Empty Playgrounds

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Nostradamus – so some say – predicted the end of the world in 2000. The Mayans – apparently – went for 2012. But Paul Strahan is going for the 'near future' in his new tome, Empty Playgrounds. Actually, this apocalyptic novel doesn't chart man's last days like so many end-of-the-world reads – it shows how it could be on the horizon when a disaster sterilises the human race. Cue pandemonium…

Strahan, who was born in London but now lives on Lamma Island, isn't exactly being sensationalist in his new book. He looks at how man could cope with the tragedy of being unable to reproduce. "Basically, a strange cloud of dust from space descends on the Earth," says the 64-year-old. "The result is that men can't reproduce. If a cure can't be found, then mankind will disappear. The book then follows several plots where various characters try to find a solution. To give the impression that this disaster could possibly be happening right now, I use real events and actual people mixed in with the fictional elements – not an easy thing to do when the book spans more than five decades!"

Empty Playgrounds focuses on the USA, China, England and Scotland. There's a sci-fi element but it's more about the way that mankind battles 'Mother Nature taking back what was once hers'. "In the book, there are still children around," says the father-of-two. "Some are the last conceived naturally and others are the result of artificial insemination programmes. The disaster has only just occurred. The book does not need to consider an environment without children but looks forward to a time when, if a cure isn't found, this could be the end of mankind."

Empty Playgrounds – an e-book (available on Amazon) which is due to be released in paperback later this year – is Strahan's fourth tome, following his double award winning Bars of Steel (soon to be relaunched as Dancing for your Life in the North American market), Moonbeam Award bronze medal-winning children's book The Farm Girl and the Butterflies and another kids' read, The Never Ending Bag of Crisps. Strahan, who has worked in IT auditing and compliance for most of his life in Europe and Asia, says the new book was more than a decade in the making. "Empty Playgrounds is derived from two other books that I was working on in the late 90s," he says. "I realised that those two books, for various reasons, were not going to go anywhere, but I liked some of the characters, settings and plots, so on August 22, 2002, I sat down and wrote the prologue and title. I cut and pasted various bits from both projects and that was the start of Empty Playgrounds."

And the rest is history. Strahan, who has several children's books in the pipeline which he hopes to release in the near future, says he's looking forward to an exciting time ahead. He says there'll 'most likely' be a sequel to Empty Playgrounds where mankind 'can still save himself from disaster'. And we predict that follow-up tome, after, hopefully, the resounding success of this first instalment, will be a hit in Hong Kong and internationally. Unless the world ends, that is.

Empty Playgrounds is published by Hanson International Enterprises Ltd and is available as an e-book from Amazon, priced $42.

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