Another Interview with John Wesley Smith

John Wesley Smith of Destiny Survival Radio invited me back this week to talk about my most recent book, Refuge.  You can listen to the interview in full here:

John has posted some of his thoughts about the book and the interview on his website here:

He also shares some thoughts about what he calls “survival” or “prepper” fiction, and we seem to agree on the aspects of this sub-genre that we both like and dislike.  For example, none of my characters are survival experts, seasoned preppers or ex-special forces military types.  I understand the appeal of books with heroes of that nature, but for my own writing I prefer to place mostly ordinary people into extraordinary circumstances and see what happens.  While some of the characters in my stories have special skills or backgrounds that make them more adaptable to the dangers of a post-collapse world, none of them are “preppers” or “survivalists” and I do not consider myself one either.  I don’t like either term because of the popular misconceptions of them, even though I have written both nonfiction and fiction books could be considered to fit into those descriptions and my most recent nonfiction book was even titled  The Prepper’s Workbook.

I’ve been interested in learning wilderness survival skills for as long as I can remember, having spent much of my childhood reading outdoor adventure stories and wanting to be able to do the things the heroes in those stories could do.  Even then I knew I would pursue real-life adventures as much as possible when I got old enough, and I was lucky enough to make many of my dreams come true in that regard.  As a consequence, it was essential to learn many of these skills and to learn how to be comfortable in conditions and circumstances far outside of ordinary modern life.  This is the background that has provided the inspiration for the last seven books I’ve written, including the three novels, and I plan to continue the stories started in The Pulse and The Darkness After as two ongoing series.  Aside from those, I have plans for other unrelated stories, such as Sailing the Apocalypse, which is in progress now.  Most of these other ideas have a survival or apocalyptic theme, and all are adventures in one way or another because adventure is what I live for.

Speaking of those future projects, if you haven’t signed up for my new email newsletter, please consider doing so now.  There was some confusion when I started the new mailing list because many of you who are reading this have subscribed to my blog posts on this site.  I want to point out again that the blog subscription is a separate thing and I have added sign-up forms for both the newsletter and the blog posts in the sidebar to the right on this page.  If you are already a blog subscriber and are reading this in an email or RSS feed, the proper link for the newsletter signup is here:

The purpose of the newsletter is to keep my readers updated regarding my new books and other events and one of the benefits of signing up is that you will automatically be entered to win free copies of my books in the many giveaways I’m doing there.  In October, one subscriber was chosen each of the five Fridays of that month to receive a free copy of Refuge, and before that, ten copies of that book were given to winners chosen at random from that list.  I have more book giveaways and announcements coming up, so stay tuned for those.

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Coming Soon: Sailing the Apocalypse

I’ve been getting lots of good feedback from readers of Refuge, the first sequel to The Pulseand many inquiries as to whether the series will continue.  I want to assure you that there is much more to the story, and when I wrote The Pulse I originally envisioned it as at least a trilogy if not a longer series.  The same goes for the parallel story of Mitch and April that began in The Darkness After.  I am working on a book now that will be the first in a new series with these characters, with The Darkness After effectively becoming a prequel at that point.  I will be posting more on that soon.

But first, the next book release I have planned is Sailing the Apocalypse.  This is a story I’ve been thinking about for awhile and I want to get it completed while the ideas are fresh in my mind.  Despite the title, the story is not post-apocalyptic and it’s not related to any of my other works, but rather is a standalone tale of misadventure with a touch of humor, told in the first person point of view.   The description follows the cover image below, and I’ll post an announcement here just as soon as the book is listed on Amazon for preorder:


Sailing the Apocalypse: A Misadventure at Sea

How far would you go to protect your family if you were convinced America was in imminent danger of collapse? Would you build an underground bunker and stockpile it with weapons and supplies? Buy a cabin in the woods and start growing all your own food? Sell everything off and move to a survivalist’s stronghold in the mountains of Idaho?

None of the above would be enough if you were obsessed with boats the way Terry Bailey is obsessed. Terry has an escape plan to take his family to the very ends of the earth by sea; the only real option left to survive what’s coming, according to him. Selling them on the idea that time is fast running out, he puts the entire family to work building a homemade boat – a huge, ocean-going plywood catamaran, sloppily cobbled together over the course of two years of hard labor in their small town backyard in north Mississippi.

When the boat is ready to launch, Terry christens it the Apocalypse, and moves the family aboard for good, bidding farewell to life on land along with everything and everyone they had known before that day. There is no need to wait for disaster to strike, because Terry Bailey has created his own. Now he is about to drag his entire family with him over the horizon. Sailing the Apocalypse is the story of a man who has gone too far, and is told from the perspective of the twelve-year-old stepson who watches it all unfold as he is swept along for the ride.

