Tag Archives: zombie

Zombies and the British Columbia Interior

In 2010, I was trying to decide what kind of book I wanted to write and a friend of mine in tae kwon do suggested zombies. At the time, I laughed and told him that zombies were not scary and maybe a little stupid. “I’m going to bring you some reading material next class, and your mind will be changed.” I’m always up for a challenge, so I accepted.

He brought me the Walking Dead comics, World War Z: Recorded Attacks graphic novel, and World War Z the novel. My. Mind. Was. Blown. This sent me on a spiral of discovering George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (plus the remake by Zack Snyder), playing Left for Dead 2 on STEAM, and coming up with my own story that started my then named novel, Zombiepocalypse.

Clinton, BC 2012

At the time, I used to take a yearly trip from Vancouver to Williams Lake to sell books for Vancouver Kidsbooks at a teacher’s conference. This particular year, after all the literature given to me by my tae kwon do pal, I wound up stopping in a little town called, Clinton. Clinton has a population of just under 600 people and is quite beautiful. It looks like an old frontier town, and gives its visitors a sense of history. As I pulled over my rented van filled with books for the conference, I knew that I had found the place where Zombiepocalypse would take place.

First, a few highlights from the town. In a lot that’s been for sale every year I’ve visited, there are posts with shingles nailed to them. On each shingle is someone’s name and where they are from. This was an incredible sense of history to me–kind of like a library, but with carvings instead of paper books.

I started to imagine where my character might have grown up, who he was, what kind of upbringing he had. Unlike a big city where zombies would thrive by the thousands, what would small town life look like?

Clinton, BC 2012

More importantly, who would be his enemies? Who would he compete with for the scraps of what was left? As I drove down the highway wondering where his enemies might hold up, I came across Hat Creek Ranch and knew, instinctively, that this was where the my main character would find his nemesis.

Equally important, was knowing the topography of the area. While I was lucky enough to be able to drive the area (over the course of a few summers, too) I also had the benefit of Google Maps.

Hat Creek Ranch

It’s been a long time since 2010 when I wrote the first draft, and now, six years later, I have the final draft and a final title: Rise of the One-Eyed King. Over the next few months, I’ll let you know when you can pre-order a copy for your very own. It will release July 1st.

9780993748653

One of the many songs that inspired the novel, and the theme of this post:

James in his Jeep Getting Java – the Zombie Edition

Fairhaven, Bellingham WA, USA

You might be wondering why I chose to call this post “the zombie edition.” Well, the truth is the zombie apocalypse has been on my mind a lot lately. Not out of concern or fear that it may actually happen, but just out of that sheer human fascination of what people would do in that situation. It may be because I just binge read Walking Dead issues 19 to 23, or because I’m trying to decide the fate of a finished novel about zombies that is having a hard time landing a publishing home.

One of the best ways to clear my head, is to go on a road trip. Just pack up my thoughts, put them on the back burner, and get on the open road. Today, I decided to head down to Burlington to a restaurant I had heard about online. Bear with me as I relate most of what happened today to a zombie apocalypse, since that’s what I was thinking about all day.

Below you can see the line up of vehicles to get into the States, which took me about an hour. I watched as the Nexus line zoomed through–thinking how much nicer it will be once I have my Nexus pass. My interview is on Friday.

Whenever I’m on a road trip and my GPS tells me to “turn around when possible”, I know I’m in for a treat. It means I’ve accidentally gone the wrong way (yes, even with the GPS guidance) and I could wind up anywhere. In this case, I drove through farmland on my way back to the I-5, where I saw many derelict barns and old farm houses. “If this were a zombie movie,” I thought as I drove down that deserted road, “I would be accosted by a zombie horde right here and would be forced to take refuge in one of those barns for an ultimate showdown.”

Well, eventually I made it to Burlington–which most probably know of by its outlet stores. I stayed clear of the outlet mall (low Canadian dollar, and who wants to be near a busy shopping centre when the zombie apocalypse is on your mind?) and ventured into the town to see its historic downtown. It’s a town of 8500 people, and quite picturesque. Once again I got lost, and my GPS went crazy giving me alternate routes to put me back on track. I kept missing the turnoffs, and I’m pretty sure at one point the GPS said, “For the love of Pete…” Anyway, while I was trying to figure out how to get back on track I found this home with the most amazing welding art. This guy is totally prepared for the zombie apocalypse, and would make an interesting character in a novel. Not that I met him in real life, but my imaginary version of the artist was pretty cool.

Eventually, I found the historic downtown and it was filled with these great old character buildings. The streets were quiet, which fit with the theme of my thoughts and I spent quite some time just wandering the area taking in the atmosphere.

Look at this truck and tell me it doesn’t SCREAM zombie apocalypse.

Birmingham, WA, USA.

Possible zombie escape truck.

Eventually, I found the restaurant that I had gone to Burlington to try. It was beside the railroad tracks, and was a pub called, the Train Wreck Bar. Being that it was a bar RIGHT BESIDE the train tracks, I do have to tip my hat to their faith in human nature. Especially drunk human nature.

It was a bustling place and I managed to get one of the few tables still available. By this point, it was nearly 15C and very sunny, and that most of the place was in the dark made it not ideal for the sunshine depraved. However, I managed to sit right where you see the front window and was basked in glorious sunshine.*

*in a zombie apocalypse, however, you will want to be seated as far back in the bar as possible. Just saying.

When I go to a restaurant, I judge what I’m going to give as a tip based on two things. The quality of the meal, and the quality of the service. This place gets five stars (out of five) for both. The food was amazing, and came fairly quickly. I had the elk burger and onion rings, and kind of wished my stomach was bigger so that I could have had seconds. (Of course, if I had had seconds, my stomach might have gotten bigger.) And the servers were friendly, cheerful, and never let my glass (of water) reach empty.

Just a side-note here. Whenever I’m in the States and I see a room filled with people, all I can think about as a Canadian is how many of them don’t have health care. I went to the States once and had forgotten to get travel insurance, and I was scared to death the entire day that I was going to get hurt and wind up in the hospital.

I decided to return home via the Chuckanut Drive, which is an amazing route along the ocean. Along the way I found a few places for hikes and a cafe that is on the list of places to spend the day.

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I still had some time left, so I stopped in at the train station in Fairhaven (in Bellingham, WA) where they have a pretty cute little coffee shop. Now, by this point, this was actually my second place for coffee. Stay tuned.

In the photo below, that school bus was directly across from the Coffee Junction. Tell me that doesn’t SCREAM zombie apocalypse story. (It does. Trust me.)

I won’t go into detail about Fairhaven (save it for another post) but I will mention that I stopped in at Rocket Donuts, featured below, for both a donut and another cup of coffee. This was my third–but in my defense, the first was a cappuccino, the second a latte, and this was just plain coffee. Not the same at all, and completely justified.

The theme song of the road trip. Of course. Even if it isn’t actually about zombies. And what decisions did I make about my zombie book that is following me around like one of the walking dead (no copyright infringement intended)? No idea. Stay tuned.