Book One – Those Who Survive

Greetings! So, you’ve read the first book in the Class Four trilogy and are Jonesing for more info are you? Don’t blame you in the slightest, I put you through the wringer a bit there huh? Threw in some weird zombies, some even stranger yokels and after THAT, I bet you’re none too pleased with me right now.

Well, before we begin, I need to say this…


Now, if you’re still here and you haven’t read it, then everything that you soak up is on you, okay? Don’t be all like ‘playa why did you have to tell me that Elvis was gonna be the cause?’ I’ve warned you straight off the bat, cos, well, I’m nice like that.

So, first things first, lets get it out of the way. I am a little bit sorry. Francis dying? Is a bit harsh, I am fully aware of this. He’s been a bit of a popular character since the early beta readers went through Class Three. Indeed, when my wife read this, she said was none too happy with me, and Ash was pretty much the same. So why? Well…he had to really. This story is about those who survive. Throughout the entire book, you get a background as to the kind of chap Francis was, the things that he had to endure on Day One, before he met Jim and Philip in the Warchucks car park.

His mission was to get Nathan to safety, and whilst he never got to see them to Rhayader, him sacrificing himself to free them enabled that to happen. Go back and read the intro. ‘This is not how he died. This is how he lived.’

Francis’ sacrifice carries down the years, so that a grown up Nathan who retells the story of his survival to someone, mentions the man who gave him those years to live through. In my mind, if Francis lived, where could he have gone? As a character, he was a security guard, who had lost his family, and on that day, by chance, took on the care of Nathan. Once his duty of getting him to Rhayader was complete, where could he realistically have gone next?

The attack on the camp is in Book Three, but if Francis was in that, he would’ve muddled the whole feel that I’ve got in mind for what should be an epic conclusion to the trilogy. So, thanks for everything Francis, you were fun to write.

I wrote the Netzach’s half separate from Francis and Nathan. I caned the first twenty thousand words in a week and a bit, it was that easy to write. Helped in a huge way by the survivor stories. I LOVED writing these, each had their own voice and mannerisms, and I hoped that was clear when you read it. My favourite? Not sure, Sylvia was fun as to me, she is the epitome of the whole survivor theme.

After Class Three, people would often ask me, is the body in the cabin Sophie? It never was, but I knew that whoever it was, had to be worthwhile. Sylvia is a woman who was loomed over in life by her domineering and violent husband, Donald. After this death, she suffered a huge mental collapse, repressing the memory and attempting to take her own life to join him and somehow try and make things better.

I didn’t want her to be the persistent victim, hence her confrontation with Dee, her (zombified) husbands killer. Throughout that entire sequence, she is in control, probably for the first time in years. She takes care of everything, and her death sends her to wherever, with the strength and resolve she so desperately needed.

Anton was cool to write, I read Rich Hawkins’ books, and his short sentence style really stood out. I thought I’d give it a go with Anton, who is very direct, hope it worked. Matt was just me being uber-silly, playing around with some phrases, ‘Phil Terr’ for instance, I hoped that raised a chuckle or two.

Dee’s story was weird though, as she was one of my ‘volunteers’. Before I started writing, I asked on Facebook if anyone wanted to be in the story, accepting that if they were, they would die, probably horrifically. Dee said she’d love to be in it. It was an advantage in one way as I know her mannerisms and how she speaks, but also, being one of my closest friends, didn’t want to piss her off. Saying that…it’s probably the weirdest death in the whole book.

Of the other volunteers, originally they were all going to be bit-parts, but as I wrote, they all adopted some pretty key roles. Andy became the Gaffer’s right hand man, Steve, the therapist, Duncan Ralston became the train station cannibal, Paul a guard and DK a cop. Zena though…well, there’s a reason why she is a special guest. She never volunteered, but when she read Class Three, asked loads of questions and I wanted to repay her enthusiasm. It’s why she is the only one that lives.

The Children of Ishtar focussed on the upper echelon’s of the cult, Devin is the series antagonist, and you’ll find out about his transformation in Book Two. The idea about building up the horde to attack camps felt like a good plan, plus something a bit mental, think it fitted perfectly.

The Gaffer? Yes. A take on the Governor from The Walking Dead. I didn’t want him to be evil though, just offered in an ambiguous way. It’s down to you as the reader to make your own mind up as to whether he was good or bad. I know in my head that he was essentially a good person, just in the dark days, someone has to take ownership and responsibililty. That person has to do things which others will disagree with. Everything he does is for the group, the way he wades into the undead when the assault kicks off, trying to buy time for the others.

What did you make of the Trevor Norman Penny Gaff and the zombie freaks? That came about from a conversation with a friend of mine, Hannah Lockett. She was talking about the American Horror Story: Freak Show TV series, and it just clicked. Why not make them zombified? My favourite was the Queensbury Twins, loved the whole zombie spider thing. Madame Grotesque did the illustrations on them and they are superb, couldn’t have wished for better, you should check her site out.

Some of you may have picked up on the Star Wars vibe too…I love the original trilogy, and wanted to mirror (loosely) this trilogy to that.

So Class Four is now on hold until 2016. I’ve got a few projects to get done this year, two novellas and another little book I’m working on with the wife. There is a page which has various pictures from the writing and production process on.

Until next time though, take it easy.

Eh? You want more? Well, okay. Book Two is going to be all about Justin and Dan, and their little sojourn up to Faslane to try and ‘borrow’ the UKs nuclear arsenal and have a bit of fun. Against them is Devin and the Children of Ishtar, who has his own reasons for wanting to catch up with them. Facing off against the lot of them is a Special Forces unit, tasked with ensuring that no-one gets their mitts on the nuclear missiles. I’ve got the first scene already playing in my head, it’s going to be a doozy.

Plus…I’m hoping Adi Stone will be doing the covers again, the whole trilogy will be done in the 7×10 format, so when its complete, should look rather snazzy together.

Right, I definitely am going now, thank you for reading Those Who Survive, if you have any questions of your own, please ask me via the contact page, I’d love to hear from you.



13 July 2015

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