As a child I was always fascinated with those books and films that spelled disaster and the end for all of us. There was something about just a few survivors banding together and starting all over again in a new world. I remember reading the Day of the triffids for the first time and revelling in it, today it is still one of my all time favorite books. There are many films today that again repeat the stories of 30 years ago, but they do not seem to hold that wonderful sense of realism that John Wyndham created, somehow the Day of the triffids felt like it could actually happen, a big tribute I think to the authors writing skills.
I knew in my book I wanted to create a new world, but it had to contain remnants from the past of what is today, but in my book I refer to as “The old ways of modern man.” It was something I spent a great deal of time debating with myself. I knew that the world had to return to a green world filled with plant life, and so as my thoughts progressed through the long list of options that I had short listed, I turned to the one thing that I knew was a possibility, I turned to plant life. I have seen in my life growing up besides a disused railway, how quickly nature takes hold and claws back the land left by man. The railway I played besides as a child had been closed, and actually gave me more enjoyment as it had become a thick lush corridor of green life in as little as ten years. The time frame I was going to work with was twenty six years, as I wrote the end of man as we know him in the year of 2012, and then picked up the story in the year of 2038, a good sixteen years of extra plant growth later. I had at least worked out the recovery of the country, now I just needed to wipe out most of the population.
One of the things about living today, that is highlighted so often in the press, and especially over the last ten years, is the fear of invisible illness. Several times now we have all sat at home watching the TV as things grind to a halt with illness spreading round the country. I watched the smoke rise into the air, and I might add lost a lot of business during the BSE epidemic as the country closed and the fates that provided my income closed with it. I remember well the rows of cold trucks parked up behind the local hospitals when the NHS crashed during the winter flu epidemic and the morgues were filled to capacity. It was not long before I looked to a virus based in the simplest of diseases to wipe us all out, of course the flu is the one illness that we all suffer with as there really is no cure. It is a basic thing we all know and suffer from, and I turned it into the Red Death, a variation that had severe consequences. Its odd now as I wrote the red death several years ago, and yet today as I write we all live in fear of Bird Flu or as recent days have shown, Swine Flu.
Removing a large majority of the population in an uncontrolled pandemic would create havoc and chaos, it was easy to see how the country would be gripped in panic and lets face it with overwhelming deaths the country would soon fall apart as survival kicked in. We all know of the power inside to live at all costs, it does not take much to realise there are those who would turn on everyone in their bid to survive, we have seen it before and we will again. With the breakdown of law and government, there would be those who took things into their own hands and whipped up a frenzy in the name of survival, fire and looting and destruction always follow. Without an organised effort of prevention, which with this scale of death there wouldn’t be any, towns and cities would burn, and soon the world around that was made by man, would ultimately be destroyed by man, crumble and decay would do the rest, and in would step nature to clean it all back to green and bury the last remnants of mankind below.
I gave it three years, and threw in a few tricks of my own, as later books will show, but for now you have the idea, modern man falls down and the few that remain, which would still be numbered in a few hundred thousand would begin again and start to breed a new race of survivors. This is where it got interesting for me as a writer, as I was able to sit and think about what I would do if I was the figure of Old Jake Loxley. I had already worked out that my enemy would be the brutal bands of the Cutters, and I gave them the task of stealing the crops and metals from the surviving settlements. hence the term Cutter. Life in this case would have to return to a resemblance of the past, there is still enough knowledge in the world to see we could survive using skills of the past, just walk round any village fate in the summer, the craft stalls are full of it. As my world recovered old skills came back to the fore as the older members of the community revived the skills we thought were lost. Isolated country villages became the centres of knowledge for survival, even if those in the know were not as able and fit to do the work as they once were, enter the fleeing city folk, able and strong but lacking in skills, and here we see the perfect recipe to recovery, those with the knowledge and those who have the energy and stamina for the harder way of life to come, it all made perfect sense. Once I had twenty six years of recovery, I had my new world and I lined up the paper and switched on the computer and began my first line. Loxley is a town set deep in the wild moor…….. and book one began.