Category Archives: apocalyptic fiction

If you survived the apocalypse, what would you miss most?

The Walking Dead is about to come on, but I had to dash this off quick.

I was just listening to a TED talk about medical breakthroughs with gene sequencing, growing artificial bones and organs and individually tailored drug therapy. Despite how bad our schools often are and how nasty society can be, a lot of great things are coming our way, if the human race survives long enough to see the dawn of these discoveries.

In This Plague of Days, the Sutr flu killed sixty percent of the world’s population. That leaves a lot of screaming eating for the Sutr-Zs and the Sutr-As, but what does it leave for the surviving humans? Would you really want to survive such a harsh, uncertain future?

In World Made By Hand by James Howard Kunstler, the protagonist is a former businessman who, after the fall of the world as we know it, becomes a fiddler and carpenter. He has useful skills, is well-liked within his little community and things are fairly peachy for him. One thing that stands out for me about his new life is he doesn’t really seem to miss his old one. There’s no processed food to eat so most everyone’s healthier and, it seems, just about as happy.

I liked World Made By Hand plenty, five out of five stars, but that one detail didn’t ring true, for me at least. If and when the world collapses and there’s no steady power to depend upon, it shall sucketh.

In This Plague of Days, Jack and Anna lament the loss of Facebook. I would, too. Maybe that makes me pathetic, but getting together with people on social media and keeping in touch with friends is a worthy thing I don’t want to do without. I’d adjust given no alternative, of course, but I sure wouldn’t embrace being Amish.

Most of us went without the Internet for many years. We didn’t know what we were missing, but now that we do… There’s an old song about WWI that asks, “How you gonna keep ’em down on the farm, after they’ve seen Paree?” That about sums it up. Nobody wants to go backward in time.

Here are things I’d miss, post-apocalypse:

Clean, running water and a hot shower each morning, as easy as turning on the tap. Working toilets also rock. Outhouses stink.

Hot coffee (Starbucks and Williams and even Tim Hortons.)

Access to medical care. Like I said in TPOD about the ever-so-cool Walking Dead, what are these people fighting so hard for? I don’t want to die of appendicitis or pray for death, enduring an abscessed tooth, waiting for the septicemia to shut down my brain.

Facebook, Twitter, news, politics, and easy access to the world’s knowledge with a Google search? I love being plugged into the hive mind.

While looting is easy and cheap, everything I would want runs on electricity!

My secluded fortress/log cabin in the woods is awesome. Love the fireplace and the stock of wood out back…but when you don’t want to cook, it’s great to be able to pick up the phone and order in Chinese food, isn’t it?

Gosh. I hope we make it. I’d rather live in a world with working hospitals and medical miracles on the way.

What about you? What would you miss most?

 

 

 

 

 


You’ve read it. It’s right before your eyes. Guess it and you’re in my next book.

It’s time for The Spoilers/No Spoilers Contest. 

There is a secret in This Plague of Days. It’s not buried that deep.

No one has guessed it, but it’s right before your eyes.

If you suspect you know, DM me on Facebook or DM on Twitter (and keep the secret).

Wild speculation will be entertained, but can neither be confirmed nor denied. No spoilers to the rest of the guessers.

Prizes? Sure.

First prize: A nice, fat, juicy paperback of Season One of This Plague of Days. (Signed with a personal note of praise and adulation. Probably signed by me.)

For the first three winners, I’ll use your names for characters in my next book. The secret will be revealed in Season 3.

Praise and adulation will be heaped upon all those who guess correctly on the All That Chazz podcast. 

Have at it!

Also, even if you’re way off, I still may incorporate your wild speculation into Season 3. I got an idea from a reader recently that I shall mold into…well, that would be be telling.

This’ll be fun, but it’s also serious. A chance at immortality hangs in the balance.

 


This Plague of Days Q & A (Part 6): Why do we have to wait so long?

There are few things more pleasing for a writer than having people anxiously await your next book. It’s very cool and I do appreciate it. As someone rightly pointed out, “Hey! This Plague of Days is taking off and you’re writing another book that’s unrelated? Wouldn’t it be smarter to get to Season 3 faster, before you’re forgotten? Get Season 3 done now and write the other thing later.”

To paraphrase Alanis Morrisette, “That’s good advice I just can’t take.” 

The new book is pretty much written. I’m combing through it now. It’s funny and touching and quirky and, well, sort of like everything else I write, I suppose. The hero is another 17-year-old boy. (I don’t know why. I just type what the voices tell me.) It’s not horror. This one is another big book, but it’s my coming-of-age thriller. There is almost-sex, drugs and a kid trying to become a movie star in New York.

