Tag Archives: apocalyptic fiction

This Plague of Days: Writer’s Digest Ebook Awards and what’s next!

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This series presents a fascinating and original take on the zombie apocalypse story. I was drawn in from the opening scene…and I found myself instantly connecting with the fate of the Spencer family. The writer did an excellent job interspersing the family’s story with details about the broader world. Every time it seemed that something was understood or under control in that sphere, the story would shift to reveal a new wrinkle in the plot.

~ Judge, 2nd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards

The TPOD Omnibus won honorable mention in Genre for these awards in 2014.

This Plague of Days OMNIBUS (Large)Next month, the second book in the Ghosts & Demons Series will launch. In the meantime, get in on the ground floor of this really cool series with The Haunting Lessons. It’s a little bit Buffy and a whole lot of fun.

NEW THL COVER JAN 2015 COMPLETE


The new cover to The Haunting Lessons is haunting.

NEW THL COVER JAN 2015 COMPLETE

If you liked This Plague of Days, you might like this!

Following a terrible tragedy, Tamara Smythe, a girl from Iowa discovers their are phantasms everywhere, watching us and waiting. But ghosts aren’t enemy. The Unseen is much bigger and more dangerous than Tamara imagined. Click it to get it!


Have you picked up the TPOD Omnibus to get a free book yet?

Several times a day, new readers get a free book because they read This Plague of Days, Omnibus Edition.

I’m still offering the Omnibus (that’s three full novels of the complete trilogy) listed at the low price of just $4.99.

To claim the free book, readers go to a secret YouTube link at the back of the book, answer a simple question and send me an email address. I haven’t asked anyone to sign up for a newsletter or anything. Readers get the new book delivered to them immediately via Amazon. Easy-peasy.

But you know what the best part of the giveaway is?

Hearing directly from happy readers! I need reviews of my books, of course, but it’s also been truly wonderful and educational. It’s wonderful to hear how readers engaged with a mystery that is sifted through the story. I’ve got so much feedback now that I can say with confidence that the plot worked effectively the way I hoped it would. It’s also educational in that, with a little pull and a push, I’ve hearing from a lot of readers who wouldn’t ordinarily leave a review. (Again, I need those happy reviews and encourage them but the comments I’m getting are fun, too.)

It’s also fun to reward new readers with something unexpected, both in the major plot twist of This Plague of Days and in my latest thriller, Intense Violence, Bizarre Themes. (There are only three reviews of that one as I write this, but they are three of my favorite reviews of all time! Check them out here.)

I hope new readers will dig what I’m doing with my books and, heads up, if you liked This Plague of Days, you’re going to love my next book.

The truth is, I had a time travel book in the editorial pipeline, but, to be honest, it’s not ready for primetime yet. The time travel novel is a very complicated story and I can’t let anything come farther down the editorial pipe until I’m satisfied with it. It’s on hold for now until I can rework it. So let me tell you something about my next book, The Haunting Lessons.

A publisher approached me about contributing to an anthology. I was interested, but I wasn’t sure about the subject matter. It had a supernatural theme that I did not groove on. Still, it kept me awake nights in much the same way This Plague of Days did. How could I take the familiar and give it a nipple twist to make it work? I never want to do the expected. When I figured it out, I couldn’t wait to get the first draft down. 

This one is a lot of fun. It has a strong female protagonist with a quirky sense of humor. Here’s the deal:

The Haunting Lessons is about a girl from Iowa named Tamara Smythe. After a shocking and tragic accident, she discovers she has acquired supernatural powers. She reveals the truth which, of course, lands her in a mental hospital. Not for long. Soon she moves to New York to begin a new, better life and to forget the past. Instead, she runs straight into a supernatural war.

The hook is ghosts. The twist is demons. The Haunting Lessons is a heartfelt and funny training manual for any who would join the fight to save the future for humanity. Forget winter. Armageddon is coming and it’s Hell hot.

