Here are some common questions about the Yellow Death series of books . . .
In the 1970s, the BBC ran a primetime TV series called Survivors. I was a teenager at the time and it had a big impact on me and my friends. We were all talking about it at school.
These days, post-apocalyptic tales are ten-a-penny and you can hardly breathe for zombie stories. Back in the 70s, the idea of civilisation ending was still pretty fresh. Survivors ran for three series and became my favourite show. I used to imagine how I would cope in their situation.
One thing that bemused me about the BBC series is why none of the survivors had the sense to go the nearest Army base and arm themselves properly. In Survivors, anyone who had a double-barrelled shotgun was king. I imagined that if I woke up in their situation, one of my first thoughts would be to get my hands on a decent assault rifle – that thought was probably the seed from which the entire story grew.
I became hooked on post-apocalyptic novels and movies, so perhaps it was only a matter of time before I started to develop my own story.
I was particularly interested with the idea that somebody who might struggle in our society might actually do better in a post-apocalyptic world. There are plenty of examples of people who have given up a normal ‘western’ lifestyle to go and live in the wilderness – that happened to many Vietnam War veterans, which was the inspiration for the film ‘Rambo’.
I was also fascinated by the thought that certain character traits and behaviours that would be a disadvantage in one society might be an advantage in a different society. In particular, being socially awkward in our society is a huge problem, but in a post-apocalyptic world, it might be a benefit. Furthermore, certain hobbies or interests that are weird or nerdy in our society might be very useful if society were to collapse.
These thoughts were the inspiration for the main character of the book.
Yes indeed. I feel that the first three books make a complete and satisfying story, but I am working on other ideas.
I feel it would be interesting to tell the story of a hypnotherapist who lives through the Yellow Death. Before the advent of modern anaesthetics, hypnosis was being used successfully for major surgery and it is still regularly used at a hospital in Belgium. Furthermore, many of the survivors of such an apocalypse would be suffering from PTSD which can be successfully helped with hypnotherapy. Thus a hypnotherapist might be surprisingly useful in a post-apocalyptic world.
Another idea I have is for a story that starts about 20 years after the end of the third book. This would involve the surviving characters from the first three books, plus the next generation who would have been born after the apocalypse. Once again the settlements in the south-west of England would be threatened.
I welcome any other ideas for stories in the Yellow Death universe. If anyone can think of an original idea for a post-pandemic-apocalyptic scenario that I use in one of my books, I will reward them with £100.
I never intended John to be a version of me and tried really, really hard to avoid it, but anyone who knows me and reads the book seems to see a passing similarity.
I think it partly goes back to the old writers’ adage of ‘write about what you know’. I wanted John to be an imperfect hero with both psychological and physical issues. I decided that John would have Autism/Asperger’s because it fitted in with the need to make him a social outcast. It was only when I was researching the disorder that I realised I also probably had Aspergers’.
So it went on. Originally, John was to have had no actual military experience, but that seemed unrealistic so, I decided he would have been a part-time soldier (just like I had been). Many of John’s pre-Yellow Death experiences were based on similar events in my own life including the scene where John is interrogated on a training exercise. Before you ask, I did not visit a German brothel, but many of my army buddies did, which is why I know so much detail – honest!
So, maybe John is a weirder and more extreme form of me after all. I certainly hope that it’s not the other way around.