The Apocalypse Returns to Fort Collins!
by Jason Bovberg
Fort Collins is ruined. Fires are billowing out of control in Old Town, and bodies everywhere have reanimated into alien monsters, bent on destroying a small band of unlikely survivors. These aren’t zombies, even though they seemed like that at first. They’re something much more sinister, and they represent a ghastly threat to our home town and our very existence.
In my first Old Firehouse blog post, “The Apocalypse Comes to Fort Collins,” I talked about how we all have post-apocalyptic imaginings, and our end-of-the-world visions are reflected in pop-culture entertainments such as The Walking Dead, World War Z, and Dawn of the Dead. Since I wrote that blog post, the zombie trend has peaked and begun to wane, but we’re still seeing new media, such as the TV show iZombie and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s latest film, Maggie. It seems there’s no end to our love for apocalyptic horror.
With our fascination with zombies reaching the parody line, most creators are turning to alternative visions of the end of the world. Every uber-popular Marvel movie, it seems, comes up with a new apocalyptic scenario that our favorite wise-crackin’ superheroes must overcome. Our favorite TV shows find new, unique ways to convey the End Times—from city-smothering domes (Stephen King’s Under the Dome) to a vampiric supervirus (Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain) to the literal Rapture (Tom Perrotta’s The Leftovers). Novels seem to be following this line, too: Rather than trod through overdone flesh-chomping tropes yet again, they’re using “apocalyptic horror” as a startingpoint toward finding new ways to play with character and theme.
The more I write of my Blood saga—which includes Blood Red and the just-released Draw Blood—the more I’m convinced this series is not really about the mechanics of the end of the world or even the end of Fort Collins. It’s about two characters, Rachel and Michael, who comprise the father-daughter relationship at the series’ core. It seems to me now (as I delve into the third book and weave my way toward the series’ resolution) that apocalyptic horror stories can work as metaphors for experiences both worldly and personal, both large and small. Just as some writers might get nervous about worldwide economic collapse or meteorites and translate that anxiety into a story about the world’s populations descending into flesh-eating hysteria, another writer might look at his relationship with his teenage daughter and imagine it surviving (and thriving in the midst of) an apocalypse.
Characters. Even the most outlandish depiction of a weird alien apocalypse comes down to the human characters in the midst of that story, and those characters always spring from the author’s life. These books—in particular, Draw Blood, which switches perspective from the daughter to the father—are my way of watching my little girl grow up and become part of the big, scary world.
It’s interesting, coming to that realization as I’m closing in on the end. My eldest daughter is marching her way through high school and, in so doing, becoming her own person. Attaining her own personality, her own strengths and weaknesses, her own successes and disappointments, her own hopes and dreams. She’s seeing the world for what it is; she’s growing up. I still see innocence in her, and I also see shards of that innocence cracking and falling away from her. Our relationship evolves every day. She can be warm and loving and she can also be contentious and rebellious. She challenges me as much as I challenge her, and in the end, I think we make a great survival team.
It’s only natural that I imagine my girl facing—and, in her own way, overcoming—the horrors of the apocalypse.
Right? Hey, we all have our idiosyncratic ways of dealing with the milestones of our lives.
Mine just happens to be scaring people.
Check out Blood Red and the new sequel Draw Blood at Old Firehouse Books!