Oct 15, 2014

Day Zero by Summer Lane book blitz


Day Zero by Summer Lane
(The Zero Trilogy #1)

Publication date: October 10th 2014
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult

Synopsis:
Elle is a survivor.
Since the collapse of modern society, she's been living in the remains of downtown Hollywood, California, foraging for food and fighting for her life.
And then everything changes.
After she is forced out of her home, she heads north. What she finds is a group of bunker survivors, unlikely comrades, and the hope of a safe haven. Together, they journey toward the dregs of civilization, facing starvation, imprisonment and death.
They are alone, but they are ready.
Day Zero begins today.

Day Zero is a novella, the first installment in The Zero Trilogy, a novella series complementing the international bestselling Collapse Series.
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AUTHOR BIO
Summer Lane is the author of the international bestselling Collapse Series, which includes State of Emergency, State of Chaos, State of Rebellion and State of Pursuit. The fifth installment, State of Alliance, is releasing January 2015. Summer is also the author of The Zero Trilogy and an upcoming survivalist/science fantasy series coming in 2015. She owns WB Publishing, Writing Belle Magazine, and is an accomplished creative writing teacher and journalist.

Summer lives in the Central Valley of California, where she spends her time writing, teaching, and writing some more. When she is not writing, she enjoys leisurely visits with friends at coffee shops, dates to the movies, hiking in the mountains and strolling on the beach. 

Author Links:

Inspiration for Day Zero

I came up with the title for Day Zero shortly after I finished the third or fourth chapter of the book. The spot on the earth’s surface that is closest to where a detonation takes place is often called Ground Zero. It is, in fact, the aftermath of a disastrous event. The storyline of my novel certainly fit that description, so I called Elle’s story Day Zero, because society finds itself back at the drawing board after an electromagnetic pulse disables the technological infrastructure of the entire country.

I visited Santa Monica, Hollywood and the greater Los Angeles area when I was in high school. I was working as a writer in high school, although I had yet to publish a novel. I always thought Los Angeles would be a fascinating place to set a post-apocalyptic novel. With Day Zero I was able to do so. It’s fun to be able to build a fictional scenario around reality. It gives a story more depth and flavor. Using real landmarks and street names lends a sense of realism to a story that readers find fascinating and authors love integrating. Day Zero is one of the more fun stories that I’ve written, from an author’s perspective. A lot of research went into this novel, and that included visiting Santa Monica, West Hollywood and beyond to make sure Elle’s world was geographically and even historically accurate.

Writing Day Zero was a blast – I can’t wait for you to read it!  

Writing Day Zero

The idea for Day Zero came about at the beginning of 2014, around the time I was getting ready to release State of Rebellion, the third book in The Collapse Series. There are so many stories that can be told about supporting characters – especially when a series is ongoing like mine, and continues to add new characters to the plot.

I wrote a rough draft of Day Zero in June, and finished the first copy of the manuscript in August. It was about a three-month process, total, to get the book written. Getting the page count done only took a couple of weeks. What takes time for me, as a writer, is researching, plotting, planning, and double-checking a novel. Writing is the fun part.

As any writer knows, a final draft can be drastically different than the first draft. Oftentimes they aren’t even recognizable. With Day Zero, it was an exception. The final draft is actually very similar to the first draft. The scenes, the power, the narration is the same. Editing this novel was different than The Collapse Series, because I was starting with a character who is hardened, who already knows who she is. I get to jump right into it, which made writing the manuscript and setting the tone easier than the first two books of The Collapse Series, where Cassidy Hart is constantly changing and growing as a protagonist. Elle is very settled in who she is – the challenge of her story is staying alive, and doing so in a city that’s turned into an archaic battleground.  

Why Post-Apocalyptic Fiction?

Many people ask me how I got started writing post-apocalyptic and survivalist fiction. The answer is that it found me. I have always loved survival and adventure stories – the more exciting, the better. I began writing my first post-apocalyptic story in high school, but I didn’t consider publishing a survival story until well after I had graduated. It occurred to me that people might ask themselves the same question as me: What would happen if the electricity went out permanently? What would happen if there were no cars, no food and no water? What if we were invaded by a shadow army and forced to defend ourselves?

