Post-apocalyptic fiction fan Kevin O’Neill recently intercepted my break-neck production schedule and interviewed me on Assaulted Souls, genetic modification and the apocalypse. Without any further adieu, here is the abridged interview:
O’Neill: In your newly released Assaulted Souls trilogy, you talk a lot of doom and gloom. In Assaulted Souls III, post-apocalyptic survivors narrowly escape government clutches, returning to war-ravaged Prince Edward Island only to discover their problems are just beginning.
Not only are they being hunted by savage, opportunistic tribes struggling for survival, giant insects created by the new world order are also hunting for blood. If that isn’t enough, a government desperate to cover up its megalomaniac trail of death and destruction declares them a subversive enemy of the nation and launches a search-and-destroy mission. Battling multiple enemies, they soon learn their only hope for survival might be intangible; a portal inadvertently created by the genetic modification drug that seems to take them into another world, another dimension. Is that how you view escape from an apocalypse? Going to another dimension?
Blackwell: I don’t know. As I was writing the trilogy, this idea of another dimension just sort of popped up, and seemed to fit into the story, adding perhaps a spiritual dimension to it. I think it serves to drive home the point that, without some spirituality, trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland could potentially be much more terrifying. Oftentimes with spirituality comes hope.
O’Neill: What is your post-apocalyptic outbreak survival plan?
Blackwell: While I recognize the threat may be more real than we think, I’m not a doomsday prepper. I don’t have one, even though I realize many people take the apocalypse very seriously and have sophisticated plans that include food and water storage and resupply, bombproof shelters or bunkers, power generation, off-grid cooking, bug-out locations, defense and security planning and the like. The belief in the apocalypse has actually spawned a huge industry. I suppose I have an advantage living in the country on a large acreage, with a large wood supply and a known trail system, giving me escape routes. I suspect the cities would be the first to disintegrate in an apocalypse and people would begin fleeing to the countryside. I also have some close allies here who are doomsday preppers.
O’Neill: So you write about something that you don’t believe in?
Blackwell: On the contrary, I believe the possibility exists, I just haven’t taken drastic measures to prepare for it. I have an inherent distrust in government, defense departments, huge private sector companies, delving into our private lives. They’re profiling, reading our emails, tapping into phone conversations, gathering information that could one day implicate us in a crime we are not only innocent of, but know nothing about. I believe what George Orwell said: “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
O’Neill: What do you think of genetic modification?
Blackwell: While I can see many health and other benefits associated with it, I also see problems. With governments creating genetically enhanced super warriors, who is to say that these warriors won’t be fighting an agenda that they care nothing about. I’m leery because I don’t trust the people enhancing human genetics enough to say they would make the right decisions with these powers.
O’Neill: If you could have a genetically modified super power what would it be?
Blackwell: That’s a good question. Obviously a strong body able to regrow limbs, go weeks without food, never tire, be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, and outrun Usain Bolt would be nice.
But I’d want a good mind to go with it. So, if I could have two super powers, one would be the super strong body and the other would be a super smart mind, able to process, store and retrieve information faster than the fastest computers.
O’Neill: In your opinion what would be the scariest genetically modified super power?
Blackwell: Both of the aforementioned but with evil intentions.
O’Neill: What would be your ideal weapon of choice in an apocalypse?
Blackwell: You know, it’s something I haven’t given a whole lot of thought to. I suppose my best weapon right now is my well-prepared doomsday prepper neighbors. Thankfully they’re friends. My weapon of choice, well it might be an arsenal of weapons, hidden in a well-stocked bunker where I could perhaps survive for a decade until the dust settled and the opportunistic savages retreated. But, my thinking is we never know when the end will come. And to dwell on it creates a level of negative thinking in one’s life that I’m not prepared to entertain. This may be naive thinking, but I’ve always been a glass-half-full guy who tries to live every day to the fullest, knowing that tomorrow may never come.
O’Neill: Do you feel your experience with writing about the end of the world will come in handy when the apocalypse finally arrives?
Blackwell: My research has certainly given me some insight into what it takes to survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, so I suppose yes. But if and when it finally does arrive, I might be long-dead, so who really knows.
O’Neill: Do you have any idea when the apocalypse will arrive?
Blackwell: No. I’ve noticed some religious proselytizers saying 2028
will mark the end of the world as we know it, but who knows. Other people have predicted other dates that have already come and gone, so I’m not going to start counting down the days until 2028 arrives.
O’Neill: So you didn’t write the Assaulted Souls trilogy as a preparedness manual for the apocalypse?
Blackwell: No. I wrote it first for entertainment. Second, to educate people to what levels the government will go, is going, to invade our privacy and encroach on our personal liberties and freedoms. Third, to serve as a warning that in this day and age of modern technology our peaceful and idyllic existence is slowly being eroded and encroached upon by powerful forces with self-serving and potentially malicious agendas.
About William Blackwell:
He studied journalism at Calgary’s Mount Royal University and English literature at Vancouver’s University of British Columbia. He worked as a print journalist for many years before becoming an author. Currently living on an acreage in Prince Edward Island, Blackwell loves to travel and write fiction. He’s written many titles including: Brainstorm, Nightmare’s Edge, The Rage Trilogy, Assaulted Souls trilogy, Orgon Conclusion, Rule 14, Resurrection Point, The Strap, A Head for an Eye and Blood Curse.
As always, feel free to leave questions or comments. Thanks for stopping by.