This guest post is by E. E. Borton, author of the post apocalyptic book series Without. I was excited to hear from E. E. Borton since the Without Series tells the story about the devastation following an geomagnetic storm that permanently disables all of the electrical devices on Earth. This fictional scenario happens to be one of my favorites, in part because it is a fairly common on our planet, at least as far as we know. The last time a major solar flare collided with Earth’s magnetosphere was in 1857 (see Carrington Event). If we had a geomagnetic storm of similar magnitude today, we might be looking at a scenario quite similar to E.E. Borton’s Without series. Thank you to E. E. Borton for sharing some insights into his post apocalyptic book series.
The WITHOUT series is a collaboration between friends. Sean Chase and Keith Foster pitched me the idea for the first novel over a pitcher of beer. I was hooked and finished two versions of the first chapter the next day. Once I convinced them to let me create the story in first person versus third, and change the title from WITHOUT POWER, I was off to the races. Three months later, I wrote the last page.
Before I set out to write a book, I have a detailed outline to keep myself on track. There is a certain pace and cadence a writer follows, and all of them are different. There was no outline created for WITHOUT.
Sean and Keith gave me the premise for the first chapter. The characters I created gave me the rest. They told me where they wanted to go and what they were going to do when they got there. All I had to do was write down what happened along the way. It was the most challenging novel I’ve written in my career so far, but by far the most rewarding. It taught me a lot about myself as a writer.
I served twice in Naval Intelligence. Once after school and again after 9/11. The travel and experiences were phenomenal. It showed me what the rest of the world looked like. Some of it was breathtaking. Some of it was heartbreaking.
There are 7.5 billion people on the planet. 1.2 billion of them live without power. I’ve traveled to many third world countries and have witnessed their daily struggle to survive. It intrigued me to think about how the population of our country would survive if electricity was taken away…forever. Life for those who never had it wouldn’t change much at all. Ours would be turned on its head.
My novels are works of fiction, but the amount of research I had to complete WITHOUT was extreme compared to my other books. I had to answer questions about a world few of us have experienced. The most glaring was how fast would a modern society disintegrate after a large scale catastrophic event. The answer was disturbing. In an urban environment – in a city – it would start as soon as the sun went down.
My research covered a wide range of events that were either man-made, accidental, or natural disasters that caused large-scale power outages. Most only lasting a few days, but some lasting a few weeks. In every situation, the good and the bad in people hit both ends of the spectrum. In every situation when large groups of people were plunged into darkness, things went from bad to worse within 24 hours. The downward spiral didn’t change until power was restored.
Those who were prepared – even slightly – fared much better than those who were caught off guard. A portable generator, store of batteries, or even a hand-cranked radio/charger/flashlight combo became more valuable than a pot of gold. At the very least it gave them the ability to see what went bump in the night, work in the dark, and communicate with the outside world. It may not seem like much, but it made all the difference for them.
WITHOUT and WITHOUT II – The Fall, are novels about what may happen if the lights go out…and they don’t come back. I wanted to immerse my character, and myself, into that world and push the boundaries of my creative process. I walked most of the route the character took. I lived without power for days. I was alone while doing both. I didn’t want to tell you what happened to the characters in my book. I wanted to show you.
E. E. Borton