This one is shorter and has a faster pace than This Plague of Days. I love TPOD, of course. Remember, I don’t let anything out of the bunker unless I love it. But the jokes and action in The Haunting Lessons come faster and are packed tighter. This Plague of Days was, in part, an homage to Stephen King’s The StandI don’t know what to compare The Haunting Lessons to, though there is a tiny influence of Harry Potter and not a little Hunger Games in there, I suppose. But with more jokes. And swords. Lots of swords! This is apocalyptic fiction with a paranormal twist that takes the story in a fun and funny direction (with just enough tragedy to make it matter.)

You’re really going to like Tamara Smythe. I’m hoping to have it ready in time for Christmas.

In the meantime, be sure to finish the Omnibus before New Year’s Eve when the offer of the gift of Intense Violence, Bizarre Themes runs its course. (Sorry, can’t give a novel away free forever!)

 

 


Is science fiction’s view of the future too dark?

I just listened to the C-Realm Podcast in which the question arose, is dystopian science fiction merely hip cynicism? (The “C” stands for consciousness.)

What happened to the utopian visions of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek? His future eliminated poverty while the remakes by JJ Abrams are about fighting terrorism. It’s a fascinating question well explored on the C-Realm Podcast, though my answer is, by necessity, going to sound a tad grumpy.

I think of myself as a suspense writer first, but zombies and vampires are generally thought of as horror and post-apocalyptic books are classified under science fiction on Amazon. Call it science fantasy if you want, but the story crawls into paranormal and supernatural, too, so it’s Genre-of-the-Moment Slugfest.

But is my vision (gasp) cynical?

Are zombies a hipster fad of which we should be ashamed? Can’t sci-fi lead the way as a predictor of glittering tech advances instead of dwelling on how we’re all going to die long before each person on Earth gets their very own sex robot? 

Every cynic thinks he or she is a realist, but first, I want to back up and say that Roddenberry’s visions weren’t always so rosy. I think the stories on Star Trek that succeeded for me were the war stories. Humans versus Klingons and The Wrath of Khan (the story itself the death of a utopian dream) held my attention. However, it’s probably true that the franchise got darker and grittier after Roddenberry’s death. Deep Space Nine had some of the Enterprise’s nifty IKEA furniture, but the quarters were more cramped and the lighting less cheery.

That said, I see what they’re saying on C-Realm. They credit Blade Runner as a leader in dystopian visions, at least in film. That’s a far cry from the gee whiz optimism of many sci-fi writers from decades past. We all need a little more Spider Robinson in our lives.

In the ’70s we had Omni magazine trumpeting the hope for the future of science and science fiction. For instance, they featured a graphic artist who created stunning spacescapes. It was truly beautiful art that only actual images from the Hubble telescope could replace. It was the artist’s policy never to paint any picture in which two spaceships engaged in battle. That’s admirable, yes, but it kind of sucks the dramatic potential out of a lot of fiction, kind of like taking the visual majesty and volleys of flaming arrows out of the battle scenes in Akira Kurosawa’s Ran, and asking, can’t we all just get along and make this a cozy comedy of manners? Is that beheading with all the blood spray on the wall really necessary?

Optimistic visions of the future in fiction make me think of Paul and Linda McCartney asking Weird Al Yankovic to refrain from a making a cover of Live and Let Die. Weird Al did not release Chicken Pot Pie out of respect for the former Beatle’s wishes. Longtime vegetarians, Paul and Linda worried a comedic song would worsen the commercial slaughter of chickens. It probably would have. Thinking about it makes me want a chicken pot pie right now. I also think Weird Al’s song would have been awesome.

But to the question, is science fiction’s tone too relentlessly dark?

The C-Realm host and guest offered the movie Her as an antidote to our dour visions of the future. There is something very alluring about a story that cranks up Iron Man‘s personal digital companion, J.A.R.V.I.S., to Level Scarlett Johansson Sexy. (J.A.R.V.I.S. stands for Just a Rather Very Intelligent System, by the way. Siri would have been cooler if Apple had called it J.A.R.V.I.S., though Siri has yet to live up to the J.A.R.V.I.S standard of service, reporting on my armour’s structural integrity and whatnot.) Actually, Iron Man’s inventions (as long as they don’t fall into the wrong hands) might be the most optimistic vision of the future you’ll see on screen this year, besides Her.

