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Compared to seven years ago, stories of survival are a dime a dozen. Some are quite dark and in my own words, militant. That’s okay, but after awhile I prefer to read something a bit more uplifting and told from a woman’s point of view. The latest book in the Prepper Book Festival fits the bill.
Alone is the story of what happens to a young woman following a catastrophic EMP. The electric grid is down and all of our worst nightmares have come to fruition. Who will survive and how? And who will take advantage of the situation for personal gain?
Today’s book, Alone: Beth Ann’s Story of Survival. is a debut novel from C. M. Hollerman. Some of you may recognize the name of Jonathan Hollerman, a popular author in the niche. C.M. is his big sister and a wonderful author in her own right.
Today I share an interview with C.M. plus I have three print copies of her book up for grabs in a giveaway. Enjoy the interview then be sure to check in below to learn about the giveaway.
An Interview with C.M. Hollerman, Author of ALONE
Tell me about your book. What is it about?
Alone: Beth Ann’s Story of Survival describes a young woman’s journey through the chaos after an EMP attack and the destruction of America’s electric grid.
Set in a tiny rural town in western Pennsylvania, the story shows the progression of society’s breakdown in the face of starvation, sickness, and violence. A wealthy man who has anticipated this disaster brings food to the townspeople, but his leadership takes on a communistic tone. With no one to hold the appointed “lawmen” accountable, they take advantage of their position.
Alone is an attempt to paint a realistic portrayal of what an unprotected and unprepared person could face in this scenario. It’s not romanticized or watered down. Beth Ann is clueless at first, but through other people she learns the skills necessary to survive.
What type of research did you have to do while writing your book?
My brother is Jonathan Hollerman, former U.S. Air Force S.E.R.E. (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) Specialist Instructor and best-selling author on preparedness. He is also now a professional survival retreat consultant (GridDownConsulting.com).
Released in 2013, Jon’s first fiction book, EMP: Equipping Modern Patriots with a Story of Survival, spent four months on the top ten Amazon bestsellers list in the genre. I helped with copy editing and became interested in both the topic and the process. While I was working through the second book with him (EMP: The Aftermath, 2015), my brother asked me to consider re-writing his story from a female’s perspective. Beth Ann is a minor character introduced in his first book.
Obviously, my brother was a huge source of information for me in terms of the EMP scenario and survival, and I had to work within the framework of his primary plotline. I spent time in Tionesta and talked with locals to get a feel for the town and surrounding area, like the Kinzua Dam, the Allegheny River, the State Fish Hatchery, and the Allegheny National Forest.
I did research on gardening, winter greenhouses, and the physical and psychological effects of starvation, and I talked with medical professionals regarding staffing and emergency procedures.
How long did it take to write?
It took me well over two years. Partly because I was working simultaneously on the story editing of Jon’s second book and the copy editing of his latest book—a full-length preparedness manual (Survival Theory: A Preparedness Guide, 2016), and partly because I was working two other day jobs while taking care of two active daughters, one long-suffering husband, a messy house, an unknown number of aquatic animals in nine fish tanks, two dwarf hamsters and a leopard gecko!
Every book, fiction, and non-fiction includes a message. What message do you hope my readers will take with them after reading your book?
Education was one of my primary goals.
I would like readers to understand that real threats face our country and to feel an urgency to get started if they are not already preparing for a longer-term disaster. Most Americans tend to be complacent: we are used to our creature comforts. We turn the faucet handle and water flows; we flip a switch and the room lights up; we drive to the store and anything we want to buy is sitting on the shelf. We take our conveniences for granted, and we’ve lost the survival skills that previous generations had.
We forget that our modern society is built on a fragile, hair-thin foundation of microchip technology, and we don’t fully understand how interdependent our nation’s infrastructure is on this! We also have no concept of what “nice” people will do when there is no established law, or when they are helplessly watching their children starve to death.
What can it hurt to save some food and water and medical supplies, learn some new skills, and have a plan in place with family members in case communication systems are down?
My second goal came from my brother. Many of his readers have a wife or girlfriend or sister who is hesitant to support his preps. She doesn’t understand the threat and isn’t interested in reading the “Rambo” type of stories that dominate the genre. They have specifically asked Jon for a version of his story that a woman might more easily connect with.
Please do not misunderstand me and accuse me of gender-typing! Men have read my book and loved it, and I know plenty of women who like the “shoot-em-up” fiction! But I hope that my book will help fill a gap where one exists.
My third goal was to provide an option for readers who want books in this post-apocalyptic/survival genre written by women about women, since this seems to be lacking.
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
I live in Pennsylvania with my wonderful husband of 17 years and two amazing young daughters. I get my left-brain fix as an executive office administrator at an Art Center, and my right-brain fix in writing early in the morning before real life starts—working, chauffeuring, housekeeping, and volunteering for my church and local playhouse. My life is full, sometimes frantic, and often fun (although not fun enough according to my teenager). On those rare occasions when the blue moon shines, I may get a little time to do some of my favorite things—read, travel, craft, or learn something new.
As an author in the survival, prepping, self-sufficiency or homesteading niche, what are you personally preparing for?
We hold to my brother’s recommendation, which is “prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
We believe that a grid-down scenario would be one of the worst things that could happen, as it has the potential to take out not only light and heat, but also our nation’s food delivery infrastructure, communication and transportation over a very large geographic area. World-wide financial collapse would certainly follow, and soon thereafter uncontrollable pandemics.
