Friday, August 31, 2012

Guest Blog by Jill Archer - A Post-Apocalyptic Novel without Zombies, Robots, Aliens, Dystopia, the Plague or Even a Recent War

Please welcome Jill Archer to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Dark Light of Day (A Noon Onyx Novel 1) will be published on September 25, 2012.

A Post-Apocalyptic Novel without Zombies, Robots, Aliens, Dystopia, the Plague or Even a Recent War

Post-apocalyptic novels are big right now. It seems like everywhere you look, there's a great new story set in a post-apocalyptic world. There's Cormac McCarthy's The Road, Justin Cronin's The Passage, Max Brooks' World War Z, S.M. Stirling's Novels of the Change, Julianna Baggot's Pure, William R. Forstchen's One Second After, and Suzanne Collins' wildly popular Hunger Games trilogy (I know I'm missing some awesome ones; sound off in the comments with your favorites). Movies and television also have a wonderful selection of recent and somewhat recent post-apocalyptic fare: The Walking Dead, Contagion, Battlestar Galactica, City of Ember, Terminator Salvation, even Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland (both hilarious).

Most post-apocalyptic fiction deals with "end of the world" type stuff. That's what an apocalyptic event is, after all. It's an epic disaster, a cataclysmic event, total annihilation. It's an over simplification, but I tend to group post-apocalyptic tales into one of three categories:
The Monster Stories: These stories have zombies, vampires, aliens, robots, or some other type of monster still actively chasing all of the survivors down.

The Super-Plague or Disaster Stories: In these, the villain is faceless and much of the plot centers on the characters fight to survive in a destroyed world. Food and fuel shortages are common. Anarchy and lawlessness abounds.

The Dystopian Story: These stories tend to be set a bit later than the two categories above, often years after the initial apocalyptic event. Civilization has had a chance to get back up on its feet, but it's walking around with a severe limp -- and a lot of poor governing practices. These stories pit the individual against a flawed society.
I adore post-apocalyptic stories. Why? Well, for starters, it's an ancient archetype of conflict. Monsters, sickness, and natural disasters have been man's enemy since the dawn of time. The passage of time, contemporary settings, and modern technology provide more, not less, story fodder. And dystopian tales? I'm betting the moment cavemen started banding together behind common leaders, they got a taste of dystopia. Dystopia is bad leaders happening to good people. Real world history is full of it.

When I started writing my debut novel, Dark Light of Day, I wanted to set it in a post-apocalyptic world, but I wanted to try something different. My premise (regarding the world of Halja, where my story is set) was:
What if the Apocalypse came and went... but everything was still relatively the same? What if Armageddon was old news? What if there were no zombies, vampires, aliens, or robots? What if there were no plagues or disasters, natural or divine? What if the society wasn't dystopian?
Well, if that's all there was to Dark Light of Day, the story might have been pretty darn boring. No monsters? No disasters? No dystopia? Where's the conflict?! I hear you and agree. So I added demons.

The concept of Armageddon originates with the Christian Bible. The Book of Revelation from the New Testament references Armageddon, which some have interpreted to mean the place where the final battle between God and Satan will take place. Such an event would, obviously, be apocalyptic. So I used the concept of Armageddon (not just a war to end all wars, but a war to end the world) as the apocalyptic event of my story. But then I added a twist by asking:
What if the demons won? And life just went on? What would it look like 2,000 years later? What would be the same? What would be different?
In the beginning, I had misgivings about setting my story in a world where Lucifer reigns as an absent king. But I can assure you, Halja is as full of light as it is of darkness. I've tried to be respectful of my Christian inspirational sources, while remaining true to my primary goals, entertainment and exploration. I wanted to explore what life might be like in a world where good and bad aren't as easily defined as they sometimes are in ours. Have other writers done that? Sure, but I hope my story's unique enough to attract some attention. To help you decide whether this story might be right for you, here's a brief excerpt from Chapter 2:
       If Halja, my country, was the lone man left standing in a battlefield after a long and brutal war, then its future would be the spilled blood under his feet—expected, yet somehow still startling, slippery and shifting, a sacrifice for peace in a world full of demons. Real ones. Because it was here in Halja that Lucifer’s army, the Host, beat the Savior’s army in the last great battle of the Apocalypse.
       And yet . . .
       Life goes on pretty much the way it did before. People still get married, have babies, and pay their taxes. Many things were destroyed, but many things have been rebuilt. We have mechanized cabriolets, electro-harmonic machines, winder lifts, pots of lip gloss, and nail lacquer. We have time to do our hair. Because the Apocalypse happened over two thousand years ago. Armageddon is old news and in the days, years, centuries, and millennia since, we’ve mourned our dead, buried them, and even forgotten where their graves were.
So, what about you? Do you like post-apocalyptic stories? If so, which are your favorites? Why do you like to read it (or watch it)? What about stories that explore the nature of good and bad and right versus wrong? Do you enjoy stories where the line between the "good guys" and the "bad guys" is more muddied than it is in our world?

