I recently sat down with one of the most exciting voices in post-apocalyptic fiction to talk about taxes and the end of the worldRead More
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.
Michael Hodges is one of horror writing’s most exciting up and coming writers. His latest book, Black Friday, charted straight at the top of the horror charts, and he's building a track record in Hollywood, with his novel The Puller optioned for Hollywood adaptation, and other potential deals in the works. He also seems like a pretty decent fella, and has decent taste in music to boot. So, I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk to him about horror, music, and photography.
PS: What was the first thing that got you interested in horror?
MH: It had to be the woods at night. I spent a lot of time in the Northwoods of Michigan and Wisconsin. My grandmother, when driving back to the cabin at night, would sing spooky songs to goof on us kids. I wondered what was out there, beyond the penumbra.
PS: Do you consider yourself primarily a horror author?
MH: Good question. If I had to take a step back and examine my genre, I’m more of a hybrid. My stuff doesn’t fit neatly into boxes. For example, my novels will always be filled with research and science, which makes them lean towards the Michael Crichton side of things. But at the same time, my novels are typically darker and more violent than his. If anything, I’d classify myself as a writer of science fiction/horror.
PS: We connected on Twitter through a shared love of the band Crippled Black Phoenix, who we’ve both used as an inspiration to our writing. Do you always write while listening to music, and what other bands or artists provide the score for your books?
MH: Ha, that’s funny, because I’m listening to Crippled Black Phoenix as I type this. I always write with music. Certain songs are attached to characters and scenes. I’m writing a novel called “The Last Colossus”, and the song “You Take the Devil Out of Me” by CPB is integral to the creative process.
As far as other bands, I have a top five “all time”: Pink Floyd, Grandaddy, M83, The Flaming Lips, and Radiohead.
PS: Who is your favourite horror writer, and why?
MH: Cormac McCarthy. The Road is perhaps the bleakest thing ever crafted, even bleaker than Pet Sematary. Cormac not only writes great characters, but he also does “landscape as character” better than any writer I’ve ever read. I’ve incorporated these elements into my own work, like The Puller, where the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is essentially another character.
I read too many new novels where it’s just a guy walking around the same old boring landscape, and I’ll stop reading. There’s more to life than just a person’s basic actions from path to path. There’s a wider swath of self-awareness of entire ecosystems that should be explored on the page.
PS: What first prompted you to write?
MH: It just chose me.
PS: Your most recent novel, Black Friday, has rocketed to the top of the horror charts on release, so congratulations for that. What can you tell us about it?
MH: A kleptomaniac, unemployed IT guy, a shopaholic, and a meth dealer are trapped inside a Chicago supermall on Black Friday by alien forces.
It’s a return to the more psychological style of The Puller, in a suburban landscape. My first three novels all focus on “trapped” themes, and how these characters organically extract themselves form their predicament.
PS: What’s your favourite horror film of all time?
MH: Probably The Thing. I love everything about it, especially the cool analog synths . I’m kind of a synth-head.
PS: You are also a prolific photographer, specifically of the nature in your part of the United States. What made you get into that?
MH: I’ve always been into nature, so photographing the world around us was a way for me to express myself, and to raise my self-awareness. I want to know more about the living things around me, more than work to strip mall to bed to work. What makes the world tick? What is this cool little creature that lives near me? How did these things come to be, and what is their significance in the big picture on this floating ball of rock we call home?
In a developing, overpopulated world, I see wildlife as under siege, and this theme is reflected in the core of my work.
PS: Do you consider your photography to be an escape from your writing, or vice versa?
MH: I see them as complimentary. I enjoy spending a week camping in Glacier National Park, and incorporating that experience organically into my work, to create richer, more rewarding environments on the page.
Also, tracking grizzly bears is helpful when you’re writing a novel about grizzly bears.
PS: Black Friday is your third novel, and you also have a collection of short horror and sci-fi stories available. What can you tell us about those?
MH: I have a new short story collection out called The Gloaming. It reflects first-contact and apocalyptic themes. A couple blurbs:
Hydra: A top scientist discovers a way to extend the human life span by decades, but grapples with the reality humans will be the only species left on the planet if implemented.
Uncommon Ally: After meteors wipe out most of mankind, the meteors that crashed into the ocean infect the seas with invasive species. A young rebel snipes the invasive's from shore, and finds an uncommon ally in the great white shark.
PS: Lastly, where can my readers find you?
MH: I love hearing from readers. They can hit me up at:
or my official website: