Book Review and Author Interview: Graham’s Resolution, Book One: The China Pandemic by A.R. Shaw

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Virtual Book Tour Dates: 5/12/14 – 5/26/14

Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Post- Apocalyptic

 

Blurb:

grproofprintedition (533x800)What the world dreads most has happened– because of a mutated avian bird flu (H5N1) pandemic. It has ravaged the globe. Only 2% of the population has survived. A dying mother knows that her young child is among the few immune to the virus. What will she do to ensure his survival before her own coming tragic death?

Meanwhile, Graham has buried his last remaining family member. Following his father’s advice to make it to the family cabin, he meets with triumph and tragedy; learning new rules along the way. Just when he thinks he’s finally got a handle on this new world, he’s taken by surprise, as he learns he’s not alone. A hidden yet vulnerable community of Preppers are nearby. Will he find the strength to escape these dangers and go on living? And more importantly, will he have the ability to protect those he’s come to trust?

 

What people are saying about “The China Pandemic”

>>>This book came from the heart as well as being action packed. Keep it up!!!!!! KennG

>>>That the scenario is all too plausible adds to the fear in the telling of this well-written story. Persuader

>>>This story has great character development, I could actually “feel” the anguish of the terminally ill mom… LadyLJ57

 

Excerpt:

Digging Graves

From his bed, the frail man reached out to his son. Through tears, Graham gently grasped his father’s shaking old hands. As his father lay dying before him, he knew then it was the closest they had ever been.
Graham reaffirmed that he would go on as they had planned, and would always keep the rifle beside him. Through drowning coughs, his father reminded Graham that taking his own life wasn’t God’s plan. It would only ensure a soulless wandering in the afterlife, never again joining with his departed family.
Having seen the signs too many times before, Graham felt the end drawing near. He became desperate, knowing this time the difference would be him standing alone without a soul known to him. His father’s wheezing breaths came in shorter gasps, his eyes drew quiet, and his face sank within itself. Graham went from the desperation of losing his father to death, to praying for mercy and a quicker end. He could take no more of this torment. Just like all the others, one by one, they all died in anguish.
Graham couldn’t understand why he lived still. He had watched helplessly as his wife, Nelly, died, taking their unborn child with her. Then his dear mother abandoned him, followed by his sister and four-year-old niece. Now the same fate was due for his father. He waited those long grueling minutes.
Graham asked him, “What will I do without you?
His father answered him slowly, “Do what I’ve taught you. Make good decisions along the way and don’t regret anything. You’ll do fine. Always know that I’m proud of you.”
Graham wiped spittle from his father’s lip and clutched his hand. Too much experience told him it wouldn’t be long.
When it did finally come, his father donned a peaceful demeanor and said for the last time, “I love you, son.”

Tara’s Review:
As a mom, a writer, and a reader of apocalyptic fiction, I’ve spent some time wondering what I’d do in an apocalypse scenario, whether it be zombies, a virus, or some other unspecified something that wipes out most of the population. What would happen if I became ill or were otherwise unable to care for my children? In addition to my two teenagers, I also have an 8-year-old with autism and a 1-year-old who both require 24/7 care. It’s a pretty scary everyday thought, even without adding zombies or superflu to the mix.

What if you were dying of the flu in a worldwide pandemic, with no surviving friends or family to care for your beloved –and immune – little boy? What if you were immune to the virus killing off the world’s population, but it wasn’t your own child you were called upon to care for, but a complete stranger’s child? What if you were a man who had lost his entire family, including his pregnant wife, and you were approached by a desperate, dying mother who begs you to care for her child?

A.R. Shaw has put a twist on the apocalyptic survival tale with the story of Graham, a man who has lost everyone he loved – first his wife and their unborn child, then his mother, then his sister and her four-year-old daughter, and finally his much-loved father. While Shaw alternates between characters, slowly introducing new characters to the mix, Graham is the focal point of the story.

An interesting but sensible addition to the apocalypse-tale is the presence of Preppers. These people are not necessarily immune to the virus, but thanks to their careful preparations followed by fast action when the pandemic struck, they were able to escape and remain uninfected. Unfortunately, those who are immune – like Graham – are still carriers of the virus. Even the most casual contact with the immune Carriers could cause the death of the Preppers. This adds another layer of tension to the end-of-the-world scenario crafted by the author.

“The China Pandemic” could have done with another round with the red pen; there were some typos/misspellings, random commas, and other minor editing errors. But the book is readable as-is, and the storyline is compelling enough that I was willing to let my inner editor skim over the mistakes (not always an easy thing for me to do). There are also times when the reader has to be willing to suspend disbelief for the sake of the story when characters behave in a way that doesn’t necessarily make sense (to me, at least – but then again, I’ve never survived a worldwide pandemic, so I can’t really say how I’d respond in that situation).

