Growing up in the 80’s, apocalyptic horror fiction was all the rage. Stephen King’s The Stand was at the top of the heap followed by Robert R. McCammon’s Swan Song, Alan Rodgers’ Fire, Skipp & Spector’s The Bridge, David Brin’s The Postman, Greg Bear’s Blood Music, Paul Auster’s In the Country of Last Things and Jean Ure’s Plague 99. In fact the list is much longer than that, but you can see the interest in the subject matter given how obsessed we were over the extinction of the human race.
Flip to twenty years later and you can see how popular a show like Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead and Max Brooks’ World War Z, has entered the pop culture lexicon for apocalyptic zombie fiction and finding mass appeal. It’s like the 80’s never truly went away and now another rising young star responds with her original take on the sub-genre with an intended trilogy.
Dubbed the Breadwinner series, author Stevie Kopas has vowed to come up with her own sense of purpose and unique spin on things. Recently, the second novel in the series Haven was released as an eBook and HMS took some time out to talk to the author about the book.
HMS: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Stevie Kopas: I think I’ve always known. While other kids were away at summer camps playing games and swimming and camping, I was at summer camp for the nerdy kids and we would write short stories and books. I worked for a newspaper as a teenager and up until I moved to Florida. I’ve written every lyric for every band I’ve ever been a vocalist in. I took a few years off to deal with some personal struggles, but I came back from it and realized I needed to harness everything and get back to writing.
HMS: Is post-apocalyptic fiction a genre that you’ve always had an interest in?
Stevie Kopas: Absolutely. I was the kid watching Soylent Green, Omega Man, A Boy and His Dog and The Day After with her dad. I would stay up late on school nights to watch Dawn of The Dead and then obsess about it all day at school.
HMS: Give us a little intro to Haven, without any spoilers if possible. Is it a direct continuation from where The Breadwinner left off?
Stevie Kopas: Yes. Haven is broken up into three parts like The Breadwinner was. Part 1 is a direct continuation from the end of The Breadwinner. You find our survivors have barely made it out of Paradise Bay alive. They are tired, they are worn out. But they have to keep going if they want to live.
HMS: Which authors have had an influence on your work?
Stevie Kopas: I can’t really pinpoint that any author in particular had a specific impact to inspire me to write. I’d have to give a blanket answer and owe credit to Robert McCammon, Hubert Selby Jr, Irvine Welsh, and David Moody. Those are some of my favorites.
HMS: What do you think separates your stories from other zombie apocalypse fiction, especially in film and television that have saturated popular culture in recent years?
Stevie Kopas: I would definitely say it’s the people and their will to carry on. Whether that be carrying on and accepting the world for what it’s become, learning to adapt or refusing to accept it and pretending that you can continue to live like you once did. Some of them break, some of them grow. They’ve lost everything and are finding themselves either building new families or lives with one another or destroying what they have no control over. I didn’t intend on ever writing a book about the zombie apocalypse, my goal all along was writing about normal everyday people that are thrown into the middle of the end. There isn’t a hero. There isn’t anyone in the book that knows how to handle this. They’re just like you or me and all they want to do is live.
HMS: You have a wide range of musical tastes. Do you ever imagine a soundtrack accompanying your stories? Give us a few songs and/or bands that might contribute to the score of one of your post-apocalyptic adventures.
Stevie Kopas: Ahaha, yes. I love everything from Nine Inch Nails to Pearl Jam, from 36 Crazyfists to Foster the People. A few songs I actually used as background music while I was writing were “Mercy” by TV on The Radio, “Tornado” by Jonsi, “It’s Thunder & It’s Lightning” by We Were Promised Jetpacks, the entire Ghosts album by Nine Inch Nails, “Sporadic Movement” by CKY and I stole another soundtrack from a movie to write to, the original score of The Divide. The music is amazing.
HMS: You’ve mentioned you’re an avid gamer. What do you think of the storytelling in gaming these days? Do you think the Breadwinner Trilogy would work as a backstory to a video game?
Stevie Kopas: Most games have beautiful stories that are shadowed by the gameplay itself. Not a lot of people realize that what they’re playing, a lot of effort went into not only just creating the amazing gameplay, but the story itself. I wish more people would appreciate that and stop hating on games because they “don’t like first person shooters” or because “there isn’t any multiplayer.”
If The Breadwinner and Haven were to be the backstory to a video game, it would definitely have to be open world. If I were playing it myself, I’d want to really be able to dive into the scenery and character interaction. I would love to explore the city, the woods, and the bay. Getting into Haven you’d have even more of a sandbox to attack and explore. It’s definitely a game I would play. But I wouldn’t want a restriction on where I could go, who I could speak to or what I could do. There would have to be side missions. Lots of them.
HMS: Do you have any thoughts as to what stories, themes or projects you’d like to tackle next once you’ve completed The Breadwinner Trilogy?
Stevie Kopas: I’ve written a little bit here and there on something new, completely different, no zombies. I’m not sure if I want to write this as a short story and submit for an anthology somewhere. I’m sure I’ll fall in love with it like I did with The Breadwinner and turn it into a book, or maybe even another series. I change my mind constantly. In a year, what I’ve written and outlined now, probably won’t even be in the story.
Learn more about Stevie's series on her website, at goodreads and on Twitter.
Kenneth Gallant, Editor HMS (Text)
Richard Leggatt, HMS (Questions)
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