imaginary worlds as a Dungeon Master for many Dungeons and Dragons adventures. He kept them all in spiral-bound notebooks. His wife often wondered why those bins of notebooks kept following her from house to house. He began to wonder about that too. But three decades and several careers later he realized they were stories, and he could put those storytelling skills to good use again by writing books. A life-long enthusiast of apocalyptic fiction, writing about zombies was his first passion. He has other book ideas based on those old notebooks. He lives in the St. Louis, Missouri area, where his series of zombie books takes place.
Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/eeisherwood
Signed Copy: US ONLY