Sunday, September 20, 2020

Book Blitz and Giveaway: After Siege (As the World Dies #4) by Rhiannon Frater

Title: After Siege
Series: As the World Dies #4
Author: Rhiannon Frater
Publication Date: August 11th 2020

Print Length: 248 pages
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction

This is the new world.

Not the old.

The dead walk, demand human flesh, and howl at the wall surrounding a Fort on a hill.

A group of Texans stands against the zombie hordes, fighting to create a new community in a dead world. Unknown to them, their legend is starting to spread far and wide.

Emma Valdez’s life was forever changed when the zombies destroyed the world. She spent all her time and energy systematically killing all the zombies in her town while searching for her missing son. After a yearlong search, she finally put him to rest and planned to take her own exit from the zombie infested world. But a dream about a mysterious woman with raven black hair wearing a red sweater compelled her to seek out a community of survivors in Ashley Oaks, Texas. Little did she realize this was the start of a new season in her life.

The Fort inhabitants, meanwhile, deal with the aftermath of the battle they fought against a massive horde of zombies and successfully redirected away from the town. Many mourn the loss of friends while helping repair and rebuild the Fort’s defenses. Danger still lurks on the outskirts of town as the horde continues its trek into the west. Emma arrives just in time for yet another harrowing battle outside the walls.

Guided by Juan De La Torre, who is nursing his own wounded heart, Emma finds her place among the Fort inhabitants and uses her excellent survival skills to help save others. It’s not easy being the newcomer among people who have formed a family since the rise of the zombies. She struggles with adjusting and is not always comfortable with the close proximity of so many other people. But the high walls promise safety and the friendly smiles are welcoming.

When a zombie of a former Fort inhabitant shows up outside the wall, Emma is part of a team that is sent out to investigate what happened to the group that abandoned the Fort before the big battle. What happened to them might alter the course of the Fort forever.

After Siege takes place in the days following the battle in Siege: As The World Dies, Book 3. Emma’s background story is featured in The Untold Tales: As The World Dies, Book 3.5.

“This isn’t an easy world to live in sometimes,” Juan muttered. “But you know that.”

“All survivors know that.” Needing a change of topic before she started to cry, Emma said, “So you said you used semi-trucks as a barrier first?”

“And the construction trucks. We also had chain-link panels as a barrier inside the truck line. Anything we could use to put a barrier between the zombies and us, we used. Added rebar spikes later on. The next section we built was this area we’re in now, so we could go in and out with our vehicles without risking zombies getting into the main area.”

“I like the double paddock.”

“That was my idea,” Juan said, puffing his chest a little. “We had to build fast and anticipate what might be coming our way.”

“What I said earlier about us saving ourselves, I can see clearly you did that. I like how you didn’t just wait around for someone to save you. You just kept building what you needed.”

Looking surprisingly bashful, Juan shrugged. “We couldn’t wait for the Army or FEMA or whoever to show up. The town survivors were all crammed inside the walls and ready to fight for their lives. Then the city folk started arriving and we needed more room. Taking over the hotel was one of our first victories.”

“You should be proud of what you accomplished here.”

“We are. I am. It’s just…we did what we had to.”

“I understand.”

“I know you do.”

They shared an awkward moment where neither one knew what to say next. It was Juan who pointed to the buildings across from the garage. Horses drank from a trough set near a stable while several teenagers put up some saddles. “We added that recently. When we found the horses, we needed to make them a stable. So we renovated those old abandoned buildings. It’s temporary until we can take another block and build them a proper stable.”

“Isn’t walling in more areas risky? More to defend.”

“Yeah, to a degree. We got the people to guard the walls. We also needed barriers between the main area and the zombies or banditos.”

“Fallback positions.”

“Yeah. It’s designed like an old medieval fortress for a reason.”

Staring at the map, Emma recognized the similarity. “Whose idea?”

“Me and Travis.’”

“The mayor, right?”

Juan nodded. “The new mayor. Architect in his old life. Leader in this one.”

“And you?”

“Construction worker in the old life. Same in this one,” he replied.

“I think you’re more than that here.”

“I just help get sh*t done.”

“And you’re the father of four adopted kids.”

His smile widening, Juan cocked an eyebrow at her. “That I am. And I’m good at it too. Which was surprising to me. What about you?”

“Mom and student in my old life. Fearless zombie killer in this one.”

“Sh*t, Em. I shouldn’t have asked.”

“It’s okay. We all got our burdens to carry.”

“I’m sorry about your kid.”

“Me too.”
Rhiannon Frater is the award-winning author of the As the World Dies zombie trilogy (Tor) as well as independent works such as The Last Bastion of the Living. She also co-hosted the ZCast: a Z Nation Fan Podcast, interviewing the cast and crew of the SyFy show. Born and raised in Texas, she currently resides with her husband and furry children (a.k.a pets) in South Texas. She loves scary movies, sci-fi and horror shows, playing video games, cooking, dyeing her hair weird colors, and shopping for Betsey Johnson purses and shoes.

