NEWS: Amazon Selects THE END IS NIGH for its Kindle Select 25 List!

THE END IS NIGH was just included on Amazon’s latest Kindle Select 25 list. I’m not sure how long those pages stay up, so I took a screencap to capture it in all its glory:

Kindle Select 25

NEWS: Audiobook Edition Now Available for Pre-Order (Publishes April 8)!

The audiobook edition of THE END IS NIGH is now available for pre-order on both Amazon and Audible. Like the book itself, this is something Hugh and JJA self-published.

The audiobook features the vocal talents of the following narrators, several of whom you may know from their work on various SF/F podcasts:

  • Rajan Khanna
  • Lex Wilson
  • Ralph Walters
  • Jack Kincaid
  • Norm Sherman
  • James Keller
  • Kate Baker
  • Mur Lafferty
  • Anaea Lay
  • Tina Connolly
  • Sarah Tolbert
  • Folly Blaine
  • Roberto Suarez
  • Laurice White

Our producer/sound engineer was the aforementioned Jack Kincaid, who has been associated with JJA’s Lightspeed and Nightmare podcasts from nearly the very beginning. He’s also the voice of The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy‘s intro and outro, and he’s done his own audio work as well, with his audio dramatization of his novel Hoad’s Grim, and his ongoing serial Edict Zero – FIS.

If you want to get a free taste of what the audiobook’s quality is like, you can listen to three of the stories from the audiobook on Drabblecast, Escape Pod, and StarShipSofa. We provided our actual audiobook audio to each of them, so what you hear there is exactly what you get in the audiobook edition. Here are the stories:

REVIEW: “Destined to be a favorite among end-of-the-world enthusiasts.”

FEARNET reviews THE END IS NIGH: “These days it seems like we’re all expecting the world to end in a zombie apocalypse. The living dead genre is thriving like never before, and it feels like zombies have completely shoved old-fashioned world-enders like comets, nukes and deities out of the running. While I enjoy a good zombie story as much as the next guy, I feel like there’s still room for tales about death raining down on us from above, or a psychopath with some stolen missile codes and a hankering for a full-planet cleanse. John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey must have felt the same way, because their new collection The End is Nigh delivers the “endtimes” in a wide variety of ways. It’s the opening volume of “The Apocalypse Triptych,” a series of three anthologies focusing on the three stages of the apocalypse: before (The End is Nigh), during (The End is Now) and after (The End Has Come). It’s a great way to bring fresh new perspectives to a type of story that’s been told for as long as storytelling has been around and, if this first volume is any indication, the “Triptych” is destined to be a favorite among end-of-the-world enthusiasts.” [review]

THE END IS NIGH Author Interview: Will McIntosh

Tell us a bit about your story.  What’s it about?

It’s about a guy who hasn’t done much with his life who finds his purpose in compassion when a plague rips through his town.

What was the genesis of the story—what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

A few years back I wrote a dark, violent apocalyptic novel (Soft Apocalypse).  This time I wanted to write something about an impending apocalypse that didn’t focus on the violence that’s likely to accompany it.  I also wanted to create a “quiet” apocalypse, one where, instead of people dying in dramatic fashion, they waste away in silence.  In some ways that seemed even more disturbing to me.

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

The plot came fairly easily, but I struggled with developing the main character.  At first he came across as too selfish, and even in the final draft he’s quite immature for a forty year-old man.  It was a challenge to create the right balance of him being a loser, yet not wholly unlikable.

Most authors say all their stories are personal.  If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?

I think the protagonist’s anguish over how little he’s accomplished in his life, how he’s late getting out of the gate, springs from the challenge of beginning a new career in middle age.  I’m only in my second year as a full-time writer, and sometimes I struggle with the awareness that I have only a limited amount of time to write everything I want to write.

