After the Sky Spirits of the Earth Book 1 by Milo James Fowler Genre: Post-Apocalyptic SciFi Fantasy
The world isn't how they left it.
When the bunker airlocks release them after twenty years in hibernation, the survivors find a silent, barren world outside. But they are not alone. There is a presence here, alive in the dust—spirits of the earth, benevolent and malicious as they interact with the human remnant.
Milton is haunted by a violent past he's unable to escape, despite the superhuman speed the spirits give him.
Not interested in bearing the next generation, Daiyna is determined to destroy the flesh-eating mutants lurking in the dark, pierced by her night-vision.
Luther is a man of conviction who believes the Creator has offered humankind a second chance, yet he's uncertain they deserve it—and he's perplexed by the talons that flex out of his fingers.
Willard is a brilliant engineer-turned-soldier who refuses to leave his bunker, afraid of becoming infected and willing to destroy any obstacle in his way.
As their lives collide, the mysteries of this strange new world start unraveling, culminating in the ultimate life-or-death decision one survivor will make for them all.
Don't miss this Post Apocalyptic Adventure with a Paranormal Fantasy twist! It's perfect for fans of Stephen King, T.W. Piperbrook, and The Walking Dead.
A bullet from the darkness shatters the rock face above me. I cringe as a shower of gravel rains down. Shielded from the full moon's light by a large boulder, I crouch against it, crossbow gripped in both hands. A rifle reports in the distance, echoing across the desolation. We counted three of them. A small hunting party, armed with high-powered firearms, bold in their attack. One of Daiyna's sisters gifted with far-sight saw them approach in their jeep, and it was agreed that tonight we would make our stand. We wouldn't hide from the hostiles this time. We've hidden too long. Milton can't help us. Yet in a way, he already has. His injury weeks ago at the hands of these daemons galvanized our determination to strike back. His superhuman speed would have indeed been a great asset to us right now, but he must recover from his wound. I pray he does soon. I pray the evil spirit within him will depart, and that Milton will emerge from his coma healed both in body and mind. I pray for a miracle. Risking a quick glance over the boulder, I check the location of my comrades. Down the grade, crouched low as I am, Samson lurks armed with a spear and knife. He looks like a warrior of old, every muscle in his frame tensed and ready for action. Ten meters to his left is Plato, biting his lip and darting his eyes furtively, clutching his own crossbow. He never studied battles as Samson did all those years in the bunker. It was a curiosity for him among other topics of interest on the database. None of us could ever have imagined that the tactics he filed away would ever prove useful. We didn't expect to find a garden paradise when we opened the bunker door after All-Clear. We knew there would be plenty of work involved in making a life for ourselves on this new earth. But we never imagined having to fight for our lives.
Spirits of the Earth Book 2
The future is in their hands.
The post-apocalyptic world is bigger than the remnant imagined. Across the ocean, the domed cities of Eurasia have survived the nuclear holocaust that ravaged the rest of the planet. But only the survivors from the North American Wastes can give the sterile Eurasians what they need most in order to continue existing as a society: children.
Sergeant James Bishop, United World Marine, leads his team across the desert wasteland in order to make first contact with survivors in Eden, who are rumored to have a lab full of viable embryos. Meanwhile Cain, a coastal warlord dedicated to repopulating the planet, follows the will of Gaia, a malicious spirit of the earth with no love for humankind. Margo, telepathic geneticist responsible for designing the next generation, struggles to balance the will of a selfish dictator with what's best for humanity. Tucker, an invisible man on a mission, carries precious cargo across the Wastes in an effort to rally a group of survivors into action against Eden.
As their lives intersect, agendas collide and tensions reach a breaking point. Twenty unborn children in incubation chambers hang in the balance—along with the fate of the world.
Grab the thrilling sequel to After the Sky! It's perfect for fans of Stephen King, Tom Abrahams, and The Walking Dead.
The children of the remnant are adults living in the 10 Domes of Eurasia, self-sustaining biospheres along the Mediterranean Sea. Aerocars fly, clones work as security officers, and every citizen's words and actions are monitored via their neural implants. Peace reigns over all—until a group of terrorists targets government buildings, and Chancellor Persephone Hawthorne is kidnapped.
Sera Chen, Dome 1 law enforcer, is drawn into the conflict after chasing a curfew violator capable of leaping from one skyscraper to another. When her augments go offline due to a localized EMP burst, she starts hearing voices. The band of survivors in North America is fractured. Daiyna roams the Wastes with a bounty on her head, refusing to confront her demons. Samson and Shechara target UW raiders who are pillaging ruins for resources the remnant needs to survive. James Bishop struggles against unexpected obstacles to be reunited with his family. And Luther is determined to find a way into Eurasia to meet the twenty children taken from Eden.
