Roberta M Roy – Author Interview

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

Jolt: a rural noir, is the sci-fi story of residents emergency response to the needs of an influx of forced immigrants that triples the size of their tiny village. Townees and Newees, pushed out by dirty bombs and a nuclear meltdown. pool their resources, skills, and knowledge to face the coming of winter with creativity and zest. Marooned with each other at lakeside in the mountains, they meld together to offer a model for survival in the face of any mass event that might affect water, housing, sanitation, community policing, and healthcare. Steeped in scientifically authentic information, Jolt: a rural noir offers delightful characters and an adventure-filled nuclear survival handbook specifically written to meet the needs of those with limited nuclear survival training and in need of information with which to answer basic questions and calm their most outrageous fears.

What inspired you to write this book?

As a speech-language pathologist used to feeling adequately informed and a resident of New York where nuclear power is used, after 9/11 my fear and ignorance of nuclear meltdowns led me to take one hundred hours of face-to-face instruction on mass events with the military. The writing of Jolt: a rural noir was an outgrowth of my recognition that being informed about emergency response to nuclear disaster was both possible and reassuring. As such, I set out to write a book for all the couch potatoes and bookworms who have never been trained in emergency response, and thus may be more worried than necessary for the safety and survival of themselves and their loved ones in the case of a nuclear meltdown.

How did you publish this book? Why did you decide on that publisher?

Alva Press, Inc., is a press I established specifically to provide a platform for the publication, marketing and distribution of Jolt and now Kristen Henderson’s book of poems, Drum Machine. And when I have the time and money, it will also publish my children’s book, Yell’n’Tell and my next sci-fi novel, Too Close.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

Although the most I have ever had published were editorials in my high school newspaper and a plethora of news releases for a variety of organizations, mostly in relation to legal and political news, I have always thought of myself as a writer. That said, I labored under the illusion that the only thing that prevented me from writing was lack of free time as I have all my life been full-time employed in my identified profession. Then I bought an Airedale that only grew bigger, but never up. She pulled me down and broke my ankle. For three months I left the house only for doctors’ visits. With nothing better to do, I outlined Jolt and wrote the first half of it. Back to work, the second half took me two years to finish. Now, some five or six rewrites and five years later, Jolt came out in print in December 2009. Now, if I could just find the time to publicize it.

What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?

Rewriting and tightening. Maintaining continuity of character, place, time, and events. Designing the cover.

I cannot imagine how one would write a book without an outline.

How do you do research for your books?

Interviews, observations, reading online and in books, attending classes, rethinking real life events, and just thinking.

What are you reading now?

Novels and scientific books discussing radiation sickness.

What types of books do you like to read?

Books with complex plots and interesting characters.

Who are your favorite authors? Why?

Jane Austen: she cut the road. William Faulkner: his dialogue and characters Saul Bellow: his love of detail and his valuing of the person Jorge Luis Borges: his characters and his originality Susan Sontag: her ability to bring history to life through research and great characterization Kamila Shamsie: because she explores the effects of culture and language on point of view; also because her book Burnt Shadows also treats the aftermath of nuclear events.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

My novel Jolt was written for persons who live beyond the ten mile radius of a nuclear power plant. My next book, Too Close, will address more the concerns of those closer to a nuclear event. Whereas Jolt has a certain lack of violence about it, Too Close will explore the ramifications and treatment of radiation sickness and blunt trauma.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Start now. Stay with one book until it is edited and in print and you have wrung from it every bit of learning possible.

What are you doing to promote your latest book? Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

I have a website at with a Writer Publisher blog and a Visiting Writer’s page. Also I blog at and at and currently I am looking to syndicate some or all of my blogs.

I would welcome any invitations to speak as long as travel and lodgings are covered.