Peter R Stone - Intriguing Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian Thrillers
Peter R Stone is an award-winning writer, winning the Faithwriters Writing Challenge on three separate occasions, as well as frequently being a Faithwriters Editor's Choice top ten winner. His winning entries include The Medal and Dreams Forsaken. Peter R Stone, an avid student of history, was reading books on Ancient Greece from the age of four. Periods of interest include the ancient world, medieval era, Napoleonic times, and the Second World War. He still mourns the untimely passing of King Leonidas of Sparta and Field Marshal Michel Ney of France. As our Author of the Day, he tells us about his book, Forager.
Please give us a short introduction to what Forager is about.
Forager is set in Newhome, a walled town built in the centre of the ruins of 2122 AD Melbourne, one hundred years after the world was virtually destroyed by a nuclear holocaust. Living in Newhome is twenty-years-old Ethan Jones, who has a secret that even his parents and foraging companions don't know. He's a mutant, and if that fact is discovered, he'll be dragged away by the town's draconian paramilitary Custodians to be dissected like a frog.
The only time he feels safe is when he's out in the ruins foraging for scrap metals. The dull, drudgery of his life, however, is shattered when he rescues a mysterious Japanese girl from the degenerate, savage Skel. A girl who then breaks the town's rigid conventions in her attempts to get to know him, a girl who also carries the pain of a broken heart.
Meanwhile, the nomadic Skel savages are ramping up their attacks on Newhome's foraging teams and infesting Melbourne's ruins in ever greater numbers. Is this part of a larger plan that could spell the town's doom?
Why dystopian thrillers? What drew you to the genre?
I grew up in the Cold War Generation and clearly remember studying the ramifications of a nuclear missile strike when I was in my senior year of high school, learning the effects of nuclear fallout and how to (hopefully) survive it. I have ever been drawn to post-apocalyptic and dystopian novels and films, and eagerly devoured The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham and John Christopher's Tripod Trilogy during my childhood years.
What inspired you to write about a post-apocalyptic oppressive society that terminates anyone with mutations?
I wrote Forager exploring the possibility that the survivors of a nuclear holocaust could live in a society in which the ruling elite are obsessed with the unenviable task of trying to keep the human race free from nuclear radiation defects.
Tell us more about Ethan Jones. What makes him tick?
Ethan Jones has had a difficult childhood in that he was at constant odds with his father, who kowtows to the ruling elite and their many rules, believing that they are the only ones qualified to lead humanity safely into the 22nd century. Knowing that he carries a mutation that carries a death sentence should it be discovered, Ethan has therefore always carried this seed of rebellion in his heart. At the same time, he is devoted to his mother and ever-sickly younger sister, and cares for the members of his foraging team as though they are family too.
Did you plan from the start to make Forager into a series? Can this book be read as a standalone? How do the other books in the series tie in with this one?
Forager can be read on its own, as it brings to a conclusion the primary story arc contained in the novel. But from the get-go, the plan was to write a series of novels that would address the background story arc of the conflict between the walled city of Newhome, the Japanese colony over near Inverloch and the nomadic Skel. This arc reaches its conclusion by the end of the sixth book in the series. Note the first three books, The Forager Trilogy follows Ethan Jones as the main character. The next three books, The Forager Impersonator Trilogy, start off following Chelsea Thomas as the main character, but the sixth book that concludes the series has chapters that alternate equally between Ethan and Chelsea.
Why did you pick Melbourne as the backdrop for your book?
I chose to set Forager in Melbourne because as I live here, I figured it would allow me to write about the unique features of the city (and state of Victoria) that only someone living here would know. Such as part of Newhome having been built over the ruins of the Flemington Race Course, distinctive landmarks such as Flinders Street Station and the row of clocks that adorns its face, and Hosier Lane, a famous tourist attraction due to the amazing graffiti - government approved! - that adorns its walls.
Readers say the book was very unpredictable. How did you pull this off?
I love stories that include a heavy dose of mystery, especially unpredictable mysteries that inspire me to read/watch more, even when I should be, ahem, sleeping.
Ethan Jones has a hole in his mind – he has no memory of a twelve-month period in his later teenage years. What happened during that year will have major repercussions on his personal life as well as on the conflict between the two towns and the nomadic Skel, and it takes Ethan the first three books to unravel those mysteries as he follows a trail of clues from a variety of sources. The second trilogy focuses more on the enigmatic Korean rulers of Newhome—a secretive bunch who claim to be the only people who can lead humanity safely into the 22nd century.
What was your greatest challenge when writing this book?
I had to research the types of metals that Ethan and the foragers would have to find and bring back to the town so that they could be recycled. I had to find out what metals would be needed and where to find them. I was quite surprised to find out that old houses had several sources of lead.
Are any of the characters in the book based on real people?
Some of the characters were 'inspired' by people I have met through the years. But it was interesting how each of those characters became 'their own person' to the extent that in some scenes, I just had to put the characters together and I could basically watch as they interacted, almost like they were alive. Nanako, for example, was inspired by my wife, who is also from Japan, but only loosely. I have had some amusing conversations with my daughter (she's twenty-two now) who thought some of the fictional scenes with Nanako really happened. Nanako's struggles with depression, however, were inspired by my own lifelong struggles with episodes of severe depression.
Do you ever struggle with the decision to have a character die?
Yes, that's a really tough one. I tried to make the Forager books reflect the realities of living in a very dangerous post-apocalyptic world, a world in which some of the main characters would have to die to keep it credible. The hardest aspect was that those characters had such pivotal roles that I really wanted to keep them alive so I could use for the rest of the books.
What is an average writing day like for you? Favorite writing spot, best time of the day to write, etc?
I prefer to write at night when the rest of the family has gone to bed. My favorite place to write is in bed next to my wife while she sleeps with my laptop screen set to its night setting so the room isn't too bright. I am always reluctant to stop writing around 1am (or later) because I have a real job and have to go to work the next day.
What are you working on right now?
My latest novel Girl, Abandoned was a breakaway from science fiction, being set in modern-day Australia about a rich politician who abandoned her daughter, and that daughter's attempts to reconcile with that mother. Since then I have spent ten-plus months doing the background and plot for my next book which follows the events following a young woman who was freed after being kidnapped for six months.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
The best place to find my work is on my Amazon Author's page. I have my own blog, Peter R Stone Author which also lists all of my books and I can be emailed through the contact details there. I also have a Facebook page on which comments can be left.