Judd Vowell lives in Huntsville, Alabama, with his wife and son. When he’s not reading, he enjoys playing guitar and writing songs. The Overthrown trilogy novels are his first. Book One is The Great Dark and Book Two is The Resurrected.
In Overthrown, Judd Vowell creates a strangely familiar world, in a future that feels as close as tomorrow. He weaves two dynamic stories together flawlessly; one of a collapsing society brought on by hacker terrorists, the other of a family’s unlikely fight for survival in the newly dismal landscape.
The Great Dark Ever since the Great Dark pushed the world into chaos, Gordon’s singular focus has been keeping his family alive. But survival is growing tougher by the day, just like the cancerous tumor wrapping itself around his wife Meg’s spine. He knows that Meg won’t survive without the medicine that’s in a distant and deserted city, out in the darkness filled with fearless wild animals and bands of violent outliers. The only allies Gordon can enlist to help him are his 15-year-old twins, Jessica and Henry. The three of them soon find themselves in the midst of a new war against the hackers who destroyed the world’s technological infrastructure and rebuilt it for their own design. Gordon begins to realize that his children may be the only hope that civilization has left.
The Resurrected The first battle for America’s liberation from ANTI- is over, and the rebels known as Lefty were fortunate to survive it. Jessica and Henry are two unlikely heroes involved in the rebellion against cyber-terrorists who pulled the Great Dark curtain over the world. Now they’re separated, Jessica imprisoned against her wounded will by the ANTs, and Henry back home to help his diseased mother Meg heal. The burgeoning war will bring them together again, but will it be soon enough to save them both?
Q. Overthrown is a dystopian science fiction thriller trilogy in which cyberterrorists have plunged the world into darkness. Dystopian themes have been very popular lately. What’s different or unique about your story?
It’s a good question because you’re right, this is a popular genre, so I decided to address exactly that in the first chapter. My narrator actually acknowledges the “post-apocalyptic obsession” we have as a society. But Overthrown is different because it’s based in reality, nothing supernatural. This is a story that could actually happen, although I hope it never does.
Q. Gordon, Meg, and their twins Jessica and Henry are a family trying to survive the chaos. Tell us about them and how they are drawn into the war against the hackers.
Meg is fighting cancer when the lights go out, and a year into the darkness her husband Gordon and their kids are forced into facing the dangerous outside world if they want to keep her alive. She is running out of medicine, which means they have to travel to the hospital complex a hundred miles away to get more. On this journey, they are pulled into the new rebellion against the cyberterrorists who have caused The Great Dark.
Q. The teenage twins are central characters. What do you like most about Henry? About Jessica?
Even though they are twins, the have very separate and distinct strengths. Jessica is athletic and a natural leader, while Henry is clever and thoughtful. In this way, they actually complement each other, and help each other survive the darkness.
Q. This trilogy is epic in scope. What inspired you to write this story with these characters?
The original inspiration came in 2011, when the devastating April tornadoes moved through Alabama. My wife and I lived through the four-day blackout that followed with a brand-new infant at home who needed oxygen. We had backup tanks for my son, but that experience planted the seed. Combine that with the rise of international hacker groups like Anonymous, and the story began to write itself.
Q. Every thriller has to have its villains. What motivates the bad guys in this story?
The true motivations of ANTI-‘s leader Salvador Sebastian may not be that obvious, and that’s intentional. He holds a specific hatred for modern-day governments and monetary controls, but the real reasons won’t be revealed until book three in the trilogy.
Q. Readers often don’t realize that writers do lots of research, even for speculative and fantasy stories, before they complete a book. What kind of research did you do for this story?
I had to research computer-hacking a good bit. That’s something I didn’t know much about, and it’s central to the story. Also, some of the villians backstories, like Salvador. He originally comes from Cuba, so it was interesting to learn about that culture.
Q. Which works and authors would you say influenced the books? How?
Nothing too direct. But I would say stories like Stephen King’s The Stand and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.
Q. What was your favorite scene or section to write?
Now that’s a tough question. If I had to choose, I would say the battle that takes place near the end of the book, where Jessica and Henry’s characters truly take shape. It sets the rest of the trilogy in motion.
Q. What was the hardest part of the books for you to write?
A lot of the foundation for this book was based in actual experiences for me and my family. Some of that was tough, but it was also therapeutic.
Q. In Book Two, new characters are introduced and we learn more about the terrorists. What can we expect in Book Three, and when will it be available?
Book Three, with a working title of The Reckoning, will be the decisive battle between good and evil, with the rebellion getting their world back from ANTI-, or Salvador keeping hold of his new society. I’m pushing for a Spring 2018 release.
Q. What made you decide to get serious about writing? Did you “dabble” very long before you felt the time was right to publish your work?
I’ve been a musician for most of my life, and I’ve written songs since I was a teenager. So I guess that could be considered dabbling. Believe it or not, Overthrown was the first full-length novel I’ve ever written.
Q. A lot of writers seem to despise the editing process. Do you like it or hate it? How do you approach the task of editing?
I have a select group of “early readers” I use, and I trust their opinions and criticisms. One is a fellow author, and one is my sister, who has her doctorate in English. So I would say my editing team is strong. Any good writer needs another set of eyes. Editing, in my opinion, is essential to the process, so I don’t hate it at all.
Q. Most of us authors don’t make enough money from writing—yet—to pay the bills. Do you have a job other than writing?
Yes, I am General Manager at Carriage Chevrolet in Fayetteville, Tennessee. Selling cars and writing books…what a combo, huh?
Q. When you aren’t crafting amazing stories, what do you do for fun?
I play guitar, spend time with my family, and travel.
Q. What advice do you have for writers who want to become published authors? Is there anything about the writing life that you think is misunderstood by the public?
What’s that saying? Practice, practice, practice…it’s true. Just commit to writing at least some every day. My number was one hour. And I still try and do that. I write one hour a day. Your imagination is like a muscle…you have to keep it in shape.
Q. As a reader, what about a book turns you away?
Poor grammar, unless it’s intentional.
Q. What’s your all-time favorite book? Why?
That is tough. It seems to change often. I just like good fiction, really. East of Eden, No Country for Old Men, Life of Pi, and so on. Too many whys to say.
Q. What’s your all-time favorite TV show? Why?
Even tougher. Because there has been so much good TV lately. Homeland, Stranger Things, Breaking Bad. But I can still watch a Seinfeld and laugh out loud.
Q. What’s your all-time favorite movie? Why?
Hands-down The Shining, even though Stephen King supposedly hates Stanley Kubrick’s interpretation of his book. I don’t know why. It’s visually stunning, with so much horrific imagery that is confusing at the same time. And Jack Nicholson is completely terrifying. I’m getting chills just thinking about that typewriter scene.
Q. Where is one place you’d like to visit that you haven’t been before? Why?
After creating my villain’s backstory, I think I’d have to say Cuba. It’s intriguing to me that it’s been “off-limits” for so long even though it’s so geographically close. And in a way, it’s stuck 60 years in the past. It would be like walking back in time.
Author Name: Judd Vowell
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