So preparing for a grid-down scenario would cover many other possible disasters.
What would be your first prep-step if you were just getting started?
My recommendation for the first prep-step would be to research a plan. For example, Backdoor Survival has a good twelve-month plan for starting out your preps. That way, you have something to follow and keep you focused.
A good plan will help you prioritize, which is helpful because when you are starting out it can be very overwhelming. There are also more in-depth manuals (books) if you are a person who needs lots of detail; just be careful – there is a lot of misinformation out there as well.
Let me say a quick word about the first thing to store: In my opinion, potable water is one of the most essential things for health and well-being in a long-term survival scenario. People can live weeks without food but far less–potentially only days–without water.
However, bottled water is expensive, takes up a lot of space, is too heavy to carry (in quantity), and actually expires. Yes, I know it could still be technically “safe” to drink, but the chemicals released by the breakdown of the plastic it’s stored in may not be a good idea to drink with a compromised immune system.
My point is, if you live near (or will be retreating to) a good water source, stock up on purification tablets and a filtration device/system with plenty of extra filters, and know how to use them.
What movie do you think gives the best portrayal of what could happen?
Honestly, I don’t watch many disaster-style movies because I don’t enjoy the graphic violence they often contain. But I would say that American Blackout by National Geographic is very realistic without being overly Hollywood-ized. It is a docudrama depicting what happens over a ten-day period after a cyber-attack on the electric grid, presented in an interesting format by splicing together what people are recording on their cell phones. The movie follows multiple people from various walks of life and how they are affected by a grid-down event. It does a very good job of showing how extremely fast society would fall apart without food and electricity.
However, in this movie the cell phones and cars still work, and the news networks keep broadcasting (on generators). Things would be even worse in the absence of all transportation and information. In addition, the grid miraculously starts working again on day ten, and the movie implies that everyone is relieved and ready to get back to normal.
Realistically, the grid would probably take months or years to repair. Also, once neighbor kills neighbor over a can of peaches, you don’t just go back to work the next day like nothing ever happened. With trust destroyed, financial collapse, and innumerable lawsuits filed, it would take a very long time to begin functioning as a society again…and it may never go back to “normal.”
Do you have plans for another book?
Yes! A sequel will pick up where Alone ends, and it will tell the story of Meghan, a friend of Beth Ann’s, as she helps the small town of Tionesta rebuild. This book will continue the gardening and add in medicinal remedies, and it will deal with the fallout of the abuse that takes place in Beth Ann’s book. I am working with professional counselors for this.
My brother’s third book will be published soon and it will finish the series; Meghan’s book will end at the same time and place, to keep my series and Jon’s series together as truly parallel stories.
Is there anything else you would like to share with my readers?
Please, if you have not already, start a conversation with your family members and arm yourself with knowledge. Do your research, and don’t let the media and social media be your only source of news.
There are currently multiple credible threats to modern American culture as we know it, and we may not get a warning in time to prepare. Do little things to prepare as consistently as you can – without cashing in your kids’ college fund. Be sensible! Think of preparing as a type of insurance for your family and your future.
I do hope you enjoy Beth Ann’s story and share it with your friends!
Additional Reading: How to Prepare for an EMP
C.M. has reserved three copies of her book in this newest Book Festival Giveaway.
A special word about the giveaway question/comment: Please read the question and respond accordingly, even it the answer is “I don’t know”. This week’s question is:
If you starting preparing today (as opposed to sometime in the past), what would you do differently?
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The deadline is 6:00 PM MST Tuesday with the winners notified by email and announced on the Rafflecopter in the article. Please note that the winners must claim their book within 48 hours or an alternate will be selected.
Note: Due to customs requirements, this giveaway is only open to individuals with a mailing address in the United States.
A Special Offer from the Author
C.M. Hollerman contacted me a few days ago and offered special pricing on ALONE during Prepper Book Festival week.
The Final Word
It is Interesting to consider that preparing for a grid-down situation would also constitute preparing for many other disasters. Once you come to that realization, you can move forward preparing in a more focused manner without being stressed by not being able to prepare for multiple events at once.
That being said, I always suggest that you prepare for local disasters first. Be is a hurricane, flood, wildfire, or other natural disasters, doing so will set the groundwork and will help you learn the basics of such things as food and water storage, first aid and trauma care, and rudimentary communication with the outside world.
For more information about the books in this latest book festival, visit Prepper Book Festival 14: Books to Learn, Prepare, and Be Ready for Anything.
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Spotlight: Alone: Beth Ann’s Story of Survival
So you think you’re afraid of the dark?
Twenty-two-year-old Beth Ann is content with her small-town life. That is, until the day America’s electric grid is destroyed by terrorists. What starts out as an inconvenience quickly becomes a catastrophe—not only do the lights stay off, but cars won’t run and phones are dead.
The world screeches to a halt. Without communication and basic supplies like food and water, widespread confusion spirals into deadly chaos within days.
A wealthy opportunist saves the townspeople with his secret cache of food and easily takes over the desperate town. But the darkness that follows is even more devastating than the electrical outage. When Beth Ann finds herself on her own, she must do whatever it takes to survive.
A frequent question I get on Backdoor Survival has to do with healthcare matters when there is no doctor around. This is the definite source of survival medical information for all Prepper’s and is my go-to bible for survival medicine.