Arthur Bradley - Survival Adventures in a Post Apocalyptic World
Dr. Arthur Bradley has always enjoyed reading good post-apocalyptic stories, and as an expert disaster prepper, he decided to put his knowledge to good use and started writing riveting thrillers. It is not hard to see why his first book in the series, Frontier Justice, quickly became a bestseller, set in a disturbingly realistic world with action-packed scenes and believable characters. As our author of the day, Bradley tells us exactly how much research goes into his books and why he thinks a viral pandemic is one of the most serious threats to modern civilization.
Please give us a short introduction to Frontier Justice.
Frontier Justice is the first book in the Survivalist series. To date there have been eight books in the series, and several more are planned. The story is set following a global pandemic that wiped out much of the world and horribly mutated many of the survivors. Readers often describe it as a cross between “Justified” and “The Walking Dead,” which I think is a pretty accurate description.
It features two overlapping story lines. The first follows Deputy Marshal Mason Raines as he works to establish law and order in a world now driven by violence and desperation. The second story line follows a hardened ex-con, Tanner Raines, and a quirky eleven-year-old girl who he reluctantly takes in.
What inspired your Survivalist series - why did you decide to turn your disaster preparedness experience into fiction?
I’ve always enjoyed a good post-apocalyptic story, whether it be Stephen King’s “The Stand” or Larry Niven’s “Lucifer’s Hammer.” I thought that with my expertise in survival and preparedness topics, I might be able to craft an exciting story that also incorporates real-world tips.
Why the Superpox-99 virus? Why not meteor strikes, flooding or any other natural disaster out there?
In my opinion, a viral pandemic is one of the most serious threats facing modern civilization. While it’s true that an asteroid strike could also wipe out mankind, I think it’s far less likely. Most other threats, such as floods, earthquakes, etc., could be overcome in a relatively short period of time, and I wanted the setting to be after civilization had permanently collapsed.
Did you know right from the start you were going to turn this into a series?
Yes, I planned to make it a series from the very beginning. I wanted to create a long-running saga that allowed readers to follow along on a grand-scale adventure. The series is as much about the characters as it is the gunfights and challenges. I strive to pull readers into the story, making them feel like they too are part of the journey.
How do the books in your series tie together? Can they be read as standalones or do they follow a main storyline?
The books are best read in order because I make it a point not to retell the story in each book. I personally don’t like authors who spend page after page telling me what has already happened, or showing me what a character is like. Instead, I trust that the reader is familiar with the characters and ready for a new adventure. With that said, many readers have read the books out of order and still find them very enjoyable.
For the non-preppers out there, what would you say is the number one most important thing to do to prepare for disaster, even if they don't bother with anything else?
As I detail in my handbook, there are dozens of useful things people can do to prepare for disasters. But the most important is simply to stay alert. From my days as an infantry soldier, I learned a phrase that seems particularly relevant. Stay Alert = Stay Alive.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Secret skills… Hmm, let me think. As an ex-paratrooper, it’s no surprise that I’m big into martial arts and firearms. I’m also pretty good at tying knots, foosball, and mathematics.
Is there an underlying message to your books?
The books are mostly meant to be enjoyable adventure stories, but I do try to introduce topics such as loyalty to one’s family and country, the fragility of liberty, and the difference between justice and revenge.
Tell us a bit more about Deputy Marshal Mason Raines - who is he and what makes him so special?
Mason is often compared to Raylan Givens (the marshal in the TV series Justified). He’s an experienced lawman and war veteran, a master pistoleer, and experienced at setting deadly booby traps. Mason’s a man who believes in justice above all else. As such, he often finds himself standing in the way of those who would take advantage of others. Oh yeah, he also has terrible luck with women.
How much research did you put into this book to make it so realistic?
As a NASA engineer, I try to research everything. I personally verify every survival tip, whether it is draining fuel from a car, using a coke can to start a fire, or cleaning a rabbit. I also visit every location that I feature in the story. This has led to some interesting trips to nuclear plants, underground bunkers, and abandoned insane asylums. Finally, when there are topics outside my expertise, I consult proven experts. These have included amateur radio operators, hog hunters, and nuclear power engineers.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? Do you work during the day/evening, pen/computer, do you have any favorite writing spot?
I usually write on a laptop, curled up in my favorite chair. Once the draft is complete, I read it aloud, editing the story until I think it sounds natural. When I’m finally finished, I send it out to a few editors for their corrections and inputs. The whole process is very time consuming, but I hope that the effort shows up in the final product.
Do you plot out your books before you start writing?
Yes, I sketch out the entire book in a notebook before I start writing. This helps me to understand the general flow of the story. It’s interesting to look back at the early notes and see how different they are from the final story. My most important goal is to make every book one that I would enjoy reading.
What are you working on right now?
I’m putting the final touches on The Survivalist (Freedom Lost), the ninth book in the series. It is due out in February and is available for pre-order.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
They can go to my website at http://disasterpreparer.com. There they can sign up for my free Practical Prepper Newsletter as well as find free preparedness information. A “Contact Me” link is near the bottom of the page for those who wish to interact with me.