Needless to say, it’s been a while since my last post.
Between the day job, the family, and work on the next novels in the Crowbar Chronicles for my new publisher (The utterly amazingly awesome Permuted Press! Woo-hoo!!!), I’ve had precious little time to myself to keep up the “e-presence”.
There is a primary reason I’ve been away however. I’m not going to bullshit you about it, so here it is.
No matter what anyone tells you, while extremely satisfying and undeniably enjoyable, writing novels set within the Inevitable Zombie Apocalypse is a butt-load of work.
“No, that can’t be…” You say. “Don’t you deal entirely in fiction?”
Why yes, as a matter of fact, I do. That is not to say that I am willing to spin facts (pertaining to weaponry, equipment, supplies, survival techniques, etc.) out of whole cloth. It takes both a lot of time and effort, not only to research factoids and info-bits, but also to (when you’re able) confirm said information through real-world trials.
Example. What would it really be like to smash a zombie’s skull in with a crowbar?
Okey-dokey. Let’s experiment and do just that.
Process: Scoop out a watermelon, fill it with cheap ground beef and Karo syrup, Super-glue top of melon back on, wrap the whole thing in thick cut bacon (Yes, yes. I know. It’s a total waste of perfectly delicious pork-based goodness. Just work with me here.), and leave it out in the sun for at least three days to “ripen”.
Grab your ever-handy crowbar, put on some eye protection, take a good stance, then haul back and give that moldy maggot-head your best You’re-Not-Having-Me-For-Dinner-You-Smelly-Shithead, skull-pulping, zombie-slaying, overhand swing.
How’s that feel, splattered on you? Gross, right? Yup. I know. That’s one hell of a memorable smell wafting up from the “zombie-goop” all over your clothes too, isn’t it? Please attempt to puke before you go inside, vomit is notoriously hard to clean out of the carpet…
Get it now? That smell? That reaction? How it felt as your eight pound, steel weapon of zombie doom impacted into that helpless undead brain? That is exactly what I (and hopefully other authors as well) strive to try to convey with mere words. Even when dealing in fiction, to effectively do so I don’t have to just believe something to be true, I have to know it’s true. I need to know how it feels to be right there, in the grit and the grime and the mud and the blood, so that I can accurately provide it as a realistic experience to all of you readers.
Hmm. Let me think about that one…. No.
For a story to remain believable, at least to me, the information (some of which might seem extraneous at first, but many times turns out to be pretty damn important to the plot) within should be accurate. Whether it’s the fire rate of an M134 Minigun or the proper application of Manic Panic brand hair dye, making up facts is just a bad idea. Unless you’re dealing with totally fictional weapons/vehicles, then you can (and should!) still do your research to learn what it would take to create said engines of destruction.
“Okay,” You say, “I think you’re taking being factually accurate a bit too seriously. Why not just wing it?”
Screw that, Grasshopper.
Your Kung-Fu is weak.
Get out of my temple, you’re beyond all help…
Seriously though. If an author chooses to create that way, it’s fine. I simply prefer to remain basically grounded within the laws of physics.
-If a character has an M4 carbine, there is no “magic magazine” that will allow them to endlessly plug zombies in the brain-holder, sans reloading. They’ll need to change magazines or their weapon will soon come up dry and, shortly after, they will be zombie-chow.
-If a character has a revolver (ONLY 6 ROUNDS!), they’re not killing eleven zombies with it. Unless of course they either reload, or hold it by the muzzle and bash the remaining creature’s skulls in after expending their six rounds.
-If a character has been alone and on the run from the dead for two weeks, how did they find/carry water?
See what I mean?
That’s why I began researching “prepping”.
Yes, there are some whack-a-doos out there. You know the ones. They live in underground communities (like frakkin’ Morlocks), eat only M.R.E.’s, and pray for TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it).
It’s alright to be leery of those people. Hell, I am.
That shouldn’t turn you off to the idea of actually gathering/purchasing enough supplies and/or equipment so that if something did happen (Earthquake, flood, hurricane… ZOMBIE OUTBREAK…), you would be able to care for yourself and your family (husband, wife, kids, pets, whatever) for a few weeks. Or months, for that matter.
That seems crazy? Extreme?
Uh-huh. Here’s an idea.
Ask the victims of Hurricane Katrina (you know, the ones who were stuck in the Superdome?) who couldn’t even get water for days, if they think that seems “crazy”.
Ask the population of the East Coast who didn’t have power (or even homes!) during the winter after Hurricane Sandy, if they wished they’d had even a small backpack with supplies at the time to help them deal with their situation.
The government has agencies that will help care for you during a disaster?
See above aforementioned “Superdome” debacle. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency? They couldn’t even get those sheltered within the Superdome water.
Besides, be honest. Have you ever seen a disaster movie (or read a piece of apocalyptic fiction) where all those trusting folks who thought The Powers That Be would care for them actually came out of it alive? Much of the time “We will take care of you” and “The situation is under control” proceed one or more of the following:
A- Getting swallowed by a building-sized monster,
B- An unnoticed fault line opening up and spewing lava all over the landscape.
C- An earthquake chasm swallows the “disaster aid location” entirely.
D- The zombies finally breach the wall and head directly for the Homo sapien smorgasbord.
Any-hoo… Collecting “prep” info seems part-and-parcel to writing a believable (and realistic!) tale of the coming zombie apocalypse. What types of weapons/ammunition would be best to have stockpiled during an outbreak? Which firearms would be common and easy to find replacements parts for if you had to scrounge some? Will you be able to hunt for food in the daytime, or will you need night vision goggles because the dead (like normal humans) can’t see well in the dark? All of these things (and far, far more!) have to be considered to formulate a coherent story. Otherwise? You’re swingin’ in the dark.
Also, to actually describe what a character firing a rifle/pistol/carbine, swinging a sword, gettin’ all stabby with a knife, jumping off any type of elevated location, running for their life, etc, is feeling, it’s always a good idea to actually do as many of those things as you can yourself. Granted, you’re probably not going to want to steal a car, fill the trunk with fireworks, light the fuses, and go streaking for the end of a pier somewhere at top speed. I’m pretty sure law enforcement agencies would frown upon actions like that.
You can however: take a class at a gun range, sit in on a self defense seminar, set up a ride along with your local police department, spend a weekend camping with just the bare basics and leave the tent/air mattress/portable gas grill at home. Engage in some activities that take you out of your “comfort zone”. They don’t have to be dangerous (like skydiving), just anything new to you!
That said, I’m off to do a bit more research.
Until next time, drink your Dark by the pint, hold your redhead close and keep your crowbar handy!