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Even After The End Of The World

Cheryl Peña Author Interview

Descent of the Vile follows a photographer and mysterious woman who barely escape death and must figure out a way to survive together and save humanity. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

This was the first time I used a dream to create a novel.  I’d watched all three films in the Three-Flavours Cornetto Trilogy consecutively, and although the films have comedic elements, I had a nightmare that night that became the opening sequence to Descent of the Vile.  When I woke, I had the feeling that an epic journey would come of it, and I wanted to write it down.  Originally, I wrote it as a novella, but I had to cut too much out to keep it at the shorter length.  So, I revised it to add the missing part of the story, and it became this short novel.  I liked the idea of an antagonist that changes throughout the story and a hero who is flawed, but learns from his past mistakes.  I also wanted to have Jackson’s perspective, even if a flawed one, the only perspective we see throughout the story, watching the events unfold through his eyes.  His journey isn’t only the one he takes with Nadine, but a journey of discovery as he learns that life still holds possibilities for him, even after the end of the world.

What was the inspiration for the relationship that developed between the characters?

Originally, I thought I didn’t want to have it be a romance at all.  And I think there is a romance that isn’t quite a romance between them.  They bond with each other beyond any level of attraction.  I also didn’t dwell on it, but there is an age difference between them, so I did consider that they might separate at the end, but the further I got into writing it, that seemed unlikely due to the personalities of the characters of Jackson and Nadine both.  Although they might not have met if not for the apocalypse that occurs, I thought they would at least find comfort in not being alone through the traumatic experiences that they endure.  It was important to me that Nadine save Jackson’s life, in more ways than one, and that Jackson opens up to her, learning that together they are stronger than they are apart.  But I didn’t want her to remain as someone Jackson has to protect, that they evolve to working more as a team.  It was also difficult to write from a male perspective, while creating a character who might be at once hurt but not broken.  He is healed by Nadine’s presence and discovers that he can evolve as a person, too.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I definitely wanted to write a story about an older protagonist.  Jackson is in his forties at the point of this novel, although it isn’t mentioned.  He has an established career.  Nadine was a student who dropped out of college, so she is younger, but she’d been in a stable relationship before she meets Jackson.  It was important that they both learn to accept each other for who they are and to grow as individuals.  But the main thing is that there is never a point of no return, when someone can’t make a new start.  I feel like there are few older protagonists in genre fiction especially, and older people still have valid contributions to make.  Also, making the point that being established doesn’t mean that a person can’t make a change and start over was important to me.  It’s never too late to learn a new skill or to make a career change or to move across the country to your dream house. Life isn’t static ever, and finding your own peace is something you have to work at, but you’ll never know what you’re capable of if you never attempt anything new.

Will there be a follow-up novel to this story? If so, what aspects of the story will the next book cover?

The sequel was signed by my publisher last summer, so it should come out this year.  It’s titled The Blood Hotel, and it takes place five years after the events in Descent of the Vile. Jackson and Nadine have settled into a comfortable routine when the return of a familiar foe uproots them and sends them fleeing once again. This time, the enemy has changed tactics, and they wonder what they can do to end the threat forever. There will be some themes that do come up again, like the fear of change, but it’s a new story with a different setting, so hopefully readers of Descent of the Vile will enjoy it. I think it’s a bit darker in tone with historical correlations, but you can simply read it as an action adventure if you prefer. I want it to be an enjoyable read, but there’s something more if you look for it.

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Photographer Jackson Riley is annoyed. He gets called to an unusual job where he’s given few details, and the client doesn’t seem to understand the time involved in taking large format photographs, which they specifically requested. Even worse, he almost misses the shuttle bus taking him back to his vehicle. But that’s when his entire life changes.
He barely escapes horrifying peril on the shuttle and races away in his car, only to rescue an enigmatic woman named Nadine who barely speaks to him. In doing so, he wonders what strange new terrors he’s discovered. Seeking to uncover the answer to the mystery, he drives away from the city and hopes to outrun any danger while also keeping his new companion safe. Eventually, however, he is no longer sure that running for the rest of his life is enough. To end the threat, he thinks he may have to return to the starting point but wonders if Nadine is too traumatized to face it again. Facing the choice of what to do with the mysterious woman he supposedly rescued, he must decide if he will protect her at all costs or if he will put her at risk to save the last of humanity.