As their lives converge, unlikely alliances will form to combat an emergent enemy with plans to undermine the course of humanity's future.
The Spirits of the Earth Trilogy concludes with this epic final installment. You won't want to miss this!
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I started writing when I was 12 years old. Having grown tired of The Hardy Boys and their predictable mishaps, I thought I could write better adventure stories myself. Not sure if I succeeded, but it started me on a path to becoming a writer. By the time I finished high school, I'd drafted a bunch of short stories and even a few novels. But I put my writing on pause during the college and early career years, figuring I'd pick it up again maybe when I retired or when I was old (like 40 or something). Then a wonderful young woman (who is now my wife) entered my life and encouraged me to start submitting my work for publication. Over the past ten years, 150+ of my short stories and poems have been published, and this year, six of my novels will be released by Aethon Books and Montag Press.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
For some reason, I like to go against the flow and rebel against what's popular. I liked Coldplay until they hit it big, and I refuse to get a smartphone. I still use my old flip-phone! I don't need the latest gadget in order to feel relevant.
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
I climbed the Great Wall of China in February '05 without knowing how cold or icy it would be. But it was nice. Only two or three other people were around, not crowded at all.
What are some of your pet peeves?
Entitlement is a big one. Hypocrisy is another.
Where were you born/grew up at?
San Diego. We've got everything: beaches, mountains, lakes, deserts. You can mountain bike, snowboard, and surf all in the same day if you time it right.
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
With my wife, doing more than a few of our favorite things. And I'd wear a T-shirt that says, "I'm dying tomorrow. Ask me where I'm going."
Who is your hero and why?
Franklin Graham. His organization Samaritan's Purse does amazing work around the globe helping those in need.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
I'd assume similar to how I manage my classroom: strict but fair with plenty of freedom within clearly defined boundaries. And I'd make sure cashews weren't so expensive.
What are you passionate about these days?
Writing the best stories I can tell with characters that resonate with readers, and teaching my students to be effective communicators for Christ (and not hate writing in general).
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I like to read, play guitar, mountain bike, surf, eat Mexican food, and watch movies/series with my wife.
How to find time to write as a parent?
Other than my 120 students, I don't have kids.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Creative, goal-oriented, persistent, sarcastic, skeptical
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Write1Sub1 back in 2011 made me feel like a writer because I was following in Ray Bradbury's footsteps: writing and submitting a new short story every week for a year. It really helped me improve my craft, and within a couple years, I sold all 52 stories to various publications. So that was a win! I felt like a professional writer when I started selling my work to pro-paying markets. Writers write, but authors finish what they start -- and can somehow manage to convince a publisher to share their work with the world.
Do you have a favorite movie?
El Cid with Charlton Heston is one of my all-time favorites. Inception is another, along with the Dark Knight trilogy.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
Every single one. I see things cinematically as I write them; it's just a matter of putting it all into words on the page. But I'm leery of the prospect of my work making its way to the big screen. I don't know if I'd be okay with changes the studio would want to make; they always seem to enjoy branding projects, and more times than not, the source material is better than the film adaptation.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I stood outside Stephen King's house once…
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
The elusive panda.
What inspired you to write this book?
I had a dream where a guy with an eagle's eye and the taloned foot of a bird of prey was standing on a hilltop overlooking a valley. In the distance was a nuclear-powered biodome full of post-apocalyptic survivors. For some reason, that enclave had to be destroyed, but I didn't know why. So I started writing the story from the first-person POV of an unreliable narrator escaping from a very dark past, and After the Sky evolved from there. (Without the eagle-guy or the biodome.) Once I got started, I wanted it to be an homage to John Milton's Paradise Lost. Not sure if I succeeded, but that's been the goal for the whole Spirits of the Earth trilogy.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I've got a couple other trilogies in the works: one's comedic space opera and the other's "new weird". I also have ideas for a spinoff series that will feature characters from City of Glass (Spirits of the Earth Book 3). My goal is to draft four novels this year and get at least two of them ready for a publisher by December. We'll see how it goes.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
My flash story "When Tomorrow Comes" takes place prior to After the Sky and features Milton and Julia as children; my short story "Beneath the Surface" is a retelling of Willard's origin story, but it was altered for the novel and doesn't work continuity-wise.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in After the Sky?
