Name: David P. Forsyth
Where are you from?
DPF: I grew up in Santa Barbara, California, and currently live in Malibu.
Fiona: Can you tell us a little about your education and hobbies?
DPF: I attended United States International University where I earned a BA and MA in international relations. I’m a licensed pilot and certified scuba diver, as well as an avid reader. I enjoy skiing and fishing and going to the beach, and I love to travel. I also like to write stories about the end of the world as we know it.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
DPF: I started writing fiction in mid-2011 and released my first novel, Voyage of the Dead, in January, 2012. I followed up with two sequels, Flotilla of the Dead and Deluge of the Dead, later that year. Together they form the Sovereign Spirit Saga: Volume One. I decided to write after getting a Kindle and discovering that it was possible to self-publish. My mother had been a published author and I always wanted to follow in her footsteps, but had seen the angst she went through with agents, editors and publishers, as well as rejection letters, etc… That hadn’t been something I wanted to deal with. Fortunately, the ebook revolution has removed the gatekeepers and allowed writers to reach the readers directly, where our work will be judged on its own merits by the masses.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
DPF: I just released “Sedulity (Book One) Impact” and it has been very well received. Within the first few weeks online it has climbed to #640 in the Kindle Store, #1 in Sea Adventures, and #7 in Apocalyptic Fiction, selling over a hundred copies per day on Amazon. Most gratifying have been the initial reviews with a 5.0 Star average on the first 22 reviews. Sedulity is a departure from my zombie apocalypse series. Inspired by Lucifer’s Hammer and other classic works of apocalyptic science fiction, this story features the passengers and crew of a cruise ship en route to Australia when an asteroid strikes the Pacific Ocean. Judging by the reviews, this story appeals to a much wider audience than my early works of apocalyptic horror.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
DPF: I found the word “sedulity” in a dictionary many years ago. It means “constant in purpose and intent, assiduous, steadfast, tireless and indefatigable.” I decided that it would be a great name for a boat. Since I never bought a boat, I decided to use it as the name for the ship in my book. Most of my books are set aboard a ship and the vessels play the title role in the series. In my fist series the Sovereign Spirit is a ship full of survivors sailing through the zombie apocalypse. The new Sedulity is a cruise ship caught in the midst of a global catastrophe. The ships are more than a setting, they become characters in their own right and transport the cast through all manner of dangerous challenges.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
DPF: Reading thousands of books. The one I read immediately before starting to write “Voyage of the Dead” was “Tooth and Nail” by Craig DiLouie. So guess you could say it inspired me to actually start writing.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
DPF: You’d have to ask my fans, but I try to tell direct and exciting tales without too much flowery prose. I give enough description to let the reader picture things for themselves, but not so much that it overpowers their imagination. A couple reviews compared my writing to Tom Clancy and Clive Cussler, but I’m nowhere near as skilled as they.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
DPF: Although my books feature horrifying apocalyptic events, I do try to offer positive messages, role models, and moral lessons in the way that most of the characters respond to desperate situations. I try to feature themes of self-reliance and heroism and employ lead characters that have been compared to Heinlein’s model of the “competent man” who knows just enough about everything to face the worst the world throws at them.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
“Sedulity” is terrifyingly realistic. I employed a computer model called an “Impact Generator” to research the effect of the asteroid strike I describe. The geologic record shows that something similar has happened on average of every four million years during the past few billion years and we are currently overdue for another. The “Sedulity is based on real cruise ship and the Sovereign Spirit was also based on a real ship too. All of the other vessels, vehicles, aircraft and weapons described in my zombie books are real too. Of course the zombie apocalypse in that series is a bit fanciful, but I based the outbreak on a genetically engineered form of rabies to keep the scenario as realistic as possible.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your writing most?
DPF: Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Poounelle is the inspiration for Sedulity. The Sovereign Spirit Saga was inspired by a combination of zombie and science fiction books. It’s been described as The Walking Dead meets Battlestar Galactica, or a Star Trek of the Zombie Apocalypse. Those descriptions are apt because I used the theme of a ship sailing through the apocalypse, facing new threats in every port.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
DPF: Hugh Howey is my indie idol of apocalyptic fiction and has set an example I can only hope to emulate. His Wool series is a phenomena and I highly recommend all of his books. He has been very helpful in referring his fans to my books and giving me advice on self-publishing. He’s a great guy. Besides Hugh, I owe a debt to many other indie authors who have helped to encourage and promote my work. The indie author community, especially in apocalyptic science fiction and horror, is a great bunch of people who support each other in many ways. In terms of lifelong influences, Asimov, Tolkien, Pournelle, Bradbury, Frank Herbert and H.G. Wells stand out in my mind.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
DPF: I’m working on “Sedulity #2 Aftershock” and a fourth book in the Sovereign Spirit Saga.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
DPF: I certainly hope so. I’ve changed careers several times in my life and must say that writing is by far the most attractive one at this stage in life. Of course it all depends on the success of my work.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
DPF: My mother was an author and journalist and my father was a magazine editor and publisher. I always loved reading fiction and knew that I wanted to tell my own stories someday. I outlined a fantasy adventure when I was 14, but set writing aside for several decades to pursue my own adventures in the real world. Happy that I finally got around to writing in my 40s.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
DPF: Sure. Here is part of scene from chapter 2 of “Sedulity (Book One) Impact” as the ship is about to cross the equator and the passengers are celebrating on deck:
Kevin and Amanda were thoroughly enjoying the Line Crossing Ceremony. They held hands as they sipped their rum and cokes, watching the crew frolic in the swimming pools and exchanging comments on Captain Neptune and his royal court. They had been informed that each passenger would receive a Line Crossing Certificate declaring them Shellbacks, so had declined the invitation to jump into the pool. They were perfectly happy to enjoy the moment and observe the spectacle. The First Officer, Mr. Crawford, took up the countdown. “Crossing the Line in ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three.…” His voice trailed off as the sky seemed to turn from night to day in an instant.
