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The United States has collapsed. Bandits stalk the highways, preying on the weak and unaware.

In order to transport goods between heavily fortified cities, companies hire convoy escorts. Maxine is the best of these new road warriors: tough, smart, and unbelievably fast. But she also has a secret: She’s the niece of New York’s most notorious outlaw, a man hunted by what’s left of the nation’s law enforcement.

Maxine wants to live a normal, upstanding life. But a bad incident on the road leaves her mauled, penniless…and fired. If she wants to survive, she’s going to need to embrace her outlaw roots—and carry off the biggest heist that the post-apocalypse has ever seen. It’s a journey that will take her through obstacle after obstacle to the edge of death itself—and beyond.

The Big Thrill caught up with author Nick Kolakowski to find out more about his post-apocalyptic thriller, MAXINE UNLEASHES DOOMSDAY:

Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?

How much damage can someone possibly take? Maxine is the answer to that question; I’ve had her on my mind for years, and built a plot in which I threw everything at her—disease, heartbreak, gunfire, death. She endured it all—still yelling, still reloading.

What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?

I’d never written a book of this scope before—in terms of the time span the plot covers, but also in terms of the character’s inner and external journeys. It was hard to pull off, but it also presented the opportunity to craft an incredibly nuanced person—maybe my most nuanced, filled with equal measures of rage and love.

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

I want people to re-awaken to the fact that they’re more resilient than they might think. You can be crushed under life’s bootheel and still come back. Sometimes you don’t really have a choice but to rise to your feet again—there are too many folks depending on you. It’s painful to think about, but also hopeful.

What attracts you to this book’s genre?

I’ve always loved crime, and always loved dystopian sci-fi, ever since I first saw The Road Warrior at far too impressionable an age. I finally got a chance to combine both these genres I love.

Was there anything new you discovered, or that surprised you, as you wrote this book?

The original draft was somewhat shorter, and covered a much smaller span of Maxine’s life. I set it aside for quite some time, and when I came back to it, I found (with a rising sense of excitement) that I could expand it to encompass this character’s entire life (and afterlife). I was surprised and pleased to find I had a pretty big epic on my hands.


Nick Kolakowski is the author of Boise Longpig Hunting Club, the Love & Bullets series of crime novellas, and the short story collection Somebody’s Trying to Kill Me. His short crime fiction has appeared in Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, Plots with Guns, and various anthologies. He lives and writes in New York City.

To learn more about the author and his work, please visit his website.