Friday, July 26, 2013

Featured Author: Dan O'Brien

Welcome to the third day of the The End of the World Playlist blog tour. It will run until August 1st and will feature excerpts and new author interviews each day. But first, here is the obligatory blurb about the novel to settle you into this dystopian world:

The world as we knew it had ended. Deep in the mountains of the west coast, six men survived. In the town of River’s Bend, these six friends continued on with their lives as zombies inherited the Earth. As they navigated the world that had been left behind, the soundtrack of life played on.




A few questions for the author:


Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books? 

Too many to count really, but I will say that I love Hemmingway and Hugo, Heinlein and Amisov, and Neil Gaiman (who is a personal writing hero because he forewent college to pursue his dream). My favorite book all-time is tie between Lonesome Dove and Les Miserables.


What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question? 

Why should people want to read my books? The simple answer: Because I love what I do, and I do it for readers. I hope that the readers of this post will take the time to follow my blog (where you can win a Kindle Fire) and take part in my lifelong journey as a writer.


If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be? 

It would lack a title, as I have moved in so many different directions in my life that any title would be disingenuous.



Here be an excerpt for your enjoyment:


Track 3
Behind Blue Eyes


The sun had begun to set. Darkness seeped across the grass and tree-filled horizon. Trees passed by in a flash. The engine was loud, aggressive. The stereo was cranked. 

Dan looked out the window. 

Kenny watched Dan looking out the window.

“What’s with the puss?”

“Huh?”

“The sour face, whatever,” replied Kenny, pursing his lips.

“Doesn’t matter.”

“The fuck it doesn’t.”

Dan looked away from the passing forest. His eyes were serious; his cheek muscles flexed angrily. 

“It has been five years.”

“Since what?”

“Are you daft? Since the moon landing, what the fuck do you think I’m talking about? That day. It has been five years since that day.”

Kenny’s smile disappeared.

“We all lost something that day,” continued Dan.

“Yeah.”

Dan pulled down his shirt and torso guard. 

There was a gold ring on a chain. 

He touched the outside of it gently. 

“Don’t miss the turn.”

“This is my business, man, I know this shit. You don’t even have to stress.”

Dan grunted and looked back out at the world. The road rose and then fell, changing into an S-turn. There was a dirt road to the right, and Kenny navigated the Bronco onto it with a surreal ease even at breakneck speed. A heavy sign painted in white, scrawling letters read: beware. 

The road was uneven and treacherous. 

Were it not for Kenny’s skillful driving, they would have crashed and burned. “Home sweet home, motherfucker,” he announced mirthfully. 

Bundles of barbed, rusted wire extended beyond the tree line. Littering the trees, heavy sheets of metal and car hoods were held up by thin wire, ready for decapitation. The dense forest gave way to an open field whose trees were cut down with precision. 

The building in the distance was a dark earthen color and without any windows or doors except a large retractable gate that thundered open as the Bronco approached. Floodlights were situated every five to six feet. They dare not turn them on at night as it might draw unwanted attention even though the compound would be very defensible if the situation called for it.

The Bronco rolled to a stop, the powerful engine switching off. Dan and Kenny stepped out. Dan grasped the bag and threw it over his shoulder. 

The sun began to slink just below the horizon.

“So tomorrow,” began the loveable behemoth.

“Whatever you want, man.”

“Right. Right.”

Together they moved through the door of the building into the interior. The first room was wide open with beat-up couches littered about and a few televisions that looked like remnants from the Cold War. The room’s five occupants were scattered about the room doing their own thing, except for two of them. Those two were sharing a couch in front of a television, and one of them was sitting very still, seemingly engrossed by the images on the screen. 

The one closest to the door was a thin man and shorter than Dan––certainly smaller than Kenny. With wiry brown hair and cold gray eyes, he looked with dissatisfaction at the world; Brandon was a ghost from the past. 

“Any trouble?” he asked.

“A bit, nothing unusual,” Dan replied.

Brandon grunted and moved away, sitting down in a plastic-covered chair in front of a dirty table where an assault rifle lay; its parts were carefully placed in rows. Dan’s brother Jesse sat farthest from the entrance. His long dirty blond hair was pulled into a topknot, and his glasses were composed of two separate frames melted together. His brown eyes scanned the pages of a novel carefully: Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky.

He was thin like Brandon, but tall like Kenny. Dan made his way toward his brother while Kenny lumbered toward the far couch where Will sat. His brown hair was mussed, though it almost looked purposeful. There was one long strand of hair that he combed over his ear.

“What up, fuck-cheese?” spoke Will as Kenny approached.

Kenny looked at him and shook his head. “You have to be the biggest waste of fucking space in the world, man. Sitting here with Starfish, smoking, and watching old shitty movies.”

“Starfish happens to understand the intricacies of attempting to find peak experiences in a post-apocalyptic world, my man. Just because you are too big and dumb to get that…”

“What the fuck ever, man.”

“Does the giant wish to argue?”

“I can’t wait to fucking punch you in the throat in your sleep.”

The previously stationary figure that sat next to Will on the couch turned. It was a zombie; more importantly, it was Starfish. 

The zombie’s mouth was wired shut like the others, but on top of that he wore a hockey mask with black sunglasses attached to the cross-stitching. His arms had been removed and dirty, slightly viscous, black garbage bags wrapped its torso. It was really a dead, armless torso that ran amok on occasion.

