Friday, May 16, 2014

Interview and Giveaway with Luke Ahearn





What inspired you to become an author?

Reading was my savior as a child. I spent more time in books than the real world. When I was ten I read the Hobbit and I remember getting to the end of Roast Mutton, chapter two, and knowing that I wanted to be a writer.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I guess it depends on what I am writing. I’ve been told my writing can be beautiful and poetic, but that’s if I’m writing sword and sorcery. In modern settings my writing tends to be harsh. The characters and situations can be difficult to read.

Do you write in different genres?

Yes, in addition to several nonfiction books on the design and development of computer games I’ve started writing fiction. I’ve written a dark romance novella, a sword and sorcery novella that is a prequel to a series, and most recently Euphoria-Z a zombie apocalypse novel. I also have a couple of thrillers partially done.

If yes which is your favorite genre to write?

It’s a toss up between post-apocalyptic and sword and sorcery. Writing each genre is deeply satisfying to me as a writer. As odd as as it may sound the post-apocalyptic setting is peaceful for me to write in. While the characters may be terrified, miserable, and despondent the setting is almost serene. In that genre I like to explore human nature and relationships.
I love working with the language of the sword and sorcery genre, the rich and otherworldly settings, and the bizarre characters.

How did you come up with the title for your latest book?

From the story itself. After I had the premise and wrote a few thousand words the name emerged from the fiction. Although the CDC (Center for Disease Control) plays no part in the story it is mentioned in the very beginning. The CDC can’t classify what they are dealing with so they call the mysterious virus Euphoria-Z, euphoria for its side effects and Z (not for zombie as you may assume) to indicate there is no official designation for it yet. In fact, the appearance of a zombie takes place after the CDC is no longer functioning.

Do you title the book first or wait until after it’s complete?

I usually start writing on an idea and the title emerges from the fiction. I find that trying to title a novel (with exceptions of course) before I even began is futile. If I don’t have a strong idea of the title after the first third of the first draft there is something wrong with the story. 

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I don’t consciously attempt to send a message, I just want to entertain people. I want to give people an experience, a vacation, an escape. But I’m sure my attitudes and opinions bleed into the story so I would say there are messages coming through. One belief I have that is represented in this book is that people often rush to judgment as to whether something is good or bad. I also believe that there are a few people in the world that are very malicious and the majority of good people are too nice to deal with them so they have great sway over our civilization. We need to be less offended by the slight of a word or name and look at the tolerance we have for gangs, criminals, and the run of the mill assholes that are just abusing our system and not contributing to it.

In the area of messages in fiction, a huge pet peeve of mine is when I am immersed in a book and suddenly I am reading a two page rant which is clearly the author’s opinion. My opinions my come through in the fiction, but I attempt to be true to the characters and loyal to the reader. I don’t care if I agree with the author one-hundred percent I will toss the book aside if I find myself reading a rant on any topic. I want to be entertained, not lectured to.

Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?

Yes. I based the main character on my son but until I get to see him in a real zombie apocalypse I will never know how accurately I portrayed him. I also set the novel in the place I live and places I am familiar with so I could write about those places more effectively. I liked to visit the locations to experience them and even map the story and apply a timeline to keep events straight.

What books/authors have influenced your life?

Fritz Leiber, Robert Howard, Jeffery Deaver, and a bunch more. Those are just the first names that come to mind

What book are you reading now?

Trace Evidence, hunt for the I-5 killer

What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?

Euphoria-Z is a zombie apocalypse novel. I wanted to write a zombie story that retained the traditional zombie experience but introduced some new elements like the onset of the apocalypse, the types of characters that would play the main roles, and as a result a different story experience as a variety of individuals try and survive and cope with the state of the world. And hopefully I wrote a story that is more enjoyable than the linear storyline focused down to one character’s experience. While there is one main character the reader gets into the heads of many other characters that play important roles, and many that don’t.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

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.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Second guessing myself.

Do you have to travel much to do research for your books?

No.

Who designed the cover of your latest book?

Steven J Catizone, www.facebook.com/sjcatizone. He is talented, professional, and very cool. I will use him again.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t get discouraged or distracted by all the negative talk and the tsunami of information on writing. Push it all out of your head. If you want to be a writer than start writing, no excuses and no delays. The only way to learn writing is to do it, get really good feedback, and do it some more. Finding good beta readers and editors isn’t too hard, go on Goodreads and start looking around. If you think you have writer’s block then go read my blog on Goodreads where I destroy that lie.

Do you have a song or playlist (book soundtrack) that you think represents this book?


I could score this entire book (Euphoria-Z) with ambient sounds. When I write it feels real to me and I can hear and smell and feel it all. My biggest struggle as a writer is to describe what feels so real to me without sounding clich├ęd or too verbose. I do play music to distract me and drown out the world but it has nothing to do with what I am writing. I listen to old jazz, mostly from the 50’s and 60’s because it makes good background noise, pleasant and inert. It has a kind of energetic but relaxed vibe I need to write. I need the energy to keep going and the relaxed vibe to keep going at a steady pace, not rushed or impatient.

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.


Excerpt:

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.




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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