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Interview with RJ Kennett, author of Central Outbreak Response: Genesis


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Central Outbreak Response: Genesis” is a post-apocalyptic zombie romp. It’s fast-paced, it’s funny, it’s viscerally brutal, and most importantly, fun.

COR: Genesis” starts with a bang, quite literally. One distant gunshot, like a starter’s pistol for a race, and they’re off. By the end of chapter one, a full-fledged siege is underway in a college lecture hall. The protagonists, Max and Arthur, travel from there through a ruined city, meeting other survivors along the way as they struggle to find safety. They meet with the military and the emergency response team from Central Outbreak Response, and start to rebuild.

But the dead keep secrets that threaten everything Max holds dear, and he must embrace his dark past to save his friends and preserve their future.

The setting is Greenville, North Carolina. The city and the university there were a near-perfect match for the fictional concepts I was working with, so I was able to weave the story into the fabric of the town itself. People in Greenville should be able to recognize streets and locations as they read the book. Besides, New York, Washington and Los Angeles always get ravaged by zombies. Why should Greenville be spared zombie lovin’?

What genre is it?
“COR: Genesis” is a post-apocalyptic zombie horror novel. One reviewer described it as “Adventure Genre Zombie Fiction”, and I think that’s accurate.

What kind of readers will it appeal to?
“COR: Genesis” will, on its surface, appeal to fans of zombies and
post-apocalyptic fiction. If people who don’t normally read that genre give it a chance, however, they’ll find that it serves ably as an action-adventure with zombies, that it has ample humor, drama and even some social commentary. It pokes fun at itself and its genre, while still being an intense, pulse-pounding read.

Tell us about Max .
Max Newsome is a veteran of the Iraq war. He’s not a highly decorated Navy SEAL or CIA operative, nor is he an everyman who just happens to be comfortable killing zombies. He was a groundpounder in the war, just an average infantryman who suffered a nightmarish experience that haunts him. Max is a tortured soul, suffering from PTSD. He’s got some useful skills for a zombie apocalypse, but he’s handicapped, too, by psychological trauma.

His friend is called Arthur, right?
Arthur Poole is Max’s fast-talking, wise-cracking sidekick. They don’t even like each other at first, but come to rely on one another as their friendship builds through crisis. Arthur is a prototypical nerd with either a cowardly streak, or a knack for survival, depending on one’s point of view. I’ve read that it’s a bad idea to stereotype characters, but I felt it could be done well if the author actually spends time getting inside the character. Arthur is a walking stereotype who, I think, works. I think everyone knows an Arthur, and if they read my book, they’ll recognize him.

Unless it’s them! Tell us your plans for this series.
My next project is to write the second book in the COR trilogy. I’ve already begun. I have a launch date in mind, but until I’m further along in the writing process, there are too many variables for me to feel comfortable sharing it. Suffice it to say I will complete the COR trilogy before starting other projects. And COR is a trilogy, not an ongoing serial.

Have you written any other books that we should read next?
I haven’t published any other books yet, but I plan to. Right now I’m focused on the COR trilogy, after which I’ll have to flip a coin – rewrite an old, unpublished novel from years ago, or start on a hot new idea that is already pestering me.

Come back and talk to us about it when it’s done. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’ve bounced around my first 44 years, spinning my wheels after college as a political consultant, a one-man marketing department and a web programmer. When I lost my job during the Great Recession, I found myself unemployed for over two years, hearing the mantra “sorry, you’re overqualified” for more positions than I care to think about.

But it gave me time to write. I’d always wanted to be a writer, and with the Great Recession came the surge in independent publishing, or artisinal publishing. Whatever you want to call it, the dam burst and the market has been flooded with creativity – good stories, bad stories, anyone can publish. No longer is our creativity held at the whims of publishing houses and good luck – a man with writing talent, a marketing background, IT skills and creative mind might carve out a niche for himself from the noise of the masses.

So now I slave away in retail like so many other people, and I write. My goal is to get into a position where I can write full-time. I believe I have the tools, talent and determination to make that happen, and I’ve never been more thrilled. The indie author revolution is an exciting place to be!

We agree completely. Do you have a website where we can keep up with your work?

How can we follow you on Twitter and/or Facebook?
Twitter: @rj_kennett

Exciting cover, by the way.
Craig Spearing is an artist who does covers for Dragon Magazine, cards for Wizards of the Coast and other fantasy-oriented things. We’ve also known each other since high school, and once when he and his family were in town, I bought them a very nice dinner. When I put together a rough idea for the cover of “COR: Genesis” and showed it to him, he offered to pay me back for the dinner by doing the cover pro-bono.

Or maybe he just pitied me for my weak graphic art skills.

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