It’s pretty ambitious and it’s about ambition. It’s about learning how to be free in a world that’s quick to stomp on that impulse. It’s about love of family and how that can hurt you. I love the protagonist, Romeo Basilon. He doesn’t have much going for him. He’s smart, but poor. His mother’s an alcoholic. He gets suspended from school a lot. He’s a hick kid who finds himself in New York and he wants to be like his hero, actor John Leguizamo.

It’s dark and fun and I’m doing a few things with this you’ve probably never seen before. And yeah, there’s a Shakespearian component to this journey to love and self-discovery. I do strange.

And I needed a break from This Plague of Days to do something very different.

I had to air out the house and put fresh oil and gas in the storytelling engine. The work on TPOD made for a very intense summer. As I start up another business and juggle all the things I have to do, I had to put the Spencers on the back burner for just a little bit. There’s no intern here helping me out with the formatting, reformatting, printers, and oh-my-god-I’m-sorry-I-started-thinking-about-this-at-MIDNIGHT!

But rest assured, I already have 35,000 words of Season 3 written. I know what’s coming. We’ve been building to several big showdowns for the first two seasons. It will be fun to get back on the autistic zombie ride, reveal a big secret and do the to-do.

Season One was The Siege. Season Two was The Quest. Season Three will be The War. Some characters we love will die. Others will transform and transcend. Season Three will be filled with great moments, so join me as I put out something a little lighter and fun. I’m anxious to tell you more, but I better go finish it first.

Oh! And a question for you!

Huge thanks to all who have taken the time to review! We’re up to 43 reviews on Season One and already at 10 reviews on Season Two! TPOD S2 is still cruising a couple of bestseller lists (post-apocalyptic and dystopian.)

If the popularity keeps going, I might not release Season Three as a serial and I’ll just put it out there. (The reasoning is, by now, more people will just buy the complete season. Anybody got any thoughts on that? I’m open to readers’ opinions. You are the boss of me.

Much love,

Chazz


Q & A for This Plague of Days (PART 4)

Someone asked:

“Why didn’t you put out This Plague of Days in one big book?”

Long answer first. Skip to the end for brevity.

One book wouldn’t have been a sustainable model for me, artistically (or economically). In a publishing world where ebooks are getting shorter, if I’d made it one book, I’d be inundated with complaints it was too long. Can’t please everybody.

Season One is 106,000 words and written like a TV mini-series. (Yeah. On purpose!) I just finished formatting Season One for the paperback edition and it’s 307 pages. I can’t sell a paperback that’s longer than that. Only Stephen King could in this publishing and reading environment (and that may already be too long for paper as is.) I haven’t worked out the numbers yet.

Season Two is closer to 80,000 words. I think this season reads more like an action movie with some very weird twists.

By the end of Season Three, This Plague of Days will be close to 300,000 words in total (at least three times longer than what’s now considered a long book.) 

When I began this serial, I had a certain vision of how it would play out. Buckingham Palace would be taken down. Iceland would be attacked. Stuff would get blown up.  A lot of ships would be involved. Characters would evolve over long arcs and secrets from Season One wouldn’t be revealed until Season Three. 

For those who choose to board my crazy train to the end of the line, there are rewards. A lot of stuff will make more sense in retrospect. It’s so twisted, I may even have several, alternative endings. When it all comes out, you’ll want to reread the whole thing over again. I can’t explain more without giving away too much. Sorry if you don’t like serials, but I was clear from the beginning what it was and what it was going to be.

I’m really looking forward to delivering Season Three next spring.

It’s going to be epic: Epic battles; big reveals; trenchant moments, surprising wins and tragic losses and, ultimately, transformation. There is great potential in each of us. Season Three will prove it.

Thank you so much to all the wonderful readers who have been so kind, gave This Plague of Days a try and see potential in me to deliver a big story that will give great satisfaction to the end of the roller coaster ride.

The short answer is: 

Because that’s where the Art of the thing took me.

Don’t try to limit me. It’s not my choice. The story demanded what it needed for itself.

It had to be this way or not at all.

Related articles


Season Two, Episode One: The Spencers Flee East

The complete first and second seasons are up. Season 2 Episode 1 launches Monday. Click carefully so you get the right ones. Cheers!

The complete first and second seasons are up. Season 2 Episode 1 launches Monday. Click carefully so you get the right ones. Cheers! Or just click this cover to get Episode One if you want the serialization.

 

About the bathtub scene from Season 2, Episode 1: 

There’s something about that scene which reminds me of American Werewolf in London, or maybe some of Stephen King’s work. 

