Hailing from South Africa, this week’s Prophet of Doom concocts zombie apocalyptic fiction that will frighten all but the most hardened of the genre’s readers. Baileigh’s latest book is Hold The Line, the fourth installment in the Heroes of the Apocalypse Series. Let’s get to know the lady behind these dazzlingly haunting books. (Links in description may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you)
Copper: Your books definitely walk on the horror side of apocalyptic fiction. What books or movies frightened you as a child?
Baileigh: As a child, I loved the movie Gremlins, but I was terrified of Stripe, the main antagonist. He was named after his white mohawk and scared the bejeezus out of me. To make matters worse, my mom knew I loved the movie and the cute and cuddly Gizmo. So, she got me the movie poster and stuck it to my bedroom wall. I had nightmares for weeks imagining that Stripe was watching me with his evil, little eyes. Eventually, I scratched his eyes off with a crayon and my mom realized what was up. No more poster!
Copper: You’ve written a series called Heroes of the apocalypse. Which fictional hero would you bring to life (excluding those from your own books) for the sake of saving humanity?
Baileigh: It’s a toss-up between Deadpool and Wonder Woman. Deadpool is hilarious and pretty much indestructible, plus deep down he’s a nice guy. Cheesy and vulgar, but nice. I wouldn’t want to clean up after him though!
Wonder Woman on the other hand is a goddess and an Amazon. It doesn’t get much better than that, does it? Brave, intelligent, and incorruptible, she represents the kind of person I’d like to be. They both have heart, and I think that’s what heroes need to save humanity, but in the end, it will come down to us. As much as we wish for super heroes, we have nobody but ourselves to rely on or to blame when things go wrong.
Copper: The first book in the Heroes of the Apocalypse series, Trial by Fire, imagines a “deadly plague that turns people into undead monsters.” If you absolutely had to become an undead Universal movie monster (Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolf Man, The Invisible Man) which would it be?
Baileigh: Dracula, for sure. Who doesn’t want to live forever? Plus, the thought of being able to escape awkward social situations by bursting into a cloud of bats is super tempting. I’ll really miss garlic, though.
Copper: What one song would you need to survive the apocalypse for the sake of helping you maintain your sanity?
Baileigh: This is a tough one. I love music, and picking just one song seems impossible. On the one hand, I’d want something to remind me of home. On the other hand, I’d want something that inspires me to keep going no matter what. Something tough and gritty. This Night by Black Lab would serve that purpose, but it could get depressing after a time. So, I’d rather go with Black Lab’s This Blood. A great backtrack for killing zombies. Or vampires. Werewolves. Aliens. Basically, anything.
Our prophet of Doom this week hails from the great state of Minnesota where he’s a professor of Philosophy. In his time away from class, Ronin has penned a dystopian tale that harkens back to the dark whimsy of such authors as George Orwell, Phillip K. Dick and Aldous Huxley. Let’s learn more about his newest book, Same Song, Different Beat, and the world that inspired it.
Copper: What was the spark that urged you to write Same Song, Different Beat?
Ronin: The idea for this book began forming about ten years ago. I noticed entertainment seemed almost entirely predicated on nostalgia. Nothing new was being produced. This isn’t really true, there’s new stuff produced all the time. But the media with money behind it no longer seemed interested in doing anything new. That was at the height of the zombie craze. Every movie from the 1980s was being remade for no reason at all other than the brand recognition. This was obviously commerce devouring art. A bunch of stiffs in suits seeking a bankable title from the past. It’s a good business plan, frankly. You have what they call a ‘built-in’ audience and that audience’s children, which becomes the new audience. Nowhere has this been more apparent than with the Disney Star Wars movies. They carted out the old coots from the original trilogy and killed them off while introducing ‘new,’ younger characters. I realized a dystopian book today should point out how the general public seems content consuming the same old stuff, over and over. In the process of plotting the book, I realize the book itself was treading familiar ground, which is how I stumbled onto the dual-purpose title, Same Song, Different Beat. There’s not much ground to cover in dystopian literature anymore, so you have to present things in a way that, at the very least, seems different.
Copper: Were there any dystopian novels or movies in particular that influenced you?
Ronin:1984 and Fahrenheit 451, I think, were the most influential. Those books have really proven prophetic. Not to discount the others, but just look at how accurate Orwell and Bradbury were. The only thing Orwell got wrong was that we carry the television spying on us everywhere we go. They’ve found so many ways to consolidate control of the masses through cell phones. Had you told me this is how Orwell’s nightmare would come true, say, twenty-five years ago, I would have laughed. I would have said, There’s no way the masses are that gullible. Wow, have I been proven wrong! The thing Bradbury got correct was the fact that we the people invited this nightmare we’re currently enduring. In Fahrenheit, the fire chief (I think he’s the character that does this, it’s been a while) points out that it was the people who asked for the books to be burned. Social media, egged on by corporations, has conditioned the masses to police each other’s speech. It’s genius, in a Machiavellian way. Another huge influence, though not as obvious, is Shutter Island. I have always hated that Teddy turns out to be crazy. Shutter Island is part of a larger batch of stories told over the last thirty years or so in which an individual detects something is very wrong in the society around him/her/them and almost always that individual ends up being insane. I think this is a very dangerous message. We know darn well individuals who point out flaws in society are persecuted all the time. Art should be championing the Cassandras out there who take the risk of speaking up. Folks will have to read the book to see how I deal with this particular concern.
Copper: What social media platform seems the most likely to usher in a dystopian world?