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

The nodding disease at the center of the story is, unfortunately, based on a real disorder.  It’s not highly contagious like my fictional version, but I learned about the real disorder before writing this story.  I drove through the township of Ravine, Pennsylvania when we hit a detour on a highway last summer, and looked it up to learn more later on, because seemed like an interesting setting for a story.

What is the appeal—either as a writer or a reader—of stories that take place BEFORE an apocalypse?

You’ve got all of the tension, the bow pulled all the way back.  All of that dread in your characters.

What are some of your favorite examples of pre-apocalyptic fiction, and what makes them your favorites?

The Children of Men by P.D. James is probably my favorite.  It captures the tone of impending doom so brilliantly.

 

THE END IS NIGH Author Interview: Jack McDevitt

Tell us a bit about your story.  What’s it about?

Being careful what you wish for.

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

No. In fact, I enjoyed writing it. Once I knew what I wanted to do, the pieces all fell into place.

Most authors say all their stories are personal.  If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?

It conveys the assorted difficulties when one tries to leave a mark. To do something that people will remember.

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

I called a physicist friend to get some information on brown dwarfs, especially as regards gravity.

What is the appeal—either as a writer or a reader—of stories that take place BEFORE an apocalypse?

They give us a sense of what really matters. Of the importance of living for the moment.

What are some of your favorite examples of pre-apocalyptic fiction, and what makes them your favorites?

I’d never thought of it as pre-apocalyptic (in fact, I’ve never thought in those terms about any story), but if we can categorize it that way, Isaac Asimov’s “Nightfall” would be a hands-down winner.

THE END IS NIGH Author Interview: Jonathan Maberry

What was the genesis of the story—what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

 I know quite a lot of people who are deeply invested in various conspiracy theories, including a number who are either part of doomsday cults or who subscribe to doomsday beliefs. This includes folks who believe in the imminent arrival of a rogue planet that will destroy the Earth. These people are deeply invested in these beliefs, and seem to want it to happen. That kind of apocalyptic devotion is sad, frightening and fascinating. My story was born from that.

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

 I had a ball writing the story and it flowed out very quickly and easily. It is exactly the kind of story I would want to read, which is my primary inspiration for writing: I write the things I want to read.

Most authors say all their stories are personal.  If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?

In my younger years I worked as a bodyguard, and there were several ‘retrieval experts’ in our agency. These were guys trained to go into cults and recover kids, or sometimes adults, who had become caught up in dangerous practices. Often these victims were totally brainwashed, occasionally hostile. And the cults themselves occasionally offered violent resistance to these rescues. I trained extensively with these guys, including role-playing, doing research games, and various kinds of threat resolution. More recently  ran a company that offered threat-response workshops for all levels of law enforcement, including SWAT, hostage rescue and others. Cults were often discussed in our workshops and we helped train some of these recovery specialists. One of the striking things about these specialists is how bright and educated they are, and how deeply they research the tenets of the cults they are targeting. They can talk the talk, and often know so much about it that they can deconstruct the doctrine that’s been force-fed to the members of the cults.

As far as the cult beliefs in my story, those came from a great deal of research on conspiracy theories I did while writing my 2013 thriller EXTINCTION MACHINE (St. Martin’s Griffin).

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

I’d already done my research before tackling this story. It was born from material I’d already investigated for EXTINCTION MACHINE, and quite a lot of it from personal experience.

What is the appeal—either as a writer or a reader—of stories that take place BEFORE an apocalypse?

Most of what I write is pre-apocalyptic. My Joe Ledger thrillers are all about confronting—and hopefully stopping—a global apocalypse. Those kinds of stories are incredibly thrilling because they are often built on extremely plausible scenarios. We know damn well that there are a lot of ways our technologies can go wrong. We see the effects of our mismanagement of the planet in the damaged biosphere and climate. We fear mishandling of technologies like drones. We read about the return of diseases and plagues that were once thought to have been eradicated. We know that computer terrorism is becoming the new battlefield for global warfare. Our world is pretty damn scary. When we write—or read—fiction about a potential apocalypse, we get the chance to explore the what-ifs, to fiddle with the controls to see how it might all play out.

