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Recently I had the chance for Blood on the Motorway to share a promo with A Happy Bureaucracy, by M.P. Fitzgerald. M.P is one of the best writers in post apoc at the moment, and if you like Blood on the Motorway, you'll definitely get a kick out of this. So I sat down with M.P for an exclusive interview.
Tell me a bit about A Happy Bureaucracy.
A Happy Bureaucracy is a post-apocalyptic parody novel where the IRS is the only government institution to survive the nuclear holocaust. Think Mad Max meets Terry Gilliam’s Brazil with a heaping dash of Hunter S. Thompson’s distilled madness. I was inspired to write it after coming across an old New York Times article about the IRS’s real plans to collect taxes in case the world ended. It just seemed so ridiculously optimistic and absurd to me that I had to satire it.
Imagine if the climax of Mad Max: Fury Road came to a halt because Furiosa forgot to pay her taxes and had to talk to an auditor. It has all of the action, grit, and danger that a post-apocalypse novel can muster, but with all of the dark humour that a clown cemetery fails to deliver.
Your main character is an auditor (and an excellent typist), is that something you have a background in?
Aside from being an excellent typist? No. I drew on my own experiences working in a call centre and dealing with the DMV for the emotional meat of the novel. I did read as much of the Emergency Operations Manual (the real-life IRS disaster contingency plan) as any human could without having a stroke as research for it.
Arthur, the main character, is the guy at the office who wants to keep his head down and move up the hierarchy. He is a true believer in what he does and earnestly cares about his profession. He is not your typical post-apocalyptic hero, which I find interesting. We all know this guy, you probably think he is boring, but he has the most to lose during an apocalypse. Contrary to what you have heard, those with everything to lose scrap the hardest.
What draws you to the world’s end as a subject matter?
I grew up in the Sierra Nevadas and spent a lot of time in the middle of nowhere with only sagebrush and junk to keep me company. The allure of the wasteland is built into me. As a kid I would watch A Boy and His Dog on VHS and play Fallout 2 until the sun rose.
Beyond that though, I love that the post-apocalypse forces us to consider what society is. What do we look like without it? What ethical dilemmas will we be forced to deal with when the chips are down and the cards are on the table and you have to consider survival? Just how long can SPAM remain edible in a can? It is a fun playground to play in.
Your readers describe your book as hilarious, and the funniest dystopian novel they’ve ever read. Who are your comedic literary heroes?
My readers are the best. Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut immediately come to mind. Adams' wit was just so beyond anything else I have read, and Vonnegut’s raw sarcasm cuts like a knife. I do love Pratchett as well, and are a huge fan of Christopher Moore, but Adams and Vonnegut had a knack for making nihilism the best of punchlines, and without being insufferable edge lords about it.
What comes after Bureaucracy?
Fear and Loathing in the Wasteland is the next book in the series and is just published. I did my best to double the absurdity and madness as well as the dry humour and action of the first. It continues just weeks after the first book left off.
And what are you working on right now?
Book 3 and book 4 in the series. Writing this series has been an absolute blast, which is something that I am very grateful for. Book 3 will be about Land Pirates, yes, LAND PIRATES. I will likely be committed to an institution for it, but I look forward to sharing it :)
So there you have it. If that sounds like your cup of post-apocalyptic tea (and frankly, if it doesn't you're mad) then check it out at Amazon today.
Oh, and if you'd like to get some free short stories from M.P. you can join his reader's group here.
Paul Stephenson is a writer of horror and science fiction novels. Blood on the Motorway: An apocalyptic trilogy of murder and stale sandwiches is out now in ebook and print from Amazon and all other good bookstores. You can get the first book free by joining the mailing list or reading along at Wattpad. Oh, and he’s got a Patreon. Sign up for free books, a free weekly short story, and much more.