In all post-apocalyptic fiction, the hope for the future must be greater than the horror, no matter how bad things get. I love The Walking Dead, but to be honest, I’m not sure what they’re fighting for. I even said this in Season One and I mean it honestly. We need more than the hope of taking one more breath to sustain us. Sometimes the reason to live doesn’t come from us, but from our children or spouse.

That’s ultimately what the bathtub scene is about. It sets the stakes. As long as her family is alive, Jack knows what she’s fighting for. As Season Two continues, it seems her grasp on hope is tenuous. The lure of the quiet death is something all survivors must consider. When confronted with continuous horrors without hope, suicide is a reasonable choice. At the bathtub, choices are made that give gas to the narrative engine of This Plague Of Days.

I hope you enjoy it.

~ Chazz

 


I love this #VIDEO for This Plague of Days: Launch missiles!

Season Two is here! Please go to my author page, AllThatChazz.com,

and click the affiliate link in the right sidebar to get your copy of the complete season of This Plague of Days 2 for just $3.99.

If you prefer getting the episodes, there are five for 99 cents each and the releases come each Monday, starting next week.

(The complete season will continue to be discounted until the end of the five-week run.)

What to expect this time around?

Season One had a slow build. This has more action and the tension is ramped up as the zombie invasion comes to American ( and many other) shores.

Last time, we watched Jaimie, our hero on the autistic spectrum, navigating our world. We’re going to get a deeper look into his world in Season Two. He prefers it there. You might, too.

You’ll meet some new characters dealing with the end of civilization in varied ways. You’ll see some familiar characters return.

And surprises. Lots of surprises. I hope you love reading it as much as I loved writing it.

Thanks for taking a ride on my crazy train,

~ Chazz


This Plague of Days Q & A (Part 1)

Someone asked, “How far along are you on Season Three?”

Thanks for the question and your enthusiasm. Season Two isn’t even out yet! October 1 is Tuesday! It’s going to be fun.

The heavy answer is, I know how the serial ends and I have 35,000 words of Season 3 so far. (Season One was 106,000 words and Season Two is about 80,000.)

Season Three will be between 80,000-90,000 words. Here are the chapter titles so far, as they appear in my writing program:

Screen Shot 2013-09-28 at 12.46.26 PM

The bonus is something I was going to include at the end of Season One, but my beta readers talked me out of it. That’s a good thing. You can read it below on this site, anyway, if you’re interested.

As you can see, Season 2, Episode 5 got moved around and then down into this list. 

The “BRILLIANT IDEA”? Can’t tell you that, but it came to me over dinner one night that I knew how the war would be lost, won and/or solved in a way that isn’t a cliche. Cliches are tough to avoid in this genre sometimes, but the solutions and resolutions need to be unique in This Plague of Days. More crowbars and machine guns? Not the answer. Not in TPOD, anyway.

By my lights, there’s enough gunplay in Seasons One and Two, but as with my crime novels, I’m more interested in killing people in clever ways. 

And see the file marked “ODDS”. As I write, rewrite and edit, a lot of stuff comes to me that I like and can’t bring myself to use or delete. I stuff all those bits into the ODDS file, probably never to be seen again. I’m a bit of a hoarder. I collect books, dictionaries and neuroses.

Got a question? Email me at expartepress@gmail.com.


This Plague of Days: Influences on Season Two (and me!)

Want a hint at what happens next? Okay.

The Sutr virus is still evolving.

This isn’t a complete list of influences, but when I think of who and what influences the development of This Plague of Days, here’s what pops to mind:

1. After reading Blake Crouch’s Run, I wrote two fast-paced crime novels (Bigger Than Jesus and Higher Than Jesus.) Season One was a slower build and burn. Season Two is closer to that pell mell pacing.

2. William Goldman (Marathon Man, the Princess Bride et al) influences all my writing. He’s the master of the surprise reversal. I’m telling you there will be plenty of surprises in Season Two of This Plague of Days. Knowing in advance won’t help.

3. Neil Gaiman. When you read it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. In the realm you’re about to enter, that which is named is manifested.

4. Your reviews. I won’t lie. I’m exhausted. Typical days run sixteen hours at least, especially in the last month as I prepare the new season. On those busy days, the work continues even into sleep with lucid dreaming. Those happy reviews kept me excited to keep going and push through to make my deadline. Thank you!

5. My Chemical Romance. The Black Parade is on a continuous loop. If you don’t know their scream-o music, how I envy you. “Mama” is especially appropriate. (I listen to Everlast while writing crime novels.)

6. Podcasts and Kurt Vonnegut’s nerve. I listen to The Young Turks, The Best of the Left and dozens of other podcasts. So, yeah, I believe the military-industrial (and corporate) complex is the devil President Eisenhower warned us about. Do I get preachy about it? I don’t think so. Vonnegut let his worldview slip into his books. I believe I cram it in sideways without being too intrusive on the story. Heck, it’s part of the story and many viewpoints are expressed. The world as it is informs the plot. Kurt Vonnegut was a disappointed humanist. He believed in human potential and noticed when the world fell short of those ideals. Put that label on me, too.

