Aftermath: Tales of Survival in Aotearoa New Zealand is SpecFicNZ’s new anthology, available here.
The anthology explores Aotearoa in a post-apocalyptic world. Disasters have occurred around the country and the world. New Zealand, in our isolation down under, may have escaped most of what happened around the world, but it was pretty bad out there. As Kiwis are apt to do, though, we’re “getting over it”. You know, she’ll be right …
This is not just an anthology of disaster stories. The pages are filled with hope in the form of short stories, poems, flash fiction and artwork about what comes afterwards. The contributions are exclusively from SpecFicNZ members and reflect the diversity and breadth of this country we love to call home … even if the edges are a bit torn and tattered.
We’re interviewing all the contributors to the anthology so you can get to know the brave souls who’ve battled zombies, aliens, earthquakes, volcanoes and more to bring you the stories you’ll find between its covers.
Today, we’re chatting with Gary Nelson.
Aftermath includes a variety of disasters set all around Aotearoa New Zealand. What disaster / location combination did you write about and why?
I wrote about a world-wide nuclear and chemical warfare catastrophe that had marginal impacts on NZ. Well, lots of people died here too, but we’re pretty much the last ones left. Being isolated has a few advantages. The rest of the world is a wasteland.
I wanted to explore life-long friendships in the face of disaster (and beyond). It’s a ghost story, of sorts – I’m not prejudiced against the living-impaired. They’ve got feelings too.
Oh, and I was a co-editor and co-narrator of the anthology as well, which was a very rewarding experience.
How do you think the Kiwi approach to life after disaster is unique?
In general Kiwi folk tend to be resilient, adaptable and frankly a bit cheeky, but that’s a good thing because humour helps when the days are dark. They accept a lot of what goes on around them, but they also don’t put up with whinging – take a concrete pill and let’s get on getting on.
What are your most valuable post-apocalyptic skills?
I grew up through Boy Scouts in Canada and spent 25 years as an adult leader there and here, so I’ve got a few practical survival skills under my belt. Actually, that includes a few kilos of extra padding, so I wouldn’t start to really suffer from hunger for a few days… maybe a week. Bit of roughing it would probably do me a world of good. I loved tramping and making survival shelters, things like that. I still have my survival kit handy… and my pocket umbrella, but that’s another story.
They say the pen is mightier than the sword. Being a writer, you must have lots of pens. What creative use would you put them to in a post-apocalyptic New Zealand?
Maps and lists. Maps to stay away from the worst of what’s out there. And lists… you’ve got to have lists if you want to survive. Thinking ahead, having something to look forward to, and a bit of a plan. Which includes finding some more paper to scribble on with my pens… I’ve always got a notebook handy, even when it’s not the end of the world. But birch bark will do in a pinch.
Tell us a little about your other writing?
I write in several very different genres – adult Science Fiction under the pen name J. J. Mathews, starting with the Taylor Neeran Chronicles. It’s an exploration of how much influence a single human female can have on the future history of our unsuspecting galaxy.
Otherwise I’ve written and published a number of Project Management books – one for adults, and the six-novel Project Kids Adventures (PKA) series for kids ages 9-12 (or 30-99). The PKA series has been translated into Portuguese, Japanese and Simplified Chinese, with translations in progress for Brazilian Portuguese, Latin American and Continental Spanish, Mongolian, and Korean.
The PKA series is also being adapted to Manga graphic novel format, wonderfully illustrated by Hiroaki Ishihara, with books 1 & 2 now available. The PKA-manga books are also available in several languages; English, Japanese and Portuguese (to start with).
What are you working on now?
I’ll be publishing the 6th volume in the Taylor Neeran Chronicles in the next few months (Incubation), and getting started writing book #7, the final in the series (Invasion). And while I’m doing that, I’ll be working up some ideas for future SF books and other series.
I’m also busy publishing the various translations and manga adaptations of the PKA series; aside from the Mongolian and Simplified Chinese versions, I self publish everything else. All told, I’ve currently got 39 titles in print, with more coming as the various translations are completed.
Where can readers find out more about you and your writing?
Science Fiction: jjmathews.com
Project Management for kids: projectkidsadventures.com
Project Management for adults: gazzasguides.com
Just me: garymnelson.com