Hi, Scott! Welcome to Susan Finlay Writes blog site. For the people who didn’t read your first interview, can you tell us a bit about your background? Where do you live? What kind of work do you do?

I’m 30 years old and was born and raised in the United States. I’ve been a software developer for about seven years, and I’m currently working in the automotive industry building car-sharing and other mobility products.

I was active in the hacker scene when I was younger, but not doing what the news tries to frighten people with. I was what is called a “white-hat hacker” or “ethical hacker” which is basically someone using their security knowledge to try to improve security in the world by finding vulnerabilities in software and informing the owners before someone malicious exploits them.

I met my wife online through common interest in hacking and programming and that led me to move to Germany where I currently live with my wife and daughter.

Your newest novel, Epoch, is part post-apocalyptic/horror and part metaphysical fiction. What draws you to each genre?

I’ve always loved dark things. I like horror stories, zombies, monsters, and dystopian futures. I like to see the darkness in the world, not for any sort of nihilistic reasons, but simply because I find it fascinating. My Instagram account is even called “a.world.of.darkness”, and there I post photos of dark , gritty things I see, and sometimes even take nice, pretty things and make them into something dark just for fun.

As an engineer, I find metaphysical fiction interesting since it’s basically all about questioning life, society, and the world as we know it. Philosophy is more or less the study of the universe and why it is the way it is. It’s really just using logic to try to understand the things around us in much the same way as science.

I find that darkness such as one finds in a post-apocalyptic world is a perfect catalyst for posing philosophical questions, especially around the area of ethics. This is why I felt the two genres belonged together.

Epoch was released on July 25th, 2019. Can you tell us about the story?

What if you woke up one morning lying on the floor, head pounding, and realized you had no idea what you were doing there? Even worse, what if you discovered you had no idea who you were or what your name was, and there was no way to find out because everyone else has lost all their memories as well? To top it off, what if all electronics suddenly stopped functioning at the same time?

This is precisely the situation one young man finds himself in. He’s forced to try to rediscover his identity while struggling to find a path between what’s right and what’s necessary for survival. Sometimes the what’s right and what’s wrong aren’t so easily discernible.

Forced to cope with a wasteland of useless, dead technology in a world that had grown to rely so heavily on machines, the people of Jerome must learn to rebuild society without the modern conveniences they depended upon so strongly. They suffer power struggles, death and disease, and are even forced to face the birth of a serial killer, all while fighting to reinvent themselves. Epoch is an epic of love, death, friendship, and inner struggles. It’s a story uniting post-apocalyptic horror with philosophy and sociology.

What inspired you to write it, and did you have to do a lot of research for it? How did you create a futuristic town?

The idea actually came from my wife. I don’t remember exactly what it was we were watching, but she realized it would be really interesting and scary when suddenly everyone would wake up with no memories. They would be lying in bed next to their spouse and have no idea who that person is. The rest of the idea just came along to intensify the situation.

It actually wasn’t until probably about halfway through that I realized it was just as much philosophy and comparison to modern society as it was sci fi horror. Once I realized that, I began to draw upon observations I’ve made about current topics such as the refugee crisis, gun control, and demagogues to recreate some of the circumstances in a micro economy. I tried to avoid making any clear decisions about which viewpoints are correct.

I did a lot of research to try to find out how long certain things would continue to function such as running water, and how to do things when the power is out. It’s amazing how many survivalist forums there are out there. I also spent an absurd amount of time looking at photos of rotting corpses.

The futuristic elements in the story are minor, and they essentially serve as plot devices. For example, people no longer carry paper money and many credit cards and ID cards and so on but rather a single digital all-purpose card. This enabled me to prevent people from learning their name from their wallets. Things like self-driving cars and holograms exist to reduce the amount of purely mechanical technology floating around. The lack of paper books prevents people from learning more about the world they live in and the lack of newspapers prevents the potential for easy explanations for the catastrophic event.

Are you planning a sequel? Do you see this as the beginning of a whole series?

