Good morning folks :-)
It seems the number of Post-Apocalypse Romance writers is growing, so today I'm introducing you to Lissa Bryan. We met on Twitter with a shared interest in blogs and of coarse - Post apocalyptic romance! So without further ado ...I bring you Lissa Bryan!
LB: The End of All Things is about two people on a journey across a post-pandemic America, searching for a safe place to build a new life.
Justin, an ex-Special Forces soldier, finds Carly in Juneau, Alaska, still in shock and barely surviving on the food she scavenges. She’s waiting for everything to go back to normal and Justin has to convince her to accompany him on his journey to a warmer climate. She’s young, a little naïve, and lacks the skills she needs to get by in this new world, but Justin sees a spark in her. She’s just like him: a survivor.
MN: How about telling us a little about your road to publication.
LB: I started out in the fanfiction world. In October of 2011, I discovered there were other people out there who also re-wrote books and movies, giving them a plot they liked better or sending the characters on new adventures.
My head is full of stories—Not just fanfiction, but my own original tales, as well. I thought I could finally let some out of my head in a safe, anonymous environment.
My first story had about a dozen regular readers and I was thrilled. I began my second, a little tentatively, because it had a very unusual plotline. I kept hearing the mom from Carrie shouting, “They’re all going to laugh at you!” But, I thought, if it got a bad reaction, I could simply delete it and fade away, and no one would ever be the wiser.
To my surprise, it became popular. I had 150 readers the first day and by the middle of the week, it had doubled. I was shocked. By the third week, it was up to three thousand. That’s when I started getting a little scared. It hit six thousand by the end of the month.
It was a surreal experience. I had expected to be quietly anonymous, and take a little satisfaction in knowing my stories were out there, floating around on the internet. I liked the idea that people might stumble upon it one day and enjoy my little tale. I never dreamed of anything like this.
In February, I got an email from a woman who claimed to work for The Writer’s Coffee Shop, the original publishers of Fifty Shades of Grey. They wanted to know if I’d be interested in writing an original novel. I couldn’t believe it.
Though readers had suggested it, I never really considered publishing. I thought the only way people became published was to send out reams of manuscripts and face inevitable rejection, repeatedly. I’m not ambitious enough, nor thick-skinned enough, for such endeavors. I was just happy people were reading, and apparently enjoying, my stories.
And here was a publisher approaching me. It didn’t seem real. Even as I sat in the lawyer’s office and he explained the contract to me, I was still thinking, “This can’t be happening.”
Some days, I still feel that way.
MN: Where did you come up with the idea for this book? What got you interested in post-apocalyptic fiction?
LB: I’ve always been a fan of post-apocalyptic stories. I liked them so much, I decided to write my own. I don’t remember what sparked my imagination, but this was one of those books I wrote in my head over the years, tucked away on a mental shelf with the others.
After my first novel, Ghostwriter, was finished, I decided this would be my second book. This is the first non-paranormal story I’ve written, so it was sort of a change of pace for me.
I’m a romance writer at heart, so anything I write is going to have a love story at its core, whatever the secondary genre. I knew this book would be somewhat unusual in the EOTWAWKI genre. Most are just straight-on survival and action stories, perhaps with just a little romance thrown in on the side. I wasn’t sure how well a novel like this would be received, but so far, the reviews have been positive.
MN: How did you research for your story? Was it fun?
It was a lot of work! When I “wrote” it in my head, it was solely for my own amusement, so I didn’t have to be factual, but as a reader, it drives me nuts when I encounter a glaring error. I’m sure I probably made some mistakes, but I tried very hard to be as accurate as possible.
I’ve never been to Juneau, Alaska, where the story begins. I relied heavily on Google Maps, people’s vacation photos and online travel journals to get the details I needed.
I’m a little obsessive with this sort of thing. If I’m writing a traveling scene, I need to know whether they’re going uphill or downhill, and what they might see alongside the road. I was able to find a site on Alaska’s highways which told me how steep the grade of the road is. I ended up looking through a lot of people’s vacation pictures. I found the best description of the train station in Fraser from a sixteen year old girl’s travel journal.
I was lucky enough to have an editor who raises horses, so she was able to answer my questions about equine health and behavior. Youtube was invaluable in that respect.
Beyond that, I found myself spending hours researching things like whether there were any cell phone towers that are powered by solar or wind, whether an average doctor’s office would have non-refrigerated vaccines, and various wilderness survival techniques. There’s a scene where they find some home-canned food in glass jars; I wondered if they would be in danger of food poisoning. I looked it up to find out how they could determine whether it was safe to eat.
I ended up collecting a lot of research I didn’t use, but it was worth it to have a fuller understanding of the situation they’d face.
MN: Is this part of a series? Any plans for other stories based on these characters?
LB: The End of All Things is the first part of a much longer story. I never know how long my stories will be until I actually type them out. (I don’t use outlines.) About three-quarters of the way through, I realized that the whole tale would be a monster of a book, and so I ended it at a good stopping point. I told myself I’d wait to see how a dystopian romance goes over before I started on the second book.
MN: What was the hardest part about writing this book?
LB: I have a terrible temptation to make it easy on them. “Yay! Here’s a house fully powered by solar that has twenty years’ worth of food, medicine and every single thing you can think of that you’d need! Now, you can settle down to cuddling and being happy!”
But life isn’t like that, of course. And characters find strengths they didn’t know they had when they’re faced with crisis.
MN: What was the easiest part?
LB: The dialogue between Carly and Justin. His voice is so clear in my mind, I barely had to do any tweaking to it at all after the first draft.
MN: Favorite Scene?
LB: The scene where Carly finds Shadowfax. I had so much fun with that scene, and I could see Justin’s dismay so clearly in my mind. It still makes me grin when I think of it.
MN: Where can readers find out more about your new release?
LB: My blog, http://lissabryan.blogspot.com, is the best place to find info on my novels. As the release date approaches, I’ll have more goodies on there, such as excerpts and the first chapter.
MN: What are you working on now?
LB: I’m writing a historical novel set in the time of Henry VIII.
MN: And now for the personal questions-
MN: If you could invite any five people, famous or not – who would you invite to dinner?
LB: Emily Bronte: I want to know if her writing style was intentional, if she crafted Wuthering Heights as carefully as I suspect, picking the perfect words to set the mood, every line a poem.
Carl Sagan: I have a deep admiration for his intellect, curiosity and imagination. The passion he had for exploration and learning was inspirational.
Frederick Douglas: Another man who had a passion for learning, and a gifted writer.
Elizabeth I: This probably needs no explanation.
Mark Twain: Not only a brilliant writer, but he sounds like he would have been a very amusing dinner companion.
Bio: Lissa Bryan is an astronaut, renowned Kabuki actress, Olympic pole vault gold medalist, Iron Chef champion, and scientist who recently discovered the cure for athlete's foot.... though only in her head.
Real life isn't so interesting, which is why she spends most of her time writing.
The End of All Things Blurb: After a terrible virus ravages the planet, Carly Daniels, one of the few survivors, hides in her apartment in Juneau with only occasional forays outside to gather food. She is discovered by Justin, an ex-soldier intent on making his way to Florida before winter sets in. This is the story of their journey to find a place to begin a new life, and finding a home in each other.
Purchase at: http://ph.thewriterscoffeeshop.com/books/detail/81 (Release date January 24, 2013.)
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Thanks for answering my questions today Lissa. Your book looks very intriguing :-) I'm sure a few of us will be checking it out in January.