7. Comedians. I love them. Even amid the horror, perhaps especially in horror, there’s room for jokes.

8. Movies. I have an eidetic memory for movie quotes and if you’ve read my crime novels, you’ll spot the obsession. I grew up working in a video store and I’ve seen more movies than the average bear. In the character of Aadi, it pops into TPOD. Also, the visuals in This Plague of Days are very cinematic. Yes, I’m considering a screenplay.

9. Kale shakes. I think clearer on kale shakes.

10. Mom. My mother is dead now, but I inherited her obsession with words early on. My mother had hidden talents. Besides brilliant stock analysis, she was a code breaker. Every day we’d crack the newspaper’s cryto-quote together. She was unnaturally fast at pattern recognition. Also, the house was full of books. That’s where I got my love of reading, through her osmotic obsession. I still read dictionaries for fun and can lose myself in them for hours at a time. My quirky hero in This Plague of Days understand each other.

11. Pathology. I studied it. It comes up a lot in details. When I studied human anatomy, I was in awe of the organic machine. When I studied pathology, I got freaked out about all that can go wrong with our bodies. That’s how I studied my way into becoming a hypochondriac.

Season Two launches October 1. The complete season will be available then (at a discounted price) For those who prefer to take it in week by week, it will be available as a serial starting October 7. 

If you aren’t already on board the crazy train, check out the sample of Season One of This Plague of Days at the link.


Things get paranormal. Or do they? Sentient trees and This Plague of Days

After a great cover design conference with my graphic designer, Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com, I was inspired to tweak a passage from Season Two of This Plague of Days.

There’s a major shift in the story and I wanted to deliver the news in a clever way. In the earlier drafts, the shift was stated a bit too baldly and too “on the nose”. Fortunately, my editor and beta readers suggested I rethink the realization to come. The answer popped into my head this afternoon when I was conspiring with Kit about the cover. What follows is a small slice from a larger hunk of beef, but I was so happy with it, I wanted to share just a little taste of  a sneak peek from This Plague of Days, Season Two:

Jaimie sat up. He awoke in the forest again. Though he’d come to this place many times, this was his first arrival at night. A cold, full moon cast shadows among white birch trunks. In stark beauty, the trees stood out in the darkness, glowing like columns of white marble.

He looked up. In sunlight, a boil of hawks always soared above the forest in slow funnels, circling, watching, waiting. Past the reaching trees, he saw nothing but indifferent stars and the infinite unknown of the chasms amongst their pale fires.

“What has changed?” he called out to the forest.

“Chiroptera.”

By the rules of the Nexus, that which is named becomes real, and so a cloud of shrieking bats crossed the lamp of the moon. Leathery wings beat the air as the colony shattered the moonlight into white strobes. The bats were so large, they cast chaotic shadows on the boy’s upturned face. Jaimie’s mirror eyes reflected scalpel claws and gleaming, tearing teeth.

~ If you aren’t on board already, check out Season One here. Season Two strikes at the end of the month. Buy This Plague of Days, Season 2 for $3.99 in the first week before it rises to $4.99. The story will be released as a series of five episodes at 99 cents each on October 9.

 


What happened to your city in This Plague of Days?

Detroit Burned

 

When I consulted one of my survival experts about the end of the world as we know it, he shocked me a bit. We were at my dining room table with a map spread out in front of us. We were tracking the Spencer family’s escape from the Midwest east in my serial, This Plague of Days.  John Badger (survival guy, geography and hiking expert) put his palm on the map, covering a good swath of the west coast of the United States.

“And, of course, under the circumstances, all these people are dead,” John said.

“What?”

“No water. When you wipe away the infrastructure, there’s no water there. Vegas? Gone. L.A.? Dead.”

“Um.”

“Yeah, it’s very vulnerable and, with the conditions you describe, they’re toast or trying to migrate out of trouble in a pretty short time.”

As the Spencers head for a farm in Maine they hope will be safe, they hear a lot of rumours about what’s happening across the world. First came the Sutr-X world flu pandemic. Then Sutr-Z laid waste to Europe and Asia. In Season 2 of This Plague of Days, the crap hits the ceiling fan in America and Canada.

I just wanted you to know, we put some serious thought into it. Some rumors you can believe. Others will conflict and first reports are always wrong. I hope you join the adventure while it’s still a vicarious thrill instead of a handbook to the apocalypse.

Have a nice day.

TPOD season 1 ecover

 


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