Thursday, April 14, 2011

Breakdown by Katherine Amt Hanna

Six years after a pandemic devastates the human population and unstoppable computer viruses have destroyed much of the world’s technology, Chris Price finally makes it from New York to Britain to reunite with his brother. But the horrors he’s witnessed and unresolved grief over his dead wife and baby have changed him. Can he let go of his past, unlock his heart, and learn to find love again?

What will readers like about your book? I think they will find the characters real and their problems believable.

Why did you self publish? 
I simply have no patience. The thought of the incredibly drawn-out process to find an agent or publisher (if you can manage it) and then the years-long publishing process made me stop writing the thing altogether for more than a year. When Kindle publishing took off, I saw my solution. I set my goal, finished the book, and put it out there.

What is your writing process? 
I don’t really have a set process. I’m not good with routines. I’ll get inspired and write productively for a few weeks, then take a break and sew instead. I percolate ideas while I’m sewing.

How long does it take you to write your first draft? 
I’m not fast. This book took years. The final product is a lot different than the first draft. Hopefully, the next one won’t take as long.

What inspired you to write this particular story? 
Two things. One was an incredibly vivid dream I had many years ago. Just a man walking with his son through a city I recognized (Bath, England). But it was clear that things had changed. The people around them were disheveled and ragged, the buildings were boarded up. That gave me the post-apocalyptic setting. The second was a complicated friendship I'd had, then lost, then mended. I knew how such a thing could eat away at someone inside, so I decided to use that.


The used book shop was located in a small side street near the abbey, still run by an old man with a fuzz of white hair whom Brian had always known only as Flynn. He had somehow managed to carry on through the worst of times, hardly leaving his flat above the store, or spending his days in the narrow aisles between shelves, sorting and cataloguing, or wrapped in a blanket in an armchair by the door, reading to escape the harshness of the changed world. The place was more of a library now, with no tourists to spend their holiday money on quaint old volumes. Brian visited nearly every week. He had brought two books back to trade in. Ian picked out an adventure about a young American cowboy, and Brian got a mystery novel. He gave Flynn a tin of meat, a squash from the garden, and a selection of leftover ration coupons.

“Oh, I say, Brian,” Flynn said as they were about to leave, “your old mate Chris was looking for you earlier this week.”

Brian stopped dead in the doorway. The name jolted him. He stared at Flynn, who sat reading the fine print on the tin’s label, apparently unaware that he had said anything unusual.

Brian gulped, thinking Flynn had to be mistaken. “Um, are you sure?”

Flynn looked up. “What? Of course I’m sure. Hardly knew him at first, it’s been so long. But yeah, he asked after you, said he’d been round to your house, but you’d gone and did I know where to. I told him you live out in Hurleigh, now.”

“Chris Price, was it? You’re sure, Flynn?”

“I’m not dotty yet, Brian. He looked different, you know, but it were him, I tell you. He stayed a good few hours, asking about folks what used to live here. He’d brought some lovely muffins and jam, and we had a bit o’ tea. I told him you were out Hurleigh way.”

Good memories battled with bad ones in Brian’s head. The long childhood friendship had ended with hard feelings and harder words. He remembered the last horrible thing he’d uttered with such contempt, nearly ten years ago, and felt his face grow warm with shame.

Ian was watching him, clutching his bundle of clothing.


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