Author Interview with Colin M. Drysdale
The virus apparently began in Haiti and quickly overwhelmed the mainland, and soon spread around the world. Those infected are no longer human, a fever destroying all but the baser instincts of the brain.
What to do? Where to go?
This is the world that author Colin M. Drysdale has created.
CMD: Thank you for the congratulations. Yes, I was very pleased to hear that I’d won a Best Indie Award. It was a competition I submitted For Those In Peril On The Sea for on the spur of the moment back in the spring. I’d just written a blog article about how entering book awards is a great way for authors to help build an audience and a reputation, and thought I should probably do what I was recommending others to do, so I entered the Best Indie Book awards as it had an entry deadline coming up at the time. Book awards are a bit odd. You enter them, and then hear nothing for many months. By that time, you kind of forget you were ever entered and then you suddenly get an email out of the blue telling you that you’ve won. In this case, it was first thing in the morning and I was sitting on the sofa in my living room eating breakfast. It really got my day off to a good start.
RS: At this point, you have two books in the series out with a 3rd planned for next year, and even talking about a 4th. Did you know from the get-go that this was going to be a series?
CMD: I’ve actually got the first draft of the third one written, and I’ll start editing it down sometime in the next couple of months so it’ll be ready for publication next summer. Originally, I set out to just write a single book, as much to see if I could as anything else. However, by the time I’d finished it, I realized that I really like the world I’d just created and the characters, and that I couldn’t leave it at just one book. Right from the beginning, though, I decided, rather than necessarily writing a series of books following the same characters in a linear manner, that each book should focus on a different stage in the fall of civilization and look at it from a different perspective.
So, the first book follows people who get back to civilization only to find out it has vanished while they have been away, and the second follows people who were watching civilization collapse around them and who are scrambling just to stay alive. The third follows people trying to work out how to survive in a world that has changed forever once the immediate threat has eased. I’m still not too sure about whether I’ll write a fourth, but if I do, it will go back to the beginning and look about how the disease which brought humanity to its knees got started in the first place. This means it would be set in a world of pharmaceutical labs and drug trials, and it would follow the people as they begin to realize just what they’ve created and how they respond.
I also have a loose idea for a fifth book set ten years after the fall of civilization which would follow someone moving through the abandoned human landscape which nature has set about reclaiming. However, at the moment, there will only be three books for definite. Anything beyond that will have to wait and see. It’s strange, though, having set out to write one book and suddenly finding myself potentially spending the next four or five years living in a world which is starting to take on a life of its own. I guess it just shows that you never know where life will take you.
RS: Did you ever read those ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books? I think that’s what your fourth book in the series should be. What do you think about that idea?
CDM: I did go through a phase of reading ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books as a kid. The trouble was, I’d always get the page number wrong and end up turning to the wrong place, and so reading the wrong bit next. The number of times I got caught in a loop where I’d find myself reading the same bit over and over again as I thought to myself “this can’t be right”. It was because of that that I eventually gave up on them. That said, I like the idea of doing one set in the world of For those in Peril. It’s something I’m quite into, visiting the same world from different perspectives, and possibly for different audiences. I’ve written a few short stories which explore various elements in the world of For Those In Peril and I can see the potential of a couple of spin-offs from the second book, The Outbreak. One of these would a young adult book telling the same story from the point of view of Sophie, who is 14, rather than Ben, who is in his thirties. The other would be a graphic novel told from the point of view of Daz, who is 17. I think it would be really interesting to explore the same world and events from these very different perspectives. I don’t think these ideas will ever necessarily make it out of my head and onto paper, but they are fun to explore.
RS: Your first book was written in the first person, from Rob’s POV. Your second book was written in the first person, from Ben’s POV. You have written that the two casts of survivors will meet in book three. From whose POV will we get to experience the story?
CMD: That’s a very good question, and it’s one I’ve struggled with for a long time. Originally, the third book was going to be written from Rob’s perspective again, but by the time I’d finished the second book I realized that wouldn’t work. Then I considered writing it from the alternating points-of-view of both Ben and Rob, but that didn’t seem right. Finally I ended up writing it from neither of their perspectives, and instead it’s narrated by CJ, one of the other characters from the first book. She went through a lot, and it’s interesting to hear her take on things, and particularly her interactions with other characters once the two groups of characters finally meet up. As a man, though, writing a book from a female perspective is challenging, and I may well live to regret that choice.
RS: You have a very active blog. one of your entries really inspired me to think of my own lack of survival skills. Has researching and writing about the zombie apocalypse influenced your “prepper instinct” at all? Have you sought out new survival skills of your own?
CMD: I’ve actually read that post on your blog before and really liked it. With my own writing, a lot of it has been re-visiting skills I picked up when I was young and had half forgotten about. I had a very outdoorsy sort of life growing up, and looking back, there’s a few things I really can’t believe I got away with in terms of just taking off into some wilder parts of Scotland, and indeed other parts of the world. However, there have been a few new skills I’ve picked up while researching things for books and for blog articles, too. These include how to make batteries out of coins (a fun experiment if you have a few minutes to spare), how to use a solar lighter to start fires and how to perform emergency surgery to deal with a pneumothorax (that last one was thanks to the wife of a friend of mine who’s a doctor and featured in one of the scenes in The Outbreak). I’m not really a ‘prepper’ as such, but the way I see it, a lot of these types of skills are potentially useful in everyday life, and it’s always good to have the knowledge just in case you ever need it.
RS: Are you as much of a reader as you are a writer? Who are your top three favorite authors?
CMD: I read a lot, probably about one book a week when I have the time. My reading is quite an eclectic mix, though, varying from popular science to autobiographies and police procedurals. In terms of my favorite authors, top would definitely be John Wyndham, who, to me, is the grandfather of post-apocalyptic fiction, especially with The Day Of The Triffids, which is the book that the film 28 Days Later is based on (arguably the best zombie film that never uses the word ‘zombie’!). His books have a lot to do with me deciding to write post-apocalyptic fiction myself, and indeed to write them from the first-person perspective. Second is Iain Banks, a Scottish writer who sadly died just last year, way too young. I’d recommend any budding writers read his work and learn from it, especially The Crow Road and Espedair Street. The third is more difficult, and would probably be a tie between Carl Hiaasen and Christopher Brookmyre. They both write very similar styles of books, one based primarily in Florida and the Bahamas, where I’ve spent a lot of time, and the other in Scotland, where I grew up and live now. Come to think of it, Iain Rankin would probably be in that mix, too. Then there’s Michael Marshal Smith, author of the rather brilliant Spares, and J.K. Rowling, who love her or hate her, produced a pretty amazing set of books in the Harry Potter series. Okay, picking just three is going to be difficult.
From Colin M. Drysdale – [email protected]
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