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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

V. L. Dreyer – Five Invaluable Tools I Used When Writing The Survivors @VL_Dreyer

6:00 AM Posted by James Noel , No comments

A lot of readers have asked me what I did to make sure that The Survivors came out as realistically as possible, so I’m here today to share with you the five most invaluable tools I used while I’ve been working on the project.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, The Survivors is a four-part post-apocalyptic survival story set in New Zealand, ten years after a terrible plague killed off the majority of the human race.  It combines elements of multiple genres, including romance, zombie horror, science fiction and paranormal.  In other words, it took a bit of doing to get the right blend of imagination and fact!

Tool #1:  Google Search

I’m not being sarcastic when I say that I just about lived on Google during the months it took me to prepare the first draft of each book.  Google is a fantastic source of all kinds of information, on everything that you can imagine.

Now, I know that a lot of people struggle to get answers from Google, so I’ll share my advice on using it, as well.  The trick to using Google is to go back to basics.   Just ask it questions.  That’s really all there is to it.  Do you want to know how long it takes a corpse to decompose?  Use the search string “How long does it take a corpse to decompose?”  It’s that simple.

And yes, I have asked Google that.  It knew, too!

Tool #2:  Google Maps

Yes, I’m going to recommend another feature of the Google network as well.  Google Maps is an invaluable tool for a writer, particularly if you’re writing an adventure story, or writing about an area you’re not familiar with.  Why?  Street View.  Street view is amazing.  It allows you to go to the approximate location where your story is set, then pop in and have a look around, all without leaving the comfort of your computer.  Not only is it useful, but it’s inspiring – it lets you see all the little details that make an area special, so that you can describe them at your leisure.

Tool #3:

If there’s one thing you need to know about me, it’s that I’m obsessive about the details. has tools that are great for that.  It has calendars going years – even centuries – into the past and future.  It gives you the phases of the moon.  It gives you time zones.  It gives you sunrise and sunset times.  It may not matter to most people when the full moon is in February 2024, but it matters to me!

Tool #4:

I think this one’s pretty obvious., and any number of other websites, are the modern solution to having a baby name book beside you when you have to name characters.  However, another useful tip for you:  When you’re naming a character, go to Google and ask it “What were the most popular names for girls/boys in <birth year> in <birth country>?”  That’ll give you some really good ideas, and also help you weed out the unlikely ones.

Tool #5:  Google Drive

That’s right, we’re going back to Google one last time.  Google Drive has possibly been my most invaluable tool in the development of this novel.  First of all, it allows me to back up my work conveniently in the cloud at the drop of a hat, but using Google Documents also allows me and my editor to work on the same document, at the same time, from opposite sides of the world.  It has saved us hours of back and forth, and all without costing us a cent.

Well, that’s it from me!  My five most valuable tools.  I hope you find this knowledge useful, or at least interesting.  Good luck in your next adventure.


The virus came from deep in Africa.

By the time they had a name for the disease it had wiped out half the continent. Within a year, it had decimated our world. Our species is on the verge of extinction. Only a few of us have survived; those of us lucky enough to be born with a natural immunity to the plague. We scavenge amongst the ruins of our old civilizations, picking out a living from the devastation.

Ten years ago, I watched my family die one by one. Now, I am alone. The year is 2024; it has been a decade since the virus reduced humanity to a scattering of survivors strewn out across the world.

The rules that governed our society are gone.

Without laws to protect the innocent, I have seen the worst of humanity throughout the years. Now, I have found a new family who are determined to show me the best. But a fresh mutation of the virus has started turning the harmless, pathetic infected into monstrous predatory creatures bent on our destruction; even the wildlife is turning against us.

We are forced to leave our home and flee for our lives. It is only through unity that we stand any chance of survival. Enemies wait around every turn. For the sake of our children and our children’s children, we must find some way to survive and flourish again. If we fail, then the human species will cease to exist.

My name is Sandy McDermott, and I am a survivor. This is my story.


Author’s Note:

Although this book does feature the undead, it is not intended to be horror. The Survivors is a little bit apocalyptic, a bit dystopian, a bit science-fiction, a bit zombie horror, and there’s even a dash of romance in there for spice. To quote the very first blogger that got her hands on it: “(The Survivors is) a layered, touching, powerful story of humanity and survival.”

The story takes place in the Waikato region of New Zealand, ten years on after a killer plague erased the majority of our species from the face of the earth. 99.5% of humanity is either dead, or has been reduced to the (mostly) harmless, lumbering undead. The few people lucky enough to be immune to the disease have spent the last ten years struggling to live amongst the ruins of a dead society.

For some people, the time hasn’t been so bad. For other people – like our heroine and narrator, Sandrine McDermott – the last ten years have been a living hell. Without rules to keep people civilized, there’s nothing to keep a lone female safe except her own wits. Sometimes, that’s just not enough.

Life has not been kind to her. In fact, it’s safe to say that fate’s been kind of a bastard. However, it’s also a whimsical bastard. When Sandy injures herself and is forced to go looking for the medication she needs to survive, she finds herself on the receiving end of kindness in the last place she expects. She’s forced her to reassess her place in the world, and her own humanity.

The Survivors is a four-part tale that follows Sandy’s evolution from the psychologically-damaged wreck that she at the beginning of the story, to the true heroine that we need to preserve our species from extinction.

Somehow, some way, she must go from being one of the hopeless wanderers, to being our hope for a new tomorrow.


Want to know what happens next, and can’t wait for the release of Book II? The first three chapters of the next book are currently available on my website at no charge:

Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords

Genre - Post-Apocalyptic Survival

Rating - PG-13

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