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E168: Interview with Angery American of The Survivalist Series

In this episode, we sit down with Chris Weatherman, AKA Angery American, author of the Surviving Home series. We’re going to discuss what inspires him to write, his books, and practical survival lessons you may take away from his books.

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Angery American Topics Discussed:

  • How did Chris get into writing?
  • Why the extra E in the Angery American nom de plume?
  • What’s his obsession with the word Home?
  • What inspired Chris to write The Survivalist Series?
  • How should readers expect to connect with the main character?
  • How does the surviving home series start?
  • Does Chris intentionally write to fit in survival tips?
  • What disaster is Chris prepping for?
  • Does he consider himself a prepper or a survivalist or is there a distinction for him?
  • What authors inspire Chris?
  • What’s his number one survivalist pet peeve?
  • Angery American’s go-to rifle?
  • What’s the best $100 he ever spent on preparedness?
  • What should readers expect from him the future?

This episode of the ITRH Book Club is brought to you by Audible. We are lovers of audio too. And listening has allowed us to finally get around to reading some of the greats in apocalyptic fiction. Here are two of our all-time favorites:

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Quick “Angery American” Interview Takeaways:

How did you come to writing?

When I was in high school I used to do a lot of creative writing. I was really good at it.

And then in the 90s […] I was part of a writing forum where I would go in and write stories. I was writing one on there […] I happened to be browsing through a book store one day […] found almost my exact story verbatim. […] And it really disheartened me to think someone would plagiarize and idiot like myself; someone who was just writing on a forum. […] So I didn’t write anything else for years.

And then I was reading stories online, one day about five years ago, on a forum that other guys had wrote, but they were all missing something for me personally. And I was just like, “What the hell! I’m going to write one.” […] What’s it going to be about? Ok. I’ll do one about an EMP. Alright. What’s the character going to be doing? Alright, I’ll do it like this.

So like all of 10 minutes forethought I sat down and wrote a 5,000 word piece and posted it online. That was the opening of Going Home. And it took on a life of it’s own. You know… Doctor Frankenstein’s monster came to life right there. By the time I was done with it, it had over 2,000,000 views online. It really took off.

You go by Angrey American; what’s with the E?

Well… there’s a definition for that spelling of angry. It’s the facetious use of the word angry. It’s to be angry over something trivial or nonsensical. The reason for it, it’s kind of a play on it, because that’s how the government sees a lot of our concerns and issues: trivial, nonsensical, and irrelevant. But to us they’re not! They’re real issues. And really they’re the real issues we need to be worried about. And so it was just kind of a play on the word.

Prepper or Author Writing to a Niche:

Do you consider yourself a survivalist or a prepper or does it even matter to you?

The whole “The Survivalist Series” is something Penguin hung on it. It wasn’t my idea. I actually agued against it, but I lost.

Yeah. I don’t care. You can call me a survivalist. You can call me a prepper. I’ve been called worse by better folks. I don’t really care…. you know. Some on TV. [Laughter]

I personally like the term survivalist. […] In the purest form. Not the bunker dwelling-ammo-polishing kind of survivalist, but just a survivalist. I can survive.

We all have a caveats. I did a TV show where I got a lot of flack for coming out, but that wasn’t a survival situation and me and K9s don’t mesh. […] I had a pack of wolves show up in the middle of the night. […] No man made lights. Didn’t have a fire yet. It was so dark it was like being under ground. And I’ll I could do was hear these dogs, but they were close… within 30 feet of me. […] And I was sitting there thinking, “This is a stupid TV show. I don’t need to be here. I don’t need to put up with this. I’m out! I’m not going to be attacked by a dog!”

We mentioned EMP. What’s your pet prepper thing? Is it EMP?

It’s just where the story took me. Honestly, I started with EMP because I wanted to set the world up for as bad as it could be. For our world […] an EMP one of the worst things that could happen.

Where the Writing Began:

What didn’t you like about the other survival books?

The one thing that I hate… and I’m probably guilty of it at some point too… I hate the cliches that show up in survival books. [laughter] […] Ultimately a lot of these books are talking about violence. […] In violence, action always beats reaction. […] And if you’re reacting you’re going to loose. […] We see Carter… he’s kind of brash.. he doesn’t always make the right decisions, but the guy acts. And he acts quick! Because, he understands that.

Second place is the first looser in this world. […] People have got to get their heads around that. Even in self defense, we’re talking about violence […] You’ve gotta do more violence, bigger, harder, faster than the other guy if you’re going to win.

What’s the significance of having the word “home” in every title?

You know…. it’s that kind of home is where the heart is thing. […] In the prepper community, in the survivalist community, we talk about buggout and bugging in; all these various scenarios and whatnot, but in the end we all work out lives to build a home. […] It’s that concept that tries to maintain that. […] That concept of home is what anchors us. […] Morgan Carter [the main character] is just always trying to hang on to his home. And by his home it’s his small community with his new family that grows and shrinks at times… […] It’s just the idea of hanging on to that.

What was the inspiration for The Survivalist Series?

