Tuesday, July 24, 2012

This Dark Earth by John Hornor Jacobs Interview & Giveaway

Paperback, 352 pages
Published July 3rd 2012 by Gallery Books 
In a bleak, zombie-ridden future, a small settlement fights for survival and looks to a teenager to lead them...

So you survived the zombie uprising. Now what?

The land is contaminated, electronics are defunct, the ravenous undead remain, and life has fallen into a nasty and brutish state of nature. You need: food, water, weapons.

Welcome to Bridge City in what was once Arkansas—part medieval fortress, part Western outpost, and the precarious last chance for civilization.

A ten-year-old prodigy when the world ended, Gus is now at fourteen a battle-hardened young man. Gus designed Bridge City to protect the living few from the shamblers always at the gates. Now he’s being groomed by his physician mother, Lucy, and the gentle giant Knock-Out to become the next leader of men. But an army of slavers is on its way, and the war it wages for the city’s resources could mean the end of survival as we know it. Can Gus be humanity’s savior? If he is, will it mean becoming a dictator, a martyr, or maybe something worse than even the zombies?

Grab a sturdy headknocker, strap on some Kevlar, and prepare to shape the future of humankind.--Goodreads

1. Can you give us a quick overview of what This Dark Earth is about?
THIS DARK EARTH is a novel about, ostensibly, the fall of civilization through a zombie epidemic and subsequent nuclear war. It's the story of a small community in Arkansas trying to re-establish some semblance of civilization on a bridge - because a bridge is the most defensible position against zombies. THIS DARK EARTH is a rumination on what makes civilization and what we'll have to do to preserve it - what we'll have to give up. It's also a family drama and bildungsroman.

2. What were the easiest and hardest things to write about in This Dark Earth?
There were two important things to me in the writing of THIS DARK EARTH. Because the book is told in six sections (not chapters) by different characters, it was important to make sure each voice was different and engaging. Second, I focused heavily on the pacing, because I wanted the book to read like a thriller, fast and furious, even though I had a time span of five years to cover. I've been told that I accomplished both and I hope that's true.

3. How much research did you have to do for this book?
I had to do a considerable amount of research for the novel. I discovered the Lesch-Nyhan disease when I was in college way back in the earth 90s and had always socked it away to use due to its gruesome symptoms, but my character Lucy Ingersol, a pathologist, required a lot of research because the big baddie of the book is, really, cancer. I've always felt that the rise of zombie popularity is due to a collective fear of cancer. So, I worked with a pathologist regarding the specifics of Lucy's morning routine in the hospital. I consulted with a few doctors regarding the happenings in the first section, titled GENESIS. I also did some research - though not nearly as much - on Army protocol. Some looking into the effects of electromagnetic pulses. I researched local bridges and viewed Bradley Fighting Vehicles. But nothing as rigorous or demanding as learning about the duties of a pathologist and the diagnosis of cancer.

4. Are any of the characters in this book inspired by real people?
When I was a kid, we had a handyman that was always fixing stuff at our family property on Old River Lake. His name was Knock-Out. Once I asked him how he got his name and he told me many different reasons - he drove stock cars and would always get "knocked out" of the race, that he was a boxer, that the ladies seemed to like his looks, that as a handyman he was required to "knock out" jobs. He was always smiling, had skin like sandpaper and forearms like Popeye. My Knock-Out is based on him. And I feature a few cameos of my friends, Erik Smetana and John Rector. And my dog, Cookie.

5. What initially gave you the idea for this book?
I've always loved apocalyptic books and movies - who doesn't? - and I wanted to do my take on the classics, nuclear war and the zombie apocalypse. I didn't try to reinvent either. I didn't want super-intelligent malevolent zombies, or running zombies, and I didn't want all out nuclear annihilation. I wanted enough adversity to place my characters in a crucible to see how they would react and follow their stories. Oh, and I wanted to drive a steam-train through a horde of undead.

6. Were there any scenes that you really liked that didn’t make it in the final copy?
No scenes, but I did write a long story about cowboys herding zombies for slaughter. Somehow I came across the phrase "cattle race" and Googled it and immediately thought, that's what I'd set up to get rid of zombies. So I wrote the story "Heaven of Animals" available in my collection FIERCE AS THE GRAVE and that was really the start of THIS DARK EARTH. I then went on to write the rest of the book and when I was through, "Heaven of Animals" didn't really fit the flow of the narrative. It's somewhat of an exploration into Buddhist thought, albeit a very layman, shallow exploration. "Heaven of Animals" is one of my favorite stories I've written, though.

Thanks for the interview! Great questions!
Thank you John for taking the time to answer my question!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I love this cover and I'm sure the book backs it up. Thanks for the great giveaway!

  2. I really enjoy reading books about zombies. It seems every author has a different slant on them, how they act or what they do, and how normal humans react to them. It will be interesting to read your take on them. I would love to win the book, but if not, I will buy it.

  3. Sounds really good! Thanks for the chance to win!

  4. I love zombies, and this one is going on my wish list!! :D
    The cover & title really snagged my attention, and the synopsis sounds amazing <3

    Thanks for the sweet giveaway~
    Mary DeBorde (M.A.D.)

  5. I really want to read this book. It sounds awesome. Thanks for the giveaway. Tore923@aol.com

  6. sounds like a fun one! - regnod(at)yahoo(d0t)com

  7. Thanks for the giveaway!

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net