Tag Archives: Post-apocalyptic survival

Schematic Of The world Of The ‘For Those In Peril’ Series Of Post-apocalyptic Novels

28 Aug

With the planned publication date for The Island At The End Of The World (the third book in my For Those In Peril series of inter-connected post-apocalyptic survival novels) rapidly approaching, I’ve been turning my attention to where the characters (and indeed other as yet unmet characters) in these books will go next.

To help me get an overview of the whole world that I’ve created so far, and that I’ll add to in the future, I’ve put together a schematic that shows all the different elements which I’ve created so far, and those that are still in the planning stages, fit into the overall timeline for the world, and indeed how they are all connected to each other, both directly, through the main storyline, and indirectly through shared minor characters, incidents and concepts.

So far, there are three books in the series itself (with the third one due out later this month), and two more planned: The Rise Of The Infected – a prequel to the whole series set around the original drug trial gone wrong that creates the infected in the first place – and The Voyage Of Salvation – which will be set across a time span reaching from the end of The Rise Of The Infected until a few years after The Island At The End Of The World).

In addition, there are a number of short stories, such as The Wall and The Girl At Little Harbour, which provide additional detail and exploration of elements in the world, some of which are included in my short story anthology, Zombies Can’t Swim And Other Tales Of The Undead.

I’m also intending to write a few more of these to flesh out a few plot points which, while tangential to the main story line of the series, I think are work exploring. This will include one titled The Last Log Of The Mingulay Seabird Research Station, and once you read the upcoming The Island At The End Of The World, you’ll quickly see both where it would fit in, and why it would be so interesting to write.

There are also a few additional short stories which, while set in the same world of the series, are not directly connected with any individual book. These include the connected pair of stories Rendezvous and The Need To Know, which along with The Girl At Little Harbour, are amongst my favourites of all the zombie-based short stories I’ve written.

Finally, there are other little spin-off projects which are connected to this world in a number of different ways. These include my Maths With Zombies blog, and the accompanying book, which should be out by Christmas, called The Little Book Of Zombie Mathematics, and the Moral Dilemmas In A Zombie Apocalypse series of posts from this blog, which I’ll wrap up into a book at some point next year. In addition, I’ve managed to slip the basic zombie disease scenario from the world of the For Those In Peril series into an academic textbook I’m working, but I’m not quite to sure that really counts as part of the world itself.

How do all these different elements fit together? Well, here’s the schematic that will hopefully help explain it all (although I haven’t included the textbook in it as that’s not written under the same name):

Schematic of the world of the 'For Those In Peril ' series

As you can see it’s quite a world that is gradually building up, especially when you consider that it all started out with what was meant to be a single stand-alone book (the titular For Those In Peril On The Sea).

What’s more it might not even stop with this schematic. I’m tempted with the idea of writing a Young Adult book which would view much of the story lines of The Outbreak and The Island At The End Of The World from the point of view of the fourteen year old Sophie, and similarly put together a graphic novel which would tell the same events from the point of view of the seventeen year old Daz (one of my favourite characters from the whole series). In addition, it is very likely that more short stories will be added in due course as story ideas occur to me. However, whether I’ll actually get to complete all these projects, only time will tell!



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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

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Is Being Naked Better For You? Not In A Zombie Apocalypse, It’s Not!

13 May

I was struck by the title of a blog post today in a way I haven’t been for a while. What was the title? Is being naked better for you? Being zombie-minded, my instance mental response was: Not in a zombie apocalypse! After all, the last thing you’d want to be when being pursued by a horde of undead, hell-bent on tearing you to shreds, would be to be naked. That was my immediate response, but thinking about the implications of this post further, two other of my personal interests were piqued.

Firstly, until reading that article, I’d never realised that there was both a Naked Gardening Day AND a World Naked Bike Riding Day. I’m not too sure about either of them, and both sound like they could go horribly wrong, but it does fit into my general interest in the fact that everything seems to have its own dedicated day these days. I’ve covered this before on this blog, so I won’t go into details here, but I think I’m much more likely to take part in International Talk Like A Pirate Day than either of the above.

