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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Interview: Luke Ahearn

Interview with
Luke Ahearn
author of 
Euphoria Z

We're kicking off the long weekend with a thriller! Welcome Luke Ahearn to The Happy Book Reviewer! Luke is the author of the new zombie apocalypse novel, Euphoria Z.

In Euphoria Z, civilization shuts down as the dead fills the streets. They feel only pleasure and never pain. The few who remain unaffected struggle to survive, unaware that things are about to get unbelievably worse. Cooper is among the few survivors of a conspiracy to depopulate the world. One week ago, college was his biggest concern. Now he is on a perilous journey to find his sister. But zombies aren't the only threat he faces. In this nightmarish reality, the living can be far more dangerous.

Where did you get the idea for Euphoria Z?
Ahearn: I started with a normal zombie story, knowing I would change it and make it mine as I went. I read some article about people taking Viagra and Ecstasy in clubs and that gave me that idea right there. The rest evolves.

What was the most difficult thing about writing this book? 
Ahearn: Second-guessing myself.  

Writing is rewriting, but at some point, you have to stop and move your work to the next phase so it can get out there. I've come up with a process that works for me. It seems a bit tight and mechanical from the outside, but it’s geared toward eradicating any chance I have of second-guessing myself or getting hung up on minutia. Each one of those two issues will paralyze my writing progress. Writing to me is like riding a bike; if I go too slowly, I fall down.

So what is this process of yours?
Ahearn1. I write the first draft quickly, focusing on the big picture elements of the story, the basic shapes or rough sketch of the novel. I only rewrite at this point if it is absolutely necessary to the logic of the story. I often leave notes to myself to develop a part I know needs more work but I don't want to tackle at the moment I am plowing past it. I need to do a posting on the different marks and things I do to navigate the manuscript quickly. 

2. I then do a shaping pass, where I tighten and smooth things out, but even then, I stop myself from hashing over the same sentence or paragraph trying to make it perfect. As long as it’s clear what I mean, it doesn't matter how rough or imperfect it is. Not only does this keep me going, but it allows my subconscious to work through the problem. 

During this phase if I get stuck I stop immediately and either walk away or jump to a different thing to work on. I believe strongly in the power of the subconscious. I always leave things hanging that I can't figure out quickly. If there’s nothing else to move onto in the writing (and there usually is), I just walk away. It’s actually faster for me to stop trying to solve the problem consciously and let my subconscious tackle it. It always works, and I am often stunned by the answer that comes. I don't feel like I am the person writing the book when answers come to me that way. It’s truly a magical experience. It’s as if the characters are telling me what they came up with. 

I think too many writers accept the notion of writer’s block and stop at the first sign of resistance. I say the prose is your b****, run that sh** down, and keep going. You'll have a chance to drive by later and finish the job. 

3. After the shaping pass, which can be the most complex to me as I am tackling timelines and world logic, etc. I start the polish pass. I usually pick some hard date or goal to start finalizing things into a first draft. The polish draft is like that final run through the hotel room before you leave. At this point everything should be mostly in place and I am looking for the few parts little parts that escaped my attention the first few passes. These are little snags, little errors.

4. Then it’s off to the readers, and they send back insightful comments, questions, and point out flaws. I incorporate things, fix things, etc. During the wait I start on the cover art and the marketing.

5. Finally it’s off to the editor to fix mechanical errors. After I get it back from the editor, the book is probably as good as it can be. To work on it any more, I feel, would either make things worse or at best, just change it into a different book. The next step in improvement would be a significant jump in time and money. 

Well, that's my process. Hope it helps you.

Very interesting! I love how other authors shape their process (someday I'll outline my writing process too!). 

So, there's a big warning that comes with this book on amazon and along with any review I've seen that it is absolutely for adults only. With this kind of stuff floating in your head, does your own writing give you nightmares?
Ahearn: (laughing) No. The warning was put in by my editor but the book is apparently not that bad. My head is a really peaceful place in reality.

If you could be sucked into any novel, I'm guessing it wouldn't be this one! So, which would it be?
Ahearn: Jurassic Park, crazy I know.

Is there a book have you read that that you wish you had written?
Ahearn: Seriously, Jurassic Park.

Okay, so you would live it and then write it as a memoir! What advice would you give to someone just starting out as a writer?
Ahearn: Read a lot and learn to like the process of writing. There is a ton of information out there but it really comes down to writing a lot to get your writing stamina up and develop your voice. Also, tune out the critics and doom and gloom crowd.

I noticed you dedicated your book to someone named Cooper? Is your main character named after someone in your own life?
Ahearn: Yes, my son is Cooper. I started the book as a way to be connected to him.

I had a feeling it might be your son! So, are you working on a next book? 
Ahearn: Oh yeah, the next Euphoria book. I am thrilled that readers are already asking for it. And a sword and sorcery novel, the first of a series entitled Dark Deeds and Black Magics. The Prequel entitled Origins is already available. I am working on a thriller I hope to have done by October 2014.

Thanks for kicking on the holiday weekend here at The Happy Book Reviewer with your zombie thriller! Readers looking for some scary summer reading can find Euphoria Z at:

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