If the appearance of Donald Trump in every news headline, ever, regarding the upcoming U.S. presidential election isn’t a sign of the end times, I don’t know what is. So, better start thinking about whether or not you are prepared to survive the upcoming apocalypse! Today I’ve got Scott Andrews—author of the post-apocalyptic School’s Out Forever Trilogy and time travel thriller Timebomb—here to discuss apocalyptic fiction and whether or not he thinks he’d survive a real apocalypse.
Hello, Scott! Can you introduce yourself to anybody who hasn’t already heard me raving about School’s Out Forever?
I’m an English writer of sci-fi who came to novels through non-fiction and comics. I wrote the School’s Out books after my pitch for the first book got picked out of an open submission period that Abaddon Books ran. I’m currently writing a trilogy of time travel adventures—the Timebomb series—for Hodder & Stoughton. I also enjoy audio drama and computer game writing, when I get the chance.
Speaking of School’s Out Forever, that is some brutal shit. Did writing it give you nightmares?
Going to boarding school as a kid gave me the nightmares, writing the book allowed me to get them out of my head on to the page and rid myself of them forever. Saved me a fortune in therapy. And although my school wasn’t as brutal as the book—no crucifixions!—it felt like it was, somehow, so all I had to do to write the book was channel how I felt about school and voila: a world of slaughter.
Do you think you would survive an actual apocalypse?
If it was a viral plague or something like that, I’d be out of the picture the instant I caught a whiff of it, I’d just immediately turn my toes up. Aliens or suchlike, I’d probably fare a bit better. I’m not exactly a survivalist though, so once I ran out of canned goods I’d have to conquer my squeamishness super-fast.
What kind of apocalypse would you prefer to experience?
Zombies every time. Especially the slow shambling ones. I reckon I could handle that. I think I’d do OK in The Walking Dead. (Almost certainly self-delusion—I’d probably be a biter in about five minutes.)
What would be the first thing (or two) you’d stuff in your bug out bag if shit hit the fan?
I know where to lay my hands on a machete pretty easily, so that’d be the first item on my collection list. After that, all the medicine I could get my hands on, and a toolkit for improvizing shelter.
Have you read many fictional apocalypses yourself? Which of them would you want to (ok, maybe just “not mind”) be transported into?
When I was younger the John Wyndham books, especially Chrysalids, really gave me a taste for a good post-apocalypse. Nevil Shute’s almost unbearably bleak On The Beach, too.
Then there were the TV, film, and book versions of Daleks’ Invasion of Earth. Terrance Dick’s novelization has the best opening line—”Through the ruin of a city stalked the ruin of a man.“ Beat that!
Coming up to date, I just finished The Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy, which painted a fascinating picture of a post-war America.
And if I had to pick one to be dropped into it’d be Triffids, (but only if I could keep my sight!).
What drew you to the genre in the first place? What do you love about it?
I like the clean slate of it, the opportunity to examine how society functions by breaking it into pieces and trying to build something better out of it.
There’s a freedom to the idea, too, especially when you’re younger—it’s appealing to imagine that all the social systems that try to mould and shape you into a pliant adult can be swept away and give you total self-determination.
Why do you think the apocalyptic genre is so popular right now?
There have been periods of apocalyptic worry throughout history, that’s not new. But the environmental crisis feels very real, scientifically measurable, and after previous cries of wolf, this is the one burst of apocalyptic angst that feels based in reality. Maybe that’s it. I don’t know, your guess is as good as mine. I’m just glad it is.