Welcome to Tuesday’s Secrets of 7 Scribes. PJ, here. Have any of you seen the television series, FALLING SKIES? Great cast, neat effects, and well written. It’s also research for my current WIP. This TNT sleeper series is a post-apocalyptic story of what happens after the world is invaded by aliens. Survivors band together in small militia groups and fight the invaders and their creepy multi-legged “Skitters” and hope to regain control of the world or will die trying.
The story follows one such group, made up of your average cross-section of Americans, including a former Army Captain (played by Will Patton), who the group has dubbed their leader, a woman doctor (played by the lovely and talented Moon Bloodgood—love that name), who can basically do field surgery under very unsterile conditions and not seem to worry about infection, and an ordinary history teacher, played by a handsome in a scruffy kind of “anti-Carter” way, Noah Wiley, who is the humble moral-compass of a hero for the show. Folks walk around armed, grubby, scavenging for food and supplies, and trying to protect their children from being taken over by the aliens who control them with a harness that is attached to their spinal columns, that if removed, will cause death…in most cases. One teen survives and is left with some extraordinary abilities, but we’re all waiting to see if the aliens will find a way to control him once again. If alien monsters aren’t enough, our survivors need to worry about enemies in their own camp. Have I piqued your interest?
I’m not usually a big fan of “aliens take over the Earth” type movies, but this one grabbed me last season and I anxiously awaited its return this summer. You see, I was already percolating the idea of writing a dystopian story. THE CHRONICLES OF LILY CARMICHAEL came to me all mapped out in trilogy form. I knew where book one began and ended, what would happen in book two, and how the saga would come together in book three. Writing a trilogy, let alone a dystopian, was a first for me, so I decided to do some research before diving in. After reading the Hunger Games, The Giver, How I Live Now, and a few other dystopian tales, I had an idea of what types of details I wanted to include. But I had trouble seeing the logistics of what a post-apocalyptic world might actually look like. FALLING SKIES has filled in some of those blanks for me. How people live with no electricity, how they work together to find and prepare food, and what the landscape might look like once no one is maintaining roads or neighborhoods. It’s amazing to think about how fast everything would be reclaimed by nature. My back yard is evidence of this if we don’t weed-whack for a while.
In addition to FALLING SKIES, I’ve taken to watching episodes of DOOMSDAY PREPPERS. I’m fascinated by all of the theories that people have regarding the fall of our society and what they plan to do about it. Whether financial collapse, natural disasters, or zombie apocalypse, some folks seem to be remarkably equipped. They have enough food and water stored up to last years. Most have weapons amassed. One woman was so touched by her husband’s gift of a massive shipping container that they planned to bury in their yard to store supplies, that she was brought to tears. These people are serious about surviving whatever future awaits them.
Perhaps it’s too much research, but the whole apocalypse thing is making me a bit squirrelly. Lily’s story will have elements of the doom and gloom that would likely be a part of a post-apocalyptic world, but there is an underlying hopefulness that our planet and our species can survive. Lily is a healer after all, and she is determined to share that gift with the world that she feels is worth saving. Me–I’m pretty much a “live in the moment” kind of girl, but I do like to be prepared. I used to tell my scout troop, “Expect the best, but prepare for the worst.” I’m not sure how that applies to an apocalyptic catastrophe, but I’m leaning toward “expecting the best.” On the “prepare for the worst” side, my research has me taking a gun safety course next weekend with my husband and making sure I have enough emergency supplies in my house, but if a plague hits, as is the case in my “dystopian world,” I hope Noah Wiley remembers his ER days and comes to my rescue.
How about you? Do you use television and movies to do your research? More importantly, are you prepared for the worst, or expecting the best?