Saying Goodbye to the End of the World

Them or Us (Thomas Dunne Books, 2011)It’s been an odd few weeks (though, to be honest, I’ve forgotten what a normal few weeks is supposed to feel like). I’ve spent a lot of time travelling, culminating in my first trip to Iceland which was the single most surprising and invigorating place I’ve been in a long time. Seriously, if we get word that the end of the world is imminent, I’m booking myself another ticket over there. It’s a remarkably quiet, remote, welcoming, and self-contained country. More about that another time. I’m sure I’ll set a book there one day.

Right now, though, my mind is focused on the setting for one of my earlier versions of the apocalypse – the town of Lowestoft, as featured in THEM OR US, the final book in the first HATER trilogy. At the moment I’m outlining CHOKEHOLD – the final book in the second HATER trilogy (hope you’re keeping up with all these book numbers!) which bridges the gap between the end of DOG BLOOD/ALL ROADS END HERE and THEM OR US.

I wanted to brush up on my HATER history, so I’ve worked my way through the original books while I’ve been developing the new series. It’s a weird feeling when you go back and read your own work. I don’t know what it’s like for other writers, but it always catches me by surprise. I remember most of the plot twists and can finish many lines in my head long before my eyes have reached the full-stop at the end of the sentence, and yet there always seems to be plenty I’ve forgotten too. I’ve enjoyed reading HATER and DOG BLOOD for the first time in years, but THEM OR US has been a different experience altogether because reading it followed the recent passing of my mother-in-law.

Betty was the indirect inspiration for THEM OR US. I’ve written here before about how my in-laws’ decision to relocate to Lowestoft in 2004 resulted in me getting to know this most unusual of towns. I’ve a real personal affection for the place, but because of its geographic location (it’s the most easterly point in the UK), it’s often overlooked. Generally, you don’t go to Lowestoft unless you’re going to Lowestoft. It’s not on the way to anywhere, and in many ways it feels like the end of the line. It has a suitably apocalyptic edge which made it the perfect setting for Danny McCoyne’s last stand.

Do a search for Lowestoft on this site and you’ll find loads of entries: the launch event I held at the town’s library when THEM OR US was first released, the four subsequent HORROR IN THE EAST conventions we held there which were always sparsely attended but huge fun to be a part of, David Shires’ excellent apocalyptic artwork… Lowestoft is a place I’ve enjoyed going back to time and time again.

But no more.

We’ve put my mother-in-law’s house on the market (which also doubled-up as Danny McCoyne’s house), and I doubt I’ll be going back there again for some time if at all. My wife and I made a flying visit last week to tidy up some loose ends, and that coincided with me finishing reading THEM OR US. It was a surreal experience paying my final visit to the house at the same time as I finished my re-read of Danny’s story.

Right now I feel a genuine sense of disconnection, but I’m by no means done with Lowestoft just yet. I still need to tell you how what’s left of the human race ended up there, and all will be revealed in CHOKEHOLD. As you’ll find out later this year, ALL ROADS END HERE is a brutal continuation of the HATER story, and CHOKEHOLD is the final piece in the post-apocalyptic HATER jigsaw. The experiences and emotions of the last few weeks and months have left me more than ready to bring the HATER hexology to a fitting conclusion. Here’s an updated route map so you can see how all the books fit together.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I can’t wait for you to read the remaining books in the series. Whilst ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING was a necessary new beginning which was distinct from the other books, the rest of the two trilogies are closely interlinked and combine to tell a single overarching story that seems to resonate more and more every time I turn on the TV and watch the news. By the time CHOKEHOLD hits the shelves, you’ll be in absolutely no doubt as to why we’ve called the second trilogy THE FINAL WAR.

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