Secondly, and this is something I’m planning on touching on in the upcoming third book in the For Those In Peril series (called The Island At The End Of The World – watch this space for further details!), in a post-apocalyptic world, what on earth would we all do for clothes? For a while, we’d be able to scavenge from the existing stocks (or should that be socks?), but eventually these would run out and our last pair of pants would finally fall apart. What the heck are we all going to do then? Gardening naked might be fun to do once a year (and I’m guessing it must have been established by someone in the northern hemisphere so that it was early summer rather than the middle of winter), but it would be hell to have to do all year round!

I’ve argued before that knitting is a core post-apocalyptic survival skill, but knitting is only part of the process of making fleece from sheep into something warm and wearable. You’d also need to know how to get the fleece off the sheep (and, indeed, how to catch the sheep in the first place in order to do this) and how to turn it into yarn (which is not nearly as straight-forward as you might think and involves a whole heap of specialist tools you’ve probably never even seen before, let alone know how to use) before you could even get going with your knitting needles. Do you know how to do any of this?

Animal skins might make an alternative to clothes made from yarn, but again, how many of us actually know how to turn an animal inside out in just the right way so we can wear it as a jacket, or a nice warm pair of trousers, that doesn’t end up stink of rotting meat after a couple of days? I tried this type of thing once as a child, and it was a long, slow and rather disgusting process that required a lot of things you probably wouldn’t have close to hand in whatever post-apocalyptic world you found yourself in.

So what’s left? Not much really. This is one of those occasions where I don’t have a smart answer, and really, if the worst were to happen, we might find that acquiring the just right clothes to keep us warm and dry would actually be almost as critical as finding enough food, especially in the longer term. After all, as anyone who has ever gone camping with small children, or teenagers for that matter, knows, there’s nothing that saps morale faster than continually being cold and wet.

The only solution, really, is to start pulling the knowledge together now so that if you ever do find that you need to, you’d be able to make your own clothes from scratch. That way, if civilisation ever collapsed, you’d undoubtedly find your skills in great demand, and you’d probably never have to risk your neck going out and foraging amongst the marauding zombies ever again. After all, if you’d been out in the woods for many, many weeks, living hand-to-mouth, what wouldn’t you give for a nice pair of warm, clean woollen socks to keep your feet warm and toasty for the first time in what would seem like forever?

And with that, I’m off to learn how to turn sheep into woolly jumpers. I may be some time!
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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

How To Rebuild The World After A Zombie Apocalypse

8 Dec

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about how it might be possible to re-build civilisation if it were ever to collapse. This has been inspired largely by the fact that I’ve been spending a lot of time working on The Island At The End Of The World, the third book in my For Those In Peril series.

The first book concentrated on the discombobulation brought on by returning to civilisation and finding it has, for some reason, disappeared, while the second focussed on what it would be like to suddenly find yourself in the middle of an ongoing apocalyptic event.

The third book, the one I’m currently working on, has, for its main theme, rebuilding lives, communities and civilisations after the immediate danger from an apocalyptic event has passed, and it’s a theme that raises a lot of interesting issues.

In the modern world, it is very rare to find one person who knows how to make something from start to finish. A mechanic, for example, might know how to put the parts of an internal combustion engine together, but he’s unlikely to know how to make the parts in the first place, or how to extract ore from the ground and turn it into the raw materials you need to assemble before you can even think about making the parts. It is also unlikely that he’d know how to make the fuel you’d need to run an internal combustion engine, or the oil to stop it ceasing solid the moment you turned it on, or the battery you’d need to start it.

Making pretty much any modern item requires complicated, inter-connected networks reaching across half the globe, and such networks are highly fragile, so if the world were to fall apart tomorrow, whether from nuclear war, disease, asteroid strike, or, of course, the resurrection of the dead, how could ever hope to re-create anything like the world we currently live in?

The chances are we couldn’t, but could we even recreate a simplified version of it? How many of us actually know how to do even the most basic things like starting a fire without matches or lighters? Or how to turn the fleece of sheep into a nice warm woolly jumper? Or animals into a nice tasty meal and a rather fancy fur coat?

What about antibiotics and medicines? How would we ever survive without things we take so much for granted, like Penicillin? Or asthma inhalers? Or artificial lenses to deal with your failing eyesight?

Then there’s our recreational loves, how would we get our daily caffeine kick (would you even know where to start making your own coffee, or, for that matter, how to milk a cow to get that creamy foamy head you like so much on your favourite cappuccino)? What about cigarettes to feed your nicotine addiction? Or a cold beer at the end of a long day?

