A long time ago, in an office far, far away, a novel called Dead Mech was begun…
Okay, it was 2008, so not that log ago. And the office is in downtown Asheville, or was, which is only a ten minute drive from my house. I was being hyperbolic with that opening sentence. I was going for an attention grabber. Did it grab ya? Did it grab your attention?
So, a strange thing has happened to my fiction. At least to a good many of my novels published by Severed Press. Without ever truly planning it, I have created a universe that stretches from the first Z-Burbia novel to one of my latest scifi novels, Fighting Iron. How? Well, keep reading and I will tell you how it all came together.
When I first wrote Z-Burbia, I expected it to be a completely separate world from the zombie apocalypse that is already history in Dead Mech. Z-Burbia was a series that should never have been able to fit with the narrative presented in Dead Mech. From what was told in DM, the zombies came about in totally different ways. The histories didn’t match.
Except I noticed a nice nugget of storytelling that allowed them to match. Or specifically allowed them not to match and yet fight together perfectly. You see, the prologue in DM makes it very clear that history has been tampered with. That the “truth” is relative and solely controlled by those that tell it. What should be a solid background to how the zombie apocalypse happened, quickly becomes propaganda when the reader realizes that maybe, just maybe, what they have been told isn’t exactly how it went down.
I also noticed I had a way to incorporate that misdirection in the Z-Burbia series. By the third book, it becomes very apparent that the survivors in Asheville, NC are part of something way bigger than their little mountain valley. It becomes obvious that major players are moving pieces on a board that the Stanfords and everyone else didn’t even know they were on.
Bam, continuity achieved!
How does this fit with Fighting Iron, which is a far-future mech western that doesn’t have a zombie in sight? Well, I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’m not going to go into detail. What I am going to do is talk a little about the element that binds everything together then give y’all a handy-dandy list of the novels in their chronological order.
What is the element that binds them? The Stronghold. Some of you may have noticed that already, but for others that are hopping in here and there, it may not be so obvious. The Stronghold is mentioned in the Z-Burbia novels, and becomes a major part of the characters’ journey by the end of Estate of the Dead. It is also a pretty important factor in the Apex Trilogy (Dead Mech, The Americans, Metal & Ash). And don’t get me started on Dead Team Alpha! Those two novels are nothing but the Stronghold!
A sanctuary, a place where military ethos becomes the foundation for the survivors’ new society, the Stronghold stands as the thread that runs through all of the novels. It may not be mentioned in Fighting Iron, but there are plenty more of those novels to come, so be patient. It will show up eventually.
Once I realized that I could tie everything together by using a specific place, it suddenly opened up the entire geography of the long narrative. I realized there were so many stories that could be told, about all kinds of different subjects, if I just moved the timeline along. Want to change what the landscape looks like? Just add a couple hundred years and viola! Need to tweak the history of something? Add another massive continental war! The victors control how history is remembered and maybe those victors aren’t exactly being honest. Feel like switching up the genre completely? Add a few more hundred years and take out the zombies (maybe)!
Time and the Stronghold. Those are my secrets to how a good portion of my novels became part of one long timeline. What is that timeline? I’m glad you asked! Below you will find a list of the novels, from first to last, and how they all fit together. The absolute great thing is that a reader can hop in at any point and not get lost. Want to start with DTA instead of DM? go for it! Only want to read Z-Burbia? No problem! Each series stands on its own yet is easily connected to the others. It’s been kind of fun to write and watch it all unfold.
So check out the timeline and if you have missed some of these gems then maybe grab one up and dive in. It’s almost like you are a genre archeologist. Almost. Okay, maybe not. Oh, shut up and read the timeline.
Books 1-6- The story of the Stanford family and their fellow survivors as they deal with the recent zombie apocalypse.
Books 7-?- The story of Elsbeth and her “sisters” and how they handle life out in the wasteland while the Stronghold is being built.
Dead Team Alpha series:
Books 1 & 2- A hundred years after what happens in Z-Burbia. The Stronghold is built and thrives as a culture and sanctuary that is structured like a military organization. There might be a major connection with a certain character from the Z-Burbia books.
The Apex Trilogy:
Dead Mech– Hundreds of years after Dead Team Alpha, where society has rebuilt itself with the help of fifty-foot tall battle mechs. Still a ton of zombies. A ton. And some of them are in the mechs! Bam!
The Americans– Sidequel to Dead Mech. It tells the story of what is happening in the rest of the world, not just North America. Still, there be zombies, but they are not your Romero zombies!
Metal & Ash– The coming together of the storylines of Dead Mech and The Americans. Epic conclusion to the trilogy.
Fighting Iron– Hundreds of years after the Apex Trilogy, Fighting Iron is all about the mechs. Are there zombies? Mmmmm, maybe. But they may not show up for a couple books in this series. Like I said, this is all about the mechs. And it’s a western! I kid you not, people, it is a full on, totally awesome western!