Ronin: That’s a great question. As I mentioned, the small, select group of people who seem to have all the power have manipulated things so that we the people monitor each other. There is no Big Brother. Just a nosy neighbor or a predatory narcissist on Twitter. And if we’re being honest, Twitter seems to be the platform the establishment is most protective of; This was demonstrated rather graphically when Elon Musk announced he would purchase it. I’ve never seen so many nasty little busy bodies shriek in terror all at once. Musk doesn’t even need to buy the platform now. He proved the establishment considers Twitter a major weapon in the manipulation of the masses. I’m on Twitter, but I rarely visit and when I do, I try to stick to promoting all things horror and science fiction, my loves outside of philosophy. If I begin to stick around and read the alleged ‘political opinions’ on Twitter, I’m compelled to tell people exactly how stupid they sound. And, of course, that’s not the correct way to go about discourse. But a platform that only allows 280 characters per communication, well, it’s begging for misunderstanding and conflict. That the current owners of Twitter do nothing about this, I think, is criminal.
Copper: If we lived in a dystopian world that permitted only one song to exist, what song would you like it to be?
Ronin: If the state were in charge, I’m sure it would be Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Or maybe REM’s “Shiny Happy People” (the State, as always, being unaware of the origins of either of those songs; similar to Republican candidates playing “Born in the U.S.A.” at their rallies). If I got to choose the song that would help me get through a dystopia, as cheesy as it may sound, I’d vote for “Sailing,” by Christopher Cross. When I was a child, I had a portable cassette recorder/player. I couldn’t afford to buy new tapes from the record store. My parents were very strict and wouldn’t let me use their record player, so I couldn’t buy 45s either. So, I kept my tape recorder by a small clock radio I had at my bedside. I’d keep a tape cued up to record on and if a song I liked came on the radio, I’d hit the record button and hope I got the beginning of the song. I had a primitive, early rendition of the ‘mix tape’ with songs like “Back in the Black” and “Give Me the Night” on it. As a child, I guess, I didn’t differentiate genres of music. If the song sounded nice, I liked it. “Sailing” was a particularly soothing tune. Today, if I need my own nostalgia fix, “Sailing” takes me right back to that time. Like all nostalgia, the feeling ignores the turmoil of growing up poor in rural Minnesota. I just remember being younger, much farther away, in terms of time, from the finish line. All existential angst disappears for the few minutes that song plays.
Check out Ronin’s book on Amazon! (links in descriptions may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.)
Our Prophet of Doom this week is the author of post-apocalyptic, dystopian and dark psychological fiction, all available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. Terry likes sunshine, history, trees, TV binges and long, long walks, is a reviewer for Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team, and is currently struggling with a sudoku addiction problem. She lives with her husband in North East England. Here’s a link to Terry’s various projects!
Copper: What was it that drew you towards dystopian/apocalyptic fiction?
Terry: I love The Walking Dead and other post-apocalyptic TV series and films, as well as books of the genre—survival in exceptionally adverse circumstances pulls me in every time, especially when those circumstances mean the collapse of society as we know it. I’d wanted to write my own post-apocalyptic novel or series for a while before I felt confident to do so, then in 2016 I had an idea about a virus manufactured for the purpose of targeted depopulation, in which the UK is used as a pilot for the rest of the world, with each citizen’s chance of survival dependent on certain behavioural factors. This became Tipping Point.
My books are always character-driven; what interests me most about post-apocalyptic scenarios is how the survivors adapt. Some flounder and rely on others, some accept and make the best of their new circumstances, others flourish as natural leaders—and then there are those whose dark side comes to the fore.
I wrote my dystopian series after reading about Agenda 21, now known as the Great Reset—a fictional take on how it might play out.
I think my interest in the genre also derives from a slight obsession with clearing the slate and starting again; an escape from the limitations of ‘civilised’ society.
Copper: Fictional social media platforms play a big role in your books. Which social media platform seems the most likely to bring about a dystopian future?
Terry: Hard for me to say, as Twitter is the only one I use! I write the fictional social media platforms in my books simply for realism, because the real life ones feature so prominently in many lives, and are used to influence the thoughts of the public in a much more developed way than many people realise, with thousands of fake profiles employed to push agendas. Maybe Facebook is the answer to your question, as it’s a bit ‘lowest common denominator’, but I’m not sufficiently up on the ins and outs of TikTok and Instagram to be able to comment. Then again, I do see some TikTok posts on Twitter which make me fear for the generation growing into adulthood now.
Copper: What post-apocalyptic stories (movies or books) have influenced you most?
Terry: The Walking Dead (TV rather than comics)
A little known novel called The Turning of the World by John Privilege – it’s about a pandemic, set in Ireland. Stunning book, I’ve read it a few times; it made me think, I want to write my own.
A zombie apocalypse book called Great Bitten: Outbreak by Dawn Peers, which was my first foray into the genre. The author sent me a short story that would become the novel – I didn’t think I’d like it but it was something of a ‘Eureka!’ moment.
Some people have asked if Tipping Point was influenced by The Stand; a chapter in the latter about how Patient Zero spreads the virus is not dissimilar to the scenario I produced in my own book, but I didn’t read The Stand until a couple of years later. It’s now one of my favourite books.
Copper: What one song would you hope survives the apocalypse for the sake of helping you maintain your sanity?
Terry: Oh, these one song, one film or one book questions! So hard to answer. I recently did a five part series on my blog of my 100 favourite songs, and named Black Water by The Doobies as possibly my favorite song ever. It’s so smooth and chilled out, and makes me nostalgic for a time and place I’ve never visited.
Then again, there’s One Way Street by Aerosmith. Or Gimme Shelter. No, sorry, it’s impossible!
Check out Terry’s Tipping Point, the first in her Project Renova series!
(Links in descriptions may be affiliate links. I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.)