Descent of the Vile

Descent of the Vile is a dystopian thriller following the choices of our protagonist Jackson Riley, a photographer who is asked to take photos of peculiar items in a research lab. Following this photo session, Jackson goes to leave the facility when he first comes across what he calls the “strangers” these are beings that look like people but can instantly be recognized because they lack emotion or any kind of feeling. They try to chase, attack, and kill. Jackson is in a race against time to get to safety when he comes across a young woman on the highway trying to get away from these bizarre “strangers.” Jackson kicks into hero mode and saves her, and the story follows them together as they try to piece together what is going on while also trying to determine if they can trust each other.

Author Cheryl Pena has written an enthralling thriller that I found to be intriguing and kept me turning the pages. I had a little trouble trying to figure out what sort of person Nadine was, but so did the protagonist Jackson, so perhaps she was trying to make readers see her through his eyes.

The suspense that is woven into the story is exhilarating with each chapter ending in a “cliffhanger,” leaving the reader unable to put the book down for even a moment. Another thing I thought was noteworthy was the relationship between Jackson and Nadine. Instead of being fantastical, Pena wrote a relationship between two strangers that could be attracted to each other in other circumstances but really couldn’t focus on their intimacy because of the degree of trauma and heartbreak they had experienced. As a result, their relationship is a slow burn with both having to earn the other’s trust.

Descent of the Vile is a gripping dystopian science fiction novel with fast moving action. This short read is perfect for the reader that wants a story they can finish in an afternoon and be on the edge of their seat the entire time.

Pages: 163 | ASIN : B0BNVX6YVH

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The Flight of the Mayflower – Book Trailer

2080:The world is dying. Travel into the future to a time when nothing is certain. Where terrorist groups have joined forces with biohackers developing a deadly bio-engineered disease that marches across the continents like a conquering army, leaving millions dead in its murderous swathe. Where drought and famine plague an already overpopulated globe and massive waves of refugees stream across the planet, seeking sanctuary.

Meanwhile, some of the best and brightest minds on the planet are feverishly at work – constructing mega-gigantic Space Arks to shuttle hundreds of thousands of people to a colony on Mars. And it seems like there’s more good news: world leaders announce that a vaccine is ready – so roll up your sleeves and get on with your lives. It’s all good; it’s all returning to normal.

But the truth is very different. In The Flight of the Mayflower, the first novel in The Deneb Chronicles, Dr. Daniel Radu – project manager for NASA’s Space Ark Mayflower – uncovers a global conspiracy of immense proportions. World leaders and the elite are readying themselves for a one-way ticket to Mars, leaving the masses clutching at empty promises. Defiant and unwilling to become another casualty, Daniel cooks up a scheme of his own. Joined by a team of global experts, Daniel and his colleagues brace themselves for a journey of a lifetime as they trek across the galaxy in a quest for survival.

Walls: Hell on Wheels

Walls: Hell on Wheels, by SF Covell, follows the story of Lisa Pena and her neighbors, who live in a small community in northern Los Angeles. They face the frightening challenge of fighting against an unknown alien race, which is a war they’ve fought before. Unfortunately, the aliens have an agenda to increase the presence of religious extremists and bigots who wish to mold humans to their preferences, which has dire effects on most of humanity.

The story is fast-paced and develops quickly, with lots of moving parts and excitement as the characters embark on yet another journey to save humanity. There are vital elements of politics and power struggles, with the intense influence of aliens always looming in the shadows and plotting with and against humans. While the story may feel overwhelming at times, it doesn’t lack intriguing characters, which keeps the story moving excitingly.

I found the story well-written and engaging, with an air of mystery paired with science fiction and fantasy. It’s an excellent read for fans of the science fiction genre, with themes of political corruption and action throughout the book. It’s a riveting read that keeps you guessing what will happen next. I found the story kept me turning the pages to find out what would happen next and how each plot segment would play into the story’s direction.

Walls: Hell on Wheels by SF Covell is unique and creative, with interesting developments throughout the story. It’s an exciting read full of vivid imagery and plot twists, and it’s a fun read for anyone who enjoys a thrilling tale with lively characters. I look forward to reading more from the author, including more creative stories and exciting ideas.

