Ron Foster is the author of the popular prepper and survival series, The Prepper Trilogy. In addition to holding several master’s degrees in emergency management related fields, Foster also brings real-life disaster experience to the table. The Ron Foster’s academic credentials include certificates in Global Security and Terrorism Studies, Law and Public Safety, Displaced Persons, School Security and Safety Administration, and Non-Profit Organization, Administrative Science, and Emergency Management Administration.
While hundreds of thousands of preppers are planning to survive for a vast variety of reasons, solar flares and threats of an EMP attack by North Korea continue to weigh on the minds of many in the self-reliance community around the country. Either one of those disaster scenarios could significantly impact our power grid and change life as we know it. Even if a solar flare only adversely impacted our power grid for a week or even a month, civil unrest and starvation could very likely occur.
If a Carrington Event size solar flare hit Earth today, what do you feel would happen to our power grid?
Ron – This will depend on the size and geographic orientation of the impact of a coronal mass ejection (CME) on Earth’s magnetosphere. Can you imagine if say, it was lights out for North America and Asia was somewhat spared of its effects? This scenario or its reverse is entirely plausible and the political and military ramifications of such an occurrence is something I delve into from time to time in my stories. The age and type of power plants, as well as hackers and cyber warfare opportunists could sway the outcomes of any impact on the power grids worldwide. Brazil has been shut down by hackers during a CME event it was proven with China as the culprit.
How does your professional experience as an emergency manager play into the text of your popular survival fiction books?
Ron – I hate to admit it, but I “leak” info for what we are not prepared for, as well as make a case as an advocate for a “holistic” approach to emergency management; versus the DHS model of a more militaristic response of “command and control”. These are not state secrets, but observations and expectations that preppers need to mentally file away in order to evaluate their own circumstances in an evolving threat scenario.
If a strong solar flare did take down our power grid for just a few weeks or few months, describe how you think life as we know it would be altered?
Ron – A few weeks is a walk in the park. A few months is chaos, compounded by idiots and then a journey into societal collapse and martial law – the start of the burning times. The recovery will be years and the death toll will exceed any known war or plague. Yet continuity of government will still exist in many fashions yet to be reckoned with.
The last sizeable solar flare occurred on March 15, 2013, it took two days to travel to Earth and gave us just a mild glancing blow. Even with the new detection capabilities the telescope in Australia offers, tracking and predicting sun spot activity is far from a scientific process. What type of warning time do you think people will have should an Earth-directed solar flare maximum actually occur?
Ron – Scientists keep saying that they were surprised about some of the new things the sun has been doing. The power grids are debating a two-hour notice to shut down or divert power to minimize damage, so based on this I say one-hour at best. Even if they turn the satellites away and portions of the grid are shut down for safety or maintenance, there is no guarantee on what the size of an unknown super CME will cause or its duration or repetition. It’s a crap shoot. If we get warning, great! I will be busy disconnecting my car battery and hanging a chain off the bumper to ground it. If not, I hope my little fictional scenario in my book “Preppers Road March” has thousands of people in a better mindset to hoof it home and have gained a few survival skills so they will not stress as bad about it.
Scientists from both NASA and NOAA agree that the Sun is nearing the end of its 11-year cycle. The experts vary greatly in opinion when it comes to predicting when the peak or double-peak will actually occur. What are your thoughts about the potential for a significant solar flare this year?
Ron – Until recently, most researchers had been predicting that solar maximum would probably occur sometime around May. That is according to the latest data I have been following, but this is just one of the many evolving scientific models that has caused me concern. I have ultimately decided the scientists and mystics can only warn us about a “Not if but when” event and any potential for a significant solar flare this year on my part is sheer speculation. I admit I do prep more for this type of event, but I also did the same last year. The insurance companies are freaking out about such a possibility. This peak in solar activity comes in accordance with the sun’s 11-year cycle. So yes, I feel there is a significant threat to prepare for just like I know there will be hurricanes this year.
What prompted you to begin writing prepper fiction?
Ron – I guess to be honest, it was money. Money to buy more preps and get paid for the legacy of knowledge I have that I wish I could of bought before I went to the expense and physical hardships to obtain personally. Value is an arbitrary term. I got paid, well not me personally mostly, for my opinion as a gemologist at the rate of $190 an hour to do an insurance appraisal on jewelry, or a legal dispute on a gemstone because of a credential. This was before I lost a great deal of vision doing it and applied my mind and experiences to more mundane and practical things in order to feed myself and put a roof over my head without the benefit of medical, retirement, unemployment or other corporate items my life lacked.
I wrote Rural Ranger in 2003 to get paid for my opinions and time in military survival schools as well as being a Southern good ol’ boy that knew a few things about the woods. I needed preps, I still need preps – this is my job. I ask the price of a beer or two to relate decades of knowledge and it’s worth the price. I am a maker of mischief. I have drinking parties with imaginary friends and write prepper fiction.
Are the books entirely entertainment oriented, or do they serve as an educational resource as well?
Ron – Not by a long shot are they entirely entertainment oriented. I hope you don’t mind me addressing some of the qualms some of my detractors have about my books in this forum. The usual complaint I get is about my editing. There are two things to know here. First, I type with one finger as fast as I can to get the word out on how to prepare for coming disastrous events I foresee and put them out as quick as I can. I don’t have the money or inclination to hire an editor to delay or change the impact of my wording. I am southern, get over it, I don’t talk or write in accepted Yankee speak or proper English but I can, as my degrees prove. I have decided to teach you everything this old man knows in the quickest way and it is the same as if we were talking over my campfire, ok? Take the knowledge, take the fun, take the acceptance of many dialects and wisdom and use the story to remember the survival tricks as the characters use my pronunciations and language.
Take the truncations and outright word drops as an author style and remember there is also a New York Times bestselling author who refuses to use any commas, (laughs.) I at least try for the grammar Nazis. Countless great YouTube videos like LowBuck Prepper and many, many others attest to loving this writing style .
Your book, Roland’s Post Apocalyptic Railroad creates a scenario similar to The Carrington Event miniseries (airs in May) about life in America after a massive Earth-directed solar flare. Much like Rick Grime’s group in The Walking Dead on AMC, the people in the book feel morally bound to help other survivors while continually struggling with starvation fears. Why do you think millions of Americans are drawn to such stories, now more than ever?
Ron– I think the draw of post-apocalyptic fiction is almost something we get drawn to as readers at a young age. Knowledge makes a difference and we all ask ourselves what would we do in such a situation, or compare a character’s action in a story to our own remembrances.