When I began writing This Plague of Days, it wasn’t about zombies and, in a way, it still isn’t. It’s about people in desperate circumstances trying to survive extinction. Also, the infected are not the walking dead. It’s more of a 28 Days Later, humans with rabies sort of situation. Things happen that may be paranormal or they may have a rational explanation. (I won’t spoil it.)
I will say that my horror serial begins with one plague that spirals society down as the virus mutates. The Sutr-X virus evolves, things get worse and, of course, the world will never be the same. There are great human losses to both strains of the virus. Jaimie and his family face illness, death, danger and betrayal. Worse? The pandemic wasn’t an accident of Nature. There’s an awesome villain and a group spreading the virus for purposes they consider noble, right and true. As the book unfolds, terrorism and the plague’s evolving horrors stretch across the world. A new strain of Sutr-X rising in Britain puts vast forces on a collision course with the little family from America’s midwest.
The serial evolved into a big book that started with a character study. TPOD started in 2009/2010 with a small seed of an idea, my fascination with the world flu pandemic and a daily visit to Starbucks to write. I was so passionate about the project, I lost a job over a key health and survival issue that pitted me against the bureaucrats that employed me. I told them they were endangering healthcare workers and their families. They didn’t appreciate my input. (I take a chapter in TPOD to show those same bureaucrats how wrong they were, but that job loss and the issues around it are for another blog post on another day. I’ll get into that background when I publish that episode, no doubt.)
I began the book exploring the mind of the main character. It is an ensemble cast, but everyone loves sixteen-year-old Jaimie Spencer:
1. He’s on the autistic spectrum.
2. He is a very shy, selective mute who must hold his father’s hand when they go out in pubic.
3. He sees auras.
4. His special interest is Latin phrases and English dictionaries.
5. He’s in his own world.
6. Jaimie is a boy who sees significance in every detail and every word. He often gets lost in those details and so seems oblivious to danger.
When the Sutr plague strikes, stress and circumstance bring Jaimie closer to our world in surprising ways. When worlds touch, they ignite sparks that let his family and the reader glimpse his mind and true abilities.
But why pit this strange boy against a world filled with nasty survivalists and infected, rage-filled cannibals?
I could tell you that high stakes and steep odds matched against a charming underdog in a tough conflict makes for a compelling story. But you already know that. The simpler answer is, I’m a bit strange, too. I do not have Aspergers Syndrome. I do, however, see the world askew and you’re going to love the odd word excursions almost as much as the zombie attacks, evil villain and my strange plague apocalypse.
This Plague of Days launches soon. I love surprising readers. I will.
- Sick idea: how rabies spawned vampires and zombies (chazzwrites.com)
- Extended, special sneak peek: How This Plague of Days begins (thisplagueofdays.com)
- This Plague of Days: The Pitch (thisplagueofdays.com)
- From the revision well: Chapter 2 of This Plague of Days (thisplagueofdays.com)
- The Sutr Virus: What happened? (thisplagueofdays.com)
- NSFW: Quotes from today’s revisions of This Plague of Days (thisplagueofdays.com)
- ‘Walking Dead’ Is Getting Scarier Zombies (theatlanticwire.com)
- Why We Would Survive World War Z: An Australian Government Study in Pandemics (gcbooks.wordpress.com)
- High-school of the Dead Review (pressstart2begin.wordpress.com)
- Zombie apocalypse creates social justice movement (kzindex.wordpress.com)