I would like to welcome Australian Author, Michael Adams to Novels On The Run.
Michael is the author of the YA trilogy - The Last, published by Allen & Unwin in Australia.
Michael has a written a guest post for you all to read that I totally dug, sit back and enjoy. An interview I had with Michael also HERE .
Flying Piranhas, Ancient Prawns & Series Secrets
It’s The End Of The World But Not As We Know It
In The Last Girl I wanted to create an apocalypse unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Hence, the Snap, in which it’s sudden global telepathy that sees civilisation split apart at the seams. What terrifies me about the idea is that there’d be no defence. People couldn’t band together, raise an army against the zombies, blow up the approaching asteroid or build an ark to ride out the floodwaters. The problem’s inside them and it sets them against themselves and each other. Game over, mofos.
The Snap also allowed me to do away with the usual scenes in which the media relay what scientists and generals and politicians have discovered about the threat as they tell the population how they’re trying to save the world. The Snap happens so fast there’s no time to get answers. The people in power are as vulnerable as the rest of the population. So we’re with Danby, seeing it from the ground up, with no authority left to explain anything or provide any salvation.
Extraordinary Ordinary People
I’m interested in writing about ordinary people thrown into extraordinary circumstances that force them to do extraordinary things while remaining ordinary. That’s what’s heroic to me. So Danby isn’t the “Chosen One”. Similar stories to hers might be playing out in what remains of Chicago or Copenhagen, but what matters is her corner of the world, where she has to go from suburban teen to survivalist tactician. If she doesn’t act fast, she and her brother will die, but she also can’t just pick up a gun and start dropping one-liners like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Danby’s learning curve is a steep one and it takes a tremendous toll. That’s not me being all deep with a “war is hell” theme. It’s me trying to be realistic about how it’d be for any of us seeing most of our loved ones die – and then being forced to fight for our lives against a vastly superior enemy in a world reduced to rubble.
My Ancient Muse
I was given Pepe for my last birthday. He’s a little shrimp who died about 100 million years ago and got fossilised in sediment so he could wind up on desk duty as a constant reminder of the epic scale of time, life and death. “Don’t take it all so seriously,” this tiny prehistoric pizza topping seems to whisper from his ancient sandstone square whenever I wonder whether what I’m writing is any good. “It’ll probably turn out all right. I mean I thought my destiny was to be Plesiosaur poo – and look at how far I’ve come, baby!”
Everyone Has To Start Somewhere
I’ve got a poster on my study wall for the 1981 film Piranha II: The Flying Killers. I love it because it’s a hugely cheesy piece of movie art but also because at the bottom it reads: “Directed by James Cameron.” So that’s where the creator of The Terminator, Aliens, Titanic and Avatar got his start. Flying freaking piranhas. Who knows what’s leading where?
Think Inside The Box
As much as I love books and film, my major inspiration in the past few years has been… television. More specifically: Breaking Bad and now True Detective. These shows are from writers whose visions feel as much like genre entertainments as they do literary fiction. While we’re intrigued by their premises, what really hooks us are the complexities of character, story and theme. This is what I’ve tried to do in The Last Girl and The Last Shot – create a series that rockets along as an action adventure whose realistic characters face unpredictable events that cause them and us to consider very big questions.
But Don’t Think Inside This Box
Just as I take inspiration from awesome TV, I also look to The Walking Dead as a constant source of inspiration for what not to do. It’s populated by characters that almost always choose the most stupid course of action imaginable – and then wonder things turn out so predictably terrible for them. For example, in a world where one zombie bite can turn you into the most abominable creature possible, why would you get around in singlets and shorts rather than, say, mechanics overalls and body armour? Just freakin’ sayin’. I hate it. And yet I watch every week.
What I love about Breaking Bad and True Detective (and what you’ll never find in Walking Dead) is that they give attentive viewers a lot to obsess over when it comes to clues pointing to the ultimate outcome. The shows encourage and reward reflection and analysis. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy that from a medium we’ve been brought up to think of as disposable.
I’ve seeded a layer of clues into The Last Girl and The Last Shot. Some shed light on character and others predict events. Some do both. For instance, Jack tells Danby he was singing The End by The Doors when the Snap happened. Okay, so the title of the song’s obvious. But if you know the track, you know it’s the sort of song a brooding douche like Jack would embrace – and the incredibly menacing tone it sets. Then there are also lyrics that describe a landscape where all the children are insane, where a killer wakes before dawn, rides the king’s highway west and wants to murder his father. That’s literally the post-Snap environment and Jack, who, after busking in the first light of day, travels west on Parramatta Road (which was built under mad King George III) in order to do something pretty bad to his dear old dad. The song’s also associated with Apocalypse Now, which was based on Heart Of Darkness, both of which also permeate the series, from helicopter attacks to taking boats upriver. There are a lot of other references like that - some are more obvious, Some are buried so deep I’d be surprised if anyone ever digs them up. You don’t need to get any of them to understand the story and character but it’s possible to “unlock” the books by investigating them. And a few even point to real-world theories about how something like the Snap might happen.
Michael Adams has worked as writer and editor for newspapers, magazines, websites and television. He presently contributes to YEN, Rolling Stone, Empire and Men's Style.
Michael is the author of two non-fiction books: Showgirls, Teen Wolves and Astro Zombies, a memoir about a year spent watching bad movies, and Shining Lights, which profiled Australian Oscar winners. He lives in the Blue Mountains with his partner and their daughter.