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- Why did you decide to continue the AS THE WORLD DIES series?
When I announced that I was going to write AFTER SIEGE, I had someone asked me the same question on my Facebook fan page. Before I could answer, someone else replied for me saying, “money.” I admit that that was one factor in my decision making because AS THE WORLD DIES is my most successful series other than THE LAST BASTION series. Both have garnered a lot of accolades and have pretty dedicated readerships. It makes sense as an author who writes for living that I should continue to write more books in my most successful series. But the main reason I returned to the world is because the fans really wanted it.

I had originally written AS THE WORLD DIES online between 2005 and 2007, revised and self-published the three books (The First Days, Fighting to Survive, Siege) from 2008 to 2009, and then worked on revisions in 2010 at 2011 for Tor, the publishing house that picked it up. I’d also written quite a few short stories and novellas based in the same universe that plugged into the main story. Those I self-published to help promote the three novels. People can find all those stories in THE UNTOLD TALES (AS THE WORLD DIES, book 3.5). So, by the time Tor released the third novel, Siege, I was very burned out on that particular universe. I had written the story I wanted to tell and I just didn’t see a way forward.

Yet at the same time, one of my greatest regrets is that a character that had been in the online version’s epilogue never made it into the main story. Though I declared the epilogue non-canon, Emma was still was in my mind. I did write a novella for her called The Fearless Zombie Killer. Through the years Emma remained in my mind. At some point, she started whispering in my mind about what happened after she arrived at the Fort in Ashley Oaks, Texas. Emma was my doorway back into the universe of AS THE WORLD DIES and through her eyes everything in the Fort is new again.

Which I found very exciting as a writer.

- How did it feel returning to a series after being away from it for so long?
At first, it was very intimidating. I’d written so many books since AS THE WORLD DIES that I had to find my footing again. Something I was most worried about was capturing the spirit of the original series. There is a reason why people love the original books and the characters that inhabit them. I wanted to make sure that it felt like we were returning to the world that they knew so well. I admit to having a few panic attacks along the way, but in the end, I do feel that AFTER SIEGE is a very solid continuation of the series.

- Why did you self-publish this novel?
Tor only purchased the three books that I had written online and revised for publication. My editor at Tor and I discussed what sort of books she would want for me in the future and that’s why ended up writing DEAD SPOTS instead of a continuation of the AS WORLD DIES books. I have two different careers going on side-by-side. I have my traditional publishing career and I have my self-publishing career. So a lot of the books in my self-publishing career are novels that I want to write, but that traditional publishing may not necessarily see as something that will sell. It’s all about the numbers. What is popular one year may be out the next. And since it takes a really long time to go through traditional publishing process, acquisitions editors have to be almost clairvoyant in predicting what will be hot in a year or two.

I also like the idea of continuing AS THE WORLD DIES on my own, since its origins were in self-publishing.

- You have a new main protagonist, so can readers start with this book or will they have to have read the other books in the series?
One of the big challenges of revising AS THE WORLD DIES for Tor was making sure that each book could be read on its own while also telling a much larger story. I definitely felt this challenge when I rewrote FIGHTING TO SURVIVE with the help of my editor. I find it a huge compliment when people start reading book two and feel like they are not lost. So with AFTER SIEGE, my goal was to make sure that people who love the original series could pick it up and plug right back into the world and people who never read the original three novels in the series could read it and not be lost. So though I prefer people start with THE FIRST DAYS, they could start with AFTER SIEGE. My only warning is that there will be spoilers about what happens in the first three books.

- What can you tell us about your new character of Emma?
Emma has spent most of the zombie apocalypse alone. She suffers great loss right at the beginning of the outbreak when her little boy goes missing while visiting his dad for the weekend. Her sole purpose for that year on her own is to find him and put him to rest. She doesn’t believe he’s alive and she feels it’s her sacred duty to make sure he doesn’t remain a zombie. That story is in THE FEARLESS ZOMBIE KILLER, but is revisited briefly in the prologue of AFTER SIEGE in the form of a fairytale. She’s a younger woman who’s been through a lot in her life. Her parents let her down quite a bit growing up, but her grandparents were there for her. Emma’s definitely a pull yourself up by your bootstraps kind of person, but her bootstraps kept being cut off. So there’s been a lot of adversity in her life before the zombies ever show up.

Her grandfather, who was of Lipan Apache descent, taught Emma how to hunt and track, so she’s very adept at survival. When she arrives at the Fort, this definitely helps her find her place among the other survivors. Also, like many other survivors, she’s mourning personal losses along with the end of the civilized world. She’s a very compassionate person who wants to help others. It becomes her reason for living.

