This post is part of a Rhonda Pods About Books podcast episode, which you can listen to on your favorite podcatcher, or right here:
What I brought from my experience as a filmmaker is that I write in a very cinematic, visual style… it’s basically like seeing a movie in your head. I actually make a movie in my head… and I write down what I see.
Anna Mocikat has been writing for over 20 years, though in a way, her latest book, Shadow City, released November 7, is sort of her debut.
Originally from Poland, she moved to Germany as a child and lived there through young adulthood. There she found success as a filmmaker and screenwriter, as well as releasing several successful novels through one of Germany’s biggest publishers.
But three years ago, Mocikat needed a change. So she moved to the East Coast of the U.S. and wrote her first English-language novel, and her first work for an American audience, calling it Shadow City:
Los Angeles is an apocalyptic wasteland. The few survivors of a horrific catastrophe live under the constant threat of radiation, mutated creatures, and worse… lurking in the shadows.
In the ruins of the deserted city, the scavengers Jean and Louis come across a nameless stranger and bring him to the only safe zone, once known as Hollywood. What’s left of society is divided among different factions; mistrust, brute force, and anarchy rule everyday life.
If the struggle for survival wasn’t bad enough, the nuclear disaster has shifted realities as we knew them and brought something into our world which threatens to exterminate the human race. Something so dark, that every living being is horrified of it. Something that feeds on suffering and violence.
But humans aren’t alone in this existential fight. Unexpected allies emerge from the shadows and in the final stand, the nameless stranger will decide humanity’s fate.
The book is full of Mocikat’s favorite things to write and read about–horror, science fiction, fantasy–and takes place in a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles. There are cyborgs and vampires and portals to other worlds, all things Mocikat has always wanted to write about, but wouldn’t have landed with a European audience.
Shadow City is the kind of book I always wanted to write, and I couldn’t write back in Germany because my publisher and my agent said the story is too big, too high concept.
Mocikat’s film background definitely shows in her new novel, as well as her experience in video game design; Shadow City plays out like a popcorn action flick in your head as you’re reading, with a world rich in detail and history and just enough scares to appeal to horror fans, as well.
The characters are fully-realized, the setting feels real (Mocikat lived in L.A. for several months), and the overarching conflict (extermination of the human race), though nothing new in fiction, feels fresh in a way that is weighty and horrifying.
When trying to think of other works to compare it to, my mind always went to film and TV, more so than other books: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Underworld and Terminator film franchises, even The Walking Dead in some ways. Fans of any of these will find a lot to love in Shadow City.
Shadow City is available now. Click here to buy through an independent bookstore!
Find Anna’s recommended reads here:
Pandora Reborn by John Coon (click the cover to buy through Indiebound)
The second title, Reality by Deception, is not available through IndieBound, but you can see its Goodreads page.