An interview with Tim Washburn, author of Powerless

timwashburnPlease welcome Tim Washburn to the blog! His new book, Powerless, will be out tomorrow, and he kindly answered a few of my questions about the book, and more!
Congrats on the new book! Will you tell us a little about Powerless and what inspired you to write it?

Thank you, Kristin.  I’m always reading…books, newspapers, magazines…if it’s in my grasp I will read it.  I ran across an article in a scientific journal about possible effects of space weather on earth.  The more I read, the more apprehensive I became.  We’ve known for years that our power grids are fragile, and to make matters worse, they are run by a multitude of different companies with no set standards.  There have been congressional hearings on the subject, but much like everything else in Washington, nothing is ever done.  The threat is real and scientists suggest it’s not a matter of if but when.

Why do you think readers will root for Zeke Marshall? What makes him a compelling character?

Zeke is wounded, both physically and emotionally.  And who doesn’t like to cheer for the wounded guy searching for solace.  I put Zeke in a rural setting to help him come to grips with his turmoil.  Zeke is not proud of most of the things he did in the war, but like most returning vets he does the best he can to cope with it.  And that military training comes in handy when he treks to Dallas to rescue his sister and her family.

What kind of research did you do for the book?

I probably did three months or more of research.  I hate to stare at the computer monitor during the research phase so I usually print the material out.  I had a stack probably two feet tall to wade through.  I researched the power grids, space weather, airline navigations systems, water treatment and sewage treatment plants, nuclear reactors and their safety systems….you get the idea. I actually like doing the research, but trying to strike the right balance in a work is fiction is paramount.

You have a background in television and journalism, and have wanted to write since a young age. What’s one of the first things you remember writing?

I’ve been writing since I graduated college, but not necessarily fiction writing.  Most of my writing was news stories, promotions, advertising, etc.  It wasn’t until four years ago that I started writing full time.  I wrote four complete novels before the first one sold.   I used to finish a novel, send off a few queries and grab my phone to go mow the lawn because I knew the agents would be lined up to call. Ha!  Don’t we wish it worked that way.  The first thing I remember writing was one of those “What do you want to be when you grow up” papers in elementary school.  My ultimate goal was to play in the NFL, but if that didn’t happen, I wanted to be a writer.  I did some journaling in high school but that’s about the extent of it.

What do you like to see in a good story? Is there anything that will make you put a book down, unfinished?

I love to be drawn into a story.  I grew up on a farm and reading was my escape mechanism.  Started with Louis L’amour and worked my way through the Hardy Boys and started reading the classics in high school (most under duress).

I will put down a book if the underlying premise is not believable.  Stilted dialogue is a real turn off for me.  And I hate a book that tries to hit you over the head with some social issue.  I want to read to escape.

What authors have inspired you the most?

I loved everything John Updike created, the same with John Irving.  The World According to Garp was especially meaningful for me.  But the one author I treasure the most is Larry McMurtry. Everything he’s written is fabulous and my all time favorite book is Lonesome Dove.  I know– strange for a thriller writer.  I also love the contemporary authors Grisham, Sanford, Child, Sandra Brown…I could continue forever.  And which writers aren’t influenced by Ray Bradbury or George Orwell?  Let me add one other.  Stephen King.  He kind of went off the deep end (at least for me) for a while, but Under the Dome was terrific.

Have you read any good books lately? Anything you’d recommend?

Just finished Lee Child’s latest Reacher novel.  I loved Andy Weir’s The Martian.  I read it before all of the hubbub.  If I’m in the middle of writing, I’ll read outside my genre.  I usually turn to Literary Fiction just to give my brain a break.  Sue Monk Kid’s  The Invention of Wings is a book I really liked  as well as Anthony Doerr’s  All The Light We Cannot See.

What’s next for you? Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I’ve turned in my second manuscript and it should be released sometime next year, and I’m currently working on a third book.

I don’t want to reveal too many details about the second book, but if you like Powerless you will love my second novel.

Keep up with Tim: Website

About Powerless:

Nothing Can Prepare You. . .

It strikes without warning. A massive geomagnetic solar storm that destroys every power grid in the northern hemisphere. North America is without lights, electricity, phones, and navigation systems. In one week, the human race is flung back to the Dark Ages.

Nothing Can Save You. . .

In Boulder, Colorado, weather technicians watch in horror as civilization collapses around them. Planes are falling out of the skies. Cars are dead. Pandemonium and terror grip the Northern Hemisphere. As nuclear reactors across North America face inevitable meltdowns, the U.S. President remains powerless in a heavily guarded White House. From London to Boston to Anchorage, there is no food, no water, no hope. It’s every man for himself. . .and it will only get worse.

Survival Is Everything.

Only one man–army veteran Zeke Marshall–is prepared to handle a nightmare like this. But when he tries to reunite with his family in Dallas–across a lawless terrain as deadly as any battlefield–he discovers there are worse things in life than war. And there are terrible and unthinkable things he’ll have to do to survive. . .

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