Paul Kane‘s work first came onto my radar via Hooded Man, an Omnibus of three post-apocalyptic novels from Abaddon Books based on the Robin Hood story. (I love me some Robin Hood.) But Kane has written far, far more—over 50 books including The Butterfly Man and Other Stories, Hellbound Hearts, The Mammoth Book of Body Horror and Monsters. His non-fiction books include The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy and Voices in the Dark, and his genre journalism has appeared in SFX, Rue Morgue, and DeathRay. Today he’s stopped by to tell us how well he thinks he’d do in a real-life apocalypse.
First, tell us a little about yourself, the kind of things you write, and your apocalyptic trilogy Hooded Man.
My name’s Paul Kane, and I’m a writer and editor based on the Midlands, UK. Incredibly, not least to me, next year marks my twentieth year as a professional writer—I started off as a genre journalist, and still keep my hand in doing non-fiction to this day. I write all kinds of things, from SF and Crime, to Dark Fantasy and Horror—which is probably my first love—from short stories and novels, to film, tv, and comic scripts.
I’m probably best known for my association with the Hellraiser mythos, after writing The Hellraiser Films & Their Legacy and co-editing Hellbound Hearts—with a crossover novel, Sherlock Holmes & The Servants of Hell coming next year mass market from Solaris—and also my post-apocalyptic reworking of the Robin Hood legend. The original trilogy—Arrowhead, Broken Arrow and Arrowland—came out between 2008 and 2010 from Abaddon (as part of their Afterblight Chronicles) and were all bestsellers, then the omnibus of all three called Hooded Man sold out of its first print run very quickly upon release in 2013. A new novella, Flaming Arrow, set several years after the trilogy ended, came out this year as an e-book (which you can buy here and here) and will be reprinted in the mass market book The End of the End next summer.
I should also mention my latest release, Blood RED—which you can read about and order on the publisher site. It’s a horror reworking of Little Red Riding Hood, which also comes in a limited edition including extracts from the award-winning film script and graphic novel version, character sketches and more.
Do you think you would survive an actual apocalypse?
I like to think so, but I guess we’ll see when it happens as and when. I’m quite a practical person and writing about post-apocalyptic worlds has definitely helped to prepare me. My main character in Hooded Man–Robert Stokes–heads off to Sherwood forest when he loses his wife and child to the A-B virus, and I had to do a lot of research into how he’d survive out there. I’ve also had to research everything from how to fly planes to where to find all the best weaponry when the end comes, so I reckon I’d be a pretty good person to be around at that time. I could even bring down an Apache Attack Helicopter with a bolas if need be.
What kind of apocalypse would you prefer to experience?
Just purely because I’m such a fan of zombie stories–from Romero’s movies to The Walking Dead–I think I’d chose that one. You’d probably stand more of a chance than the random Russian Roulette of the A-B Virus of the Afterblight, which only leaves people with O-Neg blood alive, plus I think I’d probably be quite a good zombie fighter. Or, failing that, a terrific zombie.
I actually wrote about sentient zombies for my ‘Dead Trilogy’, the first story of which —‘Dead Time’—was turned into an episode of NBC/LionsGate’s primetime show Fear Itself called New Year’s Day, so that was definitely a career highlight for me and was a much safer way of observing this phenomenon.
What would be the first thing (or two) you’d stuff in your bug out bag if the shit hit the fan?
Probably a couple of very personal items for starters, gifts my wife (the writer/editor Marie O’Regan) and family gave me. Then I’d hit the garage and break out tools to whack those zombies with.
Have you read many fictional apocalypses? Which of them would you want to (ok, maybe just “not mind”) be transported into?
Oh, lots and lots. My favorites definitely include a stunning novel we studied at school called Brother in the Land by Robert Swindells–which would probably be classified as YA these days–Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and the Planet of the Apes movie series. But I’m going to stick with The Walking Dead’s zombie apocalypse, as I think I’d probably make a quite good ‘crazy Rick’ type character. Either that or Mad Max. Yeah, I’d be Mad Max.
What drew you to the genre in the first place? What do you love about it?
I’m not entirely sure. I’ve always gravitated towards darker stuff, reading and writing, but at the same time I like the idea of good or “right” winning through against all these kinds of odds. That’s certainly what I’ve tried to do with my post-apocalyptic fiction, to have people with moral codes battling not only their circumstances but those who think they can take over through might and treat people like slaves.
Of course, things tend to get to a point where those who set themselves up as “in charge” or the authorities are challenged, which is what you see throughout the Hooded Man tales. I also like the way you can say something about society indirectly, which is what good science fiction has always achieved in my opinion.
I’m about to write a post-apocalyptic novella in January called The Rot, which–although I didn’t plan to do this initially–is saying something about the rise of sexually transmitted diseases at the moment, I think something like a third increase amongst younger people especially. Like anything else, good fiction helps you meditate on what’s around you and what’s happening in the world.
Why do you think the apocalyptic genre is so popular right now?
Maybe because of things that are happening in the world right now? The tensions between nations and everything else. Horror tends to do quite well during times of crisis, which we saw with the monster movies of the 1930s and 40s, and likewise there are booms in the post-apocalyptic genre when society is scared about what might happen next—and we saw this, too, in the ‘80s with the threat of nuclear Armageddon. These fictional apocalypses allow us to ‘control’ what we read, see or experience in a way that real life doesn’t. Of course, they’re also bloody good action/adventure romps—or at least mine are!
Thank you Paul!