We start production on 1/15. Get ready…
I suffered a mild shock when I woke up this morning and saw what the sales on the Commune Book One audio book were looking like. To put it in perspective, the audio format has almost completely outsold both the ebook and print versions of the story, which has been available since March of this year. It hasn’t overtaken the other versions just yet but, at this rate, give it a day…
A giant thank you to all my readers as well as R. C. Bray and all of his listeners. I’m well aware that a significant portion of you are coming along on this ride because of him and not me, and that’s totally fine. After having gone through the production process with him, I feel as though this is as much his story as it is mine. This was a team effort all the way.
Book Three News!
This is a very fun time for me right now. I’m what I would estimate to be a quarter of the way through on the first draft for Commune: Book Three; at about 50K words. For the reference of those keeping score, Book One came in at 95.5K and Book Two was complete at 150K words.
I’m guessing that Book Three will wrap at around 200K or greater but it’s still early enough in the story right now that it’s hard to be accurate. It would make sense, though. The first book was a pretty simple affair. There were only three main characters with a couple of side characters thrown in along the way, so it makes sense that the story was fairly short.
In the second book, I found myself juggling no less than nineteen personalities. That kind of diversity takes a bit more space to explore, so yeah, another 60K words on top of the original is probably in order.
In book three, the scope is expanding yet again. Our characters have been living in this world for a while, now. There has been time to organize, time for folks to congeal together like little blood clots. We’re dealing with factions spread out over the different points of the compass. There are, of course, our band of heroes up in Wyoming but we also have the last known remnant of the United States Military to think about in the wastelands of Arizona, as well. Additionally, something ugly (potentially very ugly) looms out in the quiet state of Nevada…
This is the third and final book that I intend to write in this series, for the time being at least. I can offer that I see possibilities for more stories down the line but there are also some other ideas (other worlds) that I’d like to explore, and so I think I’ll take a bit of a break from the apocalypse after this one’s done…for a little while. I can tell you that this book, big #3, is the story that I originally set out to tell when I started writing these back in January of 2017, just before I realized I had a lot of world building to get out of the way. I’m glad I took this idea and broke it into three books. I feel like we both (me, the writer and you, the reader) had an opportunity to spread out in this story for a good while and really enjoy it.
Audio Book News
R. C. Bray is starting to pick up a lot of steam on production for BK#1 and I have to say, he’s knocking this sumbitch out of the park, as I knew he would. He’s delivered enough work for proofing now that I’ve had a chance to hear the three major characters that I created (Jake, Amanda, and Billy) out loud for the first time in my life. The experience is not only surreal – it is intensely rewarding to me as a writer. He’s bringing nuance to their delivery that I hadn’t even considered when I wrote them; providing a deeper, richer dimension just through his performance and how he’s interpreting what I’ve done.
The experience for me has been of such impact that I’m beginning to regard the simple text of these stories as pretty damned good (to toot my own horn) while the audio format is (at least by me) considered the ultimate expression of the material.
Bob, if you’re reading this: Nice work, dude.
Originally posted on dustysharp.com:
Commune: Book 2 is a remarkable read, and even manages to improve on the solid first book in the series. And that’s a tall order, as that one came charging out of the gates as a fresh, thoughtful take on the post-apaclyptic theme by rookie author Joshua Gayou. With his sophomore effort, Gayou ratchets up the storyline by digging us deeper into the personalities of several of the main characters, while continuing to advance the overall narrative of the “history” of this fictional community of survivors.
Book 2 primarily expands the story of another of the commune’s main characters, who was briefly introduced in the epilogue to the first book. Gibs is a former Marine, and we meet him and his hapless band of misfits as they struggle to survive amid the ruined cities of Colorado. There are several tense, violent, defining moments where hope seems all but lost, but under Gibs’ will and perseverence they manage to press on. Eventually they make their way to the Jackson, Wyoming, and are taken in by the original settlers of the commune (whose establishment was the subject of the first book). Here, the narrative switches from run-and-gun survival against other groups of more ill intent, and settles into a procedural of planning and working toward their long term survival in a more secure, permanent place. There are some interesting solutions to the problems of housing, food, security, and yes even waste disposal. Gayou has thought of everything.
This is where Book 2 continues with the satisfying breadth of theme and subject matter that was initiated in the first installment. Yes, we get plenty of action, plenty of Road Warrior style confrontations with the bad guys. But mixing in a healthy dose of real-world problems, and the clever solutions to them, helps with the immersion into the story. It lends a level of believability that is absent in the more cartoonish, all-gore-and-grim examples in the genre. And, gratefully for this reader, it also infuses an underlying sense of hope to the story. Yes, disasters happen, the group is fraught with setbacks, but ultimately we can see that they’re laying down the groundwork for long term success. We’re rooting for them.
Which isn’t to say the violence and action take a back seat. The story climaxes in an epic road-borne battle that rivals any I’ve read in the genre. This is the set piece that Gibs’ entire story arc has laid the groundwork for. His colorful personality is matched by his battle-toughness, as he leads his ragtag group of scavengers against an overwhelming force of bad guys. Here is the red meat for hard core fans of the genre.
But Gayou’s talent is in weaving the id and the ego. It’s not all just gunfire and explosions. He’s put some real thought into many of the more basic questions of a post-apaclyptic world, and handled those subjects with skill. The aforementioned survival needs, and their solutions, are a case in point. But Gayou throws subjects into the mix that you’d never even think of, then forces his characters to figure out a solution. One such episode features a member of their own group, who goes off the rails in a way that I’ve never seen addressed in a story of this genre. Several themes come together in that one small corner of the story, such as the subject matter itself, the idea that the monsters a group of survivors must face can come from within as well as without, and also the moral struggle to figure out a just solution.
Commune: Book 2, ultimately becomes more than just a post-apocalyptic narrative. It studies themes that break the norms of the genre, and therefore would be a satisfying read for even those who don’t usually read such books. We see deep character studies, watch them grow and develop, some for the good and some not so. Gayou stress-tests them in a wide variety of situations to see what they do. And its fun to watch.
Disclaimer: I was provided an Advanced Reader Copy by the author at no cost. I was only asked for initial feedback, though there was no requirement to post an official review in exchange for the ARC. However, I enjoyed the book so much that I gladly purchased it anyhow, and am proud to offer my thoughts in this review as a verified customer of the book.
First editing pass is complete on the manuscript. I’m not sick of the story just yet, which is good, but I soon will be after a few more passes. Time to send her out to some beta readers now. Unfortunately, there are few enough of those in my little circle that can read and critique a book in a timely manner – not due to lack of interest, of course. None of these people actually get paid; they just do it out of the goodness of their hearts. The thing about being a grownup is that your life is busy as hell. I’m grateful to the folks who are willing to lend a hand. To those of my friends lacking the time: I totally get it. Just buy a copy when it comes out and we’ll call it even 😛