Kevin had already been looking up at the sky, taking in the unfamiliar constellations and hoping for a shooting star to wish upon. He got far more than he bargained for. Luckily he was looking southeast, across the pool, and the Rogue approached from behind him. Otherwise he would have been at least momentarily blinded, as were many others on deck that night. As it was, he had time to raise one hand to shield his eyes and pull Amanda’s head down into his lap with the other. Through slatted fingers he saw a sight he would never forget.
This was no shooting star, it was a falling sun. It streaked across the whole sky in a matter of several seconds, growing in size and intensity as it passed over the ship and descended below the eastern horizon. Before the light could fade, however, it grew and expanded into a brilliant flash that quickly turned into a false sunrise. It reminded Kevin of footage from hydrogen bomb tests that had been conducted not far from this part of the Pacific Ocean, but he knew better.
“Asteroid strike!” he exclaimed, whether to Amanda, himself, or anyone in earshot he couldn’t say. A moment later the echo of his voice was drowned out by the most devastating sonic boom imaginable. It sounded like a dozen simultaneous lightning strikes within spitting distance. Glasses shattered and more than a few eardrums burst, but that was just the shock wave from the asteroid’s passing. Kevin’s eyes went wide and his mind whirled, even as his ears rang. The real blast wave would be coming soon.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
DPF: As a matter of fact, I did. To prepare for “Sedulity” I took a two week cruise from Florida to Italy. I did extensive research, including discussions with the Captain, Chief Engineer and other members of the crew. Picturing the layout of the ship and recalling my experience at sea were invaluable to bringing the “Sedulity” to life in the book. I also took a recent road trip along the coast of Northern California and Oregon in preparation for the next book in my “Sovereign Spirit Saga.” Having a laptop allows me to continue writing while traveling and capture the experience while it’s still fresh in my mind. I love to travel and one of my goals is to get to the point as an author where I can do a lot more firsthand research on the road, or seas.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
DPF: All of my covers were designed by my stepson, William O. Rosenthal. He is very talented and artistic. It’s also nice to be able to direct the concept from over his shoulder, although that can make him irritated. LOL.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
DPF: The hardest part of writing is writing. By that I mean having the discipline to write daily, even when other things in your life are distracting you. I failed at that for much of 2013, following the death of my Mother. It took close to six months for me to get into a creative mindset again. Even then I only put out three novella length prequels to my earlier books. It wasn’t until I started writing Sedulity in November that I really felt the creative juices flowing again. I think I’m back on track now.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
DPF: I think the best training for any aspiring writer is to read and read and read until you feel the need to write. Then write something you would want to read. Also, while you bypass the gatekeepers (publishers) and reach readers as an indie author, you should still get a professional editor (or at least a competent group of Beta readers). There are plenty of good stories being told that bomb due to lack of editing and proofreading.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
DPF: Thank you!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
DPF: I remember books that my mother read to me before I could read. Then I read the entire collection of the Hardy Boys by the time I was 10. At age 11 or 12 I read my first post-apocalyptic science fiction novel. It was “Starman’s Son” (also titled Daybreak 2250 AD) by Andrea Norton.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
DPF: I’ve done, or at least tried to do, a lot of the other things I wanted to. When I got my Master degree in international relations I thought I wanted to go into diplomacy or politics, but there were no want ads for Ambassador.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
DPF: Yes, you can visit me at http://www.davidpforsyth.com and I also run the ApocaCon page and group on Facebook. I founded ApocaCon in 2012 to promote apocalyptic fiction as its own genre. It includes an annual event at the Long Beach Zombie Walk in October with a network of likeminded authors who promote each other and the genre.
My latest release is available only on Kindle (for now) at:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IVE3IUQ and http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00IVE3IUQ
I can’t tell you how happy I am with the response!
Thanks for inviting me to be featured on your page.
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