Category Archives: apocalyptic fiction

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

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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

 


Ghost town: A new sneak peek at Season Two of This Plague of Days

His home town, Gas City, had been so named for its once plentiful reserves of natural gas. When that dried up, it was just another small town calling itself a city and on the way to ruin. When Sutr hit, it became a ghost town.

“Ghost town” was figurative, of course. Chris believed in math, not spirits. However, alone in his bed late at night, without lights or the comfort of other people, the floors creaked. The sounds that had terrified him as a little boy scared him anew.

“Water in the pipes,” his mother had told him of the far away hammering. “Just the house settling,” she said of the sound of footsteps on old floorboards at midnight. “Raccoons in the attic,” she said of the sounds of thick, scurrying feet.

Without lights, all the little boy fears returned to the man. Unseen, nocturnal animals trekked through Gas City. When Chris gazed out his windows at night, searching, shadows danced along the edges of his perception. Were those movements tricks of the eye? A cast of moon shadows? Something alive and hungry with a mouthful of jagged teeth?

Dead neighbors’ chimes trembled and sang disjointed songs of abandonment into a careless wind. In what his long-dead mother called “the witching hours”, it was easier to believe a little less in math. Alone at night in a dead town, ghosts were easier to believe in.

After a week of insomnia giving way to a couple of hours of restless sleep, Chris abandoned his house. He filled a backpack with a few necessities and moved into the Marion County Hospital. “No use wasting time and gas on the commute,” he told Deputy Hawkins. But it was the loneliness, the unidentified sounds and the ghost parade that chased him from the little house in Gas City. Working with the Deputy gave him food, water, purpose and people to talk to who weren’t blue and gray and dead.

 


This Plague of Days, Season 2: Expect more action

TPOD season 1 ecoverI completed the original manuscript for This Plague of Days a few years ago. Every day I headed over to the local Starbucks and typed on a little pad called a Neo. (Yes, I’m aware of the Starbucks/writing cliché and, no, I don’t care.) I finished that iteration of the manuscript at around a quarter of a million words. It’s a sprawling story with a big cast. The Stand is one of my favorite books and I guess that shows through. However, I wasn’t content with publishing models as they existed at that time. Now, between ebook distribution and the benefits of serialization, I have a book that’s gaining traction. (Check out the great reviews here, for instance.)

What’s up next for Jaimie Spencer?

Season One had a lot of character development as we delved into Jaimie Spencer’s handicaps and his powers. Everyone loves Jaimie, but we haven’t seen all he can do yet. He’s a selective mute on the autism spectrum, so it’s always significant when he chooses to speak. In Season Two, it’s still significant, but under special circumstances, he’s going to be a bit more talkative. I love writing this character!

What’s up for Shiva?

Ah, the devil in the red dress has yet to deliver her baby and she’s finding some changes in her body that aren’t explainable by pregnancy. She and Jaimie meet for the first time.

Has the British invasion finally started?

Yes. The infected invade the United States on two fronts! I’m telling you there are big surprises coming. That warning won’t help you.

What about the survivors from London?

The Brit refugees, led by Dr. Craig Sinjin-Smythe, are getting some military assistance but they’re having trouble catching up with Shiva. New cast members are added and others are lost to a bad case of Zombie Surprise. 

Who are the new characters?

There’s a small assortment of military personnel, an Irish policeman I like named Desmond Walsh and a busker/street preacher named Gus. Expect a touch of romance and meet a new villain to add to the mounting dangers to the Spencers. Also, a villain from Season One reappears.

How is Season Two going to be different from Season One?

Someone on my beta reader team noticed that the pacing in Season Two has amped up. We know these characters so now there’s lots of room for more high-stakes action with people we care about. The Latin phrases and fascination with words isn’t going away, but the fallout from Sutr-X and Sutr-Z is really hitting home now. Your home. 

The expected publication date for Season Two of This Plague of Days is the end of September. If you’d like a heads up when it comes out, or chances to win prizes and see advanced reading copies, click here to go to my author site  for details.

Sign up for the free newsletter and you also get a shout out on the next All That Chazz podcast.

The All That Chazz podcast returns next week!

 


This Plague of Days: The Mackinac Bridge Massacre

An excerpt from todays’ revisions of Season 2 of This Plague of Days. 

TPOD season 1 ecoverJack ordered her daughter to close her eyes, too.

“No, Mom.”

“Anna! I don’t want you to wake up screaming with nightmares tonight.”

“No,” Anna said. “I’ll look. Years from now, I’ll tell my children what I saw here.” She gazed at tangled horrors as the van bumped along over a sprawl of bodies. The uncaring Sutr Virus had not done this. People had done this to other people.

Many of those murdered had no eyes now, but their gaping jaws suggested anger, fear, pain and surprise. Anna saw torn flesh. White bones rose. Skeletons emerged from their hiding places. 

“If I don’t look…” Anna said, “it’s not right. Someone has to bear witness. If I don’t look, it’s like saying this doesn’t matter or it means I won’t be around later to pass it on. Someday soon, the animals will finish eating and what will be left but me and my memory? Not looking is like…”

“Giving up,” Theo said. “Yes. Look, Anna! It’s a heavy load, but someone who can tell the story should carry the memory.” 

 

Season 2 arrives this fall. You can get Season 1 now by clicking the cover. The revisions are going well, but I’m adding a lot of new material as well. Season 2 is packed with action.

 


Why Zombies? For the brains.