The darkness in our fiction lies not in our stars but in ourselves.

We write from the heart, or at least I do. A future where we’re overrun by a world flu pandemic is actually considered long overdue by virologists. (Could happen next week. Pack a linch and wear a sweater.) My zombies aren’t real zombies and my vampires aren’t real vampires. They are humans infected with a virus that changes their physiology. There are supernatural elements in This Plague of Days, but once you’re dead, you don’t get up again in the world I’ve built. It looks a lot like our world.

But is it too dark? Well, it is dark.

Some of the events go from creepy to downright grisly. There are also jokes. I even include a few optimistic touches toward the end. However, I am allergic to Happily Ever After. I promise a satisfying ending and resolutions you don’t expect, but Happily Ever After often seems too pat and easy to me.

And that’s the crux of it.

My vision for the future springs from what I see now, not what could be if we really believe and clap our hands. If George Orwell hadn’t already written 1984, I’d attempt to write that. Drones, surveillance and the NSA cracking everyone’s porn privacy? That’s a dream straight out of an adolescent Big Brother’s wet bed. Because I’ve mentioned them and they’re always googling vainly, say hello! Hi, NSA! (Waves.) Just a writer spouting on the state of science fiction and the future. Nothing to see here. Move along to checking up on the sex lives of your former girlfriends and boyfriends from high school! Thank you! Also, please go catch a real terrorist with a suitcase dirty bomb. Aces.

Back on topic

I was promised jet packs when I was as kid (a fixation that’s shared widely, I think, since it’s also mentioned on C-Realm.) I’m still disappointed about that. No…bitter is the word. And yes, all the endless toil minus robots is a downer.

When we see the space shuttle in the promo reel before the movie trailers? I always think, We don’t even make those anymore! There is no Omni magazine heralding gee-whiz hope and they plan to shut Hubble down! And a trip to Mars? Sounds like a stupid suicide mission to me, especially when we could solve a lot of world problems with the money we’d waste on going to the red planet. (Think of Mars as the worst parts of Arizona, but without oxygen. To be fair, at least Mars doesn’t go out of its way to try to suppress gay rights, so there’s that.)

If my fiction appears cynical, all I can say is it comes from an honest place. Dark visions are the logical extensions of my worldview. Ideas about a cheery, brighter future would be a nice diversion and uplifting to be sure. However, I’m more interested in drama rising from conflicts I observe in the present. There’s something about those cheery futures which reek of white privilege to me. I’m not going hungry and I’ve got a cell phone (made by slaves) so why can’t we envision a future that amps up all that gee-whiz hope?

Because it doesn’t feel real, that’s why. Because we’re still stuck in stupid wars. Because the logical extension of now is more darkness. My fiction is dark because, as a person of conscience who listens to Democracy Now a lot, my worldview really is that dark.

Yes, I do give glimmers of hope here and there in This Plague of Days.

But the price at which that hope is bought — in both human lives and sacrifice — is very high indeed. I guess it sounds silly to talk about verisimilitude in a story about an autistic boy versus zombies versus vampires. But every emotion and conflict within the Spencer family at the end of the world feels very real to me. Joy, redemption, love, hope and loss is all there. I think of it as To Kill a Mockingbird, but with more zombies and even more child endangerment. For a zombie apocalypse, there’s a startling lack of gunfire in This Plague of Days. I think there are plenty of apocalyptic books that read like Rambo married an army manual and I attempt to do something different with all my fiction.

This Plague of Days is silly, escapist fiction (for the thinking reader with a conscience, I hope)…but I write it real.

I write what I see. And I concede, I do wish I could be more hopeful.

 

~ Season Three, and the conclusion of This Plague of Days by Robert Chazz Chute hits Spring 2014. Catch up on Season One and Two here.