What are some of your favorite examples of pre-apocalyptic fiction, and what makes them your favorites?

When I was a teenager I had the chance to meet and receive some mentoring from Richard Matheson. His landmark novel, I AM LEGEND, is the template for virtually all apocalyptic fiction. He wrote that book in 1954 and we see its shadow in so many end of the world novels, comics, movies and TV shows. That’s my all-time favorite. Others that are in my best of list include SWAN SONG by Robert McCammon, THE STAND by Stephen King, PLAGUE by Graham Masterton, THE DEATH OF GRASS by John Christopher, DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS by John Wyndham, WAR DAY by Whitley Strieber and Jim Kunetka, and the brilliant EARTH ABIDES by George R. Stewart.

 

THE END IS NIGH Author Interview: Sarah Langan

Tell us a bit about your story.  What’s it about?

“Love Perverts” is the origin story for a young adult series I’ve been working on, about the fate of the human race thousands of years from now. By secret, I mean secret. Like, in my closet at night after the rest of the family is in bed.

What was the genesis of the story—what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

I lucked into this antho—I’d been wanting the excuse to world-build my series for a long time. I finally got the chance to think through the whys and the hows of the end times that lead to the post-apocalypse in my series. What I liked writing about “Love Perverts” is the idea that survivors aren’t necessarily the nicest people. In fact, they’re probably pretty cut-throat bastards. So why not tell the story from the vantage of the kinds of people who figure that out? People who wonder what survival means, and at what cost. And if they survive, who are they going to get stuck surviving with?

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

I enjoyed writing this story a lot. I guess my biggest concern is my depiction of a gay teen. I had to imagine my way in, which is fine and part of my job. But it’s smart, when you’re doing something like that, to make your character especially “good.” My guy has violent fantasies linked in some cases to sex. So, he’s not good. But he’s true, which is more important.

Most authors say all their stories are personal.  If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?

I think a lot about the choices I make now, and how they affect my children—their futures. I was watching the latest season of Walking Dead and an insight occurred to me: it’s less about survival now, and more about the realization we adults are having, that the world we’re giving our children is less stable than the one we inherited. Carl Junior must be better and tougher than his father to survive. Party’s over!

I’m casting about much like Rick, trying to figure out how to prepare my kids for that. Not the apocalypse, obviously. But for a world in which jobs aren’t stable, public education is failing and not inclusive, and climate change will affect property values, crops, and stuff we now take for granted, like train schedules. Money is king, and because of that, we worship rich people now more than ever. Forget universal health care—at this point, most of us would be happy to have family doctors who return phone calls and remember our names. That’s pretty bad.

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

I did a perfunctory study of asteroids. So, sorry if the science is terrible!

What is the appeal—either as a writer or a reader—of stories that take place BEFORE an apocalypse?

I think pre-apocalyptic stories serve as warnings. We’re thinking through the possibilities and hopefully devising ways to avoid disaster.

What are some of your favorite examples of pre-apocalyptic fiction, and what makes them your favorites?

Random Acts of Senseless Violence, by Jack Womack. I want to shake that man’s hand.

 

THE END IS NIGH Author Interview: Desirina Boskovich

Tell us a bit about your story.  What’s it about?

A gang of aliens shows up on earth with an edict: at an appointed time in the very near future, the planet will be vaporized. At that moment, everyone still alive will be transported across the universe to a heavenly paradise. But of course, there’s a catch. While they wait for the end of the world, humans are required to go about their usual business, and do nothing out of the ordinary—as the story says, “no end-of-the-world parties, no apocalyptic adventures, no doomsday loss of decorum.” A lottery is held, and the unlucky winners are appointed as enforcers, whose job is to seek out violators and execute them on the spot. Our narrator is one of these enforcers. As she struggles to obey the edict herself, she begins to wonder what the aliens are really up to—or if there are even any aliens at all.

