So the other week I was reading All the Little Children, by Jo Furniss, a novel in which terrorists release a genetically engineered virus throughout the English countryside. Hilarity ensues.
Over on GoodReads, you’ll find that many readers have shelved this book as “Post-Apocalyptic” or “Dystopian”, but I’d argue that neither of those designations is really correct. The virus is much too localized, being confined to the British island, for it to be an apocalypse, and although there are some, shall we say, governmental shenanigans going on by the end of it, there’s nothing that rises anywhere near the level of 1984 or Brazil-style overwhelming government surveillance and oppression such that I would apply the “dystopian” label. YMMV, but I shelved this under “Suspense” and “Disaster”, because, you know, human-caused disasters can be pretty major too.
One thing I’ve noticed, in the emails I get from like BookBub and similar aggregators of low-priced eBooks, is a lot of stuff in a genre you might call “machopocalyptic”. These books typically have a description that is something along the lines of “When a deadly virus is unleashed it’s up to Jake Machismo―former Special Forces operative, Medal of Honor winner, expert chef, and best father ever―to rescue his family and keep them safe in his well-stocked mountain cabin”. This is not one of those books. In this book, everyone is a fuckup. The adults are fuckups. The teenagers are hormonal fuckups. The children are whiny little fuckups. So that was a nice change of pace.
Billy wandered over and asked to play with my phone. When I refused, he asked Lola for hers instead. She gave the canvas a shake to unfold the fabric and said she’d left her phone at home.
“You didn’t bring your phone?” I said.
“Mom said we have to unplug. I brought a book.”
“But—” I stared at her narrow back, the canvas enveloping her legs like a crinoline. “What kind of teenager are you?”
“I’m reading Sylvia Plath.”
“Jesus, Lola, you’ve got your whole life to be miserable.”
At this point you may be saying to yourself, “Why on earth would anyone want to read about a rampaging virus when we’ve been in the middle of one for the past year?” A valid question! There are two answers:
- When I acquired this book in 2017, we were not in the middle of a pandemic; and
- When I started reading it, I didn’t re-read the description, so I had completely forgotten what it was about. At least until the virus-laden bombs started going off.
Now, the last time I did a Teaser Tuesday, I mentioned that since I’ve put the novel-writing-and-editing on hold for a little while (after about ten years!) to do a little decompressing by going back to daily posts over on my animal humor blog, so I didn’t have any teasers of my own to post. But some time after that I realized that I have eight books’ worth of teasers to choose from; I mean, it’s not like I’m required to only post teasers from the book I’m currently working on, right? So I went and dusted off my old friend random.org to have it pick one of my books, then pick a position in the book. I picked the excerpt, though. (There are some things you have to do yourself, after all.) And so, here’s a little snippet from my horror novel Night Watchman, AKA “The One Nobody Could Figure Out How To Market“:
Fucking curtains. Full of holes. When the sun rises, it’ll come right through them. Billy lifts and squeezes them, then drops them in disgust and crosses to the bathroom. The others follow him with their eyes but don’t move from their positions near the door. He glances at them. “Stop staring at me,” he says. They keep right on doing it. “Ah, fuck you,” he says.
Didn’t take long for hero worship to get old.
In case you were wondering, Billy, there, is not a vampire*, but he does have some very vampire-like reasons for not wanting the sun to come through the holes in the curtains. Fortunately for him—and unfortunately for many other characters—the bathroom has no windows, so he’s got himself a nice place to hide, for a while …