A few months back I was talking to a fellow apocalyptic author, and they were arranging a load of interviews with other authors for their blog, with the slightly odd theme of what to eat during the apocalypse. They sent me over a few questions, which I duly answered, and I never heard anything more. I think, judging by the tone of their questions, that they may have retreated to a survivalist bunker somewhere. After a few months of emails unanswered it seems they’ve forgotten all about these interviews, so I thought I might as well post it here; because what is more indicative of an author’s ego than them posting an interview they did with themselves? Enjoy!
How long have you been writing post-apocalyptic fiction?
I started writing the Blood on the Motorway series about six years ago, primarily off the back of reading the Walking Dead comics and thinking it was a really good idea to see what happened beyond the initial outbreak. Zombies were everywhere at the time so I decided to take a similar look at a world-ending event without the flesh-eating part, because I was more curious about just how people react to the extreme pressure. Being English, I was also interested to see a British take on what has predominantly been a more American genre.
What kind of apocalyptic event do you find most interesting?
As much as I love reading invasion stories, zombie hordes or nuclear apocalypses, what interested me was an event that dramatically reduces the population, but leaves the tools of civilisation unharmed. That way there’s an abundance of food, weaponry, vehicles, at least to begin with, but then it’s interesting to see people trying desperately to hold onto what they can of their old lives, and how people will use any excuse not to face up to reality.
What kind of apocalyptic event do you fear the most?
In terms of my personal fear, the threat of nuclear war has weighed heavily on my mind since I was still a young kid, reading a magazine that showed just how many warheads were out there. This was still during the tail end of the cold war, and I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared. I think the fact that to survive that in any way you’d have to completely isolate yourself and live your life in perpetual fear… it doesn’t bear thinking about.
Are you a prepper? At what level do you consider yourself? (e.g. beginner, moderate, hardcore)
If there’s a stage before beginner, that’s me. I’d like to think I’d be a bit like Shaun in Shaun of the Dead in the event of a crisis, but I’d probably stumble into a zombie horde while desperately checking Twitter to find out what was happening, and end up live tweeting my grisly demise.
Where do you think the ideal place to live is prior to an apocalyptic event? (e.g. a farm, a beach, an urban sprawl)
If living above ground after the event is a possibility, I’d be inclined to go more for farmland. Find a nice farm, board it up, and wait for it all to blow over. At least, that was my thought until I saw 28 Weeks Later. I’m based in the north of England, where you’re never more than an hour’s walk from some open land, and I think that’s probably the best place to be.
Shelter-in-place, or bug out?
I can’t think of anything worse than being trapped in a shelter, not knowing when you can leave, what’s going on outside. Unless it’s kitted out with a decent bookcase, and a functioning Netflix connection, in which case I could probably survive for a little while.
What do you plan to eat in the apocalypse?
Given my diet of pizzas and pastried goods, this would be my biggest struggle. I’d make my first priority learning how to hunt and cook the nearest available wildlife, but I’d probably just end up roaming from house to house, checking the cupboards for tins of beans for as long as I could.
What foods do you regularly stock in your home that would be adaptable to a post-apocalyptic situation?
I think you can’t go wrong with some pasta and some tinned tomatoes. Who doesn’t love a hastily-prepared pasta meal in the face of apocalyptic mayhem?
What is your preferred preservation method for post-apocalyptic foods? (e.g. canned, vacuum-packed, powdered, freeze-dried)
Tinned or canned foods are going to be a staple of your diet, but they’re bloody heavy if you’re on the move. I’ve had a few of my characters raid their local camping stores and get packets of the astronaut food you see on sale there, but I’ve no idea how edible that really is.
What's the primary factor for you in deciding on a survival food? Taste? Weight? Nutritional Value? Ease of preparation?
Probably a combination of all of the above. If you’re on the move you want lightweight but not oversized food that’s easy to prepare. If you’re holed up somewhere nice, with a wine cellar, you’re probably more focused on what goes well with a nice Shiraz.
What's the worst "survival food" you've ever tasted?
I’m not sure if it’s really a ‘survival food’, but we British seem obsessed with pickling things and putting them in jars. I’d imagine that’d come in quite handy in an apocalypse, but I think I’d rather die before I find myself eating pickled cockles.
What's the best?
After what I wrote before, I’m going to go with wine. I don’t think you could get through the end of the world without it.
Any special survival recipes you have up your camouflaged sleeves?
Spice up your generic pasta dishes with some wild mushrooms, for a fun three-way Russian Roulette game of ‘will this be tasty, will it lead me to trip off my tits, or will this kill me before the bowl is finished?’
What's the best survival food tip you've ever heard? (e.g. using a concrete surface to grind open tin cans)
In doing the research for the sequel to Blood on the Motorway, Sleepwalk City, I found out that if you’re not sure what kind of fuel you have, pour some out. Diesel will burn, but petrol won’t. Could be useful when you’re fleeing the zombie horde in an unfamiliar car.
Blood on the Motorway – An apocalyptic tale of murder and stale sandwiches, is available on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo and more besides. The sequel, Sleepwalk City, is available on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo and many more.
Welcome to Discovery Park – the chronicle of my increasingly frustrated attempt to listen to every album on Rolling Stone's Top 500 Albums of all-time list, is available now on Amazon Uk, Amazon.com, iBooks, Kobo, and many more.