Series: Euphoria Z
Author: Luke Ahearn
Genre: Thriller/ Post Apocalyptic
Release Date: 25th April 2016
BLURB supplied by Bewitching Blog Tours
Transition is the third book of the Euphoria Z Series set in a post-apocalyptic California.
The post-apocalyptic world is in transition. While things may seem safer, a great danger lurks under the surface and sometimes from above.
What does the Island have to do with the state of the world, and the invisible creatures? New threats arise and evil is tracked down. Will this finally be the end for Ben and his psychopathic lifestyle?
Continue the adventure as we find out what happened to Cooper, Lisa and the others.
It doesn’t rain frequently in San Jose, California and when it does it’s a quick gray affair that rinses away dust and freshens the air. Every few years there’s a day or two of torrential downpours, interspersed by widespread drizzling and dripping. And rarely, as was the case this day, the skies opened and dumped a decade’s worth of rain upon the city in only a few days. These rare downpours could last days and do substantial damage citywide.
The downpour was so heavy it was impossible to see farther than a few hundred yards. Water ran from the highest spots in the city and merged into thick fast flowing rivers on its journey downhill. It gushed down streets, blasting over curbs and past sign posts, taking away anything that wasn’t nailed down. The waters were black with months of accumulated filth and foamed with the runoff of a million miles of city streets. The fine dust of millions of corpses, that which wasn’t already blown away by the winds, was swept into storm drains and out to the Pacific Ocean.
But the most alarming aspect of the rainstorm by far was the thunder and the lightning. Every few minutes great jagged bolts of light arced across the sky, illuminating the world in blinding flashes, followed moments later by the thunder, a terrifying sound as if the heavens were being torn open. Then cascading booms shook the earth for long moments after.
One of these giant flashes illuminated the inside of a dark warehouse revealing a world of crisp black shadows and harsh blinding whites. For a split second a human shape was visible laying atop a large worktable. It resembled the sarcophagus of a long dead pharaoh. Puddles of odd liquids had collected under the body and run off the edge, hardening in long stalactites of black and dark red. A minor flash revealed a hardened shell, mottled with the same black and reddish hues. The long low rumble of the distant thunder that followed caused an eye to twitch. A loud crack and a blinding flash of light caused both eyes to open wide in shock and fear. A high-pitched keening could be heard emanating from the misshapen body on the table.
Slowly a hand rose, the cracking of dried viscera was faint but clearly audible above the muted pounding of rain. The open eyes, clear and green, regarded a grotesque hand armored in a red and black crust. The arm dropped and the eyes closed. The thrumming of the rain and intense fatigue made slipping back into the sweet darkness of sleep all too easy.
Later, a blinding flash of light and the ensuing crack of thunder caused the figure to startle awake. Fat drops of water fell almost forty feet from the compromised skylights above creating a loud rhythmic clunk, clunk, clunk as they struck a crustaceous shell. There was a hiss as breath was sucked inwards through thin reddish tubes that hung over a tiny mouth. The creature spasmed at the discomfort as air filled its long dormant lungs.
The figure rolled awkwardly left and right as it attempted to stand. Dried viscera cracked and crunched and fell away in large chunks. It stopped to rest a few times until eventually, with great effort, it rolled on its stomach and swung its legs off the table, pushing itself to a standing position in a sort of diagonal pushup. It struggled to stay upright as it took one awkward step forward, then another.
The heavy armored shell made walking difficult and uncomfortable. Each labored movement caused the figure to hiss and gasp. It took three steps and bent forward over the table to rest. The effort was exhausting and the armored plates tugged at odd spots and pinched and pulled on the raw skin beneath.
Many laborious steps later and the creature was nearing the door to the warehouse. The effort was exhausting, the movement unnatural, and feelings of weakness and nausea were overwhelming. But a sense of urgency drove the creature forward. It knew that it must get out of that dark place. There was somewhere it had to be.
The warehouse door swung open and wind blasted cold rain across the armored body, but it felt nothing. It looked down, apparently just now gaining a sense of awareness beyond wakefulness and the desire to escape the dark building. Groggily it tugged on a section of armored shell as if it was just now noticing it. The skin beneath pulled, the shell seemed to be attached to flesh like that of a lobster or crab. A disfigured hand rose up, lightning flashed and a gasp of horror came from the bulbous armored head as it looked with revulsion at its own red and black armored appendage.
The creature looked to the sky and stepped into the torrential downpour. It shuddered as icy rain made its way beneath its armored plates. A shell loosened from a forearm and with a touch clattered to the ground. The rainwater stung like fire and the figure backed into the warehouse staring at raw skin glistening with red wetness. The unprotected skin was as sensitive as that of a newborn babe. The arm went back into the rain and recoiled again as if the rain water was scalding. It tried again and again until it could stand the pounding rain.
Eventually it stepped out into the deluge and disappeared into the blinding storm.
Lisa barely remembered her own name when she awoke, but now it was all coming back to her as she shuffled along in the downpour and she grew more and more terrified. She had no idea what had happened to her or what was happening to her presently. She remembered hiding in the safe room and later talking to the creature. Another piece of her exoskeleton fell away and she shivered as cold rain pounded her left shoulder. It didn’t hurt as bad as the first time rain hit her flesh. She almost tripped when most of the shell on her right leg fell away all at once. It was as if she were molting like a crab. She was sick, weak, and terrified. She had no idea what had happened to her but everything about her body felt different and weird.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Luke Ahearn was born in New Orleans, LA and now lives in Central California. He is a successfully published author of both fiction and nonfiction, most recently completing Transition, the third book in the Euphoria Z Series. He has over 20 years of professional game development experience in lead positions; designer, producer, and art director.