Movie Review: World War Z


My GoodReads review of This Plague of Days: I wouldn’t believe it. You’ll have to read it.

This Plague of Days, Season 1This Plague of Days, Season 1 by Robert Chazz Chute

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wrote it so, yeah, five stars from me. It’s like two books in one where two groups of interesting characters are on a collision course. The stakes? Human extinction and the lives of people we care about. But since I wrote it, I wouldn’t believe me, either. I guess if apocalyptic fiction with more Latin phrases than Harry Potter has spells intrigues you, you’ll have to read it to see for yourself. I hope you enjoy it.

View all my reviews

 


This Plague of Days launches today! Think of it as the Ungrateful Living versus The Running Dead

An autistic boy + The Stand + 28 Days Later = This Plague of Days

An autistic boy + The Stand + 28 Days Later = This Plague of Days

 

TPOD season 1 ecoverThis Plague of Days is kind of like two books in one. It begins with a world flu pandemic that makes civilization grind to a halt. Then the virus mutates to a form of human rabies that turns ordinary people into cannibals. As a terrorist organization works to spread the contagion, the new strain of the virus rises with the mayhem. In the heartland of an America falling apart, a boy on the autism spectrum discovers he has curious abilities in the midst of the chaos. A war is coming as forces for good and evil come together on a collision course. 

I’m so excited to finally release season one. You can get the episodes week by week for 99 cents each or buy the full first season for just $3.99. (Take the discount!) If you enjoy the book, please do review it. 

Thanks to Kit Foster of Kit Foster Design for his great work on this project (and there’s more to come for the print version.)

Thanks to the editorial team at Ex Parte Press. Many thanks for your suggestions as I built this huge story. Season Two arrives in September.

 

 

 


This Plague of Days: The Pitch

Until the Sutr Virus hits here, you could read these books by Robert Chazz Chute. Just sayin'.

Until the Sutr Virus hits here, click to read other books by Robert Chazz Chute. Just sayin’.

This horror serial is about an autistic boy trapped in The Stand and trying to survive 28 Days Later. I’ll have a cover blurb from horror author Armand Rosamilia.

In a future that could begin any day now, a virus of mysterious origin begins its lethal outbreak. The first wave kills millions. The second wave is a weaponized mutation that ups the stakes by turning ordinary survivors into cannibals. This is the zombie apocalypse you can believe in.

The brain of the story is a villain like you’ve never encountered: the visibly pregnant British woman in a red dress. She is an eco-terrorist who calls herself Shiva. She’s out to make history and a new future by a massive cull of Earth’s worst infection. You’re the infection: Your car, your technology and your conspicuous consumption. Don’t take it personally. To defend the Earth, genocide is Shiva’s answer to global warming. Killing Queen Elizabeth and her Corgis is just the delightful start.

The heart of the story is Jaimie Spencer, a sixteen-year-old American boy on the autism spectrum. He’s a selective mute with an obsession for English dictionaries. His special interest is Latin phrases, but it’s Jaimie’s hidden gifts that become the surprising key to his family’s survival. To live, they must face the ravages of the Sutr virus, looters, plague profiteers and cults. Worse? This Plague of Days zombies are fast.

Who is This Plague of Days for?

Horror fans and anyone with a pulse who wants theirs to beat faster. Young men and women embracing existential angst will get hit between the eyes. The autistic community and their families will love it.

From the beta read team, the women love Jaimie and the relationships of the family under siege. The men can’t get enough of Shiva since she’s deliciously wicked in her ruthlessness with men’s hearts and minds.

This book also has a lot of fun with language. There are more Latin phrases than Harry Potter had spells, so this one is also for the word nerds.

It’s time we hit the world with an oddly cerebral zombie apocalypse.

The Breakdown

I want to be especially generous with Season 1 to get every horror fan on my crazy train.