These are all food-for-thought questions, and I got to play around with a lot of possible survival scenarios and conspiracy theories while building my story worlds. The more I wrote post-apocalyptic books, the more fascinated I became with the ideas, and the more I had to continue to write. I love the complete vulnerability that characters have when you remove them from their element of comfort on an entirely new level. Electricity? Cars? Cellphones? Computers? Running water? Get rid of all of it. It really strips characters’ humanity down and challenges their moral compass. Who will survive? Who will die? Who will learn to love and who will fall into the trap of hatred?

I love post-apocalyptic fiction because everyone can identify with the premise of what if? Day Zero fits into that niche perfectly!

Writing about Post-Apocalyptic Hollywood and Santa Monica

Writers of post-apocalyptic fiction have the interesting task of taking the world in which we live and transforming it into an entirely different reality. For Day Zero, I chose Hollywood and Santa Monica, California, as the primary setting for my novella. Why those two cities? For one, I’m very familiar with them. I’ve spent a lot of time in southern California, visiting the Walk of Fame and Santa Monica Boulevard. It’s always best to base fiction on the legs of reality, so I went with what I knew.

I also recall asking myself the question, What would happen if Hollywood became uninhabitable? It’s interesting to think about the city without the glitz and glamour, with only the threads of civilization hanging on. I researched and visited famous places like Wilshire Boulevard, the Santa Monica Pier and Millions of Milkshakes on Santa Monica Boulevard. I believe grounding a story in something that exists makes it relatable to the reader – and fun for the author!

Santa Monica Pier

Don’t ask me why, but the idea of a post-apocalyptic Santa Monica/Hollywood always fascinated me. From an author’s perspective, the story setting of places like that for a post-apocalyptic environment is very alluring. There are so many potential stories tucked into the buildings and streets of the city. Personally, I found the most interesting part of the city at the Santa Monica Pier.

Looking over the silhouette of the pier against the sunrise years ago, the thought crossed my mind that I should integrate the pier into a novel someday. I finally got my wish in Day Zero. Because Elle’s story begins in West Hollywood and Santa Monica, she is able to visit the Santa Monica Pier.

In order to write realistically about the pier itself, I visited the area. I mapped out step-by-step routes for Elle to take in the city, and I wrote down the names and titles of all of the restaurants and souvenir shops on the pier. I studied Muscle Beach and drove down streets like Moomat Ahiko Way, Ocean Boulevard, Pacific Highway One, and Wilshire Boulevard. Hands-on research is inspiring, and gives authors the tools they need to make their story more believable. I loved every minute of researching for Day Zero, and can’t wait to continue to do so for the rest of the trilogy!

The Delinquents – Who are they?

Day Zero was fun for me to write because I finally got to add characters that I never had a chance to include in my ongoing Collapse Series. I was able to explore the personalities and characteristics outside of the military environment in which Cassidy Hart – the protagonist of The Collapse Series – finds herself.

I explore the survival mentality of people who are not militarily inclined, but rather the average of the average: teenagers. Elle herself is a hardened survivor, but other characters in the book are just learning the ropes of staying alive after the apocalypse, and it was fun to test out their resilience, so to speak. The Delinquents – as I call them – are the survivors that Elle teams up with in Day Zero. Without giving anything away, I can say that the group is diverse, and I loved creating the backstory for each and every character.

Creating Elle

One of the joys of being a writer is that you get to create new and exciting characters entirely from scratch. Of course, fictional characters are simply made up of bits and pieces of realistic people and personalities, but combining them to make a single, unique protagonist is an awesome task.

Elle is the fifteen year-old protagonist of Day Zero, and will be the starring player in the entire Zero Trilogy. When I began writing the story, I had a very clear picture in my head of who this girl was, and where she came from. I find it helpful to create intricate character backstories – regardless of whether or not those stories make it into the novel. Knowing your characters as well as you know yourself makes them real to the readers.

I built Elle’s appearance and personality around the fact that she had been through serious trouble and tribulation before we get into her head in Day Zero. This is what shaped her character for the book, and it is what carries her through many of her adventurous survival scenarios. I can’t wait to see where Elle’s journey ends up taking her!

Creating the Klan

The fun thing about writing The Collapse Series is that there are hundreds of different stories to be told. In my primary series, the villainous Omega is the invasion force that is taking over the United States – from both the outside and inside. In Day Zero, I jumped into the same setting. The world has been ravaged by an invasion, and Omega has taken over everything.

