Over the next few weeks, I will be going through each of my books in order of release, and talking about how they came to be.
The Undead Day Three
Day Three and writing was still as new to me as the apocalypse was to the world in which I was exploring, and as Howie and Dave ventured out, so I continued to simply put words on a page.
The plot for them was simple in theory: Go to London and find Sarah, and in Day Three we see Howie waking up in the morning to find Dave is not only cleanly shaven, washed and dressed almost smartly, but he has prepared Howie’s clothes too.
We also see Howie’s internal reflection as he starts to question who Dave is. He knows Dave was in the army for fourteen years, but he takes what he knows of the army, and of ex-soldiers and applies that to Dave, and in so doing we see Howie is already learning how to think and question the world about him.
We then see Howie choosing his course of action. He will go to London to find his sister, but he knows London will be a no-go zone and so plans ahead enough to know he will need something big, tough and robust to get them through. Which starts bringing forth the objectives.
1, Get to Salisbury and find an armoured vehicle
2, Rescue Sarah in London.
Those were the objectives, and as Day Three unfolded, so I learned a valuable lesson that would come to shape the way I write.
I guess it’s like this. I can set the objective and develop the plot, but what I cannot do is tell them how they achieve it. Sounds nuts right? I mean, I’m the writer. What I say goes. No. It goes back to action / reaction. Point them in the right direction and then sit back and see what happens, and so off they trot, loading up their Tesco home delivery van and driving through the countryside with Howie lobbing bits of rubbish out the window and getting the old stink-eye from Dave. (Keep Britain tidy).
Writing Day Three was great fun and having two characters to play with, as opposed to mainly just Howie in Day One and Two, meant I could practise character development, viewpoints, moving characters from scene to scene, dialogue and having them interact on levels beyond mere verbal communications.
People speak a lot, oh my god they speak a lot, way too much, but we, as receivers of the information they are telling us, don’t just take the words we hear, but we read body language and how they are speaking. A shrug, a glance, a nod, a lift of eyebrows and the ways the eyes narrow or widen as the head tilts back or comes forward.
Someone could stand in front of you and say the nicest things ever. ‘I love you and I want you to be happy…’ something like that, but the way they say it, and how they look when they say it can shape the meaning to something entirely different to the actual words.
They could be needy, threatening, or, most commonly seen in our society now is the fuckheaded truly disgusting act of being passive-aggressive. Urgh. Makes me shudder.
I wanted to translate all of those things into the character interactions, and Day Three was really the beginning of learning how to do that. I had a long journey ahead of me before I would even begin to think I was anywhere near proficient, I still have days now where I am filled with self-doubt but then every writer has that I guess.
Anywho, we get to see Howie and Dave go to the farmhouse and creep through with Dave using hand signals and Howie not having a clue what they mean.
Then they meet the fat woman in the corridor who can’t get through the door, and that was also a pivotal moment.
Humour is weird. We find the most inappropriate things funny. Observational humour, situational humour, humour based on language or motion, and even when we know we shouldn’t laugh, we still do.
In this situation, we have a woman who is too obese to get through a doorway. That’s awful. I mean, what a terrible thing and what a terrible way to live, but…in that situation, at the end of the world, when the woman (as in the individual) is already infected, it is bloody funny. It also reflects the level of tension within Howie too. He’s filled with angst and worry, and not everyone breaks down and cries when they are like that. Sometimes, in the direst of situations when surrounded by death and gore, someone will crack a joke and that emotion, that tension will vent through laughing. Often times it is one step away from crying, but hey ho, ain’t folk weird?
Then Howie and Dave go into Portsmouth and the barricaded John Jones / Jimmy Jones scenes play out and the reflection of how evil people really are, and how right now, the biggest, nastiest people are kept in check by the judicial system, but without that, they will revert to type and use violence and threat to get what they want.
Day Three ends when Howie and Dave reach the police station, and eventually, get taken into that meeting. The one where The Police, manifesting as Sergeant Debbie Hopewell, discuss everything apart from the really bad thing happening.
That would happen too. I’ve seen it. That meeting would absolutely take place. (A mini-rant may now commence)
In truth, and after a long career of doing policing, I can honestly say that 90% of actual effective policing is done by about 10% of the workforce. The rest think about policing and talk about policing, and they have meetings about policing, and then meetings about the meetings they had before, then they’ll write presentations and training packages on policing, and how to do er…the policing, but what very few do, is actual policing. As in, going out and stopping bad people from doing bad things. You know, that bit of it where you say ‘Hey, stop doing that…it’s bad and wrong…’
It’s got so bad that in a lot of forces, you can’t even say something like that without action being taken against you in the way of a grievance or disciplinary procedure. (Mini-rant over).
So yes, trust me, that meeting, or something along those lines, would actually happen. Terrible isn’t it.
Day Three was released and sent out into the world…and was promptly, and completely, ignored! Ah well, it didn’t bother me. I was in heaven and as soon as it went out I was leaping into Day Four.
I think by this time Day One and Day Two had been read by less than ten people, and I still didn’t have any covers, but that was due to change as it was around this time that I first made contact with someone who would come to help shape the theme of the series with his incredible artwork: Eduardo Arnaldos.
If you have read and enjoyed The Undead Day Three, please leave a review. The power of reviews is immeasurable in so many ways.