Monday, April 9, 2012

H10 N1 by marsha cornelius : Interview

A deadly influenza virus rages out of control.
There is no easy-fix vaccine. No eleventh-hour containment.
Only death. 
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With no workforce, power plants are unmanned so there's no means of communication; police and fire departments have collapsed so no one is safe; looters are scavenging everything from big-screen TVs to canned peas.

When Dr. Taeya Sanchez finds herself unceremoniously dismissed from an emergency medical facility in New York, she decides to steal the hospital's armored van for a midnight escape.

Unfortunately, Rick DeAngelo, a driver for the hospital, has already stocked the van for his own getaway.
Thrown into an unfriendly alliance, these two must pick their way across the dangerous wasteland of America in search of a safe haven. And as the miles roll by, they discover that the living should be feared much more than the festering corpses out there.

Tell us about your current release.
My current novel is titled H10 N1. It’s about the survivors of a flu pandemic that has wiped out much of the world’s population. The two main characters, Rick and Taeya, steal a van to make a dangerous trek across America, hoping to find a safe place to start over.
I was intrigued by the idea of society dealing with a catastrophe. First, there’s the total breakdown: no workers to pick crops, operate power plants, put out fires, or protect citizens. There is no television, no phone service, no Internet. The government is helpless, the ranks of the National Guard are depleted.
Now you have survivors who are basically on their own. And if you’ve ever watched a natural disaster unfold on the news, you know that looters can’t wait to start pillaging. Avoiding marauders becomes much more dangerous than the virus itself.
When in the day/night do you write?
I’m definitely a morning person. I used to work fulltime, and my only chance to write was way early on weekend mornings before my kids were up.
Now that I’ve quit my day job, I’m able to do what I always wanted: sleep until 9:00, watch the cooking portion of Good Morning America . . . just kidding. I don’t get up at 5:30 anymore, but I usually have my cup of tea and I’m at the computer by 7:00AM.
How long per day?
As far as actual writing goes, every day is different. But if you look at writing as a job, I’m working 10 to 12 hours a day. Being self-published means that I must do all of my own marketing. (Actually, even traditional publishers have dumped most of the marketing on new authors until they get a decent fan base.) So if I’m not working on a chapter, I may be checking e-mails, contacting book clubs and online reviewers (such as the paranormal Laurie), or chatting with friends on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and Linked In.
Most days I probably spend 4 to 6 hours hammering out the details of a scene.
What is the hardest part of writing your books?
The hardest part of writing is probably staying out of the kitchen! I’ve actually considered installing a seat belt on my chair to keep my fanny planted. When I get stuck for an idea, it’s so easy to drift to the cupboard for a cookie.
Where do you research for your books?
Most of my research is done online. But my inspiration comes from outdoors. I’m big on walking. I grab a little spiral notebook and a pen and off I go. My neighbors have gotten used to me talking to myself, gesturing wildly and then stopping in the middle of the road to jot down a thought.
I’ve tried just wandering around my yard, but that’s no good. If I see an errant weed, I’m going to stop and pick it. But if I walk through the neighborhood, I usually leave other folks weeds alone.
How do you react to a bad review of your book?
Oh, I’m a big baby about bad reviews. You’d think after years of rejection from agents and publishers I’d have toughened up. But when someone criticizes my work, it’s like telling me one of my children is ugly or stupid.
That’s probably a bit of an exaggeration. If someone points out a flaw in the plot, I appreciate their critical thinking. But one of my worst reviews was from a guy who said my book wasn’t what he expected. Didn’t he read the blurb on the back cover?
Is there a piece of advice that you have received that has really stuck with you? If so, what was it?
I got a great piece of advice recently. Through a friend, I met a big shot at a television network. I talked to him about turning my book into a television series. He cut me off pretty quickly. He said, “What you have is a dream. What you need is a plan.”
And I realized he was so right. How many people talk about something they’d like to do – write a book, learn to ski, take a trip. But all they ever do is talk about it.
I knew if I was going to make it happen, I needed a plan. So I took a screenwriting class, met a woman who has worked in the field, and I’ve just finished my third one-hour script to send to prospective producers.
Tell us about your next release.
My next book will be out in May. It’s about a 57 year-old man who finds out he is dying of cancer. Instead of giving up, he contracts with a lab to have his body cryonically frozen.
What he doesn’t realize is that he won’t lie in some dreamless state all that time. His soul is very much awake, just like the others who were frozen before him.
He discovers that he can ride in the cockpit with the pilots, but he can’t turn the page of a magazine. He can sit in the oval office with the president, but he can’t prevent a child from dashing in front of a car. He doesn’t work, or eat, or sleep. These obstacles make it difficult to fall in love, and virtually impossible to reconcile with the living.
Over the next several decades, he will have plenty of time to learn The Ups and Downs of Being Dead.
What are you passionate about these days?
I’ve become a bit of a fitness fanatic lately. I joined a gym where I take classes in weight training, and step aerobics. I tried Zumba but I just can’t seem to shake my thing, and kickboxing hurts my knees. I also do Pilates to strengthen by back. All of this sitting at a computer is killing me.

For 15 years, Marsha Cornelius managed school cafeterias where she fed chicken nuggets to elementary students with runny noses and bad attitudes. Now retired, she spends her days at home with two cats that she can brow-beat without fear of parental repercussions.
Her two grown sons occasionally visit for money and clean laundry. Her husband is way too fond of home-cooked meals to ever criticize her writing. She can be contacted through her website at:, and on Twitter @marshacornelius.

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Donna George said...

I love Steven King. He can really get in your head. P.s. I can hardly wait to read this (win or not, I'm getting it)!!

tetewa said...

This would be anew author for me, sounds good!

tetewa said...

I love The Morganville Vampire series!

Leslie said...

I enjoy an apocalyptic thriller now and then.

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of this author. It would be a great read!
Thanks for the chance to win!

Dana said...

Wow this book sounds crazy I would love to read it!

Kylie said...

This sounds wonderful- I love pandemic stories. It's so interesting watching a society breakdown.

Gale Nelson said...

I really like reading stories like this as does my daughter. Thanks for the giveaway! Gale

G said...

reminds me of Robin Cook

Kylie said...

I can't wait for the new release- I love "out of body" stories! Thank you for the lovely giveaway.

Joy said...

Thanks for the giveaway, would love to read.
magic5905 at embarqmail dot com

Lisa Richards/alterlisa said...

Wow! New book for me. Thanks for the interview, excuse me while I dash off to add to my wishlist.

Laura said...

I loved books like Andromeda Strain and Hot Zone, so I bet I will love this one too!
Thanks for the giveaway!

Emma B. said...

This book sounds really cool. I hope I win! *crosses fingers Thanks so much for the giveaway!