An ‘Amy Ginsburg Moment’

From a Minnesota fan of The After Days:

I have found myself calling on your name for situations right out of your book.

Had a phone call today, a friend who lives perhaps 1 mile away from our house.  She was walking with a friend, who desperately needed to use the bathroom.  Could she come by? I said of course. Albert, when informed, responded ‘who is she, does she have the virus, that sort of stuff.’ It was what I called an Amy Ginsburg Moment: his fear.

Anyhow, the woman who is in her 80s, came in. I told her not to bother locking the door to the bathroom, and left a pile of paper towels for her while I had a nice chat with my friend who waited outside. When she was done, the woman told me she did not touch the faucet handles, nor the door knob, but she used the towel, etc.  A new set of rules and roles.  

Why am I writing to you about this is because it just jumped out that I called it an ‘Amy Ginsburg Moment’ as I shared your book thesis with my friends.  

We’re #1!

Right now, The After Days is the 74th best-selling free book in all of Amazon! And the #1 book is nine different categories! Thank you so much to everyone who downloaded The After Days!

A fascinating discussion at Cambridge Street Papers

Discussing a dystopian novel during a pandemic is often a surreal experience. Was real life mimicking a fictional tale? Perhaps with a different cause — a virus rather than a power outage — but would our world end up as chaotic as the suburbs depicted in The After Days?

Inspired by The After Days, almost everyone discussing The After Days at the Cambridge Street Papers event had filled their pantries with food to prepare for Covid-19. “I wouldn’t have done that before I read The After Days,” said one participant.

Book Club Fun

I’ve been invited to attend a number of book clubs that have chosen The After Days for their book, and I have to say, it’s a fascinating experience to sit with a group of intelligent, well-read women and discuss my novel.

Usually there are some questions — how long did it take you to write the book, how did you come up with the idea, etc. I feel a bit of pressure to come up with profound answers as all those eyes around the table gaze at me. Fortunately, my answers — which I hope are interesting and doubt are profound — have been well-received.

But the part I love most is hearing the women discuss the characters and plot twists. (Ok, I just lied. The part I love most is when they tell me how much they loved the book and what a terrific writer I am. Who doesn’t like a good ego stroke?) It is remarkable to hear people discuss the lives and quirks of Rachel, Zach, Julie, and Christopher, characters I’ve obsessed over for three years, characters who feel as real to me as any people who truly do live and breathe.

The women in book clubs are incredibly bright and thoughtful. I always learn something about my characters at these book clubs — a connection I hadn’t seen, an insight that hadn’t occurred to me previously. And it’s fascinating when the conversation inevitably turns to how each of the participants would act in similar circumstances. Would they be able to survive the Big Blackout? And how would they do that with what they acknowledge is a serious lack of survival skills and tools? Often the discussion quickly elevates to the moral quandaries of survival.

If you’d like to choose The After Days for your book club, I’d love to attend your book club meeting, if I can. Email me at amy@amyginsburg.com

A good review for The After Days on THE BOOK STOP

By curlygeek04, August 23, 2019 https://thebookstop.wordpress.com/2019/08/23/review-the-after-days-by-amy-ginsburg/

I received a copy of this book from the author, through a friend who lives in the DC area.  Ginsburg’s story of what happens in a Maryland suburb during a world-wide power outage was pretty fascinating, although the premise requires a bit of a leap: terrorists have banded together to attack power grids covering most of the world, and no one can figure out how to get the power back on.

Ginsburg tells a riveting and frightening story that will have you seriously thinking about how prepared you are for an emergency. The story centers around two middle-aged couples living in suburban Maryland.  Rachel and Julie are good friends, but they barely tolerate Julie’s husband Christopher (and isn’t that how couple friendships often work?). As the story begins, Julie and Rachel are on the subway when it suddenly goes dark — something that happens here pretty often.

The fascinating part of this story is how quickly civilization breaks down during the outage.  There’s little communication, stores are looted, and there’s barely anything in the way of law enforcement or medical assistance.

I appreciated that this book was set near where I live.  A town of mostly government employees and lawyers, the DC area has a definite personality.  We tend to be highly-educated and super-organized (you might choose other words to describe us), but I’d rank most of us pretty low on real practical survival skills.  So as I read this book I sometimes thought about things like “why aren’t they foraging or hunting for food” and then I thought, maybe it’s realistic that most of us wouldn’t know what to do if we couldn’t buy our food from a store shelf.

I liked Ginsburg’s focus on the friendship in this novel, and the emotional dilemmas that the characters go through.  The characters are regular people, not superheroes, that I could identify with.  Ginsburg focuses on the emotional trauma that comes with a crisis situation.  For example, the characters have to defend themselves and their limited supplies, from neighbors and even children. Then they have to deal with the consequences of defending themselves.

One weakness of the book, though, was in the characterization of the two husbands.  While the two women are portrayed with strengths and imperfections, Zach is just a little too perfect, and Christopher’s character becomes increasingly one-note as the book progresses. 

I really liked the way Ginsburg focuses on the mundane details of life in a prolonged power outage, like how to go to the bathroom when there’s no running water, and how to make food and water last as long as possible.  But I also wanted to know more about what was happening.  We don’t learn anything about how the government is trying to address the problem.  There are short vignettes through out the book that I think are meant to provide this kind of information, but I didn’t find them terribly meaningful.  

Unlike most post-apocalyptic stories where the characters get on the road and explore, these characters mostly hole up in their houses. One of their greatest issues is boredom (the fear of running out of books to read is a particularly DC problem and would send most of us running for the hills).  It felt realistic that these characters felt so isolated; yet I still wondered why there weren’t more efforts to work together, to communicate, and to share resources.

I described this book to my husband, who said it sounded like “survivalist fantasy.”  I’m not sure what that means exactly, but this book definitely got me thinking about what I’d need to survive in a crisis.  For example, at one point the characters are trying to get to a local destination, Fort Meade.  Would I even know where that is without a working GPS?  Are there paper maps in my home in case I need them?  I’ll think twice about throwing out next phone book that shows up on my doorstep.

I recommend this for those who like realistic post-apocalyptic fiction, and who are looking for something more character-driven than action-driven.  You won’t find any demons or zombies or vampires in this book, which makes it a bit unusual.  Stephen King’s The Stand is still my favorite in the world-is-ending category, though I also really liked Oryx and Crake and Station Eleven.  

Thanks to Ginsburg for the complimentary copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review. It was published by The AG Group on July 10, 2019.

England? Apparently, folks in the UK like American dystopian stories

Amazon provides a wealth of data to authors — how many books you’ve sold, how many Kindle Unlimited pages have been read — and one of the more interesting data points is where your readers live.

It turns out the United Kingdom is a fan of The After Days. In fact, at times, The After Days ranks higher on Amazon UK than it does on Amazon USA. I’d love to know why but probably will never learn the answer.

Just one more interesting result of this interconnected world in which we live.