Monday, February 10, 2014

Radio Hope, a Toxic World by Sean McLachlan

How many of us are left? And, where is this radio voice coming from?

Cover for Radio Hope, by Sean McLachlan

In a world shattered by war, pollution and disease. . .

A gunslinging mother longs to find a safe refuge for her son.

A frustrated revolutionary delivers water to villagers living on a toxic waste dump.

The assistant mayor of humanity's last city hopes he will never have to take command.

One thing gives them the promise of a better future--Radio Hope, a mysterious station that broadcasts vital information about surviving in a blighted world. But when a mad prophet and his army of fanatics march out of the wildlands on a crusade to purify the land with blood and fire, all three will find their lives intertwining, and changing forever.

The Interview
What is Radio Hope?
Cover for Radio Hope, by Sean McLachlan

Just to whet your interest, I asked Sean to answer a few questions I jotted down when I first saw his blurb on Radio Hope. I've just started reading a copy, so look for a review in the future.

DG: What location is the setting for the story? Europe or the North American continent?

Sean: I leave that deliberately vague. It’s been nearly forty years since the last city-state fell, and only a few old people remember any of the national governments that we would recognize. The local area, including New City, the Burbs, and Toxic Bay, are based on a real place, but I’ll leave it to the reader to figure it out.

DG: Is the story concentrated around the characters' individual struggles or the big confrontation?

Sean:The residents of New City and its adjoining shantytown, the Burbs, are preparing for the invasion of the Righteous Horde and its crazed messiah, the Pure One. But for me as a writer, it’s the personal reactions of the characters to this threat that are more interesting. The cult won’t arrive for several days, and so the main characters will find their best and worst traits coming out.

DG: Who is the strongest character in your story? Why? (who is the strongest in their convictions to survive, or the strongest in terms of motivating others?)

Sean: The plot centers around three protagonists, all of whom are strong (and weak) in their own ways.

Annette Cruz, the bouncer at the most popular bar in the Burbs, is the toughest in a fight, but she also has more to lose. She’s a single mother trying to raise her ten-year-old son in the midst of squalor and crime. The number of people she trusts can be counted on one hand. Unfortunately for her, she’s thrust into a situation where she has to trust people she wouldn’t otherwise.

Jackson Andrews is the strongest when it comes to ideals. He was a citizen of New City until he was branded and exiled for the crime of affixing Blame for the fall of civilization. This hasn’t stopped him from proclaiming his version of the truth, and who listens and who doesn’t becomes a key part of the story.

Marcus Callahan is the best survivor by the mere fact that he’s the oldest. A refugee from the last city-state, he and a few others founded New City. He’s now assistant mayor and is quite happy staying number two—there’s privilege yet no ultimate responsibility. He’d like to keep it that way.


DG: Is the 'radio' the old ham* type?

Sean: There isn’t much technology left in this world, and most of it is concentrated in New City, where they have electricity thanks to some solar cells and a tidal generator. There’s nothing much in the wildlands except a few fortified farms, roving bandits, and scavengers.

Yet somewhere out there, in the mountains perhaps, or beyond the great toxic wasteland, there’s Radio Hope. It broadcasts a powerful and steady signal on AM for twelve hours a day, giving instructions on how to survive in a fallen world. Radio Hope’s broadcasts cover everything from treating a sprained ankle to purifying water, and none of the announcers ever identify themselves. They seem to be the only people in the world who give something without expecting something in return. That, of course, has everyone wondering.

I’ve always loved radio so it was nice to be able to use it in my novel. I used to be a ham radio operator, using the equipment at the University of Arizona back in my undergraduate days to talk to people as far away as Korea and Greece. I still listen to shortwave broadcasts with my son.

***Sean McLachlan is an archaeologist turned writer who is the author of several books of fiction and history. Check him out on his blog Midlist Writer.

* Ham Radio

Good Luck, Sean! I'm going to enjoy reading Radio Hope. I've already been impressed by Annette, in the opening pages.


Are you familiar with Sean's novels or his blogs? Do you have basic survival skills, in the event of an apocalypse? What survival items would you have with you in your work bag or in your car?

Please share your thoughts in the comments, and thanks for dropping by!

*** Midlist Writer, Sean McLachlan's Blog