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!
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!
Why Post-Apocalyptic Fiction?
Many people ask me how I got started writing post-apocalyptic and survivalist fiction. The answer is that it
. 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!
Day Zero by Summer Lane