The story is told from the point of view of four core characters. Milton is on the run from a very dark past; he's on the verge of losing his mind when he meets Daiyna, the first human being he's seen since he came out of the bunker. Daiyna was a member of a bunker of "breeders" expected to give birth to the next generation at All-Clear, but she's not interested in bearing young, not with so many threats against the survivors. Luther is a man of peace who wants more than anything to unify the survivors, but human nature keeps thwarting his plans. Then there's Willard. He's content to live underground and make a future for humankind where it's safe with filtered air, running water, food, and books to read. He has no tolerance for anyone who doesn't share his view of the world.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
I've always been a fan of those post-apocalyptic movies from the 1970s, and I wanted the reader to be unsure of who to believe as the story progressed. The themes of survival, redemption, and conflicting views of God were important. I wanted each of the characters to tell their own story as it happened, and the reader to piece everything together as we went along. For patient readers who don't mind a puzzle, the payoff is worth the effort.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
Milton was named after John Milton, Luther after Martin Luther, and Samson was named after Samson in the Bible; but the others just showed up and introduced themselves to me. I wanted the women from Daiyna's group to have unique, beautiful names, so I invented a few of them. Willard's crew had to sound like salt of the Earth, when they're anything but.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I enjoyed seeing the characters' stories intersect and how they work together to overcome a greater threat.
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?
They all want to survive and make a new life for not only themselves but humankind as a whole. Milton doesn't want to be alone anymore, but he's seriously messed up. Daiyna wants to eliminate external threats to the group, such as the bloodthirsty cannibal freaks. Luther wants to build unity among the survivors and look toward the future of human civilization. Willard wants to live underground, avoiding the toxic surface at all costs. Some compromises are made along the way, but not many.
How did you come up with the title?
It was originally going to be After the Sky Fell, but the final lines of dialogue changed it for me. (Read the book to find out…) And I didn't want any Chicken Little connotations to distract readers from the get-go.
Who designed your book covers?
They were designed by my publisher, Aethon Books. I couldn't be happier with how they turned out. Aethon did a great job of taking my ideas and running with them.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
It took me 12 years to write, revise, edit, and find a publisher for After the Sky, and during that time, it underwent several iterations. By this point, it's more than ready to be read.
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Book 3 in the trilogy, City of Glass, taught me that I could draft a 400-page novel in two months. I've never done that before, and I'm very happy with how it turned out.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the leads?
Sam Rockwell would make a great Milton. Jessica Chastain would be an awesome Daiyna. Idris Elba would have to play Luther, and Gary Busey embodies Willard. (I'd like to play one of the mutant cannibals who gets shot, followed by a garbled Wilhelm Scream.)
Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy my work and tell everyone you know about it.
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
I like it when the characters work together to overcome a major obstacle. It shows that no matter who we are or where we come from, it's possible to unite against a common enemy. And who knows? Maybe even remain united after the fact.
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
I'd like to hang out with Samson, drive some monster trucks around in the desert or something.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
I assume all of my characters are in some way a combination of people I've met. After teaching for over two decades, I'm sure aspects of various students (and their parents) show up as well. But for the most part, my characters enter my mind fully formed, and I learn more about them as I draft their scenes.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
It's a symbiotic relationship. I never force them to do anything because I have a specific plot point in mind; on the contrary, they're often the ones leading me to the next scene. But I do have an end in sight, and we have to get there, one way or another.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
It's unlike any post-apocalyptic story you've ever read or movie you've ever seen. You'll recognize aspects of Mad Max and X-Men, but you won't have a clue where it's going. Then you'll be pleased you went along for the ride.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
Two: one's a survival thriller and the other is about a time-traveling detective. Both are currently out on submission, so we'll see what those publishers have to say.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
"Essence of Apocalypse"
What did you edit out of this book?
All of the original scenes are in it; they're just a whole lot tighter. I ended up cutting almost a hundred pages of dialogue and interior monologue to keep the action moving at a steady clip.
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
I'm impressed by Stephen King's productivity and China Mieville's way with words, but I'd have to say J.R.R. Tolkien. His Lord of the Rings trilogy will never be forgotten, and I'd love to know more about his character development and worldbuilding strategies. Spirits of the Earth is no Lord of the Rings, but both involve unlikely heroes uniting for a common purpose, overcoming their own character flaws and working together for the greater good, to stop a horrendous evil.
Fun Facts/Behind the Scenes/Did You Know?'-type tidbits about the author, the book or the writing process of the book.
So this is kind of funny, considering my affinity for '70s post-apocalyptic cinema. I was actually named after a character from the Planet of the Apes series. When Cornelius and Zira have their baby, they name him Milo! My parents were a little chagrined when I found out, saying yes, that's where they first heard the name; but then they started hearing it other places as well. I don't mind at all.