- Will we be seeing other characters from the original series in this book? Did you jump ahead in time?
Emma definitely plugs into the surviving cast of characters from the first three novels. We don’t get to see everyone from the novels, since she’s new to the Fort. Juan De La Torre is an important part of her arc, since he’s the first person she meets upon her arrival, and they have a spark between them that’s unsettling to both of them. When you suffer a lot a loss, the idea of moving on or giving even friendship a chance is a little scary. But when you feel a romantic attraction to someone almost from the get-go, that’s even more terrifying. So he’s definitely a part of her life at the Fort, but she’s not too sure how close she wants him to get. And he’s not too sure either.

Emma also interacts with fan favorites like Nerit and Katarina. And of course, Katie and Travis make an appearance in the story as well. AFTER SIEGE takes place immediately after the third novel, SIEGE, so there isn’t a time jump. Everyone is still dealing with the aftermath of the events in SIEGE.

- What sets your books apart from other zombie novels?
I’m not a very good judge on what sets my books apart, so I listen to my readership. A lot of them are diehard zombie fans. They consist of all genders, all ages, and all walks of life. What they tell me is that they feel connected to the characters. They see a resemblance to people that they know or they feel like they would be able to be friends with these characters and they generally feel invested in the story. I’ve had some readers tell me they go back and reread the series every year so they can feel like they’re revisiting their old friends.

There’s also action, zombie gore, and horrific scenes in my books, but I think the readers investment in the characters is what makes the story work. That’s my philosophy in writing. If you create characters that your readers will care about, they’ll worry about their survival. There’s a lot more tension in the story when you legitimately care whether a character lives or dies.

- Do you feel that the zombie genre is wearing out?
Ever since I started promoting AS THE WORLD DIES way back in 2008, I have been asked over and over again if I thought the zombie genre was wearing out or was going to just disappear altogether. I have definitely seen ups and downs in the genre. It seems to wane for a bit and then something else will come along to get people interested again. I wrote AS THE WORLD DIES because I loved the reboot of DAWN OF THE DEAD and 28 DAYS LATER. So every time there’s a big successful zombie film, or video game, or TV show, I definitely see an uptick in people seeking out books in the genre. And there are diehard fans that only read zombie books. So I think there’s always going to be a place for zombie novels.

- If the reader doesn’t like zombies, what would make them enjoy your novel?
I’ve had people tell me that they didn’t like anything zombie until they read AS THE WORLD DIES. What they liked about the books was the characters, the relationships that develop among them, and the sense of community. And there’s also a hopeful note to the books, because no matter how bad the situation gets, this is a group of people who is dedicated to the idea of rebuilding society in a dead world. They want to survive with their humanity intact. Now that doesn’t mean that there’s not bad guys in the mix, but the reader’s emotional investment is with the occupants of the Fort in Ashley Oaks, Texas. And I believe that remains the strong point of the series.

- What was your inspiration for the Fort?
I worked on disaster relief grants for my day job long ago and one of the things I heard over and over again when speaking to survivors of natural disasters is how the community pulls together. They are in awful circumstances, and yet they’re looking out for one another. I heard stories about people running into burning buildings to save the elderly or even pets, saving each other from rising floodwaters, and opening up their homes to people who lost everything. Looking at history I observed that humanity has always survived through community. Some of those communities weren’t that great and history judges them harshly, but it’s a human instinct to gather together and face the difficulties of life as a unit.

So I think in the end, at the heart of AS THE WORLD DIES, it’s about people trying to make it through all of life’s difficulties in the zombie infested world while also building something better for themselves and the future generations, and that appeals to a lot of people.

- Can we expect another novel in the AS THE WORLD DIES universe?
Most definitely. I’m starting to put together my writing schedule for 2021, and I have the next book slated to be written in the early part of the year. I sometimes have to move things around if I have contractual obligations, but I’m dedicated to the idea of there being another AS WORLD DIES book in 2021.
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  1. How long did it take you to write your book?

  2. Sounds like an exciting book to read, I know my daughter would love the chance to read her.

  3. love the cover never read a book from this author

  4. Nice cover. I liked the blurb and excerpt. It sounds like a really interesting book. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Oh yes! exactly what I was looking for to read right now! And a series too! Lots of catching up!

  6. Sounds like a good read. 1cow0993(at)gmail(dot)com

  7. Great blog post- love finding new (to me) authors

  8. sounds like a fun one

  9. this looks like an excellent read.

  10. Sounds interesting, thanks for sharing!

  11. Sounds like an awesome book! Loved the blurb. The whole series sounds great

  12. I believe this book is almost too true-to-life..super soon! Sounds good!!