TPOD season 1 ecoverA couple of people have contacted me to say, “What’s with the zombies? I don’t get the attraction!” That looks like a delicious can of worms. Let’s eat that.

I replied with something diplomatic like, “Well, you know, not everything’s for everybody and that’s cool but by the way, I make it fresh!”

But really, first off, how weird is that?

Is there any other profession where someone who doesn’t use your product or service goes out of their way to say, “I hate that”? I don’t like the smell of the acrylic nail salon at the mall, but I don’t rush in there to tell them “I don’t get it. Why would you do that?” Likewise, hard core military fiction? Not for me. Unicorns? Not for me. However, I don’t contact the authors looking for…well, I’m not sure what they were looking for exactly. Justification? An apology?

Second, my zombie apocalypse isn’t about zombies. 

Good science fiction doesn’t teach you how to build a warp engine. I’ve tried to read some amateurish stuff that goes deep in the weeds of world-building and it has all the allure of a technical manual. (Which is a snarky way of saying it’s not for me, I guess, but at least I’m not chasing down those writers on Twitter and Facebook to say, “I don’t get it. Why would you do that?”) 

My rule is Follow the Art. I wrote a story with zombies because that’s where Art took me.

Horror isn’t about the monsters.

Horror is about how we react to the monsters. In This Plague of Days, I take a family from the heartland of America and put them in peril. First it’s a plague (no zombies) because I wanted to show what a lot of dystopian books don’t show. I wanted to show how things fall apart instead of starting the story after the fall. As the conflicts escalate (especially in Season Two) faithful readers will come to understand why things happened the way they did in Season One. This is a big story with long arcs, secrets  and big payoffs down the road. If I wanted to write a short story, the action would come in a smaller box. This is a big gift box.

Much of the horror doesn’t come from the infected.

Throughout This Plague of Days, everyone’s scared. Scared people, even heroes, make bad choices. As the zombie action evolves in Britain (and hits American shores in Season Two), that midwestern family in suburbia faces danger not just from the world flu pandemic, but from other survivors. In short, people are shitty to each other. They’re selfish. And sometimes they surprise us by being decent. There is room for nuance and, by the way, no villain thinks he’s a villain. Even when I daydream of drowning haters in an acid bath, I think I’m righteous, for instance.

People are more interesting than monsters.

Monsters don’t have choices. They’re following their needs, instincts and natures. But when people do bad things? They’re choosing evil. Family dynamics under pressure in the Centrifuge of Death and Global Disaster is much more interesting than drooling, shuffling dead lunkheads. 

My zombies aren’t “true” rise-from-the-grave zombies.

My zombies are really people infected with a virus of the 28 Days Later variety. They’re fast and they’re getting smarter and more organized. I even make jokes about  zombie movies where the tropes don’t bear examination. I’m telling a tale of Good versus Evil where most people are conflicted about the battle. Don’t assume it’s dumb because the z-word is attached.

Some people make rise-from-the-grave stuff work great, too. I’ve read plenty of smart horror. If you haven’t, maybe you need to read more, not less.

It didn’t even have to be zombies.

To me, the place of zombies in This Plague of Days, is as a force of nature. A world flu pandemic is a force of nature and the family deals with that first. The Brits in Season One run from the infected cannibals in the same way we’d run from packs of rabid dogs. If you’ve ever seen the movie The Ghost and the Darkness (two real life rogue lions who got a taste for humans and went on a killing spree) that’s my take on zombies. 

Ultimately, Zombies R US.

When the story is done, themes and larger metaphors emerge. Amid rising action, hard choices and people you care about in trouble, This Plague of Days raises questions about the natures of God, Mankind, sacrifice and whether we’re worth sacrifice. Everyone reads a book through their own lens and will take away what they will. I think this is fiction that is very rich soil to till. It’s no coincidence that Jaimie Spencer’s on the autistic spectrum and his special interest is words and their meanings. This Plague of Days is about our meaning.

So, if you have any doubts about the value of zombies in particular or horror writing in general, there’s my justification.

The defence rests. No damn apologies.

Now, let’s eat another can of worms and follow the links to a discussion about the place of religion in horror.

 


#Free #ebook: An #autistic hero faces the end of the world

As of 2:30 pm, here’s the Amazon ranking #23 in Dystopian and #29 Post-Apocalyptic!

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UPDATE: 

3:30 PM: #1 in Post-Apocalyptic and #2 in Dystopian!

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Push it higher on Amazon’s main list with a happy click and get Episode One free now. You’re going to love it!

This Plague of Days, Episode One

is free on Amazon until midnight tomorrow night.

Do you enjoy reading:

  • a book that allows you to see the world in a new way?
  • apocalyptic scenaria where the fate of God and humankind are debated?
  • Latin phrases and wordplay?
  • international thrillers with weird and scary terrorists?
  • zombies unlike what you’ve come to expect?
  • tension that crawls up your spine and into your brain?
  • about a sweet, innocent autistic boy who rarely speaks but has hidden talents that might save the world?

If any of that appeals to you as a horror reader, click the cover below and get on board the braingasm train.

Still not sure you want that first crunchy, salty potato chip? Then get more details here.

The Zombie Apocalypse serial is here. Get 5 episodes at 99 cents each or the whole Season for $3.99. Season Two hits the world at the end of September.

The Zombie Apocalypse serial is here. Get 5 episodes at 99 cents each or the whole Season for $3.99. Season Two hits the world at the end of September.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is a novelist, podcaster and former newspaper and magazine journalist. This Plague of Days is his ninth book. See all his books here.


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