Authors are advised to be well-read in the genre in which they are writing. Having switched from writing mysteries to a post apocalyptic novel, I'm often asked which PA novels I have read and which one is my favorite. I'm a big fan of PA novels and have read many of them from old classics like Neville Shute's, On the Beach, to the latest popular offerings such as The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
I divide PA novels into two camps, those that include a supernatural element like Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling or Robert McCammon's Swan Song, and those that are purely speculative fiction such as Cormac McCarthy's, The Road, or The Gospel of Matthias Kent by Mike Silvestri.
On the supernatural side, my runaway favorite is Stephen King's master work, The Stand, which also happens to be one of my all time favorite novels. So much has been written and said about this epic novel that there is no need for me to write on about it.
My favorite speculative PA novel is the classic, Earth Abides by George Stewart, which was first published in 1949. Worldwide pandemic is the cause for the near extinction of mankind in both novels, but that's where their similarities end. While The Stand weighs in at over 1,000 pages and includes a huge cast of diverse characters, Earth Abides at a little over 300 pages revolves primarily around one central character with a tenacious will to rebuild civilization. The plot is tight, the writing superb, and the emotional impact palpable.
In her introduction to the 2006 Del Rey trade paperback edition, Connie Willis wrote, "...once you read it, you never forget it. It never goes away." I couldn't agree more. Earth Abides is that good. If you enjoy PA novels, be sure to include it on your reading list.
Both of these favorites set a high standard for me as an author, and I've enjoyed the challenge of writing a PA novel of high quality.
Earthburst, a post-apocalyptic saga by Dennis Royer - coming spring 2012.