About the Book:
What if man’s thirst for knowledge resulted in it’s own destruction?
Richard Draven is a scientist interested in the healing properties of primates and transferring them to humans. When he discovers a new species of monkey with amazing regenerative powers, he has no idea that his report will set off a chain of events with dire consequences.
Six years later, and Draven’s research has been put into practice. The government has engineered a virus which has begun human trials. It’s job – to make the armed forces of the world better, stronger, faster in their numerous conflicts across the globe. Something, however is not right. Disturbing reports about the behaviour of those modified by the virus are growing in number raising concerns amongst those in charge that something has gone wrong. As the Apex teams go dark and stop responding to orders, the government discover that there is a much more sinister force at work.
Joshua Cook is the alpha male, the first man to be administered the virus and bond with it successfully. Joshua is tired of the human race, tired of their self-destructive nature. He has a plan, one which involves wiping the slate clean of the ‘lesser’ edition of the human machine and repopulating the earth with his own kind. As the full and devastating scale of Joshua’s plan begins to unfold before the eyes of the world, the government are forced to turn back to Richard Draven in an effort to find a way to stop Joshua and his growing army before he can eradicate humanity from the planet.
A tense, global thriller taking place across multiple countries, from the government-centric streets of Washington to the slums of Mumbai and the burning heat of the Iraq desert, Project Apex features a rich and varied cast of characters each with their own motivations and sub plots through the main narrative as they tell the very human story of a disaster on an unprecedented global scale where people are forced to do things they never imagined possible, and in some cases revert back to the instinctive savagery long repressed by our species as society starts to crumble the world over.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Of course! My name is Michael and I was born and raised in Leeds in the UK. I’m married and have one daughter. Background wise, I’ve always loved writing and reading, although for some reason or another I didn’t really start considering doing it seriously until 2012. At the time, the indie/rock band I was playing in was doing quite well. We were recording and touring, getting our names out there and that was the potential career focus. However as often happens, creative differences on the direction of the band meant that we split, and suddenly with no creative output I was craving something to focus on. It had always been in the back of my mind to have a serious attempt at the whole writing thing and had been mulling over the idea of doing a collection of interlinked short stories so decided to give it a go, unsure how far I would get or if it would even be any good. To my surprise, the whole thing came naturally to me and within a month or so I had just over ninety thousand words and a completed project. Unsure what to do next, I did a little research and found a couple of potential publishers and decided to send some tentative queries. Within a couple of days, I received a reply from one offering to publish the book! Here we are four and a half years later with the crazy situation of having a couple of amazon bestselling titles under my belt and having just sold movie rights to another book (MEAT 2013) to a Los Angeles-based production company. I find it humbling and crazy in equal measure and can’t believe how fortunate I am.
What inspired you to write?
There was one very distinct moment that I remember when I was growing up. I must have only been eleven or twelve at the time and came home and my eye was caught by a huge hardback book on the dining room table. Curious I went to take a closer look. It was my sister’s copy of Stephen King’s Skeleton Crew. I was drawn in by the artwork and picked it up (even though the bookmark inside said she was currently reading it) and turned the page to the first story and started to read. Long story short, I devoured that book. I remember the feeling it gave me, the way the prose was able to take me away and deliver a really visual experience. In the back of my mind, I wondered what it would be like to be able to be the one delivering that feeling. To write something that gave the reader that sense of separation and take them somewhere new, even if those places were frightening and uncomfortable. I suppose that stuck with me for years until I made a serious stab at trying to see if I could pull it off.
What inspired your novel?