But what about the places that are completely abandoned? The places without a militia presence or military stronghold of any kind? That’s how I came up with the Klan. Elle’s worst enemy in Day Zero is the Klan – a gang that rules the urban streets.

She deals with the Klan more than Omega, and in doing so, we get to explore a part of the apocalypse that Cassidy Hart hasn’t even seen. The Klan represents the dangers and pitfalls that society can stoop to when left unchecked. In such an archaic and desperate environment, it’s really no surprise that people have become bloodthirsty. Where is the moral compass of a community? Who determines what is right and what is wrong? It’s a theme I got to explore, and it was an enjoyable challenge to do so.

I modeled the Klan after numerous groups and cults that have popped up throughout history. The Klan, in essence, represents the evil of society just as much as Omega does in The Collapse Series – I just got to take a different approach with it. Where Omega is a cold, steely military force, the Klan is a medieval, feral society – almost tribal. It was an interesting story to explore, and I’m excited to share Elle’s story with the world!

The Names

Names are fun. One of the perks of writing fiction as a primary job is that you get to play around with lots of names. Names should represent the personality of a character, in my opinion, so I try to match my characters with appropriate monikers. In Day Zero, my protagonist’s name is Elle. It’s a somber, pretty name for a somber, pretty girl. (A girl with attitude, mind you, but still!)

My favorite names in Day Zero are Pix and Flash – twins, a brother and a sister. I don’t want to give away anything, but I played around with a lot of names before settling on those two. Thanks to the Internet, you can find names and their meanings far quicker than in the past. It’s better to use Google than to slog through those dusty piles of baby-name books in your mother’s attic.

Not that I’ve done that, but you get my point! Names should be memorable, and I also think that there should be a fair variety of different names in a book. For example, naming your characters James, John, Janice, Jenny and Jared is what I’d call “alliterative overkill.” Mix up the names! Make them fun, and most of all, make a character and their name instantly identifiable to the reader.

Connecting the Collapse Series

The Collapse Series is one of those stories that keeps going. It has a mind of its own, and at some point, the characters begin to shape their own destinies and you, as an author, find yourself along for the ride. With Day Zero, I had the intricate task of creating an entirely new storyline set within the same world as The Collapse Series.

The journey that fifteen year-old Elle undertakes is a lot different than Cassidy Hart’s. Elle’s story begins in the midst of the day-to-day struggle of staying alive in a city that is no longer safe. She is a hardened survivor already, and what is even more interesting about her character is that she makes an appearance in The Collapse Series. How do Elle and Cassidy Hart connect? How are they independent? It’s definitely been tons of fun working out the details.

Those who have read The Collapse Series will pick up on references that connect both series of books, while new readers will get a glimpse of the world that Elle and Cassidy live in. Now that Day Zero has officially released, I’m hard at work on preparing the fifth installment of The Collapse SeriesState of Alliance – for publication in January 2015, and Day One, the second installment in The Zero Trilogy, for March 2015.

What is it like…?

So many people ask me what it’s like to be a career author. It’s not a common way to make a living. Many authors never become published, and even fewer are lucky enough to make a living doing it.

I knew that I wanted to be a writer when I was very young, but I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. How do you get published? How do you know when your novel is ready to be published? Will people love or hate your work? Will you be successful? Are you willing to sacrifice to achieve a good career in publishing? Becoming a writer required many years of research, trial and error and extremely difficult work and sacrifice. It is not something that happened overnight for me.

Being a writer is one of the most fulfilling and fun yet equally difficult and self-disciplining careers in the world. There are moments of pure brilliance and unrivaled imagination, and there are also moments of total frustration and last-minute panic. Writing has no set work hours. Usually I work far beyond a normal eight-hour workday. It is something that continues around the clock, all the time. A writer must always be writing; he must always work to better his craft.

So what is it like to be a writer? It’s fun. It’s rewarding. It’s a gift, to be honest. But it’s also challenging, incredibly competitive, and it takes a lot of hard work to achieve success. But it can be done, if you stick with it long enough!
GIVEAWAY
Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)
A pack of eBooks including:

Dead Girl Walking, by Ruth Silver
Fractured Dream, by K.M. Randall
Spirit Warriors: The Scarring by DEL Connor
Eyes of the Enemy by Kelly Hess
Jacob, King of Portalia by Casey Club
Destiny Gift by Juliana Haygert
Aftershock by Roberta Trahan


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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