What was the genesis of the story–what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

I’ve always enjoyed apocalyptic stories, particularly ones that occur in that awkward time just before everything completely falls apart. Since I love reading them so much, I thought it would be fun to write one, but I also wanted to come up with my own twist on this classic theme. My mind was wandering on the topic when the plot of this story and its first and last lines popped into my head, pretty much complete. That happens sometimes. I scribbled down the opening and the story’s basic outline, but didn’t complete a draft until fully a year later.

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

It took me a while to get the voice right, which is part of why I didn’t finish the story for a year. When I began, the narrator wasn’t ringing true to me; she was so obviously a stock character, the kind of jaded and cynical, tough-talking “chick” that typically ends up being the woman wielding the weapons in a sci fi story. (Some might describe this stock character as “a man with tits,” though I don’t know if that’s quite fair.) Anyway, I realized I was hiding behind this stock character and her jaded voice; she wasn’t really a warrior, but just an ordinary woman in a very un-ordinary situation. Her toughness and her sarcastic quips were protecting me, and the reader, from the horror of the situation. So I put it aside for a while until I could find my way into it again with a voice that felt more authentic and raw.

Most authors say all their stories are personal.  If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?

Hmm. I guess I’ve had some up-close-and-personal experience with the sick systems that can arise when toxic beliefs are allowed to take the wheel. I’ve also gone through the experience of losing my faith. I think that’s what this story is really about.

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

No real research per se, but I did have to do some writer math, which is nearly as bad.

What is the appeal—either as a writer or a reader—of stories that take place BEFORE an apocalypse?

I think it’s because we, as a society, sense that we’re teetering on the edge of something vast and catastrophic. Some people would say that the human race always feels like that. Of course, some other people would say that’s a pretty poor attempt to trivialize the severity of the challenges we face right now, whether or not we expect to continue our current way of life.

I’m very fascinated by this idea—the sense of standing at the edge of a precipice and not really knowing it. I think part of the reason it fascinates me is I believe that as a rule, humans are actually pretty blind to the larger forces sweeping toward them, and pretty apt to discount the warning signs and ignore the fault lines opening up just around their feet.

Someday I am going to write a very long novel about this.

What are some of your favorite examples of pre-apocalyptic fiction, and what makes them your favorites?

Larry Niven’s 1971 short story “Inconstant Moon” comes to mind. It’s not a perfect story, but the idea behind it is absolutely unforgettable. On one particular night, the moon glows incredibly, unusually bright; while others around him “ooh” and “ah,” the scientific-minded narrator realizes that the brightness signals an angry, destructive sun. He assumes his side of the world will be bathed in fire as soon as the sun rises and, together with his lady friend, prepares to spend his last night on earth. There’s just something so poignant about it—wanting to enjoy those precious ours, without causing undue alarm or giving in to despair and anguish. And yet I can’t help but feel sorry for those poor chumps the narrator leaves to die in blissful ignorance, with no control over how they spend their final hours.

Another short story I consider pre-apocalyptic is Michael Swanwick’s brilliant, brilliant “Radiant Doors.” This story freaked me out so much I’ve never really been the same. I’m not going to say anything about it, except that you should seek it out and read it. It’s horror of the very best kind.


You can read or listen to this story in full via the following links:

  • Text [via Wired.com]
  • Audio [via Drabblecast]

THE END IS NIGH Author Interview: David Wellington

Tell us a bit about your story.  What’s it about?

It’s a story about how we as a society have stretched ourselves very thin, how our reach has exceeded our grasp. That’s a theme that gets developed quite a bit more in the upcoming stories that build on this one. It’s about how sometimes the end of the world is less frightening than what it would take to prevent it.

