The Savage Boy is the second book in the Wasteland Saga, but it stands alone as an independent story about a Boy who must complete the mission of the last American soldier. Civilization disappeared almost forty years before the book begins amid a global nuclear bloodletting and we meet the Boy as he buries his mentor and continues his journey into the savage West amidst the New American Dark Ages. He will cross deserted cities and places haunted by madmen and survive in a wilderness where animals are the predators and humans the prey. But his journey is about much more the tomahawk he carries and the radiation poisoned lands he must cross. It’s a story about identity and the decisions we make to become what we will become. It’s a very dark story but I think the ending will be very surprising for those who enjoyed The Old Man and the Wasteland.
2) In what ways is this book different than The Old Man and the Wasteland? In what ways is it similar?
In many ways it is similar. There is an internal dialog that resonates throughout the book as the Boy hears the constant remonstrations and encouragements of his dead mentor. At the same time it is different. I would say it’s more action packed and definitely darker as I said, but it is about love and memory and one’s place within the world regardless whether that world is what it is today or sunk into a mire of savagery and chaos.
3) The balancing of brutality and humanity is often difficult in these types of stories depending on what sort of feeling and message one is trying to get across. How did you approach this balance?
Someone once said, “everyone dies.” There is so much in that. Every dead person was a person. History and modern media sometimes distance us from the fact that each casualty was once a life. They were loved. They had hopes and dreams for a better tomorrow. And yet, the world is cruel. In Shakespeare’s King Lear, after Lear’s beautiful daughter has been murdered, he cries out, “You are men of stone.” There is so much in that, and with those as compass points I kept a weather eye and steered on till morning as I wrote this book.
4) What is the greatest thing you feel that modern "soft" civilized people take for granted?
The consciousness of God. Whether you believe in God or not, I think one of the greatest failures of our lives is for people not to embark on an honest journey into the heart of the matter of God. The answer is the most stunning revelation of one’s life. The answer brings focus and an understanding of the order of the universe. Sadly many, on both sides of this debate, are content with the talking points of others, rather than their own personal journey of exploration.
5) The complete and utter destruction of human civilization seems a bit "popular" these days and many people are seeking out books like yours. Arguably, we're farther away from the complete collapse of civilization than when we and the Soviets were ready to turn our respective countries into glass with nukes. What do you think is behind this interest in post-apocalyptic fiction?
Are we? Rod Serling showed us that by just by turning out the lights we devolve faster than we might expect. I think we are, and always have been, closer to the brink that anyone might care to lie awake in bed late at night and contemplate. But, to that end, I do not think Post-Apocalyptic fiction is really all that concerned with the end. No, the fascination I suspect lies in the new beginning. Generally people are not satisfied with modern life. It’s too easy. So easy in fact, it’s become a locomotive. There’s a beginning and an end once a lot of choices are made and some might say made for us, it’s merely a matter of progressing down the tracks. That is not in the nature of man a comfortable thing. I think many of us are looking for a new start. We’re not happy with the way things are and we want a chance to start over. Post-Apocalyptic fiction gives us that Lost, Survivor chance to play the game. I think that’s at the core of the appeal as opposed to a promised doomsday or final judgment.
6) Does the interest in the latter have any real intersection with things like the mainstreaming of the "prepper" culture?
Yes, most definitely. I think there is a zeitgeist permeating our culture that suggests we might not want to hold on too tightly to what we think we need. 9/11, Katrina and a growing global crisis both financial and philosophical are beginning to show that people lack confidence in their government to provide for and protect them. So you’d better learn how to field dress a deer and carry your stuff on your back. I think it’s more likely than not that these survival skills will be employed within America at some point in our lifetime.
7) Please tell us about your future projects.
I’m in the middle of a Zombocalypse Triptych that will set the stage for a series character. I’ve got a Wind in the Willows-esque fantasy cozy and a military SF novel, and I’ve sent a total of 11 project proposals off to my publisher for their consideration. I also have some non-SF novels that I wrote previously that are just patiently waiting to get out there, but for now it seems we’ll stick with the end of the world.