Author Interview All Systems Down

  • How long have you been writing?

I wrote my first book fifteen years ago. Although I never published it, I got a lot of interest in the book after it was a finalist for a big writing award. But I was graduating college, and I let it drop. In the interim, I worked as a journalist, started my own business, sold it, and finally started writing again. Now that All Systems Down is coming out in February, I’m devoting myself to writing full time.

  • What is your favorite genre to write?

Thrillers with a pinch of science fiction. But not so much that it affects the sense that everything in the book could happen today.

  • Which genre have you never tried before, but would you like to try out?

I’d love to write a Western. No one reads Westerns, but there’s something charming about an Eastern lawman who heads out to the open plains to swap gunshots with outlaws. Maybe I’d put in a twist at the end. Betrayal. Reversal of fortune. Enemies become friends, friends become dead.

No? Well, that’s why no one writes Westerns anymore.

  • Please tell us about your book.

At its heart, All Systems Down centers around one man, Brendan Chogan. He’s out-of-work and trying to support his wife and children. But when banks shut down, the electric grid collapses, and satellites fall from the sky, he’s forced to make tough choices to keep his family safe.

  • Which character was your favorite, and why? Which character was your least favorite, and why?

Lieutenant Kelly Seong is my favorite character. She’s salty, smart, and a pain in the ass. Scenes from her point of view came easy.

I don’t really have a least-favorite character.

  • What was the hardest part about writing your book?

Probably the rewrites. It was difficult cutting 30,000 words in one day. I mourned. Then I rolled up my sleeves and did what my publisher needed me to do.


  • What is your writing routine? Are there things you absolutely need to start writing?

I walk my kids to school, come home, get a second cup of coffee, and write until mid-day. That’s the idea anyway. Sometimes I just drink coffee and browse the Internet with self-loathing.


  • How long did it take you to write your book from start to finish?

I wrote it over a couple years. The process was slow at first, since I was writing on evenings and weekends. Now that I’m full-time, the process is faster.

  • Can you tell us about your editing process?

The two main types of edits I went through were structural edits and line edits. Structural edits came in the form of my editors telling me to hack off large chunks of the book and completely rewrite them. All of Act III got cut and rewritten, for example.

Line edits were a bit easier. Every sentence and paragraph came under the scrutiny of multiple editors who made the pages flow red with ink. But the gratification was more immediate than with structural edits.

I don’t love editing, but it made the book strong, and I’m grateful to all the editors who helped craft the final product.

  • Is this book part of a series? If so, how many installments do you have planned?

All Systems Down is the first in what I imagine will be a three-book series.

  • Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Write a good book, then rewrite. Then rewrite again. It hurts. Keep doing it.

Write a good query letter. Don’t send it. Read as much as you can about querying. Edit your query a dozen times, and finally put it out there. Target only maybe ten agents at a time.

Know that if you’re a first-time writer, you’re also your own marketing department, no matter the size of your publisher.

Try to get as many people to read your book as possible. It’s not about money – you’re not going to make money early on. It’s about exposure. Give away your first chapter. You can read mine at

  • Why should everyone read your book?

Not everyone should read my book. But if you’re a fan of Michael Crichton or Tom Clancy, odds are you’ll enjoy All Systems Down. It’s a fast-paced thriller that explores how society falters when cyber war takes down the power grid. And, so far, it seems that a lot of people like what they’ve read!

  • If you could meet three authors, dead or alive, which authors would you choose?

Harper Lee, because of her impact on modern American writing.

Jules Verne, because he’s the grandfather of science fiction and he’d probably give me some great ideas.

Mark Twain, because he’s snarky and smart, and I’d like to buy him a beer.

  • What inspired you to write your book?

Real-life events. North Korea really does have an army of hackers, Unit 101, based in China. Russia really has crippled the banking infrastructure of its foreign adversaries. Iran really did sneak malware into American Dams. And our power grid… maybe I shouldn’t even tell you.

  • Are you working on something at the moment? If so, can you tell us more about it?

I’m working on the sequel to All Systems Down. It’s far from complete, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a lot of fun to read.

About All Systems Down

Pak Han-Yong’s day is here. An elite hacker with Unit 101 of the North Korean military, he’s labored for years to launch Project Sonnimne: a series of deadly viruses set to cripple Imperialist infrastructure.
And with one tap of his keyboard, the rewards are immediate.
Brendan Chogan isn’t a hero. He’s an out-of-work parking enforcement officer and one-time collegiate boxer trying to support his wife and children. But now there’s a foreign enemy on the shore, a blackout that extends across America, and an unseen menace targeting him.
Brendan must do whatever it takes to keep his family safe.
In the wake of the cyber attacks, electrical grids fail, satellites crash to earth, and the destinies of nine strangers collide.
Strangers whose survival depends upon each other’s skills and courage.
For fans of REVOLUTION, Tom Clancy, and Thom Stark’s MAY DAY, ALL SYSTEMS DOWN is a riveting cyber war thriller that presents a threat so credible you’ll be questioning reality.
Read a sample chapter.

Author Bio

Sam Boush is a novelist and award-winning journalist.

He has worked as a wildland firefighter, journalist, and owner of a mid-sized marketing agency. Though he’s lived in France and Spain, his heart belongs to Portland, Oregon, where he lives with his wife, Tehra, two wonderful children, and a messy cat that keeps them from owning anything nice.

He is a member of the Center for Internet Security, International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, and Cloud Security Alliance.

ALL SYSTEMS DOWN is his first novel, with more to come.

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