These are the thoughts that have been exercising me of late, and I’ve been coming to one conclusion: if you want to be able to start re-building society after an apocalyptic event, you’d really couldn’t do better than have an experimental archaeologist  in your survival group. What, you might wonder, is an experimental archaeologist? Well, it’s someone who explores how people made and used tools in the past to do various things, like making knives from lump of flint, or extracting metal from ore. They know all sorts of handy things, like how to make basic medicines from native plants, or turning barley into ale, or converting animals into sizzling hot steaks with nothing but pile of tinder and two sticks to rub together.

The other person you’d want to have in your survival group is a bloke by the name of Lewis Dartnell. Why this guy? Well, it just happens to be the author of a rather interesting book on this subject called The Knowledge: How To Rebuild Our World From Scratch. It aims to provide all the key information you would ever need to rebuild modern Western society (or at least all the technological parts of it – hopefully we wouldn’t make the same mistake of inventing lawyers and politicians and advertising executives again, after all we’d hopefully be trying to build a better society than we lost, not re-creating it exactly, mistakes and all).

Of course, if you can’t get hold of your very own Lewis Dartnell, you’ll just have to get a copy of his book instead, and you better make sure you get a printed copy. After all, the batteries in your e-reader will only last so long once the power grid goes down.

It’s also a book that’s worth reading for its own merits. By looking at what information we’d need to rebuild the world, it sheds a spotlight on the society we currently live in, and how it is potentially vulnerable because of the level of inter-connectedness we now all take for granted, and that is always interesting.

Politicians and business-leaders are always telling us that globalisation is a good thing (and that’s why they are in the middle of secret negotiations to try to make the world an even smaller place, although the exact details of what they are trying to do are pretty scary for the ordinary man on the street), but is it, if it is making us more vulnerable to the vagaries of a highly connected world?

After all, just look at the global financial system: someone decides to play the system by giving mortgages to people who can’t really afford them in the northeast US, and the next thing we know is that half the world is plunged into a recession so deep that it still hasn’t recovered. Wouldn’t it have been better if what happened locally, stayed locally? Maybe then the banks would have had second thoughts about offering the catastrophic sub-prime loans in the first place, and the whole world would have undoubtedly been better off if that had happened.

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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

‘The Outbreak’ – Kindle Edition $0.99 Until Monday 25th August 2014

22 Aug

The kindle edition of my latest post-apocalyptic survival novel, The Outbreak, will be on sale for $0.99 this weekend instead of its usual $4.99. If this isn’t enough to tempt you to buy it, here’s what readers have been saying about it so far:

‘Loved this book and the story line, the characters are great! Felt myself well up at certain points and got far too caught up in some characters emotions (a good thing obviously). Very well written and I highly recommend it to anyone.‘ Five Stars out of five (Goodreads Review).

This is a thriller with gritty, convincing detail and enough human interest to keep you gripped to the end.‘ Five Stars out of five. (Customer review from Amazon.co.uk).

… Beautifully written and put together; a book and storyline that will, without doubt, stay with me for a very long time … The story moves on very quickly, it gets to the point, and before you realise it, you are witnessing an Apocalyptic event happening in the UK which, if I’m honest, terrified me …‘ Five Stars out of five (Goodreads Review).

… The author has produced a very well paced, exciting and at times extremely sad thriller. It rattles along quickly having just the right amount of descriptive detail, dialogue and technical info for it to be well explained to the uninitiated in regards to the setting (Glasgow and the remote islands), sailing and development of the characters … The characters are exactly right, you like the ones you are supposed to like, feel sympathy for the ones you are supposed to sympathise with and downright hate the ones you are supposed to hate!!!!!! It’s about as perfect as you can get …‘ Five Stars out of five (Goodreads Review).



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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

‘The Outbreak’ – The First Official Review Is Out And It’s Five Stars Out Of Five!

29 Jul

The Outbreak Cover DesignJust over a week after The Outbreak was published, the first major review is out … And it’s five stars out of five!

It’s a Foreword Clarion Review and you can read it on their website by clicking here, or you can download it as a PDF by clicking here.

To give you a taster of what the reviewer said, here’s some excerpts:

Now, here’s a zombie apocalypse that really knocks ‘em dead.