I still have some ideas, and I originally intended to make a sequel, but after finishing it, I think it’s pretty round the way it is, and it shouldn’t have a sequel.

Your two books, Epoch and A Fatal Exception, are very different in style, one featuring a single point-of-view character and one featuring several. One is mostly serious, while the other has a lot of humor. Which do you prefer? Why did you write such different books?

I definitely found A Fatal Exception much easier and quicker to write. Part of it was probably the style, which I found easier and more fun, and part of it was probably because I wrote A Fatal Exception after finishing Epoch, so I was more experienced.

I felt that first-person was important for Epoch since so much of the story revolves around personal identity and inner struggles, and it might have been impossible to write from third-person since no characters had names in the beginning. Unfortunately, it was often a handicap to write it this way. It took some thought just to formulate a coherent book blurb even though the protagonist has no name until around 80 pages into the book.

After writing Epoch, which is a pretty long book, I wanted to write something different and to experiment a bit, so I tried something with a radically different style, and so Seven Sinclair was born.

If Epoch were made into a movie, who would you like to see play the lead?

 That’s tough to answer since I intentionally left my description of the protagonist somewhat vague. Since it’s a first-person point-of-view story, it seemed important that the reader could insert him or herself into his shoes. This is why I describe him with black hair and brown eyes, which fits to any race, and I made him relatively average in build. Anyone of any ethnicity could play him.

Personally I feel that Epoch would work better as a TV series than as a movie. I could also imagine it working well as a graphic novel.

Do you have a blog or website that readers can visit?

 Here’s my author website where you can find information about my novels and announcements related to my writing:


 How did you come up with the title? Does it have a special meaning?

 The title doesn’t have any personal meaning, but its relevant to the story. Readers will have to read the book to find out why.


Who designed your book covers? Can you tell us about the design process? How did those covers come about?

My wife designed the covers for both of my books. Epoch has a relatively simple, minimalistic cover, and this was intentional. It should sort of symbolize this black nothingness from which the story begins. There is no past, and the future is unknown; there is only the Epoch. Everything else needs to unfold as the story goes on.

You work in a high-tech profession. Do your tech skills and knowledge help you in your writing and do they influence the types of stories you write?

 I found that writing a book isn’t that different from writing code. You start by gathering product requirements, or building a premise. Then you start with architectural design, or creating an outline. After that comes implementation, or writing the actual story. Sometimes things didn’t turn out so cleanly so you need to do some refactoring, or revising. Having an editor take a look at it is basically the same as a peer review. It’s kind of the same thing just with different terminology.

My technical background also influenced the tools I use to write. For example, I keep my books in git repositories, a type of version control software. That way I have my work backed up along with a history of every change I made in the cloud. I also did 100% of the planning and brainstorming with my phone using tools like Evernote.

Additionally, as a software developer I understand better than most people just how heavily we rely on technology, so I can see very clearly how much of an impact it would have if that all suddenly disappeared.

Your mother is also a writer, with eleven published mystery novels. How does it feel to share the writing and publishing experience with her? Do you worry about being compared to each other?

 I’m very proud of my mom for all the great novels she’s written and published. It’s pretty helpful too to have someone with experience to consult to know how things work and to be able to ask what’s normal.

I don’t really expect to be compared much since our writing styles and subject matter are so drastically different. I’m not sure if we really have the same target audience either. If someone would be interested in both and want to compare them I would hope he has just positive things to say about both.

Who are your favorite authors and TV shows? Who or what inspires you to write?

I enjoy horror writers like Stephen King and Clive Barker, and mystery writers like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, and Dashiell Hammett. I also like dark fantasy from authors like Neil Gaiman, George R. R. Martin, and Andrzej Sapkowski. I’m also a big fan of comic books and graphic novels from authors like Alan Moore, Frank Miller, and of course Stan Lee.

I love shows like Game of Thrones, The Handmaid’s Tale, Last Week Tonight, and Breaking Bad. I also enjoy anime like Psycho Pass, My Hero Academia, and Tokyo Ghoul.