Thursday, May 3, 2012
The end of civilization and a far-away family: An interview with author Ray Gorham
What happens when civilization collapses around you, but you're far from your family? Ray Gorham explores that question in the post-apocalyptic novel 77 DAYS IN SEPTEMBER.
My book, 77 DAYS IN SEPTEMBER, is a story about a man separated from his family by a terrorist attack. He's been away working for a couple of weeks when an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) detonation shuts down the country and makes it next to impossible for him to return home. The story then follows both his and his family's struggles to survive and re-unite.
2) What inspired this book?
I wanted to write a story that would present a husband/father/man in a positive light. Too many stories have guys that kill without remorse, sleep around, forget their families, or act without considering the consequences. I wanted to have a character that would overcome amazing obstacles in order to do the right thing. That was the "inspiration" for the book. From there it was finding a device that would put the character in such a situation, and that is where the EMP came into play.
Once I started writing, though, I found the EMP aspect, and the threat it presents, became just as important as the other part of the story.
3) Your book posits an EMP that knocks out the bulk of advanced technology in the US and thrusts the country into chaos. There's a lot that can be done with that scenario, but what themes did you choose to focus on?
I wanted to present normal people who suddenly have life and death decisions to make, and their struggle to maintain their decency in a radically altered reality. I've had some criticism in reviews that my characters are too nice, but I think most people will find it very, very difficult to shoot their neighbors if such an event were to occur. Most Americans are good, decent people, and the live and let live mentality will be the outlook that will guide them. That is not to say that there won't be the shoot first people around, I just chose not to have them as my protagonists.
4) Any post-apocalyptic book, by necessity, explores the limits of civilization and the nature of man. Do you see yourself as more a pessimist or optimist about human nature?
I think as you read my answers and my book, you'll see that I am more of an optimist than a pessimist. I do expect that terrible, ugly things will happen if such an event were to occur, so tried to portray a variety of things--the good, the evil, and the in between.
5) Why do you think people are so drawn to the stories about the collapse of civilization?
I think much of it has to do with the fact that every great empire that has existed has to come to an end, with the exception of ours. And the only reason we are still around is that we are young, and likely just haven't met our end, yet. The Persians, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, British, Syrians, Ottomans, Mayans, and so forth, have all failed, most in violent, terrifying ways. Maybe sub-consciously we understand that there is a finite time we have to be in the position we are in, and the expectation of our eventual doom motivates us to read/view those types of works.
6) Okay, scenario time. The EMP goes off tomorrow. Would you rather be near a city or a remote rural area and why?
While there would be advantages to both locations, I'd much rather be in a rural environment, provided it was someplace I was established in with a home or "getaway." If the EMP does go off tomorrow, I think things in the big cities are going to go south pretty quick as people begin to starve. I live in a rural setting, close to a city (15 miles), on 50 acres. It provides us a good buffer, with the city conveniences, so kind of the best of both worlds.
7) Can you give us any insight into any future works?
I have a few things in the works, but nothing imminent. I don't view myself as a post-apocalyptic or dystopian author, so my closest to being done novel concerns a guy who can really see the future, and how his ability affects the people of his community. I also have a sequel to 77 DAYS planned, as well as a few other stories. At some point I hope to be able to write full time, but that time is not yet. Hopefully I can get a book out before the end of the year.
If you'd like to read more from Ray, he'll be stopping over at Apocalyptic Fiction on May 7th.
77 DAYS IN SEPTEMBER can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords.