johnobrieninterview

Can you provide a brief summary of your series, A New World?
The story begins shortly after civilization as we know falls. Jack is just a normal guy living in semi-retirement out in the country when things go downhill fast. Not really keeping in touch with world events, he finds himself thrown into this new world. It’s the story of his survival as he gathers his kids and sets out to get his girlfriend. What he slowly finds out is that people didn’t just die off, but many were genetically mutated, becoming a cunning and ferocious new species that hunt the streets at night. Slowly gathering other survivors, A New World is the story of their struggle.

As you stated several times, this was only to be a trilogy. What happened to make the series go beyond that?
After the first book, the story just began to write itself. I was the one behind the keyboard but the characters were the ones in control of their story and how they wanted it told. I get immersed in their tale and the events unfold on their own.

Now that you’ve reached 8 books in the series, are there plans to continue the series into the double digits or beyond?
I really don’t know how long the series will continue. Every story has to end at some point but I’m not sure how many books it will take to tell this one. There’s a line where things can become redundant and I don’t think it’s fair to do that to the reader. I do know that there is this book I’m working, book #9, and at least one other.

Night Runners are not zombies yet they appear to get lumped into that category. What would you consider the Night Runners to be?
That’s a good question. They aren’t any type of undead, whether zombie or vampire. They are a genetically-mutated species which may place them in their own category.

In your books, the Night Runners only come out at night or become active in buildings with limited lighting. Do you think that seasonal change will affect Night Runner activity as in fall and winter where daylight is shorter? Would heavy snow or cold affect the Night Runners much like when bears and other animals hibernate for the winter?
If it’s nighttime, the night runners will be out. I’ve thought of all sorts of things with regards to them; shorter life spans due to their increased metabolism, being able to muster increased heat because of it, the ability to adapt quickly to changing temperatures. But, that just hasn’t come out in the story and I’m not sure it will. The northern winters will be the test for them. Even though they are genetically altered, they are still basically human, meaning, they don’t grow claws, fangs, or get covered in hair. So, they huddle together in masses to generate heat and find dry, insulated places for lairs. It may be that the cold and lack of food/water will turn many places into barren locations, nature taking it back over. I don’t want to give too much away here.

It’s been said that each character within a fictional novel represents a persona of the author. Would say that’s true to some extent and is there a character or characters within your New World series that you feel represents you in some minor or major way?
I do agree with that to an extent. All characters are figments of our imagination with regards to their personalities, so, that makes them inherently part of us. Whether they are formed from a conglomeration of people we’ve met in our lives, or parts of our own personality. I think all of the characters in the books are a representation of me in some way. If anything, I would say that Jack represents me the best as I’ve put a little of myself into his character.

As mentioned previously, Night Runners are not zombies. That being the case, do you think that there might be a cure or potential treatment for Night Runners that would enable them to regain their humanity? If so, is this something that will be in the series?
Even though they were genetically altered due to the vaccine, I think it would be difficult to alter them back. I can’t even imagine the amount of research that would need to go into that, let alone the equipment and expertise necessary. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen though. However, no spoilers here.

There’s a lot of military hardware, procedures and methodology used within your New World series. Do you find that this level of realism and factual information is beneficial for maintaining the series integrity and reader involvement and why?
Stories of this nature involve a measure of suspending belief. That’s just inherent in the genre. But if you surround it with realism, both in environmental detail and characters, then that suspension of belief narrows and becomes more believable. I think that brings the reader more into the story because they could actually see and live something like that. It doesn’t become so far-fetched that they read it with a form of detachment. That’s just my opinion though and why I like to keep it as close to real as possible. The basis for my writing the series is to present what I might actually do in such a situation. And that includes making mistakes.

The New World series falls more into the science fiction/apocalyptic/action/adventure genre more than horror. Was this done to expand the reader interest or for some other reason?
Honestly, the series stemmed from my constantly thinking up survival situations, putting myself in them, and working through it. That is its true foundation. And what better survival situation is there than a post-apocalyptic world? The night runners were created to add a measure of danger, to make it more interesting, to present a higher level of changes. The night runners were initially a 24/7 type of creature, but while going through the story line, I couldn’t see any scenario that would realistically allow the remnants of humankind to survive that. So, I placed a limit on them; they could only come out at night.

Would you say that Richard Matheson’s book, I am Legend was in any way an inspiration?
There were many inspirations for the night runners with I Am Legend being one. There was also 28 Weeks Later. Mostly though, creatures are far more horrifying at night, and more difficult to deal with, so that was the true inspiration for the limit on the night runners. There was also the survival aspect of having to deal with taking care of business during the day and surviving through the night. Plus, going into a dark building in a post-apocalyptic environment, with the possibility of these creatures being in it, is downright scary.

How much research do you spend on the series? With each book, there is usually something new that happens as in visiting a new location to search for survivors or expanding the circle of influence that Walker’s survivors have in their local area. Does this affect the amount of time it takes for each book to be written or do you do general research for the entire series all at once?
I really don’t keep track of the amount of time spent researching. It’s a lot though and continues throughout the book. And yes, it does greatly increase the amount of time it takes for each book to be written. I’ll spend hours staring at a location, going through it in my mind, envisioning myself there, on the ground, seeing it as it lies and thinking about what it would look like months after the populace left or died. The night runners filling the streets when the sun went down and burrowing deep within the buildings I’m seeing during the day. Stories of the townspeople begin making themselves known. The tales of what happened, windows being broken, etc. Then, I have what the place looks like in my mind, I’m immersed in it, and the story gets told.
Other aspects are much the same, whether that is researching submarines or some other aspect of the books. And the research is done for each book rather than as a series all at once. That way, it’s fresh in my mind. And, although I have the major story line in mind, things change as the story is told.

When the New World series is complete, hopefully several more books and years into the future, do you have plans to continue with more books in a different genre? What genre might that be and why?
I don’t know about doing another genre, although I do have the prologue written for a fantasy adventure novel/series. I may continue that one at a later point. When this series has told its tale, I have another in mind that keeps tickling my mind. It’s along similar lines but different.

Where can readers and fans alike find out more information about your books and upcoming projects that you’re involved in?
I am more active on Facebook than anywhere else really. My Amazon author page is a good place to keep updated on new releases. There is a button that allows a reader to be notified when a new release becomes available.
Web Site
http://anewworldseries.com/

Facebook Profile
http://www.facebook.com/JohnWBOBrien

Twitter
http://twitter.com/#!/A_NewWorld

Amazon author page
http://www.amazon.com/John-OBrien/e/B005IDEPP0

About J.R. Jackson

James ‘Remo’ Jackson is a former US Navy Chief Petty Officer who received the nickname ‘Remo’ from a service buddy not from the popular Destroyer series of action novels. With a few non-fiction works to his credit, short manuals and procedural text books, he is currently a roving reviewer for buyzombie.com.While in the service he developed an interest in the zombie/horror genre and was disappointed at the lack of novels and films that contained realistic and accurate military action. This inspired him to create his own zombie apocalyptic novel that is currently an ‘epic’ work in progress that has a military thematic element to it.A certified wilderness/outdoor survival instructor and disaster mitigation educator, he can normally be found outdoors teaching clueless people the fine art of survival in less than pristine conditions.