Thursday, 19 January 2023

A Post-Apocalyptic Interview with Kurt Newton

Our next anthology, Tales from the Ruins, is going to be a cataclysmic one! It will be released on the 25th of February but the Kindle version is available for pre-order today at just 99c instead of $3.99. To celebrate the imminent publication of the first Black Beacon Books anthology exclusively dedicated to post-apocalyptic fiction, we’re interviewing the contributing authors. Behold the maniacal workings of their troubled minds!

Hi Kurt,

Let’s make the first question a lighthearted one...hmm...okay, got it! Is your story simply an entertaining piece of fiction or are you giving us a peek at the terrifying fate tomorrow will unleash upon us?

I remember reading Harlan Ellison's story "Along the Scenic Route" in Deathbird Stories and being blown away by the sped and action of that story. At that time, I'd never read anything like it. I was also a huge fan of the Mad Max series. I'd read Ellison's story at about the same time which, I'm sure, heavily influenced the idea behind "Chasing the White Limousine". I was also reading a lot of J.G. Ballard, so a post-apocalyptic near-future where a still-intact stretch of Interstate becomes a playground for kids seemed a natural creative playground for me to explore. If there's a statement in there somewhere, I guess it would be: if the world gives you an apocalypse, you might as well have fun with it.

What is it that makes post-apocalyptic fiction so appealing? Would the world be better off if more people read this genre? 

I think the possibilities are endless. From large scale to small, intimate settings, a future where (to quote R.E.M.) "It's the end of the world as we know it" is ripe with storyline. I think reading about the future in no way prepares you for it. It's like watching a martial arts movie and then going out into the street and putting what you've just seen into action. (Editor's note: Kurt is not necessarily suggesting starting kung-fu fights in your neighbourhood...) I think the appeal is the hope in that, at least, some of us will survive, despite the odds against it.

Do you have a favourite post-apocalyptic author? 

J.G. Ballard. His first four novels are about environmental collapse—The Wind from
Nowhere, The Drowned World, The Burning World and The Crystal World. Each deconstructs society until it's just the protagonist learning how to navigate an ever-changing landscape, both physically and psychologically. I highly recommend anyone who hasn't read Ballard to do so immediately.

Some people like to listen to music while reading. Which song can you imagine providing the soundtrack to your story?

That's a great question. I would have to say ├ćnema by Tool. 

If you woke up in your story tomorrow, what would you do?

I'd probably be like my protagonist, Kid. I'd be part of a community but I'd always be looking for something more, something beyond the horizon.

There are no firearms or ammunition. You have to choose an everyday object from the home or garden as your weapon of choice—what’s in your hands?

A homemade flamethrower made from a can of WD-40 and a BIC lighter.

Time to get more personal. Tell us three interesting facts about yourself. 

I've worked in industry most of my adult life (machines and I get along very well). In my eighth-grade graduation yearbook my ambition was to become Postmaster General (I collected stamps, so what better way to get dibs on all the latest cool postage, duh?). Lastly, I've never broken a bone, not for lack of trying.

What do you aim to give your readers? 

In most of what I write, you'll find a journey and an emotional core that, hopefully, will carry you along that journey, which can be harrowing at times and very dark, but usually ends with a glimmer of hope.

What are you working on now? 

I'm getting old, so it's time to work on my St. Peppers, my Psycho, my Dark Tower. Time to distill what I've learned in thirty years of writing and pour it into one magnum opus. It's been conceived and roughly plotted. The characters are already speaking to me, the scenes are already lining up. It will be a horror trilogy on a grand scale. That's all I can say.

Where can we find you online? 

facebook.com/kurt.newton.56
twitter.com/kurtdnewton
instagram.com/kurtdnewton

Thanks for playing along. Good luck in the wastelands! 

7 comments:

  1. A question for Kurt or Cameron (or both): I'm not very familiar with the post-apocalyptic genre, and would like to read a few books. My preference is for something with a Gothic flavour with strong characterisation, suspense and atmosphere. Which books or authors would you recommend?

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    1. Great question, Rayne. I think all the books our contributors have suggested are excellent examples. My personal favourite is High-Rise by JG Ballard and A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. In terms of post-apocalyptic with a Gothic flavour, that's trickier. Of course, going back to the origins of the genre, The Last Man by Mary Shelley comes to mind. I'll ask Kurt to jump in here.

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    2. Oh, yes, The Last Man by Mary Shelley! I'd forgotten about that classic. -- I wonder if there are any new Gothic Post-Apocalyptic authors. Post-Apocalyptic and Gothic would go so well together, I think.

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  2. The world-building in post-apocalyptic fiction is truly fascinating! Good luck with your (newest) release.

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    1. Thanks so much, Pia. Anyone on Facebook can join our release page. https://www.facebook.com/events/871610317553252

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  3. A few years ago, the post-apocalyptic stories were about fears of annihilation from nuclear, lack of oil, wars, political upheaval - has the concept of post-apocalyptic changed much? Is there a defined line in the sand between pre-2000 and post-2000 apocalypse stories and their focus?
    From what I've read, it seems that in the end, it's all about creating a community to survive against the terrors thrown at people - from all ages this is how humans have protected themselves - does this thread remain in the contemporary post-apocalypse story?
    I hope that makes sense.

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    1. Excellent question, Cage. The stories in this anthology are really about people surviving "in the ruins" shortly after or long after an apocalypse. In several stories, like An Interlude in the English Civil War, societal breakdown is the cause, while in others, like A Kissidougou Christmas, it's a virus. There's also Mother Earth turning on the vermin inhabiting her. The nuclear angle is present here, but not as obviously as in the genre historically. In some stories, like mine, we don't know what caused the apocalypse, and that's done intentionally. As you say, the key is to follow the struggle of a small group or individual in a wasteland, regardless of the how or why of the apocalypse that took place earlier.

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