Friday, May 23, 2014

Interview and Giveaway Euphoria-Z Book 1 by Luke Ahearn



Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?

I was born and raised in New Orleans, LA and moved to Monterey, CA about twelve years ago. I always wanted to be a writer, but spent the last thirty years avoiding that by developing computer games.

When I am writing this genre, I am obviously trying to convey the horrible reality of an actual post-apocalyptic world in the story; the fear, the challenges, the loneliness, and all that negative jazz. But honestly, especially as a reader, the post-apocalyptic genre appeals to my desire to be alone. I have a desire to wander free in a simple world where there are no politics, no wars, no rat race; just empty houses and large stores stuffed with everything I need to survive. And it also leaves me feeling grateful for the life I have, the family, the friends, and the small creature comforts.

What is it about the paranormal, in particular vampires, that fascinates you so much?

Imagination. All of these creatures allow my imagination to go wild. It’s like reliving a little bit of that magical time as a child when you could get scared.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve wanted to write a post-apocalyptic novel for a while, but this book was started when my son went off to college. It was a way to be with him (yes, in a kind of weird and imaginary way) because I knew I would miss him. It has helped me personally.

Please tell us about your latest release.

Euphoria-Z is a traditional zombie apocalypse novel with plot twists, well-developed characters, and a totally unique beginning.

Do you have a special formula for creating characters' names? Do you try to match a name with a certain meaning to attributes of the character or do you search for names popular in certain time periods or regions?

No. I use a common name for whatever period or region I am writing in. I spend very little time choosing a name. I usually go to Google and type in something like “most common boy names 1955” or whatever year the character was born, and then choose from the list. The reason I choose quickly is because I like to let the character own the name. Think of the common first name Michael. Now add the common surnames Myers, Corleone, or Scott. These three names evoke three very different images of a man created by the characters themselves.

In Euphoria-Z, Tug is the nickname that Abel Tugerson goes by. The nickname really says the most about him, evoking the image of a tugboat or a chronic masturbator who tugs a lot. I named him Abel Tugerson without thought and as his character evolved, the nickname emerged. I then rewrote the introduction of his character, introducing him as Tug from the beginning.

“Abel Tugerson, Tug to everyone and anyone since he could remember, stood in the bed of a beat-to-shit pickup truck as it rolled slowly down the 101. It was covered in rotten flesh and putrid streaks of gore.”

Of course, there are stories where name research and thought is required such as a sci-fi novel with an alien race or where the character’s name might be part of the fiction, but so far, I’ve just named my characters and moved on quickly.

Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?

The main character, because I made the mistake of basing him on my son. I was subconsciously protecting him and was blind to it until the first beta reader sent her feedback. The initial chapters of the first draft were very boring and I completely deleted them. I reframed the character in my head and started from the beginning. The writing was much easier and went quickly once it was dealing with a fictional character and I was not putting my son in danger.

Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?

Probably Banjo. He was such an a-hole that there was never a dilemma of right or wrong, good or bad, he just did what he wanted with no remorse, no regrets, and no thought for anyone but himself. So, he was easy to write. He’s also many of the readers’ favorite character. He evoked a lot of reaction from them.

Do you have a formula for developing characters? Like do you create a character sketch or list of attributes before you start writing or do you just let the character develop as you write?

I let them develop. It sounds crazy, but the characters kind of live in my head and I just follow them around and take notes. I may know I want a bad guy and have a vague idea of what I want, but who shows up and what I learn about them as they proceed through the story is totally unknown to me at first. Banjo started as a label in my head; a racist/biker. As I wrote him, he took on thought and speech patterns, likes and dislikes, and I quickly developed a strong feeling of how he would handle any given situation. Would he let people live, kill them quickly, torture them, or maybe do something worse?


What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?

The very first scene. The lead character, Cooper, is being hunted in a primordial forest setting. The odds are eight to one, and he decides to take a stand against his pursuers. This scene sets the tone of the book – things aren’t always as they appear; sometimes they are worse even when things seemed bad to begin with.

I am worried that people will read the first few pages and assume the book will be like every other zombie novel, but it quickly and dramatically departs from the ex-military, armed-to-the-teeth, ass-kicker scenario. The first scene is also important because it helps the reader gauge the severity of change in the world and the characters and it also gives us an understanding of the lead characters’ weaknesses and strengths.

