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.

A 5 star review from Bookish Beyond!

Read the whole review on Bookish Beyond

Can you imagine a life without electricity, running water, or any of the things we have today because of them?

I find it hard to, although I have been wondering what that world would be like. Since reading The After Days, I’m beginning to get a clearer picture of just how much we’ve come to rely on such things.

This book follows two couples: Rachel and Zach, and Julie and Chris. The four friends soon band together when the power goes out across most of the world. Before long, people are looting, running water into their bathtubs before their supply runs out, and in some cases, even killing people in the name of survival.

The author’s style is crisp, using just the right amount of detail to set the scene. She emphasizes the serious nature of such an event as the power going out worldwide, showing us just how much we take everyday necessities for granted.

She created well rounded characters that held my attention and helped the story to progress at a steady rate. Speaking of which, let’s discuss the four main characters.

I rate it 5 stars. 

A contemporary read that will really make you think about the world we live in today and how it could change at any moment.

Guest post on KateVane.com: Amy Ginsburg, author of The After Days

Kate Vane July 11, 2019 Science fiction, Guest post

Kate Vane: For me, post-apocalyptic fiction asks us not just how we would survive, but what would happen to our sense of self when the world that gave us status and identity is swept away. So I’m  intrigued to hear from Amy Ginsburg about the transition from suburban comfort to chaos in her dystopian novel The After Days. 

I wrote The After Days because I was tired (oh so tired) of reading dystopian tales where the protagonist was an outcast teenager or a male with superhuman powers. Where were all the ordinary suburbanites, doing their best in impossible situations?

I love dystopian fiction of all kinds, but for too long, post-apocalyptic futures were viewed mostly though the eyes of teens and men. Only recently have books like Red Clocks, Vox, Station 11, and The Powerconsidered dystopia through the perspective of women. And when they did focus on women, it was the rare story that included middle-aged protagonists. Wanting the women I know and admire, the women so often left out of science fiction, to be the center of a dystopian story, I wrote The After Days so that we can inhabit the mind of Rachel Caplan, a fifty-four-year old nonprofit executive.

I was also disheartened by the propensity of most dystopian novels to start years or even decades after the precipitating event, whether that’s climate change, asteroids, epidemics, or puritanism. What happens the day of the event? The month after the event? How does a thriving, ordinary world degrade into dystopia? At what point does uncertainty become chaos and hardship become apocalypse? Who thrives and who gives up? What’s the proportion of luck and skill as the fates decide who survives?

As a “pantser,” someone who writes by the seat of her pants, following the characters where they take her, I was shocked by how quickly the suburbs – those traditional havens of safety and security – devolved into a dangerous arena. Much faster than I would have predicted, suburbia falls under the control of the ruthless and the armed.

At first, Rachel Caplan, Zach Wu, and their friends Julie and Christopher Davis believe the power outage is a temporary interruption to their lives, much like a blizzard. It’s a time for neighborhood barbecues, the tantalizing smell of meat sizzling on the grill before it spoils in their non-working freezers. It is a time of bonus vacation days and minor complaints about the inability to watch TV. But as time creeps forward and the electricity doesn’t return, they realize their community are forever changed. Are these four suburbanites able to adapt to survive until the power … hopefully … returns?

Spanning multiple genres – women’s fiction, science fiction, and dystopia – The After Days will spawn fascinating discussions at book clubs … and perhaps encourage readers to pick up an extra can of peaches the next time they go grocery shopping.

NATIVE PENS DYSTOPIAN NOVEL ABOUT…MONTGOMERY COUNTY

From Montgomery Community Media BY AMBIKA NARULA

Eight-year-old Amy Ginsburg fell passionately in love with writing after scribbling a story about her favorite stuffed animal in a spiral notebook.

Things have changed drastically since those spiral notebook days. Ginsburg has now independently published her first novel, “The After Days,” through Amazon. The book is available beginning today.

Born and raised in Montgomery County, she decided to set her story in the Pike District of North Bethesda.

“I was tired of reading dystopian novels that featured sullen teenage girls or men with super powers saving the world. … I grew up, raised my children, and now live within a mile or so of the Pike District, though it was called Rockville and North Bethesda back then. It’s a wonderful place full of wonderful people, and I knew instantly it was the perfect setting for ‘The After Days,’” Ginsburg told MCM.

Not only is Ginsburg a passionate novelist; she also works as the executive director of Friends of White Flint, a nonprofit composed of residents, businesses and property owners working to transform the Pike District and with Capacity Partners, helping nonprofits share what makes them great.

“The After Days” idea started three years ago with several different drafts, but Ginsburg never gave up on her dream. In the book, the characters deal with a lack of power, working together to survive.

“It may take many decades, but career dreams can come true … because the end result is absolutely worth all the hard work. Sharing my writing with friends and strangers was scary, but now that I’ve done it, those fears have disappeared. Also, I’ve worked my way around the novel learning curve with The After Days, so perhaps next time, there will be only 10 drafts, not 20,” Ginsburg said.