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Zion Chronicles by Bodie Thoene
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Dune by Frank Herbert
Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft
Toss up: Either The Gunslinger series by Stephen King or The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey
What book do you think everyone should read?
Other than the Bible? Definitely The Princess Bride by William Goldman. It will change your life.
How long have you been writing?
Thirty-two years, on and off. More consistently for the past thirteen.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
I usually start with the core characters, then others materialize as the story progresses. Sometimes they end up stealing the show and become core characters in subsequent drafts.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
Not much. I tend to research on the go as I revise, typing searches into a tab adjacent to the document I'm working on.
Do you see writing as a career?
I'm a teacher/writer at the moment. I'd like to write full-time at some point, but for now, I enjoy having two careers -- but only one that feels like work. (That would be teaching.)
What do you think about the current publishing market?
It's tough but not impossible to break in. Publishing is a business, and if a company thinks they'll make money selling your work to the masses, they'll sign you.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
I read mostly cross-genre, similar to what I write: science fiction, fantasy, horror, and humor combined.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I write best to instrumental music, either post-rock or cello. Somehow it makes the words show up faster for duty.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I draft one at a time, but I've always got notes-in-progress for my next project or few. I can usually revise and edit one while I'm drafting another. The first draft is just a sloppy copy anyway; it really takes shape during the revisediting process.
If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?
Fahrenheit 451 -- there's so much in there that's still relevant today with social media, cancel culture, and the importance of free speech.
Pen or typewriter or computer?
I'm drafting my current novel by hand as a break from the computer screen, but I tend to go back and forth. My thoughts flow better when I write by hand, but I often can't write fast enough to keep up with those thoughts. I was able to draft, revisedit, and complete a 125K-word novel last year in six months, and I did everything on my laptop. That wouldn't have been possible time-wise if I'd started drafting it by hand.
Tell us about a favorite character from a book.
Roland from Stephen King's Gunslinger series is an unforgettable character. He's so mysterious, and we don't learn much about his tragic backstory until a few books in. When we do, he makes so much more sense as a character, and we can't help but root for him.
What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?
I have stories to share, and some people seem to enjoy them. I can't ask for more than that.
A day in the life of the author?
During the school year, I teach my 7th and 8th grade students the joys of the English language for eight hours or so, then head home and try to cram in an hour of writing. If I'm lucky, I can manage a thousand words a day. During my time off (one of the perks of being a teacher), I write whenever I feel like it, often producing a couple thousand words each day between all the fun vacation activities.
Advice they would give new authors?
Write every day. Doesn't matter how much, just keep the words flowing. Have a notebook either online or physical to jot down ideas for new stories. Revise and edit until every line is the best it can be, then submit the piece to a publisher. Start with short stories and use the feedback to hone your craft. Never give up. Never surrender. Commit to being the best writer you can be. And always look for ways to improve.
Describe your writing style.
Action and dialogue-oriented. I want my readers to picture everything that's happening without being bogged-down in paragraph-long descriptions or info-dumps. I want the story to come together like a puzzle. This can be frustrating for some readers, but personally, I enjoy writers who value my intelligence and reward me for it by the end of the book.
What makes a good story?
Conflict, and lots of it. Realistic characters worth rooting for. Hope, not nihilism.
What are they currently reading?
The Hod King, Book 3 in the Babel series by Josiah Bancroft. Highly recommended.
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
I usually have a general idea in mind, plot-points with plenty of wriggle room in between. Then I stalk my characters. I make life difficult for them. I stay true to them, and they lead the story. I write one chapter at a time and try to keep the chapters equal in length. Often the first draft veers away from the notes I wrote ahead of time; if the end result is better than what I'd planned, awesome. If not, I know where I need to prune the wandering tale.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
One trap I know of is writing to market. Just because vampires and zombies were popular five minutes ago doesn't mean they will be by the time you submit your novel to a publisher. Instead, write what you enjoy reading. If that happens to be vampires and zombies, great; be true to yourself, and give it your own spin. But maybe your story will be something we've never seen before, and that could be exactly what readers want -- as well as publishers.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Stress. My center needs to be calm but energized in order to write.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I just do my thing. As a result, readers tend to either love or hate my work. There isn't much in between.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Write more! Stop playing video games!
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Avoiding charges of gender appropriation...
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
About six months from first draft to being publisher-ready -- and then the edits continue.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Anytime I don't know what to write, I take a step back, remind myself who's boss (that would be me, the writer), and then take my story in a new direction. If I don't like that direction, I can change it later. But I always have something to write about. Writing requires inspiration as well as perspiration. If you do the work, putting in the hour every day to scribble something down, the ideas will show up. Praying also helps!
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