Did you find anything really interesting while researching this or another book?

A few things. In the book, the main character decides to go on foot across the Monterey Peninsula, avoiding streets and highways so he won’t run into the dead and the fleeing humans that attract them. I learned a lot I didn’t know about the geography and layout of the city. I needed to find out how high the hills are, how the sewers and storm drains are laid out, and how long it might take to make your way on foot from various points in town. But really what I learned was just how absolutely challenging and treacherous the terrain is around here. There are a lot of wooded areas and they are creepy if you are alone and thinking about zombies. I am afraid I didn’t convey that in the book. I had a bunch of stuff written that described it, but it made for boring reading, so I cut it.

What is the most interesting thing you have physically done for book related research purposes?

I’ve been to a lot of weird and interesting places. I seek out places and experiences that aren’t common for me. These can be things as simple as a bar room in the middle of the day or walking around a city at 3 AM or so. There is a huge difference between New Orleans, LA at 3 AM and Monterey, CA at 3 AM! I’ve stood around a trashcan fire listening to homeless people on many occasions, and walked through numerous abandoned places and through a few storm drains. Just this weekend, I went into several of the abandoned barracks on a closed military base in the area.

You may not think it, but walking into a dark storm sewer, even during the day, is scary. The most recent time I’ve done it, I used the light on my key fob to go in about thirty feet, then shut it off. It was very dark and eerie. I let my eyes adjust, though, and could see the faint glow of the next storm drain farther down. This may not be a big deal to many people, but the point is that for me it induced a strong sense of apprehension and discomfort. I also got to experience firsthand, even just a little taste, of being in a storm drain. It adds to you as a writer when you do this. I didn’t leave immediately, but remained and soaked in the nervous feeling, experienced it, and tried to put it into words. I noticed how I became comfortable after a while, my eyes adjusted, I noticed the smell more, I could see the odd mixture of the always-wet floor and the bone-dry upper half of the concrete pipe with dead dried vines coming in through the seams where the pipe sections fit together. You have to walk stooped, and that gets old quickly. You also have to walk on the edge of the water in the pipe or straddle it if you don’t want to get your feet wet. If you straighten up, you hit your head on the top of the pipe. Not only does that hurt, but there’s all kinds of crap in the dark that clings to the concrete and will get in your hair. I’m talking snails, spiders, roaches, and the like.

Can you tell readers a little bit about the world building in the book/series? How does this world differ from our normal world?

I decided to base the fictional world on my hometown. That allowed me access to all the locations in the book. It’s fun to drive to a location and just take in the atmosphere and details. The difference from our normal world would be hordes of zombies.

With the book being part of a series, are there any character or story arcs, that readers jumping in somewhere other than the first book, need to be aware of? Can these books be read as stand alones?

Euphoria-Z is the first of a planned series of at least three books. I recommend that they all be read and in order.

Do any of your characters have similar characteristics of yourself in them and what are they?

All of them. In order to write a wide range of characters from good to evil, it is necessary to make decisions in the fiction as the character would. Characters are going to do and say things the author would never dream of. But, even the vilest act has a basis in common emotions we can all understand, the roots of which are love and fear. A racist who expresses intense hate is actually intensely afraid of the race they profess to hate. Their fear is great enough that they want to terrorize and scare those who scare them. It’s the fight-or-flight mechanism at work. They are no more than a scared, cornered animal that only has three choices: submit, run away, or attack. I can understand that level of fear and apply it to the mind of a character. The trick is to write the character acting on their fear in a way true to the character and not how you might act on that same fear. I try to stay true to my characters. If they are a racist, they are not going to change or soften that belief without good reason. I’ve read a few too many books where a character “didn’t know why he did it, but he let him go.” I call BS on that! If a writer wrote himself into a corner then he should change the world, change the events, but don’t make a character do something out of character.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? How do you deal with it?

No, and I wrote a posting on my Goodreads blog on how I don’t buy into writer’s block. I really take issue with a lot of what is being taught about writing. Commonly accepted opinions about submitting, competition, rejection (so-called), and writer’s block, among many others are a horrible disservice to aspiring writers.

Do you have any weird writing quirks or rituals?

No, not really.

Do you write in different genres?

Yes.

Do you find it difficult to write in multiple genres?