Like I said, when I was reading the other stories and thought these are all good, but they’re kind of missing something. […] I played a what-if senario for me. I sat down and armchair quarterbacked something. The trip that Carter takes is a trip that I used to take when I was working doing security systems for jails and prisons. […] And I just kind of played it out. What would I do if I was that far away and something happened? How would I try to get home?

Crafting the Main Character:

What went into crafting the character of Morgan Carter?

What I wanted him to be was kind of an everyman. He wasn’t a former special forces ninja. [Laughter] He’s not prior service, this guy. He is just a normal dude […] a dad, a husband. […] He was aware […] prepared, like a lot of us do […] stocks food, weapons, and ammo. But, again, like a lot of people he stocked weapons, but he never stocked training in those weapons. […] Morgan is just trying to rise to the occasion.

Do you intentionally write in mistakes for Morgan Carter to make?

At this point, it’s really a stream of consciousness thing. These stories now write themselves. […] When I start a new book, I don’t outline it. I generally have major plot points that I want to cover. But I don’t outline the plot point even. I just have an idea.

I walk the story with the characters. And I let them do what they do the way they would do it… as they go along… and behave the way they would normally behave. It’s kind of odd that you can do that with so many different personality types at the same time… all coming out of one head. It’s really a lot of fun. I really enjoy it.

Catching Fire With Readers:

Why do you think your books resonate with so many people?

Honestly, I’m not sure. This all took me by surprise. […] But I think there’s several reasons. Number one: What everyone tells me, and I hate to say this because I wrote it, they’re a good story. […] I try to avoid the cliche thing. There’s struggle and strife. And these guys don’t always get what they need when they need it. They gotta find a way to do it.

And one of the other things about this, I put real and useful information in the books. Yeah, they’re fiction stories. But there’s a lot of real ideas and tactics put in the book.

So my books are full of things like that: little solutions to ordinary problems. But REAL solutions! Not fictitious pie-in-the-sky solutions. Real things that you’re going to have to work to make happen.

I cover these kinds of things because they’re legitimate real things that people can use later. And they may be a fiction book, but they can be a reference book for them too.

The Craft or Writing:

What authors inspire you?

Well… now that I write, I find that I don’t read nearly as much as I used to. I used to be a voracious reader. […] Mainly because I don’t want to get their ideas in my head and disrespect them by doing something with it.

But I do have some favorite books. Probably my all time favorite post-apocalyptic novel is Alas Babylon. I love that book. […] I could listen to that book over and over and over.

Lucifers Hammer, the ones that were wrote years ago I find are generally better than a lot of stuff today. Franklin Horton, Boby Akart, G Michael Hopf, those are the guys that I follow. […]

I was a fan of [James Wesley] Rawls. I used to read his stuff, but I haven’t read anything of his in quit some time. But I didn’t even finish Patriot Series. It got a little… it had issues for me personally… so I just quit reading it. But Patriots I thought was a fantastic book. […] A little preachy, but it was a good book. […] Preachy… to put it mildly.

I see myself as the counter point to Rawls. […] So I approach this from a much smaller… more realistically attainable end goal.

Do you spend a lot of time editing?

Unlike a lot of writers, this may be bad, I’m a one and done author. I write things one time. Because I’ve learned, over time, that usually my first idea was my best idea. And if I try to go back and try to redo it I muddle it up and just mess it up.

Book Club Author Lighting Round:

What’s your prepper pet peeve?

There’s a number of things. One of the things I’ve started to pay attention to, here recently, is the reliance on stuff over skill. […] I’m a gear junky and everyone knows it. […] But there’s got to be more to you than that. Just because you go out and buy these things… doesn’t make you a survivalist. […] Just being prepared doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to survive.

You’ve got to have the skills and fortitude to use that stuff. So we see the memes on Facebook: No one needs a $3,000 AR-15 — They need an $800 AR15 and $2,200 worth of training. And that’s very accurate.

And there’s a lot folks need to learn. We need to be able to use our weapons effectively […] how to treat the medical emergencies […] how to plant our food and take care of it […] how to take care of our animals.

What’s your go to rifle?

I’m a standard AR guy. I like the ergonomics; they’re simple. But, again, I know how to operate many many many weapons platforms. […] I think everyone in this country should possess the ability to operate, maintain, disassemble, reassemble, clear malfunctions, and everything on an AR-15 and an AK47. One in five battle rifles in the world is an AK47. And in some parts of the world it’s a lot higher than that. So the AR-15 and the AK are the two things I think everybody should be able to operate.

If you’re in a fight, and a weapon jams, how long do you have to clear it? The rest of your life…. that’s how long you have. […] If you don’t get that gun cleared it’s going to be real short.

Special Note:

The final episode of this season, season 5, will be on May 25. ITRH will return August 1st for Season 6. You will be getting the now traditional summer shorts episodes roughly every three weeks while the show is on summer break.

Resources for Connecting with Angery American aka author Chris Weatherman

Other resources and authors mentioned in this episode:

In his free time, he enjoys hogging the remote, surfing, scotch, mental masturbation and debate over philosophical topics, and shooting stuff--usually not all at the same time.

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