Word Vagabond is pleased to present an interview with Stephanie Erickson about her new book, The Blackout! Stephanie is a graphic artist from Florida- she did her own cover design for the book! (If you like it, check out Erickson Designs for more info.)
Erickson’s debut novel is the story of an ordinary couple stranded hundreds of miles apart by a catastrophic event that wipes out all power and electronic devices. Gary, an airline pilot, struggles to make his way from Philadelphia, home to his wife in a small town in Florida. His wife Molly, in the meantime, has to find a way for herself and her community to survive in the wake of the disaster. Can they both survive- and keep up their faith in each other- long enough to be reunited?
CHECK THE END OF THIS POST TO SEE HOW YOU CAN WIN ONE OF THREE COPIES OF THE BLACKOUT!
This is your first published novel. Was the process harder or easier than you thought it would be?
I’m finding the promotional part a lot more difficult and emotional than I anticipated. I mean, I love the book, so everyone should love it, right? RIGHT?! The writing part was difficult, but that’s expected. You hear all the time about people who have a half-finished book, or want to write a book but never do. So I knew going into it that that part of it would take a tremendous amount of commitment and discipline.
What inspired you to write a post-apocalyptic novel?
The idea for the book actually came from my husband. I just took it and ran with it. It doesn’t hurt that I’m super into apocalypse movies and books like 2012, Alas Babylon, and The Passage.
Your main characters are everyday people- how do you think you would fare in a similar situation?
It’s difficult to say. Sometimes I’m not exactly the ideal person in an emergency. But in normal situations, I’m extremely type A, and like to take charge and get things done, like Burt. So, I’d either be a total freak that the community would kill off within the first week out of sheer annoyance, or I’d be some kind of community leader. Maybe both, haha.
Are you prepared for an apocalyptic situation, EMP, zombie, or otherwise?
No. Not even a little bit. The most preparation we do is in June for hurricane season. We can last about a week without power, which we have had to do before, and totally stinks.
Jimmy Jean was one of my favorite characters. Was he based on someone you know in real-life?
Yes, Jimmy Jean was based on a long time family friend. His personality is very similar to Jimmy’s in that he’s extremely loyal, smart, and strong, but has sort of a gruff exterior. He’s the kind of person I would trust with my life in that (or any) situation. He’s also very into the whole “prepper” mentality of being ready for something like this to happen. I got a lot of my information from him. I can’t wait to tell him he was one of your favorites. It’ll probably go straight to his head.
How much research did you have to do for this book?
Quite a bit, actually. And I still find out new information all the time. But I had help from people like Jim (who Jimmy Jean is based on), and my father-in-law, who I think just thought it was cool that I was writing a book and wanted to help out.
Any plans for a sequel or a follow-up book?
Yes and no. Originally I was dead set on no sequels. But another author suggested doing a short story related to the book, just to give readers who liked the book a little more. I’m considering a blurb about Jimmy’s origins, and how he came to be the way he is. We’ll see.
What inspired you to become a writer?
Probably Roald Dahl. When I was in third grade my teacher read Matilda to us, and I was enamored. I just thought that guy was so friggin’ cool and hilarious, and I wanted to be like him. After that, I read every book by him I could get my hands on. And the awesome part was, my parents never got sick of listening to me talk endlessly about how great he was, or read parts from the book to them that I thought were just the funniest things ever, and their lives would be incomplete without hearing them. Turns out Roald Dahl had a pretty crappy family life, but that doesn’t matter to an eight-year-old! What mattered to me was that he got me excited about words on a page. That’s what I strive to do for others, but mostly, for myself.
Do you have any advice for other self-published authors?
Well, I don’t know! I’m still learning myself! For me, I was so focused on the writing part, I was completely unprepared for the promotion/marketing part. So, if I had it to do again, I might spend a little more time learning about being successful on Amazon. Read more material (blogs, books, articles) about self publishing, and your specific demographic particularly (Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, iBooks, etc). That’s what I’m struggling with. But, everyone has their own struggles. It’s how you trudge through them that matters!
Comment below to be entered to win a copy of The Blackout. We have three copies to give away! Winners will be chosen randomly and announced here on Wednesday, November 28th.