Pages: 193 | ASIN : B0BFC43H8V

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A World Turned Upside Down

Braxton A. Cosby Author Interview

Broken follows a young woman in a dystopian future who finds fate placing her on a dangerous path toward freedom. What were some sources that informed the development of this novel?

I watched a lot of films that covered dystopian fiction as inspiration for world-building. These include Mad Max, Terminator, Bladerunner, a little touch of The Walking Dead, and Divergent. My fascination with dystopian fiction started with Farhenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury. The idea of a world turned upside down, and the separation for survival by the main characters really thrilled me and piqued my interest.

What scene in the book did you have the most fun writing?

The escape from the Horder village. it occurs right toward the end, and the weight of the escape and the things the stakes that were raised by the time Kessa and her friends reach this critical moment of the story was so heavy. I wanted to capture the sense of urgency in the narrative and hopefully keep the readers on the edge of their seats, guessing what will happen next or who might make it out alive.

Was there anything from your own life that you put into Keesa’s character?

The absence of both parents in her life was something I wanted to pull from my own experience of living in a one-parent home. How that experience shaped her character and what pieces or components of her personality could’ve or should’ve been different because it was a focal point.

What can readers expect in book two in The Young Hellions series?

The comic is a blast and was very exhilarating to script out because it allowed me to finally introduce more of the Ashers into the story-telling. So yes, readers will see zombies front and center here.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

In a time of a failed One-World order economy, the only viable currency is a human one.

It is 2035, and the path of Earth’s inevitable destruction has finally been realized. Efforts to perfect weapons of mass destruction and subsequently destroy one another have come to a head as the most powerful countries engage in an all-out nuclear assault—the time of The Big Drop—that nearly banishes everyone to death in a wake of destructive Fallout. Humanity devolves back to its carnal heritage of slavery to re-establish currency through the slave trade. Nobody knows who started it, but the devastation ravages every organic life form, both plant and animal. 90% of human life is wiped out, and of the 10% that survive, radiation poisoning has varying effects on the human genome, creating both mindless beasts called Ashers and beings with special gifts – Alphas. As humanity struggles to survive, migrating to the safety of continental coastlines in search of fresh water, the planet scurries to salvage some kind of economic stability. Enter16-year-old Keesa Donovan and her younger brother Kiran. They live out their lives in a slave pod run by The Establishment, just outside Savannah, Georgia. Losing everything she loved after the Fallout, she desperately seeks freedom while navigating the trials of teenhood, sifting through emerging feelings for her best friend Wynn, and realizing the growing attraction for newcomer Dobbs. Confounded by her gift of ESP, she is haunted by unexplainable visions of mysterious days to come, holding onto a sliver of hope that one day she and her brother will be freed. But on the fateful day of the annual Reckoning, Keesa’s life takes a turn as fate steps in and forces her onto the narrow road of her destiny.

Broken: The Young Hellions Series

Broken follows the adventures of Keesa Donovan, a woman of an Establishment settlement outside of Savannah in a post-apocalyptic world. In the aftermath of the Great Drop, when nuclear bombs were dropped all over the world, survivors are forced to create a new world. One of the big players is the Establishment, who have enslaved many people of the world, among them Keesa, her brother Kiran, and their Uncle, who live with meager hope for escape. Keesa has accepted, and welcomes, the fact that she’s going to die, especially after failing to make the yearly sacrifice for the third time, but fate intervenes in the form of a new friend who brings new hope. Dobbs Saunders, a fellow slave, who has managed the impossible and escaped on numerous occasions. He speaks of the Resistance, who are liberating people and spreading their anti-Establishment message. With Dobbs’ know-how, the gang of friends band together to hatch a plan to escape.

The author creates a dreary setting in this gritty post-apocalyptic story. I could really feel the despair and hopelessness of the characters’ lives. I find this emotional depth often lacking in other young adult books, but I really enjoyed how this story embraces that darkness and colors the world in austere shades that make the story feel authentic, if bleak. This is a dark and disturbing dystopian world that is enthralling. There were several intriguing details that made my skin crawl. The author does an excellent job of conveying this in the writing, and I enjoyed every bit of it.

Although dark, the story shows how love and perseverance can be used to push through any obstacle. This creates moments of great humanity in a world that feels as if its lost theirs. I really liked the fantastic contrast within the story and I found it compelling, but I wish there was more light to balance out the dark. The book also contains tender moments as well that I would have liked to have seen expanded on further.