Season 1/Book 1:             The Siege            105,000 words, 5 episodes

Season 2/Book 1:            The Journey            75,000 words, 5 episodes

Season 3/Book 3            War                        75,000 words, 5 episodes


New Sample Snippet: This Plague of Days isn’t all grim

PlagueAnna turned up the radio, concentrating on the thin signal. 

Cat McCloud, the lone DJ, was a fellow with a booming voice that slipped into gravel when he was being serious. He wasn’t serious often. “You want a weather report, look out the window and there’s your goddamn weather report,” he said. “Excuse my Balinese but the FCC don’t run me no more. The Powers That Be always were killjoys, censoring us and suckin’ the good outta you like a bad night’s sleep.”

Cat reported where he’d been — all over the eastern United States. He said he’d ridden out Sutr X’s first wave in a campground in Delaware. “The lights are on in Delaware and there’s still plenty of food and gas around if you bother to look — at least there was three weeks ago. I guess what I got isn’t news ’cause it’s so old, but we all needed to slow down anyways, didn’t we? In honor of what was, let’s spin some more vinyl — that’s right, I said vinyl! Coming up, more Rush ’cause I love ’em and they play long songs so ol’ Cat can step out my door and take a tinkle without worrying about the cops spoiling the joy of peeing out my front door no more!” 

“Later on you can lick your chops over some Foghat, Grand Funk Railroad and a Pink Floyd marathon. Far as I know, I got the last radio station in these former United States of Dystopia so I’ll play what I like, long as I’m kickin’ and poppin’ garlic pills and smokin’ the magical herb of happiness! Commercial-free, brothers and sisters! Back atcha after side one of Rush’s album Caress of Steel from a good year, 1975, back when we still thought the apocalypse was coming in the form of nuclear annihilation. Right on!”

Anna looked stricken. “The only radio station we’ve heard in weeks and the DJ’s the last hippie on earth. And he’s armed with a time machine.”

And there are fun pop culture references to make grim situations a little lighter:

The Spencers were joined by more cars on the highway, usually travelling in the same direction. Past the juggernaut of Montreal, they had noticed a trickle of fellow travellers in vehicles. Farther east, the trickles became streams. Traffic moved well and, wary of accidents for which no help would come, no drivers were reckless and, perhaps to conserve fuel, none sped, either. Most drivers made no eye contact so no contact could be invited nor implied. 

“This is somewhat more civil than The Road Warrior led me to expect,” Anna said. 

The cars and trucks were always packed full. Once they spotted a tiny car with a piano strapped to its roof. Back windows were often filled with bedding, perhaps to block anyone’s view of how many people might be travelling in the car.  

They followed a farm truck with a group of young women huddled against the wind in the open back. 

“Saviors or slavers?” Anna asked.

Jack shrugged. “I’m uncomfortable with that question. But it makes me think we have to somehow get hold of guns.”

“Papa Spence has a deer rifle and shotguns for pheasant season on the farm,” Theo said.

“Let’s hope we won’t need a gun before we get to Maine.” Anna watched the women in the truck, searching for some sign of a plea in their forlorn faces. Before long, the truck turned onto a dirt road and dust clouded their last look. 

Anna gritted her teeth. “If this is going to turn into a misogynist Game of Thrones world, then I’ll have to personally go all Katniss and turn it into a Hunger Games planet.”

 


From the revision well: Chapter 2 of This Plague of Days

The moon lit the boy’s face as he peered over the fence into the next yard. Jaimie Spencer watched the couple on the lawn chair. The chair’s squeak had drawn him closer, curious. He wasn’t allowed in the neighbor’s yard, but moon shadows amid thick hedge leaves concealed him. A  woman he’d never before seen sat in the older man’s lap. The man, Mr. Sotherby, lay still beneath her. Jaimie could not see the man’s  face, but there was something grim about him, as if the couple were reluctant joggers in a cold wind. 

A cool hand slipped to the back of the boy’s neck. Without looking, Jaimie knew it was his sister, Anna. “Ears,” she whispered, “You’re being creepy again.”

