Interview with techno-thriller author Ray Gorham

Today’s guest is techno-thriller author Ray Gorham. He’s stopping by as he tours his novel 77 Days in September.

Ray Gorham was born in Calgary, Canada in 1966.  Prior to graduating college and settling in the United States in 1991, Ray had the good fortune to live in a variety of locations around the world.  Years in Australia, England, Lebanon, Japan, Canada, and the United States all helped to shape his background, worldview, and appreciation for other people and cultures.

Graduating with a degree in Accounting, he decided he couldn’t spend a future studying tax law and sitting in front of a computer all day, so he took a management position with Wal-Mart and spent the next 10 years in retail management where he had the opportunity to interact with hundreds of employees and thousands of customers on a weekly basis.  Growing tired of large corporations, Ray next tried opening and running a restaurant, but decided after a year that wasn’t for him either.  From there, he found a small log home business for sale in Montana in 2006 and settled in for what he hoped would be a long-term career.

When the construction industry slowed down in 2008, Ray knew he was going to have a lot of time on his hands, so he determined to cross off one of the items on his bucket list—writing a novel.  After thousands of hours of writing and editing he had the final draft of his first novel, a 108,000 word effort telling the story of a husband struggling to return to his family after a major terrorist attack. While agents and publishers have passed on his efforts to this point, he has found significant success so far in digital format, selling over 10,000 copies of his work.

Welcome, Ray. Please
tell us about your book.

77 Days in September, is a story
about a man separated from his family by a terrorist attack.  He’s
been away working for a couple of weeks when an EMP detonation shuts down the
country and makes it next to impossible for him to return
home.  The story then follows both his and his family’s struggles
to survive and re-unite. 
inspired this book?
I wanted to
write a story that would present a husband/father/man in a positive
  Too many stories have guys that kill without remorse, sleep
around, forget their families, or act without considering the
  I wanted to have a character that would overcome
amazing obstacles in order to do the right thing.
  That was the
“inspiration” for the book.
  From there it was finding a device
that would put the character in such a situation, and that is where the EMP came
into play.
Once I
started writing, though, I found the EMP aspect, and the threat it presents,
became just as important as the other part of the story.
Your book
posits an EMP detonation and knocking out the bulk of technology in the country and
thrusting the country into chaos. There’s a lot that can be done with that
scenario, but what themes did you choose to focus on?
I wanted to
present normal people who suddenly have life and death decisions to make, and
their struggle to maintain their decency in a radically altered
  I’ve had some criticism in reviews that my characters are
too nice, but I think most people will find it very, very difficult to shoot
their neighbors if such an event were to occur.
  Most Americans are
good, decent people, and the live and let live mentality will be the outlook
that will guide them.
  That is not to say that there won’t be the
shoot first people around, I just chose not to have them as my
So, any
post-apocalyptic book, by necessity, explores the limits of civilization and the
nature of man. Do you see yourself as more a pessimist or optimist about human
I think as
you read my answers and my book, you’ll see that I am more of an optimist than a
  I do expect that terrible, ugly things will happen if
such an event were to occur, so tried to portray a variety of things–the good,
the evil, and the in between.
Why do
you think people are so drawn to the stories about the collapse of
I think much
of it has to do with the fact that every great empire that has existed has to
come to an end, with the exception of ours.
  And the only reason we
are still around is that we are young, and likely just haven’t met our end,
  The Persians, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, British, Syrians,
Ottomans, Mayans, and so forth, have all failed, most in violent, terrifying
  Maybe sub-consciously we understand that there is a finite
time we have to be in the position we are in, and the expectation of our
eventual doom motivates us to read/view those types of works.
scenario time. The EMP goes off tomorrow. Would you rather be near a city or a
remote rural area and why?
While there
would be advantages to both locations, I’d much rather be in a rural
environment, provided it was someplace I was established in with a home or
  If the EMP does go off tomorrow, I think things in the
big cities are going to go south pretty quick as people begin to
   I live in a rural setting, close to a city (15 miles), on
50 acres.
  It provides us a good buffer, with the city
conveniences, so kind of the best of both worlds.
Can you
give us any insight into any future works?
I have a few
things in the works, but nothing imminent.
  I don’t view myself as
a post-apocalyptic or dystopian author, so my closest-to-being done novel
concerns a guy who can really see the future, and how his ability affects the
people of his community.
  I also have a sequel to 77 Days planned,
as well as a few other stories.
  At some point I hope to be able to
write full time, but that time is not yet.
  Hopefully I can get a
book out before the end of the year.

Here’s an excerpt:

High above the sun-baked prairies of Lawrence, Kansas,
the missile reached its target.  No one
on the ground even noticed the blast. 
Perhaps had someone been looking at precisely the right location, at
precisely the right time, they might have noticed a tiny, momentary spark in
the bright afternoon sky.  Had they seen
the flash, it likely would have been attributed to the glint of sunlight
reflecting off a passing airplane.  From
every vantage point below the detonation, there was no sense of the destructive
capacity contained in that tiny speck of light. 
More than 300 miles above the earth, a nuclear explosion impacts nothing
with the force of its blast.  It is
merely a large bomb going off in a vacuum, creating no shockwaves, no
fireballs, no radiation, not even any sound. 
Despite the lack of explosive destruction, this was
now the most lethal weapon to be unleashed in the history of the world, but it
was a weapon that would have had absolutely no discernable affect on mankind
200 years ago, other than creating a more colorful aurora.  Upon detonation, the bomb expelled an intense
wave of gamma radiation in every direction. 
The gamma rays traveling earthward interacted with the upper levels of
the atmosphere and created a chain reaction of displaced electrons that rushed
towards the surface of the earth at the speed of light.  Most of the these displaced electrons passed
rapidly through the atmosphere and grounded themselves harmlessly in the earth.
A small percentage,
however, encountered conductive materials: 
metal, antennas, copper wiring, and silicon chips.  As these conductors absorbed untold billions
of free electrons, they experienced sudden surges in both voltage and
current.  In simple items, like a garden
rake, this surge was manifested as a harmless static electricity-like
spark.  But in larger networks and
sensitive objects, the consequences of the electron overload were devastating.

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