Tuesday, January 16, 2018

State of the Apocalypse, Mid-January 2018: What’s Happening with THE SAGA OF THE DEAD SILENCER

Number 8 will cause severe gastrointestinal distress! Or something.

This story is good for two, maybe three podcast episodes, so I can’t give the whole thing away. Suffice it to say that, over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season, I passed a major narrative milepost with my third book. With this major change in setting/venue comes a bit of world-building I need to square away as quickly and unobtrusively as possible on my way to the narrative’s Darkest Hour.

Longtime readers of this blog will note I’ve made this announcement before, three, nearly four years ago. I’m unclear how I got slowed down so hard in 2015, except that the pressures to get our house in Colorado Springs ready for sale were making themselves known. I was coming back from my three-mile daily walks more and more depressed for the accelerating deterioration of the neighborhoods and parks, the crumbling and increasingly garbage-filled and graffiti’d aqueduct. 

If I were to look it up, I could pinpoint the exact date all writing on THE SAGA OF THE DEAD SILENCER stopped in early March 2016. That was the night after my Jeep got broken into at the once-upscale supermarket where my son worked. The thieves had pulled fuses from the fuse box with the apparent idea of disabling the vehicle. We’d leave it overnight in the parking lot; the thieves would come, reinstall the fuses, and collect a sweet, well-cared-for Jeep. 

Fortunately, the vehicle started and we managed to get it home. While my son and I fretted over getting replacement fuses and what appeared to be damage to the electricals in the steering column, my wife fell into severe pain that necessitated her being checked into the hospital.

In April, the busted up futon that pulled the room together from that right wall was taken apart and taken out by my wife. There were good reasons for doing this in regards to selling the house, but my office at Deep Haven Drive in Colorado Springs no longer felt like home.

I’ll never forget that moment I plopped down in my desk chair after visiting my wife at the hospital. I looked at the screen and I knew. An iron curtain had dropped inside my head. I no longer had access to that part of my brain that figured out how to write novels. 

I could spend another 3,000 words describing all that piled on throughout this depressed period, which included us moving 200 miles away from our grown children. As it turned out—and it pains me to confess this—I was lost in the psychic horse latitudes, dead in the water on finishing THE SAGA OF THE DEAD SILENCER for eleven straight months. 

That’s right. From near the beginning of March 2016 through the beginning of February 2017. Despite forcing out a few blogposts here and there, I had several panicky periods in which I wondered if I remembered how to write at all.

The names on the covers were familiar, but for the longest time I didn’t know these guys at all. Note the three different editions of Bleeding Kansas, from left to right: original July 2013 release, German translation of the same (thanks, Torsten Scheib!), and the 2014 second edition with the questionable death in Chapter 9 removed. There will be a fourth edition coming out simultaneously with The Wrong Kind of Dead that restores the death, and removes only the rookie writing errors that plagued me up through the early 2014 release. Grace Among the Dead, released summer 2014, is also digitally remastered for 2018, and good to go for its second edition.

It would take more than 3,000 words to describe how I broke the spell, undertaking one chapter per day rewrites of Bleeding Kansas and Grace Among the Dead, and rewriting, re-plotting, re-everything redux though The Wrong Kind of Dead to the point I’m at now. 

It’s mid-January already, though, and there are few more things to be done. That is, aside from getting to this Darkest Hour, and resolving a three novel series that’s been growing and kicking around two different hard drives since 4 November 2011.

Never mind that. Let’s get to the good stuff. What’s the new book about?

Directly beneath the Great Wall of Bukowski lies the 2017 yet-to-be-released digital remasters of my first two books, and what there is of the galleys for Book 3.

A year has passed since the fall of civilization in The Wrong Kind of Dead, and through a series of fortunate/unfortunate events, Derek Grace and his people learn where the elites disappeared to when the dead rose to eat the living.

In an effort at post-nationalism, the surviving elites call their confederation of remote rural redoubts the Network. The outside world where the dead roam is the Wilderness. The people in the Network entertain themselves with narrated drone-cam footage of survivors struggling and fighting in the Wilderness, which is how Derek Grace and his people come to Jackson Redoubt in Wyoming.

As aficionados of the genre know, there is no such thing as safety in the zombie post-apocalypse. Reunited with Dr. Clyde Hearn from Bleeding Kansas, Grace learns that the colonies of flesh-eating bacteria animating the dead are evolving. They’ve developed hierarchy, with the smart ones at top learning not only how to find living meat, but how to husband it. It turns out there are living people who work with the upper level dead to manage other living captives for food as at least one millions-strong horde they know of travels.

How did such a system come to be? Moreover, how can this horde know how to head for the Redoubt? How is Derek Grace going to save his family, when movement outside the Redoubts is restricted by armed perimeter drones? They’re caught between the pincers of a capricious totalitarian society and sheer numbers of increasingly clever, evolving dead which threaten to overwhelm all.

Well, that was a lot more fun than talking about my stupid personal problems. I haven’t even gotten to the rogue colonel, what we learn of the fate of the rest of the planet, etc.

I’ll have to save it for the podcasts. When I get the  nerve to do them, that is. Which has to be soon, because it’s Patreon or bust for the old man here. Gotta get that ancillary content going.

Personal problems, again. Feel free to hit my PayPal while I work through this.