What was the genesis of the story—what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

I’m a zombie fan, and I do a lot of research on the topic. One thing I’ve been hearing recently is that a zombie outbreak wouldn’t actually be the end of the world. A bunch of very smart people have run the numbers, and it looks like the zombies just couldn’t win—they can only spread their infection through biting, while our armed forces are a lot more deadly, so in a shootout we would come out okay. But I got started thinking about how to even those odds—and also what it would mean, both morally and philosophically, if we ever had to fight that battle.

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

It took a lot of research for something so short. As usual, when you research a topic for a story you end up learning ten times as much information as you could possibly fit in. That was definitely the case here. It was tough research, too. There’s nothing quite as scary as reading about real-life diseases and epidemics.

Most authors say all their stories are personal.  If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?

Well, it’s personal in that I had to wrestle with it, with the nightmare I was creating, but also because it represents a new step in the evolution of my ideas about horror and, yes, the apocalypse. I’ve started worrying a lot lately not about the end of the world, which I think is a long way off, but about the people who are convinced it’s right around the corner. I worry when I hear that teenagers are eating up apocalypse stories as fast as they can get them. What does that say about our future, when the next generation is convinced there won’t be one?

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

I spent days going over articles on just what a prion is, and what prion disease means. The concept is central to the story and I wanted to get it right. Which of course means that nobody can actually agree about the details. There are scientists out there who still don’t believe prions exist, and others who just want to debate whether they are living things or not. It’s pretty fascinating, but maddening when you just want to know what the incubation period is!

What is the appeal—either as a writer or a reader—of stories that take place BEFORE an apocalypse?

Surely it’s the ultimate kind of story for a writer. When you think of an idea for a story you need to know why it’s important. What’s at stake. Pre-apocalypse has that already built in. The stakes are everything! For a reader I think it’s the perfect horror moment. You know something truly awful is about to happen—well, that’s the essence of horror. We can all imagine ourselves in that situation, of knowing that something terrible is coming and the odds are against us. Like all horror, I think the purpose is to allow ourselves to feel that anxiety and then release it knowing it was all just fiction.

What are some of your favorite examples of pre-apocalyptic fiction, and what makes them your favorites?

It’s a tough call, because what counts as pre-apocalyptic? I think On the Beach is probably my favorite, even if it’s cheating a little. Greg Bear’s Blood Music was great, too. He wrote a short story and then expanded it into a novel, but the story, which is all pre-apocalyptic, is the best part. Really nasty stuff.

THE END IS NIGH Author Interview: Seanan McGuire

Tell us a bit about your story.  What’s it about?

Fungus!  And, uh, family, and why maybe you should wash your food really, really well before you bring it into the house.  But mostly fungus.  Fungus is awesome.

What was the genesis of the story–what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

Well, first I got invited to an anthology about the impending end of the world.  Then I started thinking about ways I hadn’t already killed everyone.  Then I took a poll on Twitter, which is my totally scientific means of deciding between two possible story ideas.  Then I wrote about fungus.

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

In some ways, yes.  I know a lot about fungus, but that doesn’t make it something I write about on a technical level very often.  I had to backtrack a lot and make sure that my science was accurate.

Most authors say all their stories are personal.  If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?

I have OCD.  I was diagnosed young, and I am very much in control of my disorder, but it’s still there, and it still informs every day of my life.  This is the first time I’ve written about a protagonist who shares some of my struggles.  Naturally, she’s also facing the end of the world.

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

I sort of answered this above.  I also had to figure out what fruit could easily sustain a flesh-eating fungus?  That was fun.

What is the appeal—either as a writer or a reader—of stories that take place BEFORE an apocalypse?

It’s that delicious moment of antici… where you can see the hammer getting ready to fall, but it hasn’t yet.  Just beautiful.

What are some of your favorite examples of pre-apocalyptic fiction, and what makes them your favorites?

The first half of Stephen King’s The Stand should qualify, I think; that’s a book that does it all.  And the whole progression is just so elegant, I don’t know that any of us will ever top him.  Nor should we.

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