I’m delighted to welcome Keegan Kennedy to the blog today, to talk about her new release, The Harbinger.
Over to Keegan:
The Harbinger was born, in part, from growing up in the 1980’s. At that time, our culture was plagued by fear. It was everywhere–on the news, in conversations, in nightmares… As I think back, nuclear war was often presented by the media as a likely event. In retrospect, I now see it for what it was… Reagan-Era propaganda that was meant to keep everyone scared shitless. Unfortunately, things haven’t changed too much… But it wasn’t just the media. Every other movie out there, it seemed, were full of slashers and killers, wars and disasters, and the end of the world. My favorites of these movies were always the huge Hollywood disaster flicks with fabulous all-star casts. Gloom and doom and the fantasy of starting over are common themes that endlessly fascinate us. And, of course, we’re still in the grips of our zombie obsession.
My background is in gay romance and erotica. As a fan of post-apocalyptic and Sci-Fi fiction, I’ve noticed the glaring absence of major gay characters. Usually, they’re resigned to be comic sidekicks, minor characters with occasional one-liners, or characters unable to defend themselves. Two of the four major characters in The Harbinger are gay and are portrayed in a realistic light, as flawed people who are just like anyone else–fighting to survive. Of course, there are some zombie-type creatures, but my “creepers” aren’t like anything I’ve read before. It would be incorrect to categorize this as a “gay” or “zombie” book because there’s much more going on… I wanted to express a different point of view that is lacking in most post-apocalyptic books. Instead of jumping into the middle of the story and telling how the world fell apart in a flashback, lasting for maybe a page and a half, which is fine for some writers and fans, I wanted to do something different. I wanted to examine and watch the world fall apart through the eyes of the characters and attempt to convey the emotions they experience. So The Harbinger begins with these characters living their lives with their own sets of issues and problems. Before they know it, their worlds have been annihilated and they face these extraordinary circumstances.
It starts as a whisper, barely audible.
Rumors. Paranoia. Conspiracy theories. Subterfuge.
Like lightning, the plague moves across the globe, spreading out in all directions. When the naysayers can no longer ignore the wails and moans of the dying, the Harbinger will already have them by their throats.
But the end is only the beginning…
Discovered in the Alaskan permafrost, the ancient virus was reanimated and genetically-altered. The new strain showed great promise in curing many of mankind’s afflictions. When the specimen fell into the hands of the Russian theocracy, their inept scientists attempted to create a biological weapon—a weapon that outsmarted them.
Now, the androvirus is a deadly airborne plague, conquering the world in a matter of days. With a communicability of 100% and a mortality rate of over 90%, there is no immunity. For the survivors, who can suppress the virus, there is only change. A few adapt, but most become walking, talking gray horrors with an appetite for flesh.
Primarily set in the American city of Memphis, four loosely-connected strangers, caught up in their lives, find their worlds annihilated by the swiftly-moving plague.
Alex Connelly is a wealthy, young executive, living an idyllic life with his pregnant wife, Madison. Kirk Foster is a self-absorbed aging gay man, desperate to hang onto his youth and sex appeal. Meredith Brinkley’s on-going war with breast cancer takes a turn for the worse, and she faces an impending double mastectomy. Logan King is a closeted baseball jock, playing for a minor league team while coming to terms with his true identity. And only together will they survive…
In the wee hours of the morning of July 29th, Grigori Yeltsin passed a huge commotion as he walked into Pulkovo-St. Petersburg Airport.
The commotion was none other than a moaning obese man with a beard, Vitaly Milonov, being loaded into an ambulance.
Grigori had barely given the scene a second look, but the pathogen had noticed him, latching onto the tall, dark-haired man in his forties for a lethal piggyback ride.
He was running late, so after going through the security checkpoints, Yeltsin passed the viral taint to all the ticket agents, security, and incoming passengers that Milonov hadn’t infected on his way out.