In some ways this book reminded me of a combination of Stephen King’s “The Stand” merged with Gary Paulsen’s “Hatchet” – while the apocalyptic killer-flu theme is similar to The Stand (one of my all-time favorite books), the manner in which the characters survive is much more nature-based, like Hatchet. Shaw does a great job with the little details that really pull the reader into a story. One section I particularly enjoyed was a description of a dog and the way his ears continued to move “like some sort of radar detection device put on autopilot” after he fell asleep.

The conclusion of the book was simultaneously heartbreaking and hopeful. I grew to care about the characters, and want to continue following their stories. Fortunately, this is the first book in a series (Graham’s Resolution, Book Two: The Cascade Preppers is listed as “coming soon” on the author’s website), and I’m looking forward to reading the next book as soon as it’s released.
 

Buy Links:

Amazon

 

About the Author:

A. R. Shaw, born in south Texas, moved to Washington State in the late eighties. Always writing quietly in what little spare time available while participating in the U.S. Air Force Reserves as a Radio Operator and business owner. Only now embracing a writing passion full time and finding a place in the author’s community, Shaw has found a following of avid readers along the way.

 
Interview with the Author:
What inspired you to write “Graham’s Resolution”?
I’ve read a lot of dystopian novels in the past and the one thing that always unsettled me is the main character is always super prepared. He’s somehow got all this special equipment hidden away, especially skilled and knew the event was coming.

I wanted to write a story that seemed more realistic. I wanted a main character who had no idea what was about to hit, totally unprepared and had little supplies because to me that seemed more realistic. Just an ordinary guy trying to keep his keep himself alive and having to reach deep down to find the grit he didn’t know was there to keep on going. I wanted him to surprise himself.

If you were to adapt your book for the big screen, who would be in your dream cast?
Oh gosh, I’ve thought about this a little. For my main character, Graham, I believe Ryan Reynolds or Ben Affleck would do well. The only actress I think comes close to Tala is Q’orianka Kilcher who played Pocahontas opposite Colin Farrell. She’s beautiful.

Do you agree with the adage “Write what you know”?
No, not really. I think if authors did, we’d have really boring books indeed. It’s the imagination that fuels stories and certainly there are things you must research to help proof the story. Those are things writers do not know inherently and must research.

Do you write with an outline, or do you just “wing it”? Do you write from beginning-to-end, or do you skip around?
Another author told me, you are either a plotter or a pantser. I think I’m a little of both. I’m certainly more of a pantser. If I plot too much and force the story, my character won’t talk back to me.

What are you reading right now?
I just finished Sand by Hugh Howey. It’s an original story and one I definitely recommend. Now, I’m reading an F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise.

Who’s your favorite author (or authors, if you can’t pick just one – I know I can’t!), and why do you admire him/her/them?
That is a tough question. There are many. I would say Hugh Howey is my most recent favorite. He really writes well. I also love Alice Hoffman, The Museum of Extraordinary Things was excellent. Anna Quindlen’s Still Life with Bread Crumbs, also amazing. And, James Kunstler with his series World Made by Hand. It’s incredibly well written and often overlooked dystopian series.

Which five characters from novels would you like to have dinner with?
There’s a character named Matt Bugatti from The Girlfriend Experience by Charles O’Donnell, who intrigues me. He’s an amazing mathematician and seems charming.

The main character from The Orphan Train by Christine Baker Kline. Her name is Niamh. I’d love to have dinner with her but then shake her and try to reason with her over a decision she would soon regret.

Sherlock Holmes – No explanation needed. Who wouldn’t want to have dinner with him?

Mr. Darcy and Mrs. Darcy – I’d love to see them together in conversation.

The boy in The Giver by Lois Lowry. I’d want to feed him and keep him safe from harm.

What was your favorite book as a child?
Where the Wild Things Are by Marice Sendak. It’s always been my favorite book though the movie was a terrible disappointment.

What three books would you want with you if you were stranded on a desert island?
Survival Wisdom & Know How: Everything you need to know to thrive in the wilderness by the editors of Stackpole Books

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare

Boatbuilding: A Complete Handbook of Wooden Boat Construction by Howard I. Chapelle

What’s an unusual quirk that you have or something unique/interesting about you?
Most people are pretty surprised to learn that I was once in the US Air Force Reserves as a Radio Operator. They think that perhaps, I’m too dainty apparently but it’s true.
 

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