Publication date: June 12th 2012
Genre: Science Fiction, Horror
The Bastion was humanity’s last hope against the fearsome undead creatures known as the Inferi Scourge. A fortified city with a high wall, surrounded by lush land rich with all the resources needed to survive, protected by high mountain summits, and a massive gate to secure the only pass into the valley, the Bastion became the last stronghold of the living on earth. But one fateful day, the gate failed and the Inferi Scourge destroyed the human settlements outside the walls and trapped the survivors inside the city. Now decades later, the last remaining humans are struggling to survive in a dying city as resources and hope dwindle.
Vanguard Maria Martinez has lived her whole life within the towering walls of steel. She yearns for a life away from the overcrowded streets, rolling blackouts, and food shortages, but there is no hope for anyone as long as the Inferi Scourge howl outside the high walls. Her only refuge from the daily grind is in the arms of her lover, Dwayne Reichardt, an officer in the Bastion Constabulary. Both are highly-decorated veterans of the last disastrous push against the Inferi Scourge. Their secret affair is her only happiness.
Then one day Maria is summoned to meet with a mysterious representative from the Science Warfare Division and is offered the opportunity to finally destroy the Inferi Scourge in the valley and close the gate. The rewards of success are great, but she will have to sacrifice everything, possibly even her life, to accomplish the ultimate goal of securing the future of humanity and saving it from extinction.
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The Characters of The Last Bastion of the Living
by Rhiannon Frater
One of the biggest challenges in starting a new novel is discovering all the new characters that will inhabit the world you’ve created. I usually have the primary characters fully-developed in my head when I sit down at my computer and type in the first sentence of a book, but the secondary characters are not always clearly defined.
While writing THE LAST BASTION OF THE LIVING, the main characters of Dwayne and Maria were incredibly vivid in my mind. Their back stories came easily to me as I pondered the story and considered my approach to writing it. Maria’s personality and appearance was the first thing that developed in my mind when the first seeds of the story germinated in my dreams. I knew she was Dominican-Puerto Rican in descent, strong-willed, loyal, and the daughter of a soldier who died in battle and a mother who hated Maria enlisting in the military. Maria’s desire for a life with the man she loves without the threat of the dangerous Inferi Scourge (a type of zombie) was the central motivation for everything she does in the book. Dwayne was much older than Maria, a career officer, a man stuck in a nasty divorce, a father of three children (two teenagers, one an adult), and someone who has lived a hard life and knows exactly what he wants out of the rest of his years on the Earth. Together, they shared a love bond that was deep and a wellspring of strength to both of them.
But what about the rest of the people surrounding them?
My novels run like movies in my head. I watch and attempt to transfer the images in my mind to the page. I am often surprised by what I observe, but that is some of the fun in writing. A lot of times characters will make unexpected appearances in the narrative. When that happens, I have to ask the question, “Who are you?” Surprisingly, a lot of the characters just drop into the story fully-formed.
Mr. Petersen and Dr. Curran were two such characters. As soon as they appeared on the movie screen in my head, I “got” them. Though they both surprised me in little ways throughout the story, their basic personalities and motivations never changed.
But another character became much more than I ever anticipated. She originally showed up briefly with Maria in a scene that I had considered cutting. I thought she was a one-off character, but the blond soldier hobbling with a cane became a vital part of the plot, much to my surprise. I gave her the name Lindsey after Lindsey Wagner (who played the Bionic Woman) and made her a veteran of the last push against the Inferi Scourge, which was the battle that left Maria and Dwayne with their battle scars. I gave her a job in the communication center of the Constabulary, not realizing how vital that position and her skills would be to the story later on.
Later, about a third of the way through the book, I realized I needed to show that big battle, which was not originally present when I started writing it. Therefore the prologue was written. Lindsey ended up with a part in that big scene along with another character named Ryan. Again, Lindsey and Ryan were created to show that Maria had friends outside of her romantic relationship, but both characters held the weight of something more than just walk-ons. Suddenly, the relationship that Maria had to both of these characters added much more dimension to her personality and her future struggles.
That’s the fun of writing. The unexpected twists and turns. Discovering new and dynamic characters as scenes unfold. Finding out that a character you thought would show up in one scene is actually a vital part of the overall plot.
Rhiannon Frater is the award-winning author of over a dozen books, including the As the World Dies zombie trilogy (Tor), as well as independent works such as The Last Bastion of the Living (declared the #1 Zombie Release of 2012 by Explorations Fantasy Blog and the #1 Zombie Novel of the Decade by B&N Book Blog),and other horror novels. Her next novel for Tor, Dead Spots, will be published in 2014. She was born and raised a Texan and presently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and furry children (a.k.a pets). She loves scary movies, sci-fi and horror shows, playing video games, cooking, dying her hair weird colors, and shopping for Betsey Johnson purses and shoes.
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