As Mark Loren shops for groceries at the Publix on S.R. 56 in Wesley Chapel near his Meadow Pointe home, his mind imagines a battle scene taking place around the grocery store. Key locations across Pasco County, like Publix, are common settings in his post-apocalyptic present-day world book series, October Fall.
The idea came to the first-time author three years ago, after reading survival and prep books. The world he created is based on true locations, real people and key moments in his life.
“It’s a thriller and an apocalypse and a love story,” Loren said. “And it all takes place in Pasco County.”
The story follows Jake as he uses his military training and knowledge of prepping from books to survive in a world after an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack. Without a power grid, chaos ensues and Jake must protect himself and his family.
October Fall, the first book in the series, was released April 2, and has received 412 reviews, 83 percent of which were 4- or 5-stars.
The second book, November Feud, did even better. Of the 512 reviews, 92 percent were 4- and 5-stars.
The third book, December Battles, is expected to be released this month.
Loren took inspiration from his past to establish the life of his main character Jake, who, like Loren, is a retired Major in the U.S. Army who used to drive a tank. While Jake is a reflection of Loren, his wife Susan and children Jazlyn and Cole also are leading characters with similar personalities to their real-life selves. As Loren’s wife and editor, Susan says the events in the story may not be real but the connections between the characters are very real, indeed.
“Their relationship with us and their relationship with each other, those things are real,” Susan said. “That’s what makes the books real.”
Loren would travel to key locations in his series, marking places on a self-made map. When reading the survivalist novel Going Home by A. American, he was inspired to take a drive through Pasco County, where the book’s main character traveled. Taking inspiration from the series, Loren made October Fall an interactive story for readers to travel to the same places he did.
“There is a little bridge on Morris Bridge Road that goes over Cypress Creek and, in the story, they stop there and do something,” Loren said. “And then, there’s a house that gets burned down by a good friend in the first book and we drive by and see the burned-down house.”
Calling himself a discovery writer, Loren would keep the plot and themes in his head before transferring them onto paper, unlike his publisher, Boyd Craven, Jr., who would outline the novels. Loren currently has five books written with seven total planned out in his head. He says it took him six months to finish writing book one and three months to complete each book in the series, which enabled them to be published as rapid releases only a month apart.
Loren is a big fan of J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series, especially when the main characters break up into smaller missions before uniting to complete the overall goal. Taking inspiration from Tolkien, Loren says he saw the vision he wanted to create for the October Fall series.
Loren met Craven online through the Facebook group DD12 The Post Apoc Army of Readers. After Loren told him he had written four books, Craven decided to edit and publish them through his publishing company Raventhorne Books.
“Writing the book is only half the battle, possibly less than half the battle,” Craven says. “Refining the book and getting it in front of the right audience at the right time and presenting it the right way is the other half of the game.”
Loren says the series begins to wrap-up in book 5, which is half written, but books 6 and 7 take the story in a stunning, new direction and even elicited a “Holy Cow” from Craven.
The story is forever evolving. Loren says he would often find himself getting out of bed after having a good idea for his novel. Not wanting to forget a certain theme to incorporate into his stories, he would begin writing down the ideas at night.
“I was concentrating on one, and going back and tying things up or making changes in another,” Loren says.
Although October Fall is Loren’s first published work, he has been writing stories for years. When his wife was deployed during Operation Desert Storm, he would write to her of his last few days, accumulating more than 80 pages of writing and 13 chapters. He says their love story started more than 30 years ago.
To purchase October Fall or November Feud, visit Amazon.com/OCTOBER-FALL-October-Fall-Book-ebook/dp/B091NDFJBN.