Today I’d like you all to welcome Richard Levesque to my Blog. He is the author the novel, The Girl at the End of the World, a genre partner to my ALL IS SILENCE more than any other book I’ve found. Check out his great new cover. The Girl at the End of the World is on sale now for only $0.99!
Destroying the World One Word at a Time
Plague. Natural Disaster. War. Alien Invasion. Zombies. They’re all catalysts for the end of the world in popular fiction and film. But what is the appeal of such stories? It’s partly in watching and reading with a bit of glee as all the bad things about our world come to an end. But it’s not just that. End-of-the-world stories aren’t just about the end of the world; they’re post-apocalyptic. They’re about what happens after everything goes wrong—which means they’re about survival. And that, I think, is the real appeal.
When I wrote The Girl at the End of the World, I thought of it first and foremost as a survivor’s story. Scarlett Fisher, the heroine, gets an unwanted surprise on her fifteenth birthday—the outbreak of a plague that quickly wipes out everyone she’s ever known. Left alone in a corpse-ridden Los Angeles, she has to figure out how to survive. She faces many challenges, all the while hoping there may be others like her—people who were lucky enough to have been immune to the disease. What she doesn’t think about, though, is that even if others have survived, that wouldn’t necessarily make them good people.
I’m convinced that readers enjoy living vicariously through characters like Scarlett. Reading about her, they picture themselves in peril, imagining themselves in her situation and empathizing with her losses, her fears, and her triumphs. This is true for just about any good end-of-the-world tale, from John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids to Robert Slater’s All Is Silence. The differences are in the ways the world ends—sometimes quietly and sometimes horrifyingly—and it’s the survivors who make it a real story after the dust has settled.
Does the popularity of such stories suggest that we really want to see the world end? I would suggest that’s not the case. Rather, such stories speak to an increased awareness of (and anxiety about) the fragility of our world. We are anxious about climate change, the spread of disease, political unrest, terrorism, etc. And when we see those threats, and worse ones, made manifest in a post-apocalyptic novel, we feel a little bit better for having survived the end of the world along with the characters. When the book is finished, we can go back to real life, scary though it may sometimes be, feeling ready to take it on. We’ve gone to the edge and looked over, and we’ve had characters like Scarlett and Lizzie along with us. Their survival is our survival, and while they may be battered and bruised in the process, we get to curl up with our Kindles and grab some comfort food when the peril gets too intense. There’s a little release that comes from going along for the ride with these characters, and when the world starts feeling a little too scary again, we can grab another book and dive in again.
For anyone who’s interested in diving into The Girl at the End of the World, I’ve dropped the price for the next few days. You can grab your copy at Amazon for just 99 cents. And if you want to read a sample, the first three chapters are available for free at Amazon.
What’s better, if you’d like a chance at winning a signed paperback of The Girl at the End of the World, I’m running a contest for new subscribers to my free newsletter. It’s open to people with US mailing addresses only and you’ll need to subscribe by the end of October. If you don’t win, you’ll still have access to a free ebook, free short stories, and announcements about sales and new releases. If that’s not what you’re interested in, I’d still like to hear your thoughts on why you find books about the end of the world so appealing.
Thanks for the guest post, Richard! I’m going to be following his lead and putting some books on sale in November, too!