Friday, 14 August 2015

The Summer the World Ended by Matthew S. Cox Blog Tour - Guest Post + Giveaway

The Summer the World Ended
The Summer the World Ended by Matthew S. Cox
YA Post Apocalyptic
Published: 29th June 2015 by Curiosity Quills Press

As far as Riley McCullough is concerned, her best friend getting ‘dragged’ off to Puerto Vallarta for the first two weeks of summer vacation was the end of the world―at least until the bombs fell.

Life in suburban New Jersey with her mother has been comfortable, not to mention boring, to an introverted fourteen year old. As if her friend’s surprise trip wasn’t bad enough, her expectations for the ‘best summer ever’ disintegrate when she gets sent across the country to stay with a father she hasn’t seen in six years. Adjusting to a tiny, desert town where everyone stares at them like they don’t belong proves difficult, and leaves her feeling more isolated than ever. To make matters worse, her secretive father won’t tell the truth about why he left―or what he’s hiding.

Her luck takes an unexpected turn for the better when she meets a boy who shares her interest in video games and contempt for small town boredom. In him, she finds a kindred spirit who might just make the middle of nowhere tolerable.

Happiness is short lived; fleeing nuclear Armageddon, she takes shelter with her dad in an underground bunker he’d spent years preparing. After fourteen days without sun, Riley must overcome the sorrow of losing everything to save the one person she cares about most.

Guest Post by Matthew S. Cox

Hi, and thanks for inviting me to write a guest post for Pieces of Whimsy! I was asked to ramble on about ‘how to write a post-apoc world, or how much of me goes into my story and characters. I’m not the greatest decision-maker, so I’ll offer a bit of both.

Choose your Apocalypse

The first thing a writer needs to do when they plan on a post-apoc novel is to figure out what the ‘big event’ was. Why was there an apocalypse, and what form did it take: nuclear, viral, economic, climate change, aliens, magic, asteroid, volcanic, force majeure, and so on. Also, is the story set on Earth, an alternate Earth-like world, or some completely different realm? Many people leap to nuclear war or zombies as the first thought at the term post-apoc, though anything that eradicates civilization and sets humanity back to primitivism counts. The choice of ‘big event’ sets much of the stage for everything that happens. Also, to what degree has civilization been eradicated? Are there a few pockets of ‘tech’ left? Has everything gone back to spears and loincloths?

Realism vs. Hollywood

Once you’ve figured out what went boom, the second consideration is one of realism. Obviously some things such as magic or aliens are going to stretch the realism factor. In these cases, the realism would come in the small details – such as gasoline not lasting forever, alternative fuels, the effect that a lack of modern healthcare would have on people, and so on.

What is going to be the tone of the work? If you’re aiming for ‘as realistic as possible,’ some research is going to be necessary, especially in a setting where stepping barefoot on a sharp thing can ultimately kill someone from an untreated infection. Has the apocalypse created resource issues where different ‘towns’ compete or fight over food and water?

Roving bands of bandits shooting and kidnapping everything that moves is, at least from a perspective of realism, fairly Hollywood. Consider the way humanity has reacted in the past to large-scale tragedies. As a species, we tend to come together and help each other when things really hit the fan. Of course there will be criminals in any setting, but when shooting for realism, remember that without the safety cushion of civilization, people tend to take on a mass-survival instinct.

Story Focus / Antagonist

Now that you’ve got an apocalypse event picked out, and you’ve got the tone established (realism vs popcorn), it’s time to decide what your characters are going to face. Often, in the post-apocalyptic setting, the world itself plays the role of the antagonist as the characters fight is one of survival. In some cases (zombie/alien), is the apoc ‘fixable,’ or is the best the characters can hope for to stay alive? Post-apoc is a setting upon which you can overlay almost any character-driven story. Love and betrayal, political intrigue [a neo-tribal city], heck, I’ve even read a post-apocalypse story involving vampires. (A vampire apocalypse so to speak.)

Keep it Coherent

The major issue is to keep things making sense in accordance to the rules of the world you’re creating. A young protagonist possibly born after the ‘big event,’ isn’t going to be familiar with civilization as it was. They wouldn’t use slang or make pop culture references to a culture they know nothing about. If you need to work in a reference to something, remember to give the character a reason to know it… they have a portable DVD player, or found some books for example.

If you have a character who is mechanically inclined, be sure to answer how someone born forty years after the last car stopped moving knows how to fix one. Remember to give the reader enough of an explanation to where things feel natural and appropriate to your setting.

Also, cover the basics. Where do characters find food? Is there any system of law among the survivors or is it Darwin world?

Drawing on Experiences

Now for the second bit – the how much of me went into The Summer the World Ended. I think all writers draw on their experience to flesh out their stories. As far as this book goes, none of the characters are based on anyone I’ve seen or met, but I drew on some things I experienced to bring some of Riley’s experiences to life.

My grandfather passed away from an aneurism many years ago. I drew upon details from that memory for this book. Once you read it, you’ll know where it comes into play. At one point, a character mentions their father died at the dinner table and faceplanted his mashed potatoes – that was a reference to my grandfather.

Also, Riley’s feelings when she’s forced to leave her childhood home are based on my own filtered through my sense of who she is. I was much older than Riley when I had to move out of the house I grew up in. I took that sense of somber finality that comes with knowing a chapter in your life has closed, and added my take on Riley’s dread at being uprooted from her “safe warm place” to it.

The scene where her father is teaching her how to handle weapons gained some detail from a little time spent in the army, as well as a few years where I lived in PA, owned guns, and went to the range a few times a month. (I sold them before moving back to NJ.)

In addition to the above, there are many other bits and pieces of story inspired by little things that have lodged in my memory here and there from news, movies, stupid things I did as a kid, and randomness.

I’ve probably rambled on a bit long, so I’ll stop here.

Happy reading!


Thanks so much for that awesome guest post, Matt! :)

Author Bio - Matthew S. Cox

Born in a little town known as South Amboy NJ in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place. He has several other projects in the works as well as a collaborative science fiction endeavor with author Tony Healey.

Hobbies and Interests:

Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems (Chronicles of Eldrinaath [Fantasy] and Divergent Fates [Sci Fi], and a fan of anime, British humour (<- deliberate), and intellectual science fiction that questions the nature of reality, life, and what happens after it.

He is also fond of cats.

Author Links
Website - Goodreads - Twitter - Facebook

Find the rest of the TOUR HERE!

Tour-Wide Giveaway

$40 Amazon Gift Card

Signed copy of The Summer the World Ended


-Ends 27th August 2015

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  1. Where in the world did the author come up with a title that? Brilliant! Thanks, Darlene Cruz