If you're interested in more post-apocalyptic tales, check out: If you're Interested in reading more about the end of the world, check out:

Thank you, Sally, for hosting me and including Dark Light of Day in The Qwillery's 2012 Debut Author Challenge!

About Dark Light of Day

Dark Light of Day
A Noon Onyx Novel 1
Ace, September 25, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Armageddon is over. The demons won. And yet somehow…the world has continued. Survivors worship patron demons under a draconian system of tributes and rules. These laws keep the demons from warring among themselves, the world from slipping back into chaos.

Noon Onyx grew up on the banks of the river Lethe, daughter of a prominent politician, and a descendant of Lucifer’s warlords. Noon has a secret—she was born with waning magic, the dark, destructive, fiery power that is used to control demons and maintain the delicate peace among them. But a woman with waning magic is unheard of and some will consider her an abomination.

Noon is summoned to attend St. Lucifer’s, a school of demon law. She must decide whether to declare her powers there…or attempt to continue hiding them, knowing the price for doing so may be death. And once she meets the forbiddingly powerful Ari Carmine—who suspects Noon is harboring magic as deadly as his own—Noon realizes there may be more at stake than just her life.

About Jill

Raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Jill earned a bachelor of science from Penn State University and later moved to Baltimore to attend the University of Baltimore School of Law, where she graduated magna cum laude. She went on to practice law as a “dirt lawyer” for ten years, specializing in real estate law, municipal development, commercial leasing, and anything involving exceedingly lengthy legalese-like contractual monstrosities.

Jill now lives in rural Maryland with her two children and husband, who is a recreational pilot. Weekends are often spent flying around in the family’s small Cessna, visiting tiny un-towered airfields and other local points of interest.

Twitter: @archer_jill

The Giveaway


What:  One commenter will win a copy of the Ace/Roc 2012 Science Fiction and Fantasy Sampler from Jill.

How:  Leave a comment answering Jill's questions:
Do you like post-apocalyptic stories? If so, which are your favorites? Why do you like to read it (or watch it)? What about stories that explore the nature of good and bad and right versus wrong? Do you enjoy stories where the line between the "good guys" and the "bad guys" is more muddied than it is in our world?
Please remember - if you don't answer the questions your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

There are a total of 3 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry) and Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry).  This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook or Twitter mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Friday, September 7, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.


  1. My favorite post apocalyptic story is the classic, A Canticle for Leibowitz.

    And, I often play an RPG called Apocalypse World, set after things have gone truly to hell--and the GM and players together create the world after. (We've done a couple of run throughs, all different)

  2. Excellent, I'm adding your book to my wishlist! Interesting divisions. I write post-apocalyptic romance, and I suppose mine fit into the dystopia section. A couple hundred years from the main apocalyptic-level event, no beasties (or any paranormal for that matter), and the continent is mostly wastelands with a few totalitarian city-states scattered. Hm. . .makes me think!

    Anyway, though I am a zombie addict when we're talking movies (especially the Romero films), my favourite books are the more "real" seeming apocalypses. One favourite is Susan Beth Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It (and trilogy), a YA where the moon shifts a bit closer, and everything pretty much just goes to hell. Awesome.

    1. Hi Jessica-- "Hmm" is right! Your comment makes me wonder if I should have listed a 4th category, a pre-apocalyptic category that includes stories where the world is going to end because of some unnatural cosmological event. I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet, but I recently checked out The Age of Miracles audio book from my library. Melancholia was also on my list of films to see at some point.

      Thanks for the comments!

  3. I'm very picky about my post-apocalyptic stories; mostly because I cannot read stories that depress me (I'm close enough as it is!), I want stories that make me feel good. Sometimes post-apocalyptic stories can do that but I haven't found all that many. Sometimes I enjoy them despite my need for 'happy' because they aren't hopeless or full of 'grim'. But, because of that I pick and choose which ones I'll read.

    I'm also wary of the novels with too much grey area. In real life there aren't enough heroes, and way too many grey people and I generally prefer to read about those wonderful people that make the right choices for the right reasons.

    All that being said, I've put your book on my to read list ;-) I'm hoping for the best!

    GFC follower: April V.
    april dot vrugtman at gmail dot com

    1. Hi Anonymous-- If you end up taking a chance on DLOD, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Good or bad, drop me a note at: archer at jillarcher dot com.

      I also gravitate toward stories with happy endings. Sure, I've read some sad ones, and some of them have been excellent, but I understand what you're saying. Life's hard enough. Fiction and entertainment should be fun, uplifting, or at the very least, give a reader hope.

      As far as heroes, I can absolutely appreciate heroes who almost invariably make the right choices for the right reasons (superheroes are always fun), but I also like stories about everyday people. And everyday people aren't born heroes. Most of the time (like us humans), they have to learn how to live like them. :-)

      Thanks for the comment!

  4. Hi Paul-- I haven't read A Canticle for Leibowitz but probably should. Thanks for the recommendation. Apocalypse World sounds interesting and fun.

    Hi Sally-- Thanks again for having me here at The Quillery. Hope you decided to take a break and have some fun this weekend!

  5. I love a good post apocalyptic story, especially if zombies are included. One of my favorite books is Enclave by Ann Aguirre.
    I think I like those stories so much because human nature is put under a microscope so to speak. Nothing like an apocalypse to get past a persons demeanor and see his/her true nature.


  6. [+1] Q: Do you like post-apocalyptic stories? If so, which are your favorites? Why do you like to read it (or watch it)? What about stories that explore the nature of good and bad and right versus wrong? Do you enjoy stories where the line between the "good guys" and the "bad guys" is more muddied than it is in our world?

    A: The only post-apocalyptic book I've read is Hunger Games. And it also happens to be one of my favourites. I don't think it had much to do being a post-apocalyptic world that made me like it. Nor the good versus evil theme. It was more of how the story was told.

    [+1] GFC follower name is Cherry.

    [+1] Twitted about your giveaway at:

    Cherry Mischievous
    cherrymischif-spamme [at] yahoo [dot] com

  7. Hi Sullivan-- I have the first 3 books in Ann Aguirre's Sirantha Jax series in my TBR pile. They look terrific, as does Enclave!

    Hi Cherry-- A friend of mine recommended Hunger Games to me before it became massively popular. As it gained momentum, I couldn't help thinking it deserved every accolade it received. A terrific dystopian tale.

    Thanks for the comments!

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. I read the Hunger Games trilogy as it came out. I loved it. Another one I enjoy is The Bones of Faerie series. Thank you.
    GFC as Victoria Sloboda

  10. I am fairly new to the post-apocalyptic / dystopian genre but am finding I am enjoying them. I just finished a real treat of a read that is evidently going to be a series titled Project ELE By Courtney Nuckels & Rebecca Gober and I am really looking forward to the next installment. Thank you for taking the time ad effort to share with us today.
    GFC Denise Zaky
    tweeted -

  11. Hi Victoria and Denise-- I hadn't heard of either The Bones of Faerie or Project ELE so just looked them up. Very intriguing. Thanks for the suggestions, ladies!

    p.s. I'm late responding bc I took my oldest for a bike ride. We were swarmed by yellow jackets when we stopped to rack our bikes for a drink. Luckily, we run fast and didn't get stung. My husband and youngest had to come rescue us (and our bikes!) with a can of wasp spray. TGIF! :-D

  12. I love reading post-apocolyptic and dystopic fiction, and my absolute favorite is the S.M. Stirling's Change novels.

  13. Sorry - didn't get to finish! What I like about this genre is that people have to start from scratch and there is a lot of character development in leaving the current world behind and learning how to start again.

    jochibi AT yahoo DOT com

  14. Was checking in for a quick stop here at The Quillery and saw your posts, Jo. Completely agree. S.M. Stirling is a fantastic author. I also enjoyed his In the Courts of the Crimson Kings (although not post-apocalyptic).

  15. I do like post-apocalyptic stories. I recently read ASHFALL by Mike Mullin & enjoyed it.

    GFC: Mary Preston


  16. I like post-apocalyptic stories. I liked Article 5.

    I follow via email.


  17. After such classics as A Canticle for Lebowitz and Hiero's Journey, I'd have to say my favorite is Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.

  18. Well, lets see... there will times when you read a book, and initially it's not obvious that it fall into that category. But then you gets hints; little morsels or clues that actually, this is set faaaaaar into the future after something major has happened. Most recently, Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence has become a favourite, but also some of the classics that I grew up with: such as the Shannara books, and one of my all-time favourites: The Death Gate Cycle by Weis and Hickman.

    Movie wise, I like more how post-apocalyptic gets treated in anime and animation. Origin, Sky Blue and 9 are just 3 I can see when looking at the ones I own.

    I think I'll be adding this to my to-read list, providing I can get my grubby paws on it in the UK!