The idea for Project Apex came together from a few different things. It was conceived in 2013 although it wasn’t actually written until much later. It was a time when every time I switched on the news there were reports of wars, suicide bomber attacks. I always wondered how it was for the innocent people caught in the middle, how a regular person might try to survive amid a catastrophic event that changed their lives forever. A couple of other things I had been toying with at the time was writing a fresh take on the whole zombie attack angle but grounding it in reality and science. I had been reading some Michael Crichton at the time and loved the scientific spin he used to put on his books. I came up with the idea of creating a world where something so catastrophic and devastating happens but instead of following the exploits of a muscle bound action hero as he tries to resolve it, I would use very real, very ordinary people. There is no main protagonist as such in Project Apex. The story follows several different people and groups from different walks of life as they try to deal with this devastation. There is a young boy and his disabled brother trying to survive the death of their parents in the attack. We also follow an Indian aid worker who had escaped the poverty of her old life and had returned as an aid worker when everything happens. We have a scientist who feels responsible for the situation but is neither strong or brave enough to fight, relying instead on his female companion assigned by the military to protect him as he tries to find a way to help. We also follow a heavily funded church in Texas which looks to exploit the world events and transcend into a cult-like entity. The most polarising relationship of all though is between an American Special Forces soldier and one of the terrorists he had captured. Forced to work together when the global catastrophe happens, the story really digs into the idea of putting aside preconceptions and prejudice in the face of a bigger threat. They transcend from bitter hatred to respectful if uneasy allies as the three books play out, which for me was a really interesting dynamic. Finally, tying all together we have our villain of the piece, a man called Joshua who is essentially like the second coming of Hitler. He is maniacal and ruthless, yet a flawed villain. Readers have said they drift from hatred to seeing his point and finding themselves siding with him until I throw in something particularly horrible to sway them back over to the hatred side of the fence!
What is the genre?
Pinning down a specific genre for this was hard as it dips into several areas. It’s part thriller, part horror part science fiction. It’s a huge global scale story and even now I can’t nail it down to one over the other.
What draws you to this genre?
Although I started out and make my living in horror, I’ve found myself increasingly drawn towards doing some high concept commercial thriller type things. Although I enjoy writing the supernatural stuff, I also love working in the real world and crafting stories which more people would relate to. It’s definitely an area I’ll be exploring going forward. After the project Apex series is complete, the next couple of novels I have planned are also leaning more towards the thriller genre than outright horror.
How did you develop your plot and your characters?
I’m a plotter at heart for long fiction. I like to bullet point my story chapter by chapter to give me a rough skeleton of a story. Often it will change along the way but I like to go in knowing I have a beginning, middle and end. For this one, the initial intention was to just do one book, but it became apparent early on that the plot was too complex for one book so I made the decision to split it into three which was the right call.
As for characters, I’ve always hated working in black and white. For me, there is nothing more boring than having characters who are fully good or fully bad. For me, the most interesting ones have always been somewhere in the middle. It’s those grey shades I like to work within. I like the balance and how it flits from one to the other. If you have several characters like that who are flawed in some way, it really opens up the scope of the story.
What inspired your protagonist?
During the initial thought process of putting this together, one thing I wanted to do was not to have one specific protagonist. I had watched Quentin Tarantino’s movie Pulp Fiction and loved the idea of all these storylines taking place at once. In that move, you would be hard pressed to pick out a lead character. All the plots feel as important as the next. I wanted to translate that to the book. The concurrent plotlines are all of equal importance and it was important to me to really develop each character or group to the best of my ability so that each time the reader goes back to a given situation they are still invested. Sure enough, it was a risk and logistically a nightmare to make sure everything felt relevant without overwhelming the reader. I like to think the balance is good though and all the plot threads which unravel across the trilogy will be as satisfying as each other.
What inspired your antagonist?