No, a genre switch is fun and makes writing fresh. If I wrote the same genre all the time, I would get bored. Switching genres allows me to explore totally different characters, dialogue, settings, etc.

When did you consider yourself a writer?

Not until recently. I’d been published for well over ten years, but for some reason, never considered myself a writer. I started to question this and realized my definition of a writer was wrong. I read somewhere a long time ago that if you are writing, you are a writer; when you stop writing, you are not. I just accepted that I am writer because I decided to consider myself one. Being a writer is a call no one can make but the individual.

What are your guilty pleasures in life?

I record several shows and binge watch them. I love skipping commercials and not having to wait a week or more for the next installment. I feel guilty spending the better part of a day watching TV once in a while, but I also feel that I am taking less time out of my life to watch this way. I feel guilty because TV is mostly a distraction. It is hardly an inspiration but I think I need the time to kind of shut off my brain and watch the screen.


Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in life?

I love physical art. I am an accomplished computer artist, but find the creation of life-sized props much more fulfilling. I’ve built several life-sized pirate skeletons that are very detailed with hats, clothes, jewelry, weapons, etc. I’ve also done a few zombies and other assorted objects for plays and retail locations. You can see examples on my website.

What was the last amazing book you read?

Amazing? Probably a Jeffrey Deaver novel, and I haven’t read one in years. He’s the only author I can remember in the last twenty years to have spun my head around with the twists in his book. His plot twists are never outlandish or forced, but they are unforeseen (at least by me) and kind of blow me away. He’s also really good at introducing a ton of information on a specific topic to the reader without leaving them confused or feeling like he took an info-dump on their heads.

Where is your favorite place to read? Do you have a cozy corner or special reading spot?

My bed at night or on a rainy day.

What can readers expect next from you?

I have the next book in the Euphoria-Z series roughed out, and a sword and sorcery novel, the first of a series entitled Dark Deeds and Black Magics. The Prequel entitled Origins is already available. I am working on a thriller I hope to have done by October 2014.

Where can readers find you on the web?


Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?

