Tuesday, February 4, 2014

GUEST BLOGGER: Sean McLachlan Discusses Post-Apoc Novel RADIO HOPE

Click the Cover to Visit on Amazon
Click the Cover to Visit on Amazon

Sean McLachlan's new novel, a post-apocalyptic story titled RADIO HOPE, is now available on Amazon for the Kindle. I was lucky enough to read an advance copy, and I thought the story was spectacular - strikingly realistic, but with enough action and adventure to satisfy even the most demanding bullet-junkies.

Here, Sean discusses some of the thought processes behind creating The Toxic World of RADIO HOPE.

Constructing A Destroyed World

One of the rewarding things about a career in writing is that you get to try new things and extend your creative boundaries. My first novel, A Fine Likeness, was a historical horror set in the American Civil War. I used many real characters and situations, and even bits of real dialog culled from contemporary newspaper accounts.

My second novel was a radical departure. Radio Hope is a post-apocalyptic tale. No zombies, no alien invasions, just regular people living with their grandparents’ mistakes. I had to extrapolate a series of disasters from our current world situation to get the toxic, ruined world that was the setting for my novel.

Writers tend to lump themselves into “plotters” and “pansters”. I’m about in the middle of the spectrum. While I do tend to think out the world situation and the basic plot, I leave plenty of room for winging it. I had the three main characters and the setting—New City, the last settlement that could really be called a town. I also traced out the fall of civilization, but many of the details of how civilization fell came to me while I was facing the keyboard, and sometimes those details filled out my world’s background.

For example, I knew that New City was going to be threatened by a bunch of zealots called the Righteous Horde. I didn’t want them to show up until near the end because the story isn’t so much about their attack as it is about how the threat of their attack brings out all the best and the worst in the settlers, and highlights the divisions between citizens and noncitizens. So I wanted to have New City know the Righteous Horde was coming but have plenty of time to stew in the knowledge that their days might be numbered.

Then I asked myself, “Why isn’t the Righteous Horde galloping over the plains and swooping down on an unsuspecting New City like a Mongol army?”

Simple solution: no horses.

So where did all the horses go? My subconscious informed me they got killed off, along with a large chunk of the human population, in the Biowars. Part of humanity’s fall into chaos included deadly biological warfare that killed hundreds of millions of people along with several major species of animals. Horses were one of them, as were cows. It killed off the dogs too. How could my subconscious do such a thing? Because icing Man’s Best Friend will tug at my readers’ heartstrings as much if not more than destroying most of humanity.

The fall of civilization didn’t happen overnight, and so there are bits of high technology still lying around. Most, of course, have since fallen apart, and the lack of electricity except in a few places lucky enough to have solar panels means that most future inventions are useless. I do leave a few hints of advanced tech, though—advanced medicines such as blanket antivirals and weapons like the DShK-4, which is obviously a later model of the Chinese DShK. Actually there are a lot of Chinese-made weapons lying around, but I can’t talk about why that is because I don’t want to be found guilty of Blame. In New City that could get me branded and exiled. . .

So while the future is bleak, it’s a fun place to play if you’re a writer. As you build up your setting often the demands of the story will dictate details. You get to mix the old and the new, science fiction and the 19th century. People wear homespun and grind their grain in handmills while looking up at the bright dot of the International Lunar Base and wondering if humanity will ever make it that far again.

Sean McLachlan is an archaeologist turned writer who is the author of several books of fiction and history. Check him out on his blog Midlist Writer.


Sean McLachlan said...

Thanks for having me, Jack!

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm a big fan of archaeology and this makes a fascinating background for a writer. I'll have to check this work out.

Sean McLachlan said...

Archaeology gives you lots of insight into how things decay.
I really need to write a book starring an archaeologist some time!

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