Ginsburg hopes to produce a sequel for “The After Days.”

“I genuinely love to write. Sometimes it almost feels god-like, since I get to decide who lives and who dies, who falls in love, who gets hurt, who survives, and the characters are real, living people to me,” Ginsburg said.

Montgomery County Native Pens Dystopian Novel about …Montgomery County

From Montgomery Community Media

Eight-year-old Amy Ginsburg fell passionately in love with writing after scribbling a story about her favorite stuffed animal in a spiral notebook.

Things have changed drastically since those spiral notebook days. Ginsburg has now independently published her first novel, “The After Days”, through Amazon. The book is available beginning today.

Born and raised in Montgomery County, she decided to set her story in the Pike District of North Bethesda.

“I was tired of reading dystopian novels that featured sullen teenage girls or men with super powers saving the world. … I grew up, raised my children, and now live within a mile or so of the Pike District, though it was called Rockville and North Bethesda back then. It’s a wonderful place full of wonderful people, and I knew instantly it was the perfect setting for ‘The After Days,’” Ginsburg told MCM.

Not only is Ginsburg a passionate novelist; she also works as the executive director of Friends of White Flint, a nonprofit composed of residents, businesses and property owners working to transform the Pike District and with Capacity Partners, helping nonprofits share what makes them great.

“The After Days” idea started three years ago with several different drafts, but Ginsburg never gave up on her dream. In the book, the characters deal with a lack of power, working together to survive.

“It may take many decades, but career dreams can come true … because the end result is absolutely worth all the hard work. Sharing my writing with friends and strangers was scary, but now that I’ve done it, those fears have disappeared. Also, I’ve worked my way around the novel learning curve with The After Days, so perhaps next time, there will be only 10 drafts, not 20,” Ginsburg said.

Ginsburg hopes to produce a sequel for “The After Days.”

“I genuinely love to write. Sometimes it almost feels god-like, since I get to decide who lives and who dies, who falls in love, who gets hurt, who survives, and the characters are real, living people to me,” Ginsburg said.

Marketing Mayhem

When I wrote the first rough paragraphs of The After Days three years ago, I knew nothing about book marketing. While ‘expert book marketer’ will not be going on my LinkedIn profile anytime soon, I have to admit I’m rather enjoying learning about marketing novels.

Amazon keywords, for example, are particularly fascinating. Amazon enables an author to choose seven keywords (which are actually keyphrases) for a book. These keywords enable readers to find your book on Amazon, so theoretically if I choose Women’s Dystopian Fiction as a keyword for The After Days, and a reader types that phrase in the search bar, The After Days will show up in the results.

The trick is to choose keywords that people actually use to search AND that are not so broad that your book lands on page 485 of the search results. All of us being the busy, lazy people that we are, unless a book is on that first page of results, no one will find let alone purchase that book. Women’s Dystopian Fiction is far too broad — The After Days would be listed on a page far, far away from any reader. But perhaps Older Woman Dystopian Fiction might work — it’s a term people type in the search bar but there aren’t too many book in that category.

It’s all kind of a crapshoot as one auditions different keywords, but with perseverance and a bit of luck, I’ll choose the right ones for The After Days. As much as I loved writing this novel, I’d kind of like some folks to find and read this compelling dystopian twist on book club fiction. (A phase that just might make a good keyword.)

The

Where are all the ordinary women in dystopian fiction?

I wrote The After Days because I was tired (oh so tired) of reading dystopian tales where the protagonist was a teenager or a male with superhuman powers. Where were all the ordinary suburbanites, doing their best in impossible situations? I wanted more books like The Handmaids Tale, Red Clocks, Vox, and Station 11.

In The After Days, middle-aged suburbanites Rachel Caplan and Zach Wu, as well as their friends Julie and Christopher Davis, battle not only the predators and scavengers but also despair, empty pantries, and sometimes each other as they struggle to survive an increasingly treacherous world without electricity.

The friends have post-graduate degrees and talents that bring success in normal Montgomery County, a suburb of Washington DC, but little knowledge that’s helpful in a dark Montgomery County quickly crashing into chaos.

The After Days explores the ethical quandaries and logistical issues of ordinary people striving to survive extraordinary circumstances. Turning to each other … and sometimes turning on each other … how far are they willing to go to survive?

I gave birth to a 78,000 word manuscript

Today I finished a week of giving my manuscript for The After Days a final edit before sending it to my editor for a final proofread. It feels like I’ve given birth to a beautiful baby manuscript, and now Mary Poppins will step in to lovingly care for my baby over the next few weeks.

There have been times when entire chapters flowed from my fingertips with ease and times when crafting one three-word sentence took a week. Now I’m eager to read my editor’s comments and changes so that The After Days can be the best I can make it. I’m a little surprised I miss the act of editing and polishing which has sucked up much of time over the past week, but it’s time to move forward.

How hard will it be to patiently wait the three weeks to receive the suggested edits? Harder than dieting during the season of holiday parties, harder than learning calculus, and harder than saying no to my charming 2 1/2 year old granddaughter.