E.T. Gunnarsson shares how having discipline is an essential part to writing a book

E.T. Gunnarsson is an 18 year old author. E.T. is the author of the novel Forgive Us. Forgive Us is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller set nearly 100 years into the future. The book follows three time periods and four characters. In the novel, the earth has been decimated by pollution and civilization has fallen into ruin. YEM was able to speak with E.T. about his writing inspirations, where he got the idea for his book, and what his writing process looks like.

Young Entertainment Mag: Still being so young, did you always know writing was something you wanted to do?

E.T. Gunnarsson: Yes. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to do in life when I was younger. I thought about being a farmer, a scientist, a paleontologist, etc. I grew up playing a lot of games and reading books and eventually figured out that I love reading and telling stories. After a few years of doing text roleplay (essentially, cooperative story writing), I started writing Forgive Us and decided to become an author.

YEM: Having dysgraphia, did you have to work extra hard at writing and in your English classes?

E.T.: No. I have been homeschooled and online schooled for most of my life, so everything was always digital (and much easier for me). English classes were more of a roadblock in high school since they took time away from writing Forgive Us.

YEM: What can you tell us about your first book Forgive Us?

E.T.: Forgive Us is a synthesis of years of being exposed to post-apocalyptic fiction. It revolves around four different characters across three different timelines. Each timeline shows the post-apocalyptic wasteland and the progress of human recovery. The timelines each affect each other so that the trials and triumphs of the characters in the past build the world for those in the future.

The first timeline revolves around a lone survivor who forms and rules one of the first wasteland civilizations. The second is a product of the first, following an old man and his adopted daughter as they survive amid a war between nations. The third chapter is more separate from the first two, following a character on a space station who survives a civil war and escapes to Earth. He gets to witness the end result of the last two timelines and might be the protagonist of my third book.

YEM: Who are some writers who inspire you?

E.T.: J.R.R. Tolkien and Stephen King are my favorite authors, their works having a sort of subconscious influence on my writing. Tolkien is a big inspiration for my high fantasy works, but Stephen King has held more influence for my current series of post-apocalyptic books. Generally, I gather inspiration from many sources, so the writers behind the Fallout games, Wall-E, and Mad Max are part of my inspiration even though I don’t know any names.

YEM: Being a post-apocalyptic thriller author, what is so compelling to you about that genre?

E.T.: Post-apocalyptic fiction is a sort of bridge for me. It is in between fiction and reality, offering a base for me to show otherworldly ideas while also being relatable. I think this is because post-apocalyptic fiction is just alternate history for the future coming from the world we live in right now.

Zombies, catastrophic war, plague, etc., are familiar concepts, and therefore I think they are comfortable to read or watch while also being exciting.

YEM: What advice do you have for someone who also wants to be a writer?

E.T.: Discipline. The worst thing you can do as a writer is wasting time by not writing. Literature doesn’t write itself. One has to have the discipline to work on the book and the discipline to do the research to make and publish a book.

YEM: You also have a prequel titled Abandon Us coming out in 2022, how does that book differ from Forgive Us?

E.T.: Abandon Us provides a view of the world before the apocalypse, showing everything as it falls apart and right after. It also offers a more human perspective on one of the mysterious antagonists in Forgive Us.

The biggest difference is that Abandon Us has a single character and timeline instead of three different timelines with different characters. This singular timeline is divided into three and shows different periods in the protagonist’s life, with the third part being intertwined directly with Forgive Us.

YEM: Where did you get the idea to write three timelines into your book?

E.T.: It just came to me. When I sat down and wrote Forgive Us, I wrote one chapter and got stuck. After a while, I wrote a second chapter with different characters in a different time, soon followed by the third. Eventually, I decided the fourth chapter should go back to the first time and character, causing me to do a 1,2,3 order for Forgive Us.

YEM: Is there someone that always reads your work before anyone else?

E.T.: My mother and father always read my works before they even get edited. Once we edit my book, it goes to editors before being finalized by me and being published.

YEM: What does your writing process look like?

E.T.: I write using what I call the “twinkie plan” where I write out a summary of all the chapters I want. Once I have a goal in mind, I start writing or “chasing the twinkie.” I don’t usually follow the plans I write out, but having an idea and a goal in mind helps me move forward.

YEM: Do you have a favorite part of the writing process?

E.T.: I have three things I love about writing. The first is research and forming the world behind the book, the second being praise from readers who liked my works, and the third being published.

YEM: What other genres of writing do you hope to explore in the future?

E.T.: I have a whole high fantasy world in the works which I hope to make a large series of books out of. I will start using it once my current series, the Odemark series, is finished.

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