Broken shows readers a dark vision of what the world could be after a nuclear fallout. This is an enthralling cautionary tale that will inspire readers to choose love and use determination to push through the darkness. This is a thought-provoking and entertaining post-apocalyptic adventure novel that will appeal to fans looking for a story that, while dark, provides great lessons in finding strength in dark times.

Pages: 369 | ASIN: B0B2MZDKBQ

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A Flash of Light – Book Trailer

America is hit by an unprovoked nuclear missile attack by North Korea. While NATO works to deescalate the Nuclear holocaust, a mother, a mechanical engineering expert, and her two children race through panic-stricken cities in an attempt to reach their atomic bomb-resistant shelter in the mountains.

A second air blast over New York knocks out all the car’s electronics except for The Beast, the mother’s armored, custom-made, Dodge Durango Hellcat.

Can they make it through the marauding gangs who have taken advantage of the cities abandoned by the cops to protect their own families? Will the prototype regenerative fuel cell she developed last until they reach the Catskill Mountains and safety?

Hang on for the high octane, action-packed, death race to safety from the Next Name in Horror.

Demanding To Be Written About

Matty Roberts Author Interview

Child of Etherclaw follows two siblings as they investigate the mystery behind an opal necklace and its otherworldly powers, encountering danger along the way. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Child of Etherclaw began as a short story exploring a rather radical approach to climate change mitigation—the Void Pillars. These are the massive hollow superstructures that reach into space and act as heat sinks that cool the planet. When I started to consider how they could be constructed, who (or what) could construct them, and why, that short story quickly took on a novel length. Most importantly, it turned out to also be the perfect setting for several characters that had been banging around loudly in my head for years, demanding to be written about.

Fenlee discovers her life is not as simple as she suspected as she discovers more about her family and her past. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

One of the reasons I love young adult fiction is the growth arcs of the characters. Fenlee is no exception. With her, I wanted to portray a character who could be considered “strong” but is realistically flawed, and has to overcome moments of weakness and doubt. A great deal of Fenlee’s strength comes from her friends and her family, and as fiercely independent as she wishes herself to be, she must come to terms with the fact that she needs them as much as they need her. As the story moves along, Fenlee’s motivations also change as she begins to see the true depths and darkness of the world around her. Getting knocked down repeatedly but continuing to get back up for both yourself and those around you is a real challenge, but Fenlee is up to it, despite the odds.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Found family has always been one of my favorite themes, and one that I wanted to make central to Child of Etherclaw. There are so many different ways to explore family dynamics, but when non-biologically related characters get mushed together in an unlikely living situation, their personalities really tend to shine through in their interactions. I believe this is largely because there isn’t the expectation of the same sort of “default loyalty” we afford to those we’re related to; how we treat found family shows us who we really are. It was also important to me to ensure the feeling of hope. While this may be a dystopian novel, it’s not without positivity. I wanted to demonstrate that, no matter what the world around us looks like, we can always make it a better place, even in small ways.

What is the next book in the series going to hold for readers, and when will it be available?

The next book is currently set for release in late 2023. There are a number of things hinted at throughout Child of Etherclaw, such as certain characters’ backgrounds and mysteries around how the world got to its current state, which will be answered in the next book. A dire threat, much darker than anything in Child of Etherclaw, will also emerge, and certain characters’ roles and destinies will become clearer.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Website

The bonds of family go well beyond blood.
But can those bonds hold when the blood itself carries a devastating secret?
Fenlee’s opal necklace had always radiated a certain warmth since her mother’s death. But now, at sixteen, her world begins to unravel as the stone sparks to life, revealing itself to be an otherworldly artifact of untold power.
Between her mechatronics studies at the academy and scavenging expeditions beneath the sprawling city of New Cascadia, Fenlee and her adopted brother, Elliot, try to decipher the mysteries of her necklace and its link to events in Fenlee’s past.
But they’re not alone in their search.
Strange undercity dwellers offer cryptic warnings, drones track their movements, and deadly corporate agents lurk in the shadows. When tragedy rips Fenlee’s family apart, she must learn to use the artifact’s power to save those who are deeply precious to her. But nothing can prepare her for the dark truths that she will uncover on that journey…
“Lee,” Elliot mumbled. “I’m not who you think I am.”
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