Harry Manners guest post

Harry Manners is a member of the Speculative Fiction High Five circle on the Kboards. Harry has just published his first novel, post-apocalyptic science fiction Ruin. To quote his Amazon bio: Harry…lives in Bedfordshire, England with his family. When he’s not writing, he studies Physics at the University of Warwick, reads a ton-load of books, and generally nerds out–for which he is staunchly unapologetic.
You can read more on his web-site at: Harry Manners – official author web-site
Ruin is to be launched on 25th August on Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple and Smashwords.
And now – on to the questions!
What made you choose post-apocalyptic fiction?

I hate to sound corny, but it chose me. It’s my default genre, where I’m most comfortable; isolation and extreme circumstances are the themes that captivate me. People behave strangely when they’re in trouble, and stranger still when they’re under the impression that everything they know might have gone down the toilet. The evolution of relationships and the miracle of civilization–just how shocking it is that civility crept into our world society in the first place, and what a monumental task it would be to try kick-starting all over again–are forever circling in my mind. 
What did you do when world-building for Ruin?
I did a hell of a lot of… well, just sitting and thinking. All the minute details of everyday life that we take for granted would be turned upside down by a real return to savagery. In Ruin, all technology is turned to dust, and over 99% of the human population simply vanish. The survivors are left scattered and alone in a world that sustained no visible damage. 
How would these people find one another? Would they try to begin again, or try to follow their loved ones? What would happen when the preserved foods ran out, and the gas stations ran dry? Does the average citizen of a first-world country actually have the knowledge required to survive in a hostile environment–or is such knowledge scattered between the teeming masses of our nations?
Endless spider webs of questions, all of which needed answering. It took a long time. 
Besides that, I visited a lot of archaeological sites and ruined temples, mounds, tombs, abandoned towns etc, to get a real feel of the kinds of decay you find in abandoned buildings left to nature’s hand.

Which writers have influenced you (inside and outside the genre?)

In the post-apocalyptic genre, I’ve been hugely influenced by David Brin, of the Uplift and The Postman fame. Stephen King (The Stand and The Dark Tower), George R. Stevenson (Earth Abides), Neville Shute (The Beach), Richard Matheson (I Am Legend) and Pat Frank (Alas, Babylon) also shaped my voice. I spent my teenage years consuming post-apocalyptic fiction, breathing it in and basking in the brilliance of these ruined worlds. 
Outside the genre, I’m something of a literary buff, especially when it comes to 19th and early 20th century works. My chief influences are William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Margaret Atwood, and John Steinbeck.
What is your greatest strength as a writer?

My imagination. The mechanics of writing itself, I’ve always taken for granted; it’s just been something I’ve always done, to some extent. I’ve been writing in an organised sense for around nine years, now, and in that time I’ve only slid backward. By that, I mean that despite spending endless hours with a pen in my hand or my fingers poised over a keyboard, I’ve slid behind the endless ideas that spark from the ether of their own accord. 
I feel blessed that I’m able to live a life exploring so many other worlds. But, at the same time, I’m cursed by the knowledge that I’ll never live long enough to write it all down; I’ll die of old age long before I can explore all the worlds that lie in the depths of my subconscious. 
What are your plans for the series?
The Ruin Saga will comprise a trilogy, all of which will run for around 400 pages each. It’s going to be quite the ride!
Further to that, the Saga will be the jumping-off point for a much larger body of work that will span at least a dozen books, the Pendulum Universe. Here’s a little taster:
Something has gone wrong. A pendulum’s swing is dying. If it stops, everything stops. The fabric of all existence is in danger. 

Shadows are moving, long-sealed doors have fallen ajar, and the balance of an infinitude of worlds has shifted. 

On one world, something has gone very wrong indeed: the End. Six billions lives have vanished, leaving a barren Earth populated with scattered survivors. While man struggles with mere survival and the eternal plagues of betrayal and retribution lay waste to an already crumbling wasteland, a far greater mission begins. 

The Ruin Saga opens a universe that stretches far beyond Earth, across deserts and tundra, kingdoms of past and future, and ancient forgotten worlds between the cracks. If there is any hope, it lies in a precious handful, creatures of destiny scattered across the depths of reality. The success or failure of their gathering will decide the fate of countless lives. 

Bringing them together will cause destruction, pain and death. Some will run, some will fight, and some will turn to darkness. 

Only one thing is certain: the End was just the beginning. 
(Cross-posted from Living in the Maniototo).