The present, Monterey, California

“Fuck!” The wiry, gray-haired old man felt his eyes go wide with surprise, but he quickly got his shit together. Jasper scowled; now he was very pissed off. He might stoop and shuffle when he walked, but he didn’t take any shit.
Some big fat bastard was bear-hugging him from behind. He could see white mountains of wet flab before his eyes, and he smelled vomit. He felt a massive wet belly and man tits pressing against his back. Large folds of cold wet flesh engulfed him, and he shuddered at the sensation.
He hated hugs, especially from men, and hugs from big fat sweaty bastards were absolutely unacceptable. He carried his best spiked hammer, an old-school Craftsman from back in the day, before the gooks were making them. He was just itching to use it. The fat bastard was yelling something in his ear.
“I love you! I love you, man!”
“Ahhh, geez!” Jasper twisted out of the flabby cocoon and took a few steps back. What he saw disgusted him. It was a giant fat kid, a head taller than himself, who looked like a giant baby, all hairless and soft. The kid was smiling like an idiot, and that made Jasper even more pissed off. Food smeared the kid’s face and ran down his chins in greasy streams between his man tits and over his belly. All Jasper could think was that all that shit was all over his back. Now he would have to burn his shirt and take a long, hot shower.
The kid wore nothing but baggy white underwear soaked in sweat. Jasper shuddered at the clammy coldness on his back. His flannel shirt clung to him and felt like a cold, wet bathing suit.
“I love you, man!” The big fat kid smiled as he came at him for another hug.
“Ahhhh! Fuck you!” Despite his advanced age, Jasper moved with an efficiency and force that spoke of his many years as a carpenter. He brought the spiked hammer down on the kid’s skull, and it collapsed inward with little resistance. He liked the sensation of cracking a head but hated wasting the time to do it.
The kid dropped to the concrete like a wet sack. He was still smiling, which made cracking his skull less enjoyable. Jasper wished he could bash every asshole around with his trusty hammer. He looked around to make sure another shithead wasn’t looking for a hug.
A woman came at him, hooting so loud he could hear it over the crowd, waving her tits at him. He took her out too, with an easy smack between the eyes. He had enough of this shit. He cracked a few more skulls for fun, but he got bored. It was always the same: an easy tap to the skull and the moron dropped, still smiling.
The streets were crammed with people, and they were all acting crazy. Jasper just wanted to get home. It seemed everyone was congregating downtown, streaming in from the surrounding neighborhoods. People were walking in large groups, arm in arm, naked and clothed, dancing, running, and hugging. It all made Jasper sick, just god-awful sick.
He tried to go all the way downtown and almost got caught up in the crowd. People were pushing and jamming each other into doors until they cracked open. He heard the crash of large plate-glass windows, but no one reacted. In fact, he saw people just getting pushed through the windows in a wave. He could tell that people were getting seriously injured and killed, and he just wanted to get the hell out of there.
He left at the right time. The press of the massive crowd smashed and suffocated, ground and trampled, and killed many—and the party continued to grow. No one screamed in panic or pain. No one yelled for help or dialed 911. And no one stopped to offer assistance, an apology, or true human interaction of any kind. Everyone was bent on doing exactly what they wanted to do, and what anyone else wanted didn’t matter to them in the slightest.
In any place where people gathered for a good time, the crowds were thick. The mall was packed, but the hospital was empty. The wharf was so full that hundreds fell into the icy waters of the bay. The office parks and businesses were dark and silent. Some groups formed parties on random streets for one reason or another.
A large majority of the city was empty, devoid of people. Most left their homes and walked away, leaving doors unlocked and often wide open. They would join a group and wander away.
There were still a few souls hiding indoors who were anything but euphoric. They watched with fear and horror the goings-on outside their windows. Jasper had been one of these, but he needed his goddamned pills and had to drive through all this crazy shit to get them. Of course, when he got to the damn pharmacy it was closed. He had tried to call ahead, but no one answered the phone. He was pissed. He wanted nothing to do with this crazy shit. He didn’t want to see any of it and certainly didn’t want to walk through it. He saw quite a few people doing things he had only seen in his buddies’ dirty magazines. But there was one thing every single person was doing: smiling like a retard with a lollipop—every single one.
At first, he thought all the outlandish behavior was confined to idiots, kids, and queers. It had to be some new drug to get them this nuts, he thought. But too many people were acting bonkers, too many people who just didn’t fit the behavior.
He walked as quickly as he was able away from the crowd and back to his car. He’d seen some shit in his day, but in the last few the world had descended into pandemonium. There were reports that almost everyone around the world was walking away from their jobs, no matter how critical. Everything was grinding to a halt. Transportation, communication—private or military, trivial or critical—everything was just going belly up. Jasper had known this day was coming ever since the blacks were allowed to vote.
And the crooks in Washington didn’t know anything. They said it was an unknown virus and creatively named it Euphoria-Z. Z because they didn’t know what it was, only what it did. And their advice? Stay indoors and away from crowds, bunch of geniuses.

Jasper had never expected he would need to kill people, not since the war, but in the last few days he had been forced to. The streets were crazy, and he wouldn’t even be outside if he hadn’t needed his pills. He felt as if he were the only sane person for miles. He looked at his feet and wondered, only briefly, if something were wrong with him? No, couldn’t be, he thought. None of this was right. The world had gone crazy.
Euphoria-Z
Book 1
Luke Ahearn

Genre: Thriller/Zombie Apocalypse

Publisher: Luke Ahearn

Date of Publication: May 19, 2014

ISBN-13: 978-1497497382
ISBN-10: 1497497388

Number of pages: 409
Word Count: 118,099

Cover Artist: Steven J Catizone

Book Description:

Civilization shuts down as throngs of speechless hedonists fill the streets in deadly revelry. They feel only pleasure and never pain, even as they are injured, maimed, and mutilated. Few people remain in the world unaffected, left to witness the madness unaware that things are about to get unbelievably worse.

Cooper is among the few survivors of a conspiracy to depopulate the world. One week ago, college was his biggest concern. Now he is on a dangerous journey to find his sister as an ever-present threat of nightmarish proportions engulfs the world, throwing him in the path of some of the most malicious people that ever walked the earth.



About the Author:

Luke Ahearn has over 20 years of professional game development experience and has authored numerous nonfiction books on the topic. He ran his own computer game company for ten years and currently owns MasterWerxStudios, an animatronic prop shop in Monterey, CA.






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2 comments:

Kerry O'Dea said...

I have no idea what I would do with a zombie head, but I want it!

bn100 said...

Nice interview

 
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