Rushing through the terminal, the handsome, athletic man passed hundreds of people—some already infected with the virus and the others Grigori infected unwittingly. Those that Yeltsin and Milonov infected with the pathogen became clueless carriers of the swiftly-moving plague.
On the flight from St. Petersburg to Brussels, Yeltsin infected all four hundred and nineteen persons. By the time the plane landed, Yeltsin felt a bit tired, but aside from that, he was fine. Waiting for his connecting flight to New York, Grigori had a breakfast of Chinese food while texting his wife. By the time that he called his mistress, the red-haired Illia, who lived in an apartment that he paid for, the reception on his phone was choppy, but he didn’t dwell on it. After speaking to Illia, Grigori called the thirteen-year-old boy that he was also fucking. The boy, Jaska, a pretty youth with blond hair, who could actually be called the wealthy man’s second mistress, also resided in a luxury apartment that Yeltsin paid for. By the conclusion of his second call, his phone was cutting out to the point of annoyance.
He sat at the gate for his flight to New York City and attempted to check the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on his phone, but oddly, he couldn’t connect to the Internet. Frustrated, he gave up. As Grigori boarded the large jet to New York, he was energized. He was excited about the new construction project that his company was about to undertake. Unlike many business trips, this one was personal. The amphitheater that he was to build had been a long-time dream. The concert hall was to be named after his mother, Oksana. She had died of whooping cough when he was a boy. After spending hundreds of millions of rubles to bribe all the right officials, Yeltsin expected his mother’s name would now live on forever.
The firm that he was partnering with was a company called Hollister Engineering. They had a prestigious reputation and were known for their incredible feats of construction and engineering. The company was even flying up one of their bests from Memphis, Tennessee. The only thing Yeltsin knew about Memphis was that Elvis Presley had lived there. He hoped the young man, who was making the presentation on the following day, Alexander Connelly, would tell him much more about the Land of Elvis—Elvis Presley being Yeltsin’s all-time favorite singer.
Although the virus had shifted, taking longer to show its first symptoms post infection, the airborne plague was no less virulent or deadly. In fact, during his layover, Yeltsin had passed the sickness on to thousands, who boarded flights to Rome, Atlanta, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aries, Madrid, Paris, Dublin, Tel Aviv, Johannesburg, Casablanca, Reykjavik, Toronto, Montreal, Tokyo, Shanghai, Sydney, Melbourne, and Washington DC.
The wheels of the harbinger were turning…
- How long have you been writing? What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve been making up stories for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I would make up these insane little books featuring a few of my friends. Over the years it bloomed. What started my career as an erotica writer was a very toxic relationship that was very sexually frustrating, back in 2010 or so. And Keegan Kennedy was born.
- Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
No. On the otherhand, I often suffer from writer’s exhaustion. Several ideas for different works will be creeping in my head at once, so I have to make myself focus.
- What comes first for you, the plot or characters?
Both have came at different times.
- Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.
I actively challenge stereotypes of women, racial minorities, and gay people. One of the toughest characters turns out to be gay. Also, The Harbinger highlights the incredible diversity of the city of Memphis.
- Tell us something about your work in progress. What is it about?
I’m starting a new series about two men, who aren’t completely likable, who are star-crossed lovers. I wanted to challenge the romance novel genre—one that I truly love. At this time, I can’t use the character names or the title of the series as sometimes, the name of the work and the characters have been known to suddenly turn up in a hastily written project. I’ve found as an indie author that the element of surprise is paramount.
Enter a Rafflecoptor for the chance to win one of two e-copies of The Harbinger.
Originally hailing from Mississippi, Keegan Kennedy is a writer based out of Memphis, TN. He has a knack for uncovering love and romance in the darkest of places. With a tendency toward the melodramatic, he does more than arouse or excite the reader – he engages them.
Author of Homecoming: International Number One in four countries: The United States, The United Kingdom, Germany and Canada. (2013) Other chart number ones: The Substitute Wife, Magnificent Pretense, Captivated, Ganymede 4, West Texas Rivalry, and the Ties that Bind.
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