Monday, 29 April 2013

What Now? & Rhiannon Frater's Siege

Today is the penultimate post for this year's A to Z. I hope all those who have taken part have had a fun-packed month, though I'm sure that most of you will be exhausted and ready for a break. I know I was in 2011, but boy was it worth it. My blogging break has just come to an end, and I will be back to the day job on Wednesday. So the question for me is, what now?

As per usual I have a myriad of writing projects competing for my attention, and I really need to narrow down the focus to two or three. One of my main weaknesses as a writer is sabotaging the current project by starting on new ones. I shall be talking about this, and ways to beat it, in my Indie Life post 'Focus, Focus, Focus' on May 8th.

Here's what I will be doing over the next few months:

Finishing my YA dystopian novel.
Publishing my science fiction collection, Taking Time.
Publishing a six to nine part science fiction serial, starting in September.
Starting work on a post-apocalyptic novella.
Okay. So that's four and not two or three. But the post-apocalyptic novella can be one of those 'pick up and work on projects' for when I need a break. At least that's the plan.

What about you? As we approach summer, what are your plans?

Rhiannon Frater's Siege

Today I have the pleasure of helping to announce Rhiannon Frater's Siege, book three in her As the World Dies zombie trilogy. I only discovered Rhiannon recently, but I'm already hooked. Here's Rhiannon to tell us about the protagonist and much more: 

Q: What was your inspiration for Nerit’s character and do you know anyone with similar military background? 

I was inspired by three women I met at various points in my life. One was a young Israeli woman that inspired Nerit’s name, the other two were older Israeli women who were beautiful, intelligent, kind, and former Israeli snipers.  While speaking to one, she explained that women made better snipers than the men because they are better shots and she shrugged off her talent as if it was nothing really unusual.  She alluded to having taken lives, but didn’t seem particularly ruffled by this fact because she was doing her job. I marveled that someone so normal could have done something so extraordinary.

Nerit was born in a split second when I was writing the book and saw her standing on top of the old hunting store. I instantly understood the character and what she was all about.  I think she is such a popular and fascinating character because she is the person who does what no one else can do. She is the master of doing the monstrous and terrible, yet retains her dignity.  I love the fact that she’s 62, a woman, and yet a complete bad ass.

Q: Did you do any research on psychopathology to write about the after effects on your character’s psyche? 

A ton of research.  Both by reading and speaking to people who have gone through terrible calamities.  I was able to talk to survivors of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina and it gave me enormous insight into the mind of someone going through a life-altering experience like a national disaster.

Also, I read up on historical events that adversely affected humanity and how we survived. I remember one article that really struck me was how humans survive through community. That was just a profound realization. Most of the time zombie fans are in love with the lone survivor, or the groups of people fighting and destroying each other, but the reality of our history is that in the end we survive because of community.

As for the personal struggles, I did a lot of research on battered women for Jenni.  The real challenge was Calhoun. Since Calhoun is schizophrenic, I had to understand how the illness affects his perceptions. I watched several videos where they depicted how someone who has schizophrenia and is unmedicated sees the world. It was extremely eye opening.

I’m a firm believer in creating realistic characters.

Q: You could have chosen any place in the world for your characters to hole up in during the end of days, yet you chose to keep your setting close to home. What were the perks & drawbacks to writing about a setting familiar to you, as opposed to choosing one you must research or create?

Actually, the characters are in a setting that is not familiar to me. I live in a big city.  I’ve not experienced the small town community that exists in the book. I observed how these small towns operate during my former job and was exposed to the reality of a small town. I remember marveling at how a city secretary knew the name of every person in her town and where they lived.  I was amazed.  During my travels, I absorbed the whole energy of these small towns and the people who lived in them and transferred that into Ashley Oaks.  It was a great experience.

I think the only book I have written so far where I didn’t have to do research on the location was PRETTY WHEN SHE DIES because it takes place mostly in Austin, Texas where I live.  That made writing a whole lot simpler!

Q: If you were stranded on a desert island (with electricity?) what 3 things could you not live without? 

My computer, my husband, my pets.

Q: What book would you absolutely have to have with you, and why? 

My novel THE TALE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE.  It is the one book I definitely wrote just because I wanted to read it.

Q: What 5 words would you use to describe yourself?

Texan, author, Goth, goofy, boring.

The Blurb

It’s the End of the World as We Know It 

But all is not lost.  A hundred or so survivors of the zombie plague have defended their new home—the fortified town of Ashley Oaks, Texas—against ravenous zombies and cruel bandits.  They have gathered supplies, established a civil government, and even found love among the ruins. 

An excellent tactician who has led the town’s defenders more than once, Katie has made peace with the loss of her beloved wife.  She is remarried and pregnant with her husband’s child.  Jenni, a zombie killer beyond compare, fled an abusive husband and formed a new, loving family with her stepson, his dog, and her new love.  Jenni’s still the first to volunteer for any dangerous mission—but now she has a reason to survive. 

A deadly supply run leads to the discovery of hundreds of survivors trapped in a failing shopping mall, their lives controlled by a power-hungry U.S. Senator and the military men and women who follow her.  News that there are civilians living in peace outside the mall is earth-shattering for all of them.

The final battle for the fort—and, in a way, for the soul of America—is about to begin.

About the Author
Rhiannon Frater is the award-winning author of the AS THE WORLD DIES zombie trilogy and the author of several other horror novels.  She was born and raised a Texan and presently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and furry children (a.k.a pets).  She loves scary movies, sci-fi and horror shows, playing video games, cooking, dying her hair weird colors, and shopping for Betsey Johnson purses and shoes. 

You can find her online at:


Thank you, Rhiannon. I was particularly interested in your answer to the question focusing on setting, as I have a post-apocalyptic novella in the early planning stages. Setting is one of my biggest questions marks. Do I set it in a real town or not? In the UK or US? Your travels must have been an invaluable part of your research and inspiration, and I'm thrilled they worked so well for you.

Don't forget to call back on Wednesday, when this week's Speculative Fiction Writer is teen and young adult author, James Maxon. On Friday we have cover reveals from Donna Hosie and James Garcia Jr., and I'll be back on May 6th with How to Write and Take Part in a Successful Guest Post. Until then, Happy Writing.


  1. Congratulations, Rhiannon!
    Two more days of the Challenge, IWSG on Wednesday, and then I'll probably be scarce on Thursday. Exhausted, but always worth it.

  2. I've got a cover reveal this week and a book publishing in four weeks!!! Rest? Rest is for sane people.

  3. Good luck with all your fabulous writerly plans for the summer!!! Looks amazing - so focused and of course you'll achieve all these and more! Yay!!

    Lovely Rhiannon - after reading your interview you are anything and everything BUT boring!!! You're amazing! Take care

  4. Welcome back Ellie, yes just one more day of the challenge,
    Enjoyed reading your post and wish you all the good lucki with your future plans.


  5. This summer I'll be reading through a lot of slush for various story anthologies. It's often a lot of fun, running into fresh stories before anyone else sees them. It does slow down my writing, though.

  6. Congrats to Rhiannon. I love her hair. Her photo alone makes me want to read her book.

    I'll be back up at the observatory this summer, but I hope not quite as much. I need to finish Backworlds Book 4.

    I'm working on a fantasy novel, too.

  7. ohhh...Rhiannon is sexy and apparently an amazing writer!! and Ellie, gosh dang, you are gonna be friggin busy!!

  8. Very cool cover art -- and premise. Looking forward to Taking Time, Ellie!


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