25 May 2012

Review and Author Interview: 77 Days in September by Ray Gorham

77 Days in September by Ray Gorham

Published: 25 May 2011

Pages: 283 (e-book)

Genre/s: Post-apocalyptic

Source: Own library*

Check it Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK

Synopsis (Goodreads)

On a Friday afternoon before Labor Day, Americans are getting ready for the holiday weekend, completely unaware of a long-planned terrorist plot about to be launched against the country. Kyle Tait is settling in for his return flight home when a single nuclear bomb is detonated 300 miles above the heart of America. The blast, an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP), destroys every electrical device in the country, and results in the crippling of the power grid, the shutting down of modern communications, and bringing to a halt most forms of transportation.

Kyle narrowly escapes when his airplane crashes on take-off, only to find himself stranded 2,000 miles from home in a country that has been forced, from a technological standpoint, back to the 19th Century. Confused, hurt, scared, and alone, Kyle must make his way across a hostile continent to a family he’s not even sure has survived the effects of the attack. As Kyle forges his way home, his frightened family faces their own struggles for survival in a community trying to halt its own slow spiral into chaos and anarchy.

Why I Read It

EMP is one of those things that endlessly fascinates me - imagine that we are suddenly thrown back 200+ years in terms of technology?

My Thoughts

I first read 77 Days in September in 2011 and I was incredibly impressed by the book - although it's PA, the focus is heavily on the emotions of the characters.

As a main character I found Kyle to be believable and likeable (although what's not to like about a guy that is prepared to walk thousands of miles to make it home to his family?!), and although conflicted by his need to get home as quickly as possible, didn't loose his humanity and compassion even when it was sorely tested. In particular I found his journal entries on his trip to be incredibly moving and real.

I also liked his wife, Jennifer, who works hard to do the right thing whilst protecting her children, coupled with her belief in and loyalty to Kyle, she is a strong but self-aware lady. Neither character is perfect, and as Kyle reflects on their past, he comes to realise just how lucky he really is.

The pacing of 77 Days in September is well maintained, and even when Kyle is not on the road, this is an unputdownable book. Well written, with good characterization, world-building and a healthy dose of realism, 77 Days in September was well worth re-reading, and I was just as immersed in the story the second time around.
*Although this is a book tour, I did already own a copy of this book.  

Meet The Man Behind the Book

When did you first realise that you wanted to write a book?

It was probably about 12 years ago. We were having dinner with my father-in-law, and he mentioned he’d like to write a book. It was something I hadn’t thought about previously, but it planted a seed. I attempted to write a book about 8 years ago, but got too busy to complete it, this time I managed to get the job done.

Where did the inspiration come from to write a book about EMP?

I actually wanted to write a book about a guy who stays loyal to his family, no matter how difficult that loyalty might prove. The EMP turned out to be the vehicle I needed to put him in a difficult situation. It ended up that the EMP aspect became just as important as the loyalty/devotion part of the story.

77 Days in September has a solid fact background but an intensely character-driven perspective - why did you decide to write more from the emotional rather than factual side?

Probably the previous answer explains a lot of that. It was a frustration that so many lead characters in books are guys that sleep around, have no commitment to anything, don’t value life, and have such super-human skills that I can never relate to them. I thought an average joe who is in love with his wife would be a pleasant change.

What was the most challenging aspect of the story to write?

As a first time novelist, I had to learn it all as I went. There was a lot of re-writing, as well as finding my voice, so to speak. Add to that the grammar and editing, which my wife did an amazing job on, and it was a full time job for about 8 months.

Who is your favourite character?

Of all the characters, probably Elijah from Texas was my favorite. He and his family were real easy to write. I would have liked to lengthen that section out, but Kyle had to keep moving and not linger anywhere.

Any of the characters based on, or inspired by someone you know in 'real life'?

Maybe personalities or characteristics, but not actual characters. The closest would be Kyle’s kids, there are likely compilations of my own children.

If you could change anything about 77 Days in September, what would it be and why?

I wrote it not knowing anything about self-publishing on a digital platform, so I worked real hard to keep word count down to what would be feasible for a first time author to maybe get a book deal. I ended up at 108,000 words, which is a little more than what they want, but I couldn’t eliminate any more without impacting the story. If I had written specifically to self-publish, it probably would have been 15-20% longer, but I do think condensing it was good experience in learning to write concisely.

Sell me 77 Days in September in 25 words or less?

It is a story of love, dedication and survival, that may end up saving your life.

What is your favourite genre and why?

I like techno-thrillers. Something that will teach me something, as long as it’s written in a way that isn’t all about the techno.

How do you balance writing with the rest of your life? Is there anything you have sacrificed in order to write?

At this point it’s writing that is getting sacrificed. My day job is real busy, and with 5 kids and a wife, writing is taking a back seat. I build log homes, and in 2008-09 business was real slow, so I had the time to devote to it. I’m trying to make the time to be able to write again, but not sure when that will happen.


  1. This is a book I really want to read. It looks great and like you EMP's are fascinating and a very realistic scenario.

  2. Wonderful review & interview. Thank you for hosting Ray :)

  3. You have some great reviews on your blog. I love that you read some of the up and coming writers. This book sounds great, I have to read it now.



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