Monday, March 1, 2010

Why "Last Call, Last Stand" is what it is

I started "Last Call, Last Stand" as a reactionary piece-specifically, my reaction to most of the fiction that exists in the survivalist blogosphere. It has other purposes too-mostly my way to express my diseased ruminations on modern drug culture and the larger American culture. But mostly it exists to combat the number of gruesome tropes that most people put in their zombie writing.

Point of fact: John Mackey is not a nice guy. The typical zombie story hero is always shown as a morally upstanding, righteous dude without the long train of personal baggage that accompanies most real people. So I said, hey, fuck it, I'll go with the abusive, drug addicted, manipulative sociopath as an archetype-hell, I know how to write from that perspective better than Captain America's whitebread perspective anyway. I don't condone the things he does, but damnit, that doesn't mean that his story can never be told.

Second Point of Fact: John Mackey is not a badass. When inserting themselves (badly) into their fiction, a lot of amateur zombie writers have a main character that is highly trained, well prepared, resourceful and intelligent. Mackey, on the other hand, doesn't even know what model of pistol he has, and will probably prove woefully inadequate in a firefight, when the time comes. He is a drug dealer, not an ex sniper survivalist with a basement full of high end rifles with thousand dollar scopes.

Third Point of Fact: Our dear Phebe is not just fan service. In some ways she is the ideal prepper's girl, a thought that I did not ignore when I was working out her outline. She has prepared due to parental influence, is competent with her own weapons systems, and is a level headed and practical person with a good heart. But I am taking care to make her human as well (though so far your only clue is that she gets pit stains, one thing that never happens to chicks in the movies no matter how many abandoned streets they run down) and she and John are going to have some hellacious conflicts in the story to come.

I tried NaNoWriMo last october, and failed miserably. But somehow this story kept lingering in my head, and it got to where I could practically taste Mackey's fear when the news was getting worse and the coke was coursing through his system, could hear the distant shouts of an approaching mob through the rainstorm. And now I think I have to finish it, for his sake if not my own.

So stay tuned, if you'd like. You will find, despite the cheap shock effect of the stripper abusing John Mackey, that this is at heart a story of redemption. When viewed through the proper filter, you might even find it is the story of my redemption, buried in metaphor. I hope you'll enjoy the ride. But either way, I'm going to ride it to the end.

A side note: You will find chapter links in the sidebar now, so navigation should be easier. Look forward to a new section soon.

Thanks for reading.


  1. I can dig that. When I started writing my currently untitled zombie piece (I suck with titles), I deliberately made the characters the anti-all stars. While three of five characters are former soldiers, one got medicaled out, one did a two year stint ten years ago, and one's a mentally shot medic. However, your story is abotu fifty hobillion times better than mine with its Gibsony flavour.

  2. YESSSS!!!!

    Finally a motherfucker who actually GETS it!

    This is exactly the point that I've been saying all along, that in order for a good story to rise above the rabble of mediocrity that is what the average zombie literature fan has an overabundance of, the reader must be able to connect on an emotional level. Love or hate, it doesn't matter. Personally I'm going for a little of both in my own story. But that's where redemption comes in, and I think everybody can relate to that.

    As far as your description of a lot of amateur writers out there? You are spot on. And the thing is, a lot of these writers have no first hand experience regarding any of the situations that they try to portray in their stories, and YOU CAN TELL. Most of the time I get the impression that these writers are trying to live vicariously through their stories, but would never have the balls to even remotely consider doing or saying the things they make their characters do and say. The whole thing is one big fantasy, and I imagine them stroking one off as they write it...

    OK I'm getting vulgar now, but it's the fucking truth! I'm all about REALITY. I believe that's what's going to breathe new life into the genre. I'm no pro at this, but I am a fan first, a writer second. And I've been around the block and seen a few things. You know? I like you're writing, and I will be following your story. I look forward to reading more! You've got a true fan.

  3. BTW, I'd like to talk to you off the blog if you don't mind? Please drop me an email at robin-eduardo (at) hotmail (dot) com.


  4. Truly enjoyed the story, but have to question one thing - you write about benzos as being stimulants, when they actually are tranquilizers such as diazepam (Valium), etc. As a former VA Psych nurse, I'm pretty familiar with them. Used them many times to chill out vets freaking for one reason or another, or to get them through detoxing off of booze (Librium is best for that) and/or drugs. Yeah, it's a small quibble concerning how well you write and how entertaining the story is, but I had to mention it.

    1. What you are seeing is a stoner trying to write about pills; I am sure there are plenty of errors there including the truly heroic amount of drugs mackey takes and survives.

      Thanks for reading.

  5. Epic stuff. Still relevant in 2013- maybe even more so than 2012.....