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Risingshadow has the honour of publishing a guest post by Jennifer Brozek.

Information about the author:

Jennifer Brozek is a Hugo Award-nominated editor and an award-winning author. Winner of the Australian Shadows Award for best edited publication, Jennifer has edited fifteen anthologies with more on the way, including the acclaimed Chicks Dig Gaming and Shattered Shields anthologies. Author of Apocalypse Girl Dreaming, Industry Talk, the Karen Wilson Chronicles, and the Melissa Allen series, she has more than sixty published short stories, and is the Creative Director of Apocalypse Ink Productions.

Jennifer is a freelance author for numerous RPG companies. Winner of the Scribe, Origins, and ENnie awards, her contributions to RPG sourcebooks include Dragonlance, Colonial Gothic, Shadowrun, Serenity, Savage Worlds, and White Wolf SAS.

Jennifer is the author of the award-winning YA Battletech novel, The Nellus Academy Incident, and Shadowrun novella, Doc Wagon 19. She has also written for the AAA MMO Aion and the award-winning videogame, Shadowrun Returns. She is the author of The Last Days of Salton Academy, published by Ragnarok Publications.

Click here to visit her official website.

Information about The Last Days of Salton Academy:

“The Last Days of Salton Academy is a dark, twisted rollercoaster of a book. Jennifer Brozek knocks it out of the park.” — Stephen Blackmoore, author of City of the Lost and Broken Souls

It's referred to as 'The Outbreak,' and it happened just over three months ago, casting the world (or at least this part of it) into a state of powerlessness and chaos. The Salton Academy has become a rare sanctuary for those few students who remained behind over fall break.

As winter approaches, cracks are revealed in the academy's foundations as it's discovered someone is stealing food, another is taking advantage of a captive audience, and yet others have banded together and are thinking about mutiny, even murder. One thing's for certain — a supply run must be made soon, or everyone will starve before winter's end.

Oh yes, and then there's the matter of the headmaster's son and his undead dog...

The Last Days of Salton Academy is a classic tale of horror in the spirit of Night of the Living Dead meets Lord of the Flies, featuring an ensemble cast and written by Hugo Award-nominated editor and award-winning author, Jennifer Brozek.

Links:

GUEST POST: THE END DAYS HAVE COME AND GONE BY JENNIFER BROZEK

The Last Days of Salton Academy is set in modern day United States. I don’t mention where. The only clue is that it is in the “tri-cities” area and there is enough open land that the isolated prep school, and its surrounding, walled grounds, are a good ten miles outside of the closest city. Maybe farther. I’m never that specific.

It short, this young adult novel is set in Anywhere, USA.

I know this is true. All five of my first round readers made idle comments about where they thought the story was set. In their minds, the location was clear. All five of them had a different place in mind—California, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Washington. Even the one in Washington mentioned a different area than where I mentally placed the prep school.

As a former military brat and frequent traveler, I have seen a lot of the United States. This breadth of travel experience has colored my writing in ways I don’t always notice. But, like an intellectual magpie, I’ve pulled shiny bits from all over to pad my narrative foundation and to pretty up the scenery.

In truth, I consciously took pieces from four areas to create the Anywhere, America setting for The Last Days of Salton Academy. I took the small town feel from Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. The structured setting and brick buildings from Fort Dix, New Jersey. The rolling, golden hills and “tri-cities” concept from where I lived in California—Livermore, Dublin, Pleasanton tri-valley area. Finally, the isolated feeling from the Pasco, Kennewick, Richland tri-cities area of western Washington.

It’s interesting to note that all of my readers gravitated to the west and northwest of the United States. My guess to why is the rolling, open hills. It’s the kind of geography you don’t really see in the eastern part of the country. Not that I remember. I could be wrong. If people believe the Salton Academy fits neatly into their neck of the woods, so be it. I’m not going to tell them they are wrong.

As for the Salton Academy itself, it was inspired by my time living on military bases and the structured layout of my college—the University of Portland. UP is a small, private, Roman Catholic college with a total of 1800 undergraduates. At least, it was during my time there in the 1990s. The central quad of Salton Academy is the central quad of UP with the Administration building and Commons in the same place. Everything else I moved around.

The biggest difference is the fact that UP is in the middle of Portland and not isolated. Not walled with open grounds. Still, I could imagine what it would’ve been like to stay behind during a quarter break and to have a zombie outbreak happen. How that would affect an isolated school with all of the drama that goes on behind the closed doors of separated boys and girls dorms. How faculty, who only saw students on specific days, would react to suddenly becoming the protectors and pseudo-parents of these same students.

The final bit about the world the Salton Academy students and faculty is that the Outbreak happened three months ago. They’ve had time to fortify the prep school. Time to realize no one is coming to help them. Time to set new routines to ensure they were still safe.Time to get bored.

Three months is a long time to live under the stress of an unfolding apocalypse. No longer do they wonder if a zombie horde is going to descend upon them. Now they wonder how they will survive after the canned food runs out or the water pipes burst. What they will do when winter comes and the only heat they have are the fireplaces in the common rooms.

The Last Days of the Salton Academy is not about the immediacy of the end with its adrenaline and terror. It’s about the mental fortitude of the survivors as it sinks in that this really is the end of modern civilization and the old rules no longer apply.

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Jennifer Brozek is a Hugo Award nominated editor and a Bram Stoker nominated author. She has been professionally writing and editing role-playing games and fiction since 2004. Often considered a Renaissance woman, Jennifer prefers to be known as a wordslinger and optimist. Read more about her at www.jenniferbrozek.com or follow her on Twitter at @JenniferBrozek.

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