While most of us looked forward to sleep-away summer camps as exciting, what would we do if upon arrival, frightening things began happening and the expected world of wondrous fun turned into a deadly nightmare? If you plan a stay in this cryptic version of camp in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, author Stan Morris warns you to be prepared to survive much more than wild animals and sunburns.
Interviewer: Christy Campbell
Tell us about Surviving the Fog. Is it part of a series?
It is part of a series, and there are currently two books available in the series. The first is Surviving the Fog, and the second is Surviving the Fog-Kathy’s Recollections. I am currently working on Surviving the Fog-Douglas Lives, and I have written snippets for Surviving the Fog-Sasha and Kim and Surviving the Fog-Howard the Red.
Is this series more post apocalypse or is it science fiction?
Definitely more post apocalypse. The science fiction aspects are only present in the prologue to Surviving the Fog. It describes the Earth moving through a region of space containing the Fog. The book centers on the efforts of the teenage campers to survive. They must obtain food and shelter, and perhaps more importantly, they have to decide what kind of community they will create.
How was the idea conceived, and what influenced the conception?
There are two books that influenced Surviving the Fog. The first is Lord of the Flies by William Golding, and the second is Tunnel in the Sky by Robert Heinlein. I disagree vehemently with Golding’s suggestion that a group of boys would degenerate to that extent. I think it is much more likely that a group would create a community similar to Heinlein’s. The reason for my belief is the archeological record. In almost every case humans have formed stable communities. It’s in our DNA. Bees create hives, ants create mounds, and primates create communities.
You have both male and female characters as leads. Is one more of a focus than the other?
In Surviving the Fog the focus is clearly on the boys with a few notable exceptions. But Surviving the Fog-Kathy’s Recollections is from the point of view of a fourteen year old girl, and most of the focus in on the girls. After Surviving the Fog was published, I received numerous requests for a sequel. I resisted this for a time, for I felt that I had nothing more to say about these kids. But a few years after the book was published, I was engaged in a conversation with a woman at Goodreads. She was complaining about how I had neglected the girls. This was not the first time I had heard this complaint, but this conversation led me to consider how Kathy, one of the characters, might have viewed her situation and how she might have viewed the events that occurred in Surviving the Fog. I began writing her story, and I became absolutely obsessed with it. I usually write about 100,000 words for my novels, but in this case I decided to keep writing until I was satisfied with the story. I finished Surviving the Fog-Kathy’s Recollections with over 200,000 words.
The New Adult category has taken off for writers who like to put a more mature spin on things. Is your book along the lines of YA or NA?
It depends on the definition of YA. I’ve seen some definitions of YA that go as low as twelve years old. Having raised two boys, I can say that describing a twelve year old as a “Young Adult” is flat out irresponsible. Young teenagers should never be labeled “adult,” because doing so robs them of the right to linger in their childhood. I define YA as sixteen to twenty-one, and my books meet that definition. At the beginning of the book, the youngest camper is twelve and the oldest is seventeen. The teenagers age as the story progresses. I think this book skirts the line between YA and NA. There are sexual situations but nothing graphic.
You’ve got us stranded at a mysterious camp in your novel. Where did you come up with the setting?
The camp is set in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains. When I was a kid I attended camp in the Sierra’s almost every year, so it was a natural setting for my camp. The purpose of the camp is to preach sexual abstinence and to teach the various methods of birth control. Some people have objected to the premise, but I wanted to challenge the notion that abstinence and birth control education are not compatible. These ideas are not only compatible, it is irresponsible not to encourage both. There is an irony here, because once their society and culture is destroyed, and the adults have mostly disappeared from the scene, the kids don’t have any rules to follow except for those they create, and as in all communities, rules about sex are created.
Did you do any specific research while writing the book?
Wild Plants of the Sierra Nevada by Ray S. Vizgirdas and Edna M. Rey-Vizgirdas was very helpful and like most writers these days, Wikipedia is my best friend. I did a lot of research on subjects like soap making, edible plants, temperatures, and the animals of the Sierra Nevada.
What kinds of details were more important than others as you wrote the book?
One of the most compelling aspects of Tolkien’s writing was how he described the countryside as the Hobbits moved about. Many times I was forced to use a dictionary (pre-internet) to learn the kind of plant life he was referring to. When I write, I try to remember to add details to the scene like the flora, fauna, and the weather. The kids build a “lodge” in the book, and I had to describe the construction in a way that made sense.
Are there any sequels waiting in the wings?
I have written about 10,000 words for Surviving the Fog-Douglas Lives and about 2,000 words for Surviving the Fog-Sasha and Kim.
What book genres do you enjoy reading?
Science fiction, romance, and history books make up the bulk of my reading. I branch out occasionally into fantasy and anthropology.
Where can we learn more about you?
My Website: https://sites.google.com/site/stanandrene/home
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Stan-Morris/e/B004KB2HG0/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Barnes and Noble Author Page: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/stan-morris
iTunes Author Page: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/stan-morris/id366779015?mt=11
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2884264.Stan_Morris
Smashwords Author Page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/morriss003