With zombie apocalypses occurring across all media at an alarming rate these days, it is difficult to find a new spin on the catastrophe. But Scottish marine biologist Colin M. Drysdale’s second book about the walking dead, The Outbreak…, adds a refreshing new twist to the genre: a small group of Glaswegian survivors finds safety at sea. Tackling themes such as uncertainty, not judging people by appearances, and the importance of living for the moment, Drysdale’s seafaring tale makes a splash in the postapocalyptic genre. …

…The thriller moves at a fast pace, with each chapter ending in a cliff-hanger designed to ratchet up suspense while keeping the audience turning the pages. Another brilliant coup occurs as it becomes impossible to predict who will die and how death will occur. As with the Game of Thrones series, The Outbreak also possesses no qualms about killing off characters one has become invested in. The alacrity with which some die only reinforces the horror of it all. …

Needless to say, I’m chuffed not only to have got a much coveted five star rating for the second time from Foreword Review, but also to get such a great review.



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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

If Civilisation Collapsed Tomorrow, Would You Know How To Make Your Own Electricity?

12 May

Make_Your_Own_BatteryMuch of our modern world runs on electricity. Yet, if for some reason the currents suddenly stopped flowing through the wires into your house, whether it’s due to the dead rising from their graves or just an unexpected blackout, would you know how to make your own? If you don’t, you’d not only have to give up the little luxuries of life, such as hair-straighteners and ipods, but the essentials like light and refrigeration. You’d also have to give up things which could make your life easier, such as power tools and electric cookers.

At first glance, you might think making your own electricity would be difficult, after all few of us really understand what electricity is, but it’s not. In fact, using the few simple household items shown on the picture on the right (pennies, zinc washers, vinegar, cardboard and some twist ties), you can create enough electricity to run an LED bulb, as shown in the lower picture. Believe it or not, this is all you need to build your own fully-functioning and fully-charged battery.

If don’t believe me, you can try it yourself by following the instructions in the video below (it also explains how and why this works).



If you can light an LED bulb, you can also make enough electricity to re-charge a mobile phone, or even an ipad or laptop. If have enough of the raw materials, you could even make a trickle charger to recharge a car battery. Basically, you can run anything which runs off a direct current (DC) using the exactly same principles.

Of course, a lot of the everyday items we use don’t run on a direct current. Instead, they run off alternating current (AC). This means that it’s a little harder to run your entire house off electricity you make yourself. You could do it, but you’d need would be something called an inverter. You can make your own, but you’d probably be better to try to find one from somewhere. If you had to try to scrounge one up from somewhere, raiding an RV or a boat would be a good place to start as many of these will have built-in inverters which you can salvage.

You’ll need a lot of power to run an entire house, more than you could probably get from even the biggest stack of pennies you could find. What would you do then? Well, you could try to find a petrol or diesel generator from somewhere, but you’re still going to need fuel to run it, and, depending on your emergency, that might be in short supply. However, you could always turn to renewables, and start looking around for solar panels or a small-scale wind turbine. A few years ago, these would have been difficult to find, but now they are relatively common in many communities.

If you can’t find an existing power generator to power your house, then you could always build your own. This might sound difficult, but it’s not. All you would need is an alternator, of the type you can find in almost any vehicle, and a way to turn it fast enough to generate a sufficiently large current. You could hook it up to a bicycle and use pedal power, but I would probably recommend using water power, just like old-fashioned water mills. It might take a few hours, but it is relatively easy to make a water-wheel.

What if you can’t find a ready-made alternator? Well, rather surprisingly, almost any electrical item which spins when you plug it in, will also work in reverse. That is, if you spin it yourself, it will generate electricity. This is because electrical motors are reversible and will work in both directions, so either electricity goes in one end and mechanical power comes out the other, or mechanical power goes in and electricity comes out. If you want to see this principle working, look at this video, where a top-loading washing machine is turned into a water-powered electricity generator.




You can do something similar with a ceiling fan to create your own wind turbine, as shown in this video:




However, if you’re generating your own electricity using some sort of renewable set up, you need a way of ironing out the peaks and troughs in the power you generate. This is because renewable power generation tends to be intermittent rather than continuous (the main exception to this is hydro and tidal power). This means you need a bank of batteries to save the power when you generate more than you need so you can use it when you’re not generating enough. Luckily, in a post-apocalyptic environment, you can easily scrounge all the batteries you’d need from abandoned cars, or even better, golf carts.

