by Mark Campbell
Mark Campbell's Desolation was released this Fall. Campbell discusses some of the key factors that shape the book.
My first book and a number of my short stories all deal with zombies and the horror genre. I like to really immerse my readers in the worlds I create and let them see the atrocities through the eyes of the characters involved.
You don’t have to read Degeneration in order to understand what’s going on at all but there are a few hidden gems in Desolation for the readers of my first novel. Readers will find some secrets that pertain to the origins of the virus that decimated the world.
While this book technically takes place a year after the events of my first novel, Degeneration, the story of Desolation itself stands on its own as another tale entirely. This book has zombies, yes, but the core of the story is a very human one that transcends the typical zombie tropes in the genre.
The Price of Safety
Those who have taken refuge inside one of the numerous FEMA camps scattered throughout the country live under strict authoritarian rule in exchange for the promise of safety from the living and the dead alike.
The story takes place a year after a government-engineered bioweapon accidently got released and caused a zombie pandemic. Those who were either immune to the toxin or were lucky enough to escape infection have splintered into two different fractions; those living behind the walls and those risking a world without.
Refuge and Rumors
One setting is FEMA Camp 6, located just outside the ruins of Phoenix, AZ. The camp is crowded, starving, and dilapidated as squalor and disease run rampant. Despite the heavy police presence, the thin threads of social order are wearing thin. One event in particular may prove to push things beyond the breaking point.
Another setting is FEMA Camp 7, located just north of Bismarck, ND. The camp serves as the new nation’s Capital and also acts as the central supplier to the other camps. To some, the Capital serves as a beacon of hope and an end to the starvation.
The outskirts of Regina, Canada serve as another critical setting for ‘Desolation.' Rumors have spread that the infected corpses were frozen up north during the harsh winter and that Canada is not only infection free but also rebuilding. However, false rumors have a way of spreading and the promise of a safe haven may be little more than just another promise broken.
The story centers on Jerri, a survivor who lives in one of FEMA’s overcrowded camps. As supplies dwindle and the situation inside the camp becomes more desperate each day, she has to make a choice to either leave her prison sanctuary or risk staying behind.
In her world, the living pose an even greater danger than the undead lurking outside the walls.
Jerri’s journey is a complicated one both externally and internally as she has to discover a reason to keep living in a world that looks so bleak. We see the story primarily through her eyes. She’s stubborn, loyal almost to a fault, and pessimistic about her future and the future of mankind. Having lost all of her family, friends, and boyfriend during the initial pandemic she doesn't have much to live for anymore. The book chronicles her journey as she tries to define what existing and living really means to her.