Luke is also a book cover designer interested in supporting his fellow authors. He hates writing about himself in the third person, but thinks it makes him sound more substantial.
He can be reached at
SERIES SPECIFIC INTERVIEW
Could you tell us a little about Transition Bk#3 in your Euphoria Z Series?
This series was conceived as a trilogy that ended with book three. Since I’ve first written the book it has been picked up by Severed Press and it has been requested that I make it an ongoing series, or at least longer than three books. In order to make this trilogy into an ongoing series I’ve had to unravel the plot of the third book and develop the storylines separately. I’ve also had to change how the storylines would conclude. And finally, I needed to create new content for the ongoing storylines.
Unraveling these storylines and developing each one separately necessitated that I leave the others on the sidelines for a bit. I tried different ways of handling this. One option was cutting out chunks of the story, but that created more problems than I could have imagined. Another option was to write the new ongoing storylines all in one book but it would have ended up an 800-page book with a hundred characters to keep track of. So I decided to write three books that each followed a separate, but major, thread of the story.
This book will start the various storylines and end with the beginning points for the forthcoming books.
Would you also tell us a little bit about the Euphoria Z Series as a whole?
Basically it is a story about people. I know that sounds really corny and shallow but at the core any good story is about the characters. I like exploring themes like bad people vs people that were just raised in a bad environment. People can be redeemed, fold under pressure, rise to the occasion, etc. Euphoria Z is about people who want to come together and make each other feel more safe and comfortable in the world vs those who just aren’t team players (I refrain from using my usual dose of profanity here to describe those people).
Where did you get your book plot ideas from for the Euphoria Z Series? What/Who is your inspiration?
I was inspired by two things. One was the desire to write a post-apocalyptic world for the fun of thinking through what I (think I) would do in that situation. Where would I sleep? What would I eat? I tried to also consider real-world situations like the lack of needed medications and other challenges or limitations. Secondly I spent a freezing night in a parking garage alone as a security guard in my early twenties. It was so miserable! I remember thinking of all the things I wished I could do like build a fire or wrap myself in newspapers to keep warm. That works by the way. I think ever since that night I’ve always wondered what I would do long term to survive.
As far as plot devices, they are limited and used over and over so there is nothing any writer can come up with that is new. The magic is understanding that a plot is like the wire armature of a sculpture. It’s a very basic framework designed to hold the piece together. What makes a novel or a sculpture a work of art is what the artist and writer put on that armature and how well they shape it.
Do you have the whole of the Euphoria Z Series planned out now? If so how many books will there be in the series?
I did and there were to be three books. Now it is more open-ended.
Do you plot/plan for each individual book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
I let the writing flow ninety percent. I find that my pattern tends to be that I hit the middle to close to the end and things fall into place. I might have milestones in the story but no real plot. Plotting on the fly is something that comes easy to me but even so I end up doing a graph of all the characters and a timeline with a geographic tracking of them to make sure everything synchs up right at the end when forces collide.
How long did it take you to write each book so far in the Euphoria Z Series, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
I can do a rough draft of 80k words in a month and then it takes two months for me to do a pass, send it to beta readers, and make changes. In this phase I cut a lot but add content too. My novel length fiction almost always ends up at about 100k. I tried writing a 60k novel but after I incorporated all the beta feedback it ended up being 100k.
Were any of your Euphoria Z Series books were easier/harder to write than the others?
The first one took the longest but the third one felt the hardest because of the amount of work it took to tear the book apart and rewrite several of the story lines.
Do you have a favourite character from your Euphoria Z Series? And why are they your favourite?
First of all, you spelled favorite wrong. Sorry, I can’t resist. It’s all in good fun I assure you. I would say my favorite character overall would be Cooper by far. The most fun to wrote would be Weed, Banjo, Ben, Dawn, and all the crazy assholes.
How did you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your Euphoria Z Series?
The title came to me in the middle of the first book as I was trying to describe the story to my wife. Severed Press had the cover made with my input.
Who designed the Cover of your books? Do you have a lot of input into the process?
I could have had more input but I limited it to what I wanted the message and mood to be. I didn’t want to design the cover “over the shoulder” so to speak.
Is there anything in your Euphoria Z Series you would change now if you could and what would it be?
I would like to cut the prologue or shorten it.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about your Euphoria Z Series?
Yes. It’s fiction so the terrible awful characters aren’t me documenting my thoughts in any fashion. I am building up a character that the reader hates and that provides a serious threat/challenge/motivation to the hero. The more you hate the bad guy the more you root for the good guys and cheer when the bad guy gets a stick in his eye. I am also not making fun of fat people. The overweight character is a hero in the story. People are always crying for more diverse characters so I created a very diverse cast of characters. For crying out loud I’m overweight and I was exploring the unique challenges I would have and how I would have to deal with the apocalypse (a lot like I dealt with gym class it turns out).
The Prizes are:
The Prizes are:
$25 Amazon Gift Certificate
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