Of course, rather than waiting until the lights go out, and trying to cobble something together then, you’d be better off getting prepared in advance. This can mean getting your own generator to take you through short power outages, and having some sort of renewable system in place for longer ones. This won’t just help you survive in a world where the dead have come back to life, it will also benefit you now, through lower household bills and the fact that you’ll be reducing you carbon footprint on the planet.

This is something I did a few years ago with solar panels, and even in Scotland, the system I have is enough to run almost everything in my house during daylight hours on sunny days. I’m not living completely off the grid, and still use mains power on cloudy days and at night, but I do have a system which, if I ever needed to, I could convert into a completely off-grid system within a couple of hours by setting up a bank of batteries to handle the times when the sun doesn’t shine. Even if that never happens, I can live happily knowing that I’m doing my bit to reduce my environmental impact on the world.


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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

Would Knowing The Zombies Are Coming Make A Zombie Apocalypse More Terrifying?

21 Mar

When it comes to zombie fiction, there’s two basic themes. The first is best illustrated by the start of 28 Days Later or The Walking Dead, where you have a character who has no idea what’s going on. Here, all the tension is developed by the unknown. The character (and indeed the viewer or reader) knows something has changed, but they don’t know what. Suspense is built as they (and, by proxy, you) move through a world filled with some unknown threat which is eventually revealed. The second theme is where the characters know exactly what’s coming, through past experience, or through news broadcasts and the media, yet they’re powerless to do anything about it, but fight or flee. Here the suspense comes not from wondering what’s out there, but how to escape its clutches.

The question is, if it were really to happen, which would be scarier? Would it be the unknown and the unexpected? Or would it be knowing exactly what’s coming, yet being powerless to prevent it? Personally, while I like the first in my zombie fiction, the second would be much, much worse to have to endure for real. If you don’t know what’s out there, you can at least persuade yourself that it might not be as bad as you imagine. If you do know, then you’ll know exactly what you’re up against, and when it comes to zombie hordes that would be truly terrifying.

Indeed, if a zombie apocalypse were to happen, the chances are most people wouldn’t be faced with the unknown, especially in the modern, highly-connected world. The moment the first dead started to rise, or the disease starts to spread, the 24 hour news channels would spring into action, doing their best to capture the story as it develops in full technicolour and high-definition, while Facebook and Twitter would be inundated with out-of-focus pictures and shaky video as people posted what was going on outside their front doors.

In short, pretty much everyone would know exactly what was coming to get them as they barricade the doors or take to the streets to run for their lives. They’d see it on their screens from every possible angle and they would be frightened beyond measure. Yet, this is rarely portrayed in zombie fiction. Instead, we seem to prefer the single, somehow ignorant, character point of view as they face the unknown. I’m not quite too sure why this is, but I think it might be to do with that childhood fear, when going to sleep at night, of whether the world will still be there, unaltered, when you wake the next morning or whether it might all change as you slumber.

From a writer’s perspective, there’s possibly also something more appealing about writing about someone dealing with the unknown. It’s easier to build suspense and create tension when the reader doesn’t know what’s waiting for them out of sight, but just around the corner. The reader also gets that vicarious thrill when they follow the characters as they do something they clearly shouldn’t, given the situation (you know, those moments when you want to scream out advice, like ‘Don’t open that door!’ or ‘Don’t go into that basement!’).

Yet, there are also many interesting possibilities to explore when people know what they’re up against. The tension can come not from what’s coming to get the characters, but from when it will arrive, and whether they will survive. The plot devices which you can employ have also been used less often, so it’s easier to be original rather than ending up with something which reminds the reader of something else. For example, there’s only so many times you can have someone waking up in a bed in an abandoned hospital before it starts becoming a cliché. Similarly, the emotions which you can explore aren’t the usual confusion and disbelief, but rather the fears and horror of knowing exactly what’s happening just outside the door while being powerless to stop it. This means if you’re going to write a zombie story, it’s worth considering whether ignorance really is bliss, or whether a little knowledge would be a much more dangerous, and terrifying, thing.


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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.