I was thinking about the idea of power, and how depending on who wields it the outcome can potentially be very different. As mentioned earlier I love working with flawed characters, so I took a guy, a good guy. An upstanding citizen from an upper middle class family who was raised the right way and taught good values. A man who, after seeing the World Trade Centre attacks joins the army as he feels he has to protect his country. The problem is, the army sees his benefits more in using his brain. He’s physically weak but mentally strong, so they tie him to a desk job and don’t let him fight. Even though he is frustrated by this, he does his job. When an opportunity comes up to volunteer for a new genetic modification program to aid the soldiers in the field but nobody volunteers, he does, feeling he owes his country. When this proves to be brilliantly successful and he becomes all those things he never thought he could be and more, I was interested in exploring what would happen if that mindset changed. If he suddenly felt that he was now superior to those around him and looked at a world full of hatred and people killing each other as something he finally had the power to fix. I wanted to explore how that twisted superiority complex would change a man and warp him into doing unspeakable things and in turn becoming the very thing he joined the army to protect his country from. Joshua is a very complex character and most readers like and detest him in equal measure!
What was the hardest part to write in the book?
There were a lot of difficulties in this one. The research was a test as it broke the flow of writing. I wanted to make it accurate, so, for example, when I was writing the scenes in Mumbai, I had Google maps open and doing a virtual street walk on there to really make sure the locations and atmosphere were right. There is also a pretty harrowing scene in there where there is an attempted rape. It was difficult to write although I felt it was vital to the plot, especially in regards to where the character goes next in her character development. That situation, however brutal and nasty shapes who she will later become.
What was your favourite part of your book to write?
There are certain moments – certain scenes where when you finish writing it you sit back in the chair and smile to yourself and can’t wait for the reader to get to that particular part. It might just be something simple, a plot twist of the way a particular passage is written. It is those moments that for me are the joys of the job.
Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do
I’m fortunate enough to make a living from my writing so this is my only job. I resigned from my day job in October 2015 and have never looked back. I feel so fortunate that writing has given me this opportunity and will do whatever I can to give back.
What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading David Morell’s First Blood. The Movie is one of my favourites, but the book is vastly different. The Rambo character in the book is brutal and violent in ways the film doesn’t get close to.
Who would you say are your favourite authors?
Stephen King (of course!) is up there. I also like the works of Shaun Hutson, Brian Lumley, Michael Crichton, Adam Nevill, James Patterson, and Paul Tremblay. Far too many to mention here. I’m actually fortunate enough to be appearing in a couple of anthologies this year with Hutson, Lumley and Nevill which is crazy and exciting.
How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?
Hmmm, this is tricky. In reverse order it would have to be:
5. Apartment 16 – Adam Nevill
4. Jurassic park – Michael Crichton
3. A head Full of Ghosts – Paul Tremblay
2. MEG – Steve Alten
1. Skeleton Crew – Stephen King
What are your future projects, if any?
It’s actually a really busy time right now. I just finished a novel called FEED for Severed press which should be getting a release date soon. There is the third and final book in the Project Apex trilogy to write then another novel called THE WITCH. Even though it’s not written yet I already have a couple of publishers vying to purchase that one which is nice. The biggest upcoming project by far, though, is the movie adaptation of my novel, MEAT! I recently sold the rights to it and the script is being written. I’m lucky enough to be getting involved with the writing process a little to ensure the story stays true to the original, but the whole process is incredibly exciting. I’m looking forward to seeing how that develops going forward and hope it opens the door to more adaptations. I had a little interest in adapting the Project apex books too, but I really need to make sure that any deal for that one is right. Hey, if anyone is reading this and is interested in buying the rights, get in touch! I’m confident there is money to be made there. 😀
What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your
I make a point of being open and approachable at all times so am more than happy to talk either via email or Facebook or via my website. Whichever method is preferred I always like to hear from you so don’t be shy and get in touch. I’ve left some handy contact links here:
Official website: www.michaelbrayauthor.com
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
A couple of things that I’ve picked up along the way. First, never give up. This is a hard business and the road is rarely straight. Chances are you will take a few twists and turns before you get to where you want to be.
Second, get a thick skin! The writing world is one where there is a lot of options and as such a lot of readers with varying tastes. Just because a reader might not like your work, it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with it. All it means is that it wasn’t suited to that particular individual.
Third, get in the habit of writing every day, even if it’s only a few hundred words. You’ll be surprised how quickly the word count will grow if you do a little each day.