“Starfish contributes more than you do,” said Kenny.

“The fuck if that is true. I grow herb, my friend. We all need to find some peace in a dark world.”

“Why the fuck do you waste your time doing that when there is literally a millennia’s worth of booze sitting in that dead town we once called home?”

Will turned around, placing an arm around Starfish’s shoulder. The zombie groaned and moved its shielded head, bumping into Will’s shoulder. “See, even Starfish here finds your lack of understanding disturbing.”

Kenny smirked. “I am not sure Starfish is an accurate representation of all counties accounted for.”

“In a world that has little left, art is even more important. My skills are necessary to bring joy to those left behind.” Will then gestured toward Kenny with a dismissing hand. “Even those Neanderthals with no vision, such as yourself, can appreciate the idea of enjoying the world, even a desolate one.”

Kenny moved quickly, grabbing Will by the neck and lifting him over the couch. Will screeched and flung his legs about, scrambling up the side of Kenny’s torso. The joint he had been smoking fell to the ground and was crushed under Kenny’s boot. 

“That’s fucked, man. That’s substance abuse. All that work and your big Frankenstein foot crushes a perfectly good joint.”

Kenny threw Will back on the couch with ease and an eventful grin. “That's what you get, ya stick figure. Watch your mouth or I will throw you another beating.”

Will mumbled something unintelligible. 

“What is that, Gumby?”

“Revenge is a bitch there, Quasimodo. Just you wait and see.”

Kenny scoffed and moved deeper into the compound, beyond the first room and into the shadows of the dormitories. Dan approached a statuesque black man. He wore his hair short––nearly a buzz cut. A cut-off shirt revealed a body tempered for war. He was working over a Wing Chun dummy with fierce precision as Dan approached. 

“How are things here, Allen? Anything unusual? Any deadheads?”

Allen headed security operations, but in an unofficial manner of course. He spent most of his days and nights walking the surrounding property, checking traps and the like. “Nothing. It has been very quiet. The guys are restless though. Will especially is getting mouthy and antsy.”

Dan nodded. “Tomorrow we will all go in. We’ll take the van and the Bronco, grab supplies, and hit the chains.”

Allen smiled grimly.

“It wouldn’t hurt. What happened in town?”

“Bob got loose. Had to put some rounds in him.”

“Pharmacy Bob or Auto Store Bob?”

“Neither. Liquor Store Bob.”

“He seemed more squirrelly than the others lately. It makes sense.”

“I want to secure them all again, weigh them down and re-bolt.”

“You got it, boss,” replied Allen with a nod.

Dan stood for a moment, as if he were going to say something else. Allen looked at him expectantly. Moving past Allen, he patted him on the shoulder and raised a hand to get his brother’s attention.

“Hey bro,” began Dan somberly.

Jesse looked over the faded pages of the novel. 

“Dan.”

“Almost done?”

Jesse raised an eyebrow.

“With Dostoyevsky? I was thinking of hitting the library tomorrow to pick up something new,” continued Dan.

“Sounds like a reasonable plan.”

“You want to come along?”

“Could be productive. There are a few gems I have been thinking about tackling. Perhaps I’ll finally finish War and Peace.”

Dan smiled, though it was barely noticeable. 

“Very good.”

Jesse lowered the book and surveyed the complicated look on his brother’s face. “Is there something the matter?”

“Hmm…”

“Do you not want to talk about it?”

Dan sat down across from his brother. 

“You know how long it has been?”

“I am aware of the amount of time that has transpired.”

“Seems like we have wasted a lot of time.”

“Wasted? Wasted how?”

“I dunno. There seems like there should be more than this. Doesn’t there seem like there should be some meaning to all this?”

“Looking for answers in an impossible situation will only bring more frustration, bro.”

There was sadness in his eyes. 

“I just wonder why we bother.”

“Bother doing what exactly?”

“Simply being. Surviving. What is the point?”

Jesse placed down the book and sat forward. “I see. This is not about the time passed, but the fact that she is gone.”

Dan nodded sadly. 

“If I were a spiritual man, I would spin an endearing yarn about her looking down on you, but as we both know that is not my style. On the contrary, you carry her with you, every day in your memory,” continued Jesse.

“I am not sure the memory is enough anymore.”

“For that, I am very sorry.”

“Yeah.” Dan looked around, sniffing. His eyes were glossy. Patting his brother’s knee, he stood and looked toward the dormitories, toward his bed. “I will see you in the morning, brother. Good night.”

Jesse sat back with his book, a contemplative look on his face. “Good night, brother.”

As Dan walked away, the sounds of Will watching The Godfather rose up as he laughed and snickered about something to which only he was privy.




About the author:
A psychologist, author, editor, philosopher, martial artist, and skeptic, he has published several novels and currently has many in print, including: The End of the World Playlist, Bitten, The Journey, The Ocean and the Hourglass, The Path of the Fallen, The Portent, and Cerulean Dreams. Follow him on Twitter (@AuthorDanOBrien) or visit his blog. He recently started a consultation business. You can find more information about it here: http://www.amalgamconsulting.com/.





Would you like to win a copy of The End of the World Playlist?

All you have to do is comment on a post during the tour. Two randomly drawn commenters will be awarded either a physical or digital copy of The End of the World Playlist.

Visit http://thedanobrienproject.blogspot.com/ and follow the blog for a chance to win a Kindle Fire!


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