Other possible series? Yes. There is a lot of time where people are in the Stronghold itself. That needs to be told. There is also a huge gap between the Apex Trilogy and Fighting Iron. I don’t just mean the Bloody Conflict, but how civilization got to the point of basically going back to cowboys and ranchers, land barons and outlaws. All that good stuff. I have plans. You’ll see.
There it is, y’all. The timeline from Z-Burbia to Fighting Iron. Now, how does this relate to my other novels? It doesn’t. I could probably tie in Salvage Merc One since that takes place thousands and thousands of years later, but no need to go there.
Hope this helps. If you have questions, well, read some of the novels you haven’t read and see if they answer those questions. If not, then I guess I better get back to writing so all is revealed!
That’s right, folks! The last entry in the Stanford Family saga has been released!
I know, I know, the ebook has been out for three weeks, but, hey, I was on vacation, alright? Cut a hack writer some slack, yo?
However, for you old school folks and collectors, the paperback was just released a couple days ago. So, I’m not really late then, am I?
Click that sexy cover below and be transported to the magical world of online commerce! BUY THIS BABY!
From Asheville to Knoxville, Cannibal Road to the Tomb, Jace Stanford and the Whispering Pines survivors have been on the run and fighting for their lives non-stop.
Now, with the plains to their backs, the crew are just steps from their destination: The Stronghold of Boulder, CO. All they have to do is make it through the nightmare that is Denver, CO. While running from the mega-powerful, corporate/political/military entity that is the Consortium. And dealing with the brainwashed killing machines that call themselves the Sisters. Not to mention a crazy mad scientist hell bent on making life really, really hard for everyone.
Oh, and there’s the issue of the horde of zombies that’s close to half a million strong. Yeah, that’s kind of a bummer.
But, hey, if anyone can get his friends and family through a nightmare like this, it’s Jace Stanford, right? Right?
Okay, they’re probably screwed.
Oh, and for those worried the Z-Burbia story is over, it’s not! The Stanfords may be done, but there’s still a certain person named Elsbeth that has so much more to do! Be prepared for Sisters of the Apocalypse some time in 2016!
Spring has sprung on this glorious Friday!
Let the Party begin!
But, before you do, maybe you should check out something from a good friend of mine. You like horror? You like scary evil that comes bubbling up out of the deep? Yes, you do!
Paul E. Cooley’s The Black is on sale for $.99! You really should check it out!
“Lock the door!” Edward yelled as he shoved Tara into the hotel room and whirled around to see Carlos just standing there. “Dammit, lock the door!”
“It won’t matter,” Carlos muttered. “They’ll get in anyway. They always do.”
“Lock the door, bolt the door, and we’ll shove the bed up against it!” Edward shouted as he slapped Carlos across the face. “We can still live!”
“Doesn’t matter,” Carlos said. “They’re all gone. Everyone. One mistake. That’s all it took.”
“That’s all it ever takes,” Tara said as she put the gun to her head. “One mistake.”
The gunshot was deafening.
Disclaimer: True dat.
Sorry, but no drabble tonight.
I know, I know, I’m sorry. It’s been a hectic week and I’m getting ready for the Asheville Comic Expo tomorrow. If you are in the Asheville area and want to buy some signed copies of my novels then you should swing on by! I’ll also be on an author’s panel from 3pm-3:45pm.
Also, if you are in the area on October 30th then plan on coming by Malaprop’s Bookstore and Cafe for my reading/signing of my YA zombie novel, Little Dead Man! There will be candy and contests! You’ll even have a chance to win free Jake Bible novels for the rest of your life! THE REST OF YOUR LIFE! Feel free to join the event on Facebook!
So, please have an excellent Friday night and tune in next week for an actual drabble. I promise!
FREE DRABBLES FOR ALL!
That’s my philosophy. I know I missed last week, but that’s because I actually went on vacation over Labor Day weekend. Crazy, right? I got to check out Georgetown, SC. Talk about a hidden bit of American history. I had no clue how prominent that place was during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Know what else is prominent? CANNIBALS! Okay, okay, it’s a shitty segue, but what are ya gonna do?
Z-Burbia 4: Cannibal Road is available as an ebook (with print coming soon)! Z4 keeps the story of the Stanfords, and all of those from Whispering Pines, rolling on down the road. If you liked the last three Z-Burbia’s then you will love this one! And check out the cover! That’s a sweet cover!
But first here’s a link to Mega 2: Baja Blood in audiobook form! ZING!
Now, on to the drabble!
Everything In Its Place
There are fewer things in life more frustrating than not having the right size container when you need it. You spend a lifetime collecting jugs and boxes, trunks and barrels, jars and crates.
Then you look and it’s not there. It should be, a coffin is hard to misplace. It’s not like it’s an old mint tin or empty vial. It’s a bloody freakin’ coffin!
So, you dig. You know where an extra is. It may have had contents in it at one time, but surely Nature has claimed them by now. Two more shovelfuls and you’ll know for sure.
Disclaimer: You can never have enough extra containers, people.