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Rambling the Southwest by Motorcycle: Part One

I had been planning a motorcycle camping adventure for most of this year, hoping to leave in the late spring or early summer, but work and writing projects kept getting in the way, all of them taking longer than planned as is often the case.  The biggest of these, of course, was the writing and final editing my latest book, Refuge.  For a writer, there’s always a next book no matter how many are finished, and I spent much of August working on the beginnings of two new novels.  But I knew I still needed a break to clear my head, and the best kind would be a complete change of scenery.

The opportunity to hit the road for a couple weeks came at last in September, so I pulled up Google Maps and did some calculating to see how far I could reasonably get in the time available.  Earlier in the summer I had hoped to get away for three to four weeks and with that amount of time, the Pacific Northwest and Nova Scotia were both on the radar.  But I’ve also been wanting to revisit some of my favorite desert and mountain places in the Southwest, and decided September was a perfect time to do so.  The distance would be reasonable for a two week road trip with time to explore, so now all I had to do was decide which bike I would take.

After many years of leaving them alone while pursuing other interests like sailing and boatbuilding, I came back to motorcycles in 2010 with the purchase of a Kawasaki KLR 650, the kind of dual-sport adventure bike you can ride both on road and off while carrying enough gear to camp in remote places along the way.  The KLR was good bike to reignite my interest in two-wheeled travel, as it can do a bit of everything okay, if not anything really great.  I put over 10,000 miles on that bike the first year I owned it, many more of those miles on pavement than off.  The problem is that here in the Deep South, gravel and dirt roads have become much more scarce than they were when I was growing up.  I have to ride the highways an hour or more to get to national forest lands in my part of the state, and even there the dirt road opportunities are limited.  On the highway, the tall, lightweight KLR is not the greatest ride, especially around the turbulence created by big trucks.  But I kept it two years and wouldn’t rule out having another one someday.


2009 Kawasaki KLR 650

In 2012, I sold the KLR and bought a Suzuki Vstrom 650.  While a bit heavier and not quite as capable off road as the KLR, the Vstrom, with its V-twin, fuel-injected engine is a lot better at eating up the miles on the highway.  And set up with a skid plate, engine guards and rugged aluminum panniers from Jesse Luggage, it can handle most gravel and dirt roads and even some rougher two-track.  I racked up another 10,000 miles on it just exploring close to home, despite having more than one bike around most of the time I’ve owned it.


2005 Suzuki Vstrom 650

Then, earlier this year, I was tempted by an ’07 Harley Davidson Road King that my brother was selling, and having read about some impressive adventures on this improbable bike on the ADV (Adventure Rider) Forums, I decided to give this one a chance.  Modern Harleys are among the simplest and most reliable motorcycles on the road, and this one was in practically new condition with low miles:


2007 Harley Davidson Road King

The Road King was not the first Harley I’d owned.  I also racked up a few thousand miles on a Sportster 1200 Custom during the same time I owned the KLR.  The Sportster was a fun bike to ride with great handling and lots of power.  It always felt a little cramped with my height though, so I never did any real touring on it.


2000 Harley Davidson Sportster 1200C

I took a short shake-down trip to the Arkansas Ozarks on the Road King in June, and enjoyed the ride for the most part, but everywhere I looked while winding through the Ozark and Ouachita National Forests, I had to pass right by the tempting rough gravel tracks leading off the beaten path.  The KLR would have been even better for that, but I knew if I was on my Vstrom I could explore at least some of them.  The question though, was how would the Vstrom compare to the Road King on a much longer trip entailing thousands of miles of highway riding, a good percentage of it on interstates?


Mt. Nebo, Arkansas

As I was packing for my trip out West last month, I was planning to go on the Road King up until the last minute.  I put a new rear tire on it and changed the oil.  I was looking at more than 1100 miles just get to the beginning of the good riding in New Mexico and beyond.  It seemed like the Road King would be better for that long slog across Texas, but then I kept thinking about the kinds of places I wanted to visit, and how I planned to camp every night, and away from other people as much as possible.  I rearranged my gear and repacked for the Vstrom.  Although I knew my chain was getting close to the end of its life, I figured I could get another 4,000 miles out of it.  I changed the oil and left on a Sunday afternoon.  Two days later, I was in a whole other world at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, near Amarillo, Texas:


Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas

The Vstrom was doing great and so far I had no regrets in choosing it over the Road King for the journey.  From Palo Duro Canyon my route took me next to the Sangre De Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico and beyond.  I have a lot more photos and more to say about this trip in posts to follow soon.

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