What does a changed world mean to you? Loss of privilege, conveniences, freedom? Is there cautious optimism for an improved future?
In Alice Sabo’s trilogy, A CHANGED WORLD, a frightening scenario presents the danger of misplaced trust mixed with the daily challenges faced in rebuilding a community of strangers.
Like Stephen King’s The Stand, in which good vs evil after the devastating results of a plague, Sabo’s first two books LETHAL SEASONS and SCATTERED SEEDS explore details of survival.
Sabo is a compelling storyteller hosting a variety of interesting characters who establish relationships in unusual circumstances. Chapter 1 of Book II, SCATTERED SEEDS, begins with a quote from a chronicle that one of the main characters is writing, titled History of a Changed World:
“When the disease had run its course in the fall of Zero Year, we acted like a war had ended. The dead were buried in mass graves. World leaders declared a day of mourning. We met in public parks, singing hymns and holding hands. Those of us left alive were grieving and battered. We had survived a cataclysm of unknown proportions. And then, fools that we were, we tried to return to normal.”
Each chapter is introduced in the same way. Gradually the reader sees a larger picture revealed. This was an effective device because my mind could not process the enormous results of such a breakdown in civilization. (And I read the weighty uncut version of The Stand and the entire Left Behind series!)
Chapter 29: “We had to shake off our grief and fear and confusion to face the grim facts that we must work for our survival. Three years into it, there was no department or agency to bring us emergency supplies or direct us to safe housing. We had to wake up, look around ourselves, and start planning.”
Chapter 35: “Ten years in, many of the durable goods available in stores and abandoned homes were disintegrating.”
Chapter 66: “Each settlement becomes a tribe.”
So, I had questions for Alice Sabo, a writer friend from nearby Asheville, and she gave me intriguing answers:
1. Was there an event or news article that triggered thoughts along the path toward a story about a worldwide/national disaster?
Actually, it was in reaction to a couple of things. I read a post-apocalyptic novel in which people responded stupidly. I wanted to investigate the other side of that. What happens when smart people make good choices? A lot of books in the genre deal with the devastation but not the rebuilding. I don’t think all the survivors would be looting and killing for their food. I also wanted to deal with where climate change might take us a few decades down the road. In a world where camping could get you killed, safe structures become essential.
2. In the creation of a new community using the remnants of old resources, you describe a vegetable garden grown on a former school ball field. The details include the comment that a blight on tomatoes would affect all members of the nightshade family. Are you sharing the practical experience of a gardener?
I am. I have been an organic gardener for years. Living in NC has taught me a few new lessons. Previously, I hadn’t run into blight. The first few years here I simply figured it was a bad year for tomatoes. Then I researched the problem and found solutions. Even organic gardeners rely on some manufactured products. I don’t know what I would do without slug-bait!
3. I love the character of Nick, somewhat of a John Wayne hero, who volunteers for a dangerous undercover mission. His new friend Wisp cannot go with him but tracks him with extra-sensory powers. How would you describe this unique character who also has two brothers with unnatural skills?
Wisp came about because of some research I had done on feral children. He is genetically designed, as are his “brothers.” They spent their early years in a lab. I learned that children who reach a certain age without familial contacts can never develop them. So it made sense to me that if I wanted characters who could interact and develop relationships with each other, I needed a link. Wish was that link in their early life. At one point, his brother Kyle says of him, “He kept us human.” That will be further examined in later books.
4.How does Nick of the Changed World trilogy differ from your main character in the Asher Blaine mysteries? Do your characters take on unexpected traits as you write or do you have an established profile at the beginning that you slowly reveal?
Asher is always out of his depth, but he does what he thinks is right. Nick has no doubts about right and wrong and what he should do. Sometimes Nick might question an action, but he always chooses the high road. For Asher, he hasn’t a clue how to get to the high road, but manages to stumble on it in his own unique way. And yes, sometimes they surprise me with the things they do. But they are fully formed when I put them in a story. Sometimes I base them on an actor or a character I’ve come across, but they always change into their own individual personality.
5. I understand that you have experience as an accountant. Has an innate balanced approach influenced your plot development style? I am alluding to the left brain vs right brain theory, where the left brain is more analytical.
I’m a bookkeeper, which is much different than an accountant! I like working with numbers which might affect how I approach a plot. I am always learning my craft, and my plotting skills have changed as I pick up new tricks.
6. You are committed to coming out with Book III to end this tale. Do you have a disciplined schedule to keep you on track with your motivation and enthusiasm?
I plan to write every weekday. I keep a calendar specifically for my writing with my self-imposed deadlines on it. I plan about six months from start to publish for a book. I pick a publishing date and plan backwards from there with a little wiggle room. That way if I start falling behind in my daily word count, I know I need to pick up the slack to meet my goals.
Book 3 – SPECULATIONS – is scheduled to come out this fall. It will tie up most of the story lines for the brothers. I plan to write more books in this series.
Terrific! That is welcome news for your fans! Alice, thank you for sharing your time to respond to my questions. I wish you continued success in A CHANGED WORLD.
Keep up with Alice Sabo’s writing progress on her website and blog: