Sunday, April 15, 2012

Interview with Dennis Royer

Mayan Calendars, Preppers, and Presidential Elections all have people thinking about change and possible disasters. Author Dennis Royer has tapped into this cultural undercurrent and mined a gem in his new dystopian novel Earthburst.
The United States of America reaches the tipping point where takers outnumber producers. They elect a charismatic president without really knowing who he is, a deranged president with an insatiable hunger for power who in a fit of madness plunges all of planet Earth into darkness. Scattered throughout the wasteland that was once America, isolated groups of women and men conspire to hold on to their humanity, rebels who must be rooted out and destroyed in order for the soulless regime to thrive. In a lonely Pennsylvania valley a naïve young man trundles face first into a storm of evil armed only with his faith and motivated by his love for a girl enslaved.

Dennis Royer has enjoyed a lengthy career in information technology as a programmer and network administrator. He began writing novels in 2000 as an artistic release from the unforgiving logic of bits and bytes. As a resident of rural Perry County, Pennsylvania, Dennis derives inspiration from his bucolic surroundings. His Perry County mystery novels center on the rural lifestyle and include mountain lions, rustic old inns, Native American culture, and buried treasure!
In a departure from the mystery genre, Dennis's latest novel, "Earthburst," is a post-apocalyptic saga set primarily in remote Tioga County, PA.

Having read and enjoyed all Dennis’s previous novels in the Perry County Mysteries Series, I was delighted to read an advance copy of his new novel Earthburst, and was blown away by the epic scope and plausibility of the terrifying future he envisioned. I recently had the opportunity to interview Dennis about his writing process, future plans, and new novel.

GRA: Why write a dystopian novel?
Dennis Royer: The dystopian / post-apocalyptic genre has always been my favorite as a reader, and I always wanted to write my own vision of what life would be like if humanity were stripped of modern technology and forced to live off the land. There are so many scenarios where something like this could happen that it's a real possibility. We've lost so much of our knowledge during the past century that it would be a real struggle to survive. Grocery stores carry only a 3 day supply of food. What happens when the food runs out? Would people cooperate and work together or would society rapidly degenerate into an everyman-for-himself mentality? My current novel, "Earthburst," has just been released this month and explores this issue.

GRA: At what point in your life did you realize you were a writer?
Dennis Royer: In what seems like a lifetime ago, I worked for a consulting engineering firm and was tasked with writing environmental assessments for local municipalities. Dry, boring stuff. At the time I thought I was handed this task because of being the new guy, but during my employee evaluation my boss told me that I wrote with "aplomb." Not knowing whether this was a compliment or a pejorative, I consulted a dictionary. When I found out it was praise, that ended up being the validation I needed to keep me writing.

GRA: Boxers or Briefs? Basically when an idea strikes for a story do you write by the seat of your pants all loosy-goosy like boxers, or do you outline and have more support for the story like briefs?
Dennis Royer: I'm definitely a pantser. I write a brief notes on no more than 2 or 3 pages covering how my story will start and end and the important plot points. I use these notes to keep myself centered, but my characters are the ones who tell their story, not me. I find that detailed outlines stifle my creativity.

GRA: What other genre that you haven’t written would you like to try?
Dennis Royer: I admire authors who can craft intelligent, literary fiction and consider it the highest art form in novel writing. For example, stories like Kathryn Stockett's, "The Help" or Khaled Hosseini's, "The Kite Runner" are inspiring and enduring. I aspire to someday write a literary novel of this caliber.

GRA: What other authors do you read?
Dennis Royer: Lisa Gardner. Her novels are sick and twisted. That's why I like them. I also like Tess Gerritsen, Stephen King, Douglas Preston, and Lincoln Child. There are so many others. I read or listen to audiobooks about 50 novels a year. I prefer fast paced, plot driven fiction. Oh, and there's a new guy named George Appelt who is getting ready to release his debut novel. I'm really looking forward to that one.

GRA: What is your writing schedule like?
Dennis Royer: I'm a seasonal writer and am most productive during the winter months when it's mostly dark outside. There are too many distractions during the summer. I prefer to write in the afternoon and evening since I have never been an early riser.

GRA: Where is your favorite place to write?
Dennis Royer: My house has a dedicated office where I do all of my writing. Two of my four walls have floor-to-ceiling bookcases loaded with books from my favorite authors. Having all of those friends around me is an inspiration. I close my office door to block out noise and write in the quiet. Playing music is a distraction and frightens away the muses.

GRA: Can we look forward to another book in the Perry County Mysteries Series?
Dennis Royer: I wrote four Perry County Mysteries in four years and had to step away from it to avoid series fatigue. As a reader, I get disappointed when an author keeps a series going long after the ideas run out and the work becomes stale. I didn't want to do that to my readers, although I'm often asked by them when the next installment is coming. "Earthburst" has been a welcome change of pace, and now that I've had a break I might revisit the Perry County series. For all of you Kindle fans out there, I definitely intend to release Kindle versions of this series during 2012.

GRA: Who influences your work?
Dennis Royer: My writing is influenced by a combination of authors. I refer to them as my brain trust: Stephen King for his vivid imagination, James Patterson for his short, fast paced chapters that end in cliff hangers, Ken Follett for his prose, Charlaine Harris for her humor, and Scott Sigler for his fearlessness and marketing savvy.

GRA: What has been the most bizarre experience in your writing career?
Dennis Royer: I had two weird things happen to me on the same day at the same book signing event. A truly memorable day. One guy walked up to my table and asked how he could get published. All of you who are authors know how impossible that question is to answer succinctly. I gave him some vague response and the guy got hostile. He said something like this, "You authors are all alike, holding back your secrets to success. You just don't want to let me in on the game. You OWE it to me to answer my question." Sheesh, I thought he was going to grab my shirt collar and shake me. I finally got rid of him, and a short time later another guy plopped his manuscript on my table and insisted that I read and critique his story about a colony of insects living on an alien world, and by-the-way, the insects also happened to be born again Christians. Needless to say, with those distractions I didn't sell many books.

GRA: What’s next?
Dennis Royer: With the release of Earthburst, I'm in the process of lining up a book tour for this summer and look forward to meeting with my readers. After that, I'll be on hiatus for about a year to take care of personal commitments that have been piling up. Don't worry, though, I'll be back. I have a lot of stories in my head that need to come out. Stay tuned for updates at my website:

Thanks to Dennis Royer.
For action, mystery, and suspense keep an eye on this talented writer. And pick up a copy of Earthburst today, it is available in trade paperback and Kindle versions from, or order from your local bookseller using this ISBN number: 978-1469969435.


  1. When is your first local signing, Dennis? I hope to be there? Love the point you make about how people no longer know how to grow food or survive without the store.

  2. Fun interview, George and Dennis. Can't wait to read this one, too, Dennis. If you schedule any signings, be sure to let us know. And post it on the SW Writers! :)

  3. Susan - I just started setting up a book tour. One local event for sure, I'll be appearing at "Supernatural Saturday" on June 16 at the Holly Inn in Mount Holly Springs (with George and Cate, too). Scroll to the bottom of my homepage for details: I'll post other events on my webpage, Facebook, and over at Susq. Writers.