interview with author S. T. CAMPITELLI

best post-apocalyptic novel

POSTED IN Q&A BY JEROME ANDRIES

Jerome Andries of ApocalypseGuys.com sat down with author, S. T. Campitelli to discuss his writing career, his post-apocalyptic book, The Fall and of course, Mad Max. This is what he had to say:

What is your favorite genre to write?

I have only written post-apocalyptic, so I have to say post-apocalyptic! I’d like to think I have some other genres in me and have some ideas for a thriller, but right now it’s PA. I love the whole feel of the genre, what you can do with it – the very nature of total breakdown, I find it a super appealing and flexible genre to write into.

What are some of your favorite post-apocalyptic/Science Fiction films/books?

There are quite a few good books and movies. Probably the best PA book for me is Justin Cronin’s The Passage, book 1 of his trilogy, a simply stunning book, was very influential on my mental aesthetic of what a post-apocalyptic world looks and acts like. He is an accomplished writer outside of the genre and you just get this sweeping, desolate feel out of the book. The Stand and The Road are also wonderful. Richard Matheson’s I am Legend is short but brilliant. My all-time favorite PA movie, Mad Max 2 The Road Warrior is, for me, almost flawless. That movie is absolutely everything I want out of a PA world: the landscape, the costuming, the characters, the situation, the story – it is brilliant, all of it, edgy, threatening, interesting, colorful – love it. Other great PA movies are the original Planet of the Apes, the Omega Man (now dated but very influential on a much younger me), 28 Days Later (brilliant!) and, despite its horrid use of CGI, I also quite liked the movie I am Legend – again, the post-breakdown aesthetic they achieved in that is excellent, it totally looks like abandoned New York.

mad max 2 the road warrior

I see you live in Melbourne, Australia-home of the original mad max films. Have you been to the film locations?

Yes, the first Mad Max movie was filmed in and around Melbourne and I am very familiar with most of the movie’s locations. A lot of the highway scenes are not that far out of the city. I walk past one in particular a few times a week – the location for the underground car park scenes where Max first sees the iconic Black-on-Black V8 Interceptor – the underground car park with the sloping pillars – is the main campus car park at Melbourne University where I work.

Are there any mad max themed areas? i can imagine there has to be at least one mad max pub or café.

Pubs and cafes? You’d think there would be at least one Mad Max themed pub or cafe but sadly, no, I don’t know of any in Melbourne. Good idea though…

Which authors/filmmakers inspire you?

George Miller is a genius. I would have loved to have seen where the MM world would have gone had Byron Kennedy not tragically died. He and George I think together would have made more Mad Max movies and they would have been incredible. Justin Cronin, again, inspires me to write well – not just action or terror but to write well. Steven King for his longevity, productivity and ability to keep producing an incredible range of high level works is an inspiration.

When did you first begin publishing your work?

Not that long ago, I’m a late bloomer. My first book was published in 2017. Have wanted to write for a long time and have written quite a bit of non-fiction work – articles, contributions to things, but not a book.

Do you have a writing routine that you follow such as creating an outline or do you just sit down and hammer out the words?

I have a very mixed routine that I don’t think any professional would endorse. I’m a ‘sit down and let’s see what happens’ type of writer. Sometimes I get a lot done, other times, it might just be refining a paragraph. I make a lot of notes, I do diagrams and maps, and I do a stack of research but I rarely make extensive full blown plans or outlines. I have a rough idea of where I want the story to go, but I am flexible and I like to let it play itself out so that new possibilities can emerge. In some ways this lets me ‘find’ the story in much the same way as the reader does. It also lets me change things up without being too wedded to a pre-set plan. I like to keep my mind open.

What did it feel like when you finally finished your post-apocalyptic book and published it to Amazon?

Brilliant, great feeling. Very, very satisfying that it had been finished and I had done it. I can’t speak for its quality or what people will think of it, but I’m proud of it and am able to say I wrote a book. That means something to me.

Where can readers purchase your books?

Only on Amazon. That won’t be the case forever, but at the moment, you can buy it on Amazon and only for Kindle.

What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

The crafting of the language, the words, the paragraphs, is what I probably love most. I just love creating places, people and situations and enjoy particularly working with dialogue, and in another life, I might have been a screenwriter. I really enjoy the process of producing a rough draft of work, then working back through it, refining it, smoothing it out, making it better by layers. It’s what I imagine sculpting to be like but with words. When it goes right the words just seem to flow on to the page through the keyboard, it feels effortless, it almost writes itself – it doesn’t always happen like this, but when it does, that feeling is simply magical. I think all writers would say that.

Tell us about your novel, The Fall.

It’s pure post-apocalyptic. Set in Melbourne of 2052 two years after a viral extinction-level event, blending an SF feel of high tech with the PA threat of infected night predators on a central compound where much of the action is focused. It is essentially a ‘mission’ story that revolves around key characters. I wanted to have a very threatening world, underpinned by interesting tech, but I didn’t want it to dominate the story – the characters, as viewed through POV chapters, are very much front and center of the story.

Do you refer to actual landmarks and places in the novel that people can visit and see or has the apocalypse changed the landscape by the time the series takes place?

Yes, I do and will do so more as the series progresses. The mission focus – a supermall called ‘Southstone’ – doesn’t actually exist, it is a synthesis of two real malls in Melbourne, but most other places do exist. In book 2, I start to explore this more as the story shifts locations to some people familiar with Melbourne will recognize. I think it’s important to use familiar, known landmarks and places, it gives a sense of locality and identity to a story. The Mallee, where the Prologue of Bk 1 takes place, is a very typical dry, red-soil Aussie remote, rural location that I visited when I was little, so that was kind of nice to be able to reference a place like that. Not quite as extreme, granted, but the setting for Mad Max 2 looks a bit like parts of The Mallee – it was in some ways, an indirect nod from me to that.

Are the survivors in the series the type to stay on the move, constantly looking for a safe haven, or do they tend to stay in place and fortify their area?

The story proposes that these walled communities, ‘wallcoms’, have been established in the 2030s-2040s in response to global unrest, war and terrorism. These places then become places of sanctuary in the titular ‘Fall’ of civilization, but not for everyone… The book focuses on one of the remaining ones of these wallcoms. So, this is one of the central conflict points; defending this place and restocking it. I won’t tell you what happens to it as that’s the story!

How many books do you plan to release in this post-apocalyptic series?

Three and I’m about 60% through book 2. I’m a part-time writer so it’s slow going.

How did the idea for the story come to you?

There are a few concepts I really like – the idea of a walled community, the threat of being overrun (it’s a great war theme), the island of sanctuary in the sea of threat. I also have always been compelled by that quick-moving infected being – the sort of 28 Days Later, I am Legend type of threat rather than the shuffling zombie. These things coalesced out of the ether of my head into The Fall.

Is this your first publication?

Yes, hopefully not the last.

When do you plan on releasing the next installment to your post-apocalyptic series?

Early 2019 is the target.

What’s next for your writing career?

Book 2 then 3 of The Fall then who knows?

Do you have an author blog where people can read more?

No blog, but I have a website at https://thefall-book.weebly.com/ which has more Fall info. I’m also on Twitter and am fairly active so happy to interact with interested readers @stcampitelli

You can purchase S. T. Campitelli’s post-apocalyptic book, The Fall, right here on Amazon!

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