The woman froze and turned her head. The couple whispered to each other, too. Sotherby’s voice was insistent. Hers was afraid. 

Anna guided her little brother away from the hedge line. Anna did not speak again until she and Jaimie stood by their own back door. “Mr. Sotherby has brought home another one of his flight attendant friends. You shouldn’t spy on them. It’s wrong.”

Jaimie did not look at Anna directly. He never met her eyes and he rarely spoke. Her brother cocked his head slightly to one side. That questioning gesture was a rare bit of Jaimie’s body language that few outside the family could read easily. Anna told Jamie that when he cocked his head that way, he looked like Fetcher, the cocker spaniel they’d once had. In every picture they owned of that pet, the spaniel’s head was tipped slightly sideways, perplexed by the camera. Jaimie thought the entire breed must cock their heads slightly sideways, hence their name. The boy abhorred instances of imprecision and illogic in language, and so he was frequently disappointed.

This Plague of Days III“Mr. Sotherby brings home his friends. Remember Mr. Sotherby’s a pilot? He gives rides to lots of people, Ears. He was just giving her a ride. That woman you saw thought she was part of a couple, but they were really just coupling.”

Couple: a noun and a verb. Jaimie had read these words in his dictionary. Overlaps of meanings and terms irritated. He wondered if his sister was trying to bother him. She often called him Ears when she was angry with him, though sometimes she called him that when she hugged him, too. More confusion and imprecision. 

“Dad says it’s a terrible thing what’s happened to flight attendants,” Anna said. “He says when they were called stewardesses, they were cuter. Now the older ones have a waxy look.”

Jaimie wondered how the change in the name of their occupation could have changed the way they looked. He’d heard there were magic words. “Flight attendant” must have powerful, and dangerous, magical properties.

Anna pulled her little brother into the house. “Let’s keep this between you and me,” Anna said and then burst out in a giggle. “Mom would worry you’re getting corrupted. I won’t say anything and I know you won’t.”

Jaimie followed Anna up the back stairs into the kitchen. She pulled out a box of cereal and poured a bowl for herself and one for her brother. He never asked to eat but was usually cooperative if a bowl and spoon was placed in front of him. 

He couldn’t stop thinking about Mr. Sotherby and the woman. Jaimie liked to watch colorful patterns that flowed around people. He had seen the colors around living things all his life. He assumed everyone saw them. The boy had seen something pass between Mr. Sotherby and the flight attendant he had never before seen. It was disturbing because it muddied their colors and made them less vibrant.

Jaimie stood at the sink and gazed out of the kitchen window as he ate.  The moon hung so low and full, the tip of a distant church spire reached, its tip stretching to split Clavius, a large crater toward the base of the moon’s face. The boy’s mind wandered over the words spire and aspire. Surely, the terms shared the same arrogant word root. But the spire would always be bound to the earth, many miles short of aspiration’s heights. The gap between hope and doomed reality turned the boy’s mind back to the naked woman in the next yard.

Small black spots had hovered between the pair like greasy flies. The black smear spoiled the usual pleasing weave of colors. There had been many of them, like a cloud of feeding insects, around the woman. They spread over Mr. Sotherby, too, reaching for him. Jaimie didn’t know what the black spots were, but he sensed a yearning and purpose in their movement. They aspired to reach Mr. Sotherby and overtake him. He sensed the black cloud’s aspirations would be fulfilled. 

That was Jaimie Spencer’s first glimpse of the Sutr Virus at its deadly work. He was sixteen. He might have mentioned it to someone, but Jaimie Spencer was a selective mute. 

“A very selective mute,” his father, Theo Spencer, called him. “Jaimie has something we all lack: A super power. My son can shut up until he has something to say.”

But Jaimie’s ability to communicate well still waited on a distant time horizon then. Billions would have to expire — and one death would have to transpire — before Jaimie found his voice.  

~ This Plague of Days will be ready to launch in roughly a month. In the meantime, please check out all the links to books by Robert Chazz Chute at AllThatChazz.com.

 


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