Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
The Next Big Thing
Behind the Scenes with ARISEN : GENESIS
(Plus ZombiU Trailer)

I've just been meme-slapped by novelist/psychologist, and author of the bestselling Saskia Brandt series, Ian Hocking, with a Ten-Questions-About-Your-Book thingy that's going around. So come with me now for a candid, behind-the-scenes, insider tour of the making of ARISEN : GENESIS.

1) What is the working title of your next book?

Since I just published a book like 36 hours ago, which pretty much precludes thinking about the next book, or talking about the next book, or in fact thinking, for at least a couple of days here, I'm going to cheat and talk about the one just out. It's called ARISEN : GENESIS.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

When my awesome writing partner, Glynn James, came up with the idea for the ARISEN series, he always intended that it be this wonderful (read: horrible) world where we could set any number of adventures – the main novel series, side projects, novellas, short stories – and could turn to whenever we needed a break from our own main projects.

So in October, when it came time to write my new D-BOYS novel, I found the cussed thing just did not want to get written. (It's my firm belief that books get written precisely when they want to get written.) I tried to talk Glynn into starting on Book Three of ARISEN (I was still feeling really excited about that world) but he was focused – probably very wisely – on getting out the new book in his main series, the bestselling DIARY OF THE DISPLACED. So I decided to take his advice and do an ARISEN side project.

I very quickly found that my idea, setting, and characters for an ARISEN genesis story rather perfectly made use of the setting (East Africa) and some of the characters (CIA analysts and paramilitaries) and, yes, the idea (thwarting a devastating bio-terror attack by one of the al-Qaeda franchises in the Horn of Africa) that I had been working with for the third D-BOYS book. It also made use of a ton of research I had already done. So I basically just fast-forwarded a few (not saying how many) years and took it from there.

One of the interesting things about ARISEN (so say our readers and reviewers) is that it starts two years into the zombie apocalypse. And though it's been done – "many times, many ways!" – it was an enormous amount of fun to do my own illustration of "the s^%$ coming down," from the perspective of a character torn between two worlds (both dying), and who kind of always knew this was going to happen. It's a tight-focus, shaky-cam, cinéma vérité movie shot from exactly at ground zero of the event that takes humanity down.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

It's listed in the Amazon categories of "Action & Adventure" and "Horror." It's also, obviously, an apocalyptic tale.

Finally – and typing it out, I realize this is what really pleases me about the thing – it's a profoundly existential story. There's obviously the existential threat of a bioengineered weaponized virus, and of course the existential calamity that occurs. But the core existential question is always how you operate – what you do, what you believe, what you cling to, how you survive, where you find meaning – in an environment (like a zombie apocalypse, or like the existing universe) that is cold and uncaring and is ultimately going to devour you. This book has a lesson in that regard, and it's conveyed by the very young junior analyst, who is smart enough to pick it up from the former Navy SEALs who die saving them.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Ooh, this is a fun game. The lead, Zack, would probably be an (ideally slightly younger and thinner) Jeffrey Wright. His versatility and brooding intensity would be very good for the part. Though we might have to fake it and get Will Smith or somebody. For Dugan, I was basically seeing Eric Bana the whole time. (He's already done the Tier-1 operator thing.) For Maximum Bob, God no, idea. Need someone huge. And for Baxter… I'm kind of feeling Michael Cera, though he'd have to work out and torch the baby fat.

5) What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

“Amidst our raging shadow wars in the Horn of Africa, a CIA analyst torn between two worlds fails to control a bioengineered virus, and now must live through the beginning of the end of the world.”

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Published by me, under my imprint (Complete & Total Asskicking Books). Never again with New York or London.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

About two months, I think. It was literally three months from conception to publication.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I Am Legend is the obvious (if immodest) comparison. I'd like to think it has a little in common with Greene's darker/clandestine-servicier/Africa-ier things, like A Burnt-Out Case or The Human Factor (speaking of immodesty).

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

In large part a desire to expand the ARISEN series, which is doing pretty well, and which people seem to like, and which is a heck of a lot of fun to work on.

10) What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

The protagonist, at a certain point, realizes that a zombie apocalypse is a lot like any other bad pandemic – except that the already infected people hunt you down. Also, the word zombie doesn't even appear in the book (except just once, in jest, by one of the characters) – they're just fleeing an epidemic, albeit one in which the sick people are unaccountably aggressive. Finally, they've got their own Predator UAV to play with, and get to shoot Hellfire missiles from the comfort of their hurtling Chevy Tahoe.

Who's next?

I'm supposed to tag three other writers of my acquaintance to go next, so Glynn, obviously. Plus let's say Marianne Cantwell, who is just launching her first book to enormous (pre-launch) success. And, erm, Dana Lynne Pitely, who also just put out her first (fascinating sounding) novel, and whose answers I will be very pleased (as she's blogless) to publish here (if she's keen).

Speaking of not speaking of zombies, and London, and awesome video game trailers, here's one you might not have seen. A truly gripping work of micro-art. You'll want to watch it twice, to fully appreciate it.

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close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

You can reach him on .

THE MANUSCRIPT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
PANDORA'S SISTERS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
D-BOYS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
COUNTER-ASSAULT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book One - Fortress Britain, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Two - Mogadishu of the Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Genesis, by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Three - Three Parts Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Four - Maximum Violence, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Five - EXODUS, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Six - The Horizon, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Seven - Death of Empires, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eight - Empire of the Dead by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : NEMESIS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Nine - Cataclysm by Michael Stephen Fuchs

ARISEN, Book Ten - The Flood by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eleven - Deathmatch by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Twelve - Carnage by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Thirteen - The Siege by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Fourteen - Endgame by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Fickisms
ARISEN : Odyssey
ARISEN : Last Stand
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 1 - The Collapse
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 2 - Tribes
Black Squadron
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 3 - Dead Men Walking
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 4 - Duty
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 5 - The Last Raid
ARISEN : Fickisms ][ – This Time, It's Personal
ARISEN : Operators, Volume I - The Fall of the Third Temple
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