It’s during the aftermath of a disaster when your survival mindset will be revealed. Are you cultivating that mindset now?
Do you have a hard time imagining what it would be like to live through a long term, widespread disaster? If so, pick up a novel or two and put yourself in the shoes of one or more of the characters in the story. It might sound odd, but reading fiction just might help you build up that all important survival mindset.
Scott B. Williams has been writing a couple of series depicting the aftermath of a giant solar EMP. I’ve enjoyed his novels because he portrays ordinary people in extraordinary situations. A couple of the characters in the The Darkness After series have special talents and skills, but they’re not super heroes readers can’t relate to.
Scott was my DestinySurvival Radio guest, and we chatted about two of his books. Enter the Darkness is a prequel to the The Darkness After series, and Horizons Beyond the Darkness is the fifth book in The Pulse series.
That might sound like a lot to keep track of, but we sorted it out for you during our visit. Plus, I’ll sort things out for you here. What follows are highlights of that conversation dropped into my thoughts on each book.
Thoughts About the Writer
If you’re not acquainted with who Scott is, or you need a refresher, here’s some background.
Scott B. Williams has been writing about his adventures for more than twenty-five years. His published work includes dozens of magazine articles and sixteen books.
His interest in sea kayaking and sailing small boats to remote places led him to pursue the wilderness survival skills that he has written about in his popular survival nonfiction books and travel narratives such as On Island Time: Kayaking the Caribbean, an account of his two-year solo kayaking journey through the islands.
With the release of The Pulse in 2012, Scott began writing fiction and has since written multiple novels in The Pulse Series and The Darkness After Series, with more sequels in the works to each, as well as a new series coming later.
To learn more about his upcoming books or to sign up for his new-release mailing list, visit Scott’s website at: www.scottbwilliams.com.
Thoughts About Our Conversation
In the past few years a lot of authors have written stories about what might happen if we have an EMP. At the risk of stating the obvious, Scott B. Williams is one of those authors, and he has written some real page turners.
It had been several months since Scott and I spoke. In that time he released two more books. The Pulse series is comprised of five books at the time of this writing, and The Darkness After series has five books, counting the prequel. Our conversation allowed us to get caught up and to preview a new series he’s working on.
It’s my goal here to give you enough of a teaser to get you interested in reading Scott’s books while also giving you a few general thoughts relevant to preparedness and survival. After all, that’s what this is supposed to be about, right?
Thoughts About the Books
Enter the Darkness
Enter the Darkness contains back story material Scott had to cut from the original book in The Darkness After series. It starts slow, but picks up at the end in a way that will make you want to read more.
Scott and I talked more about how and why this book came about. But when you read it for yourself, don’t skip the preface.
Each of the first few chapters introduces us to a character in the story and how the event affected that person at the time the solar induced EMP happened.
Mitch was caught in New Orleans morning traffic. April woke up just after the power went out. Mitch’s sister Lisa was at a friend’s house getting ready for school. We’re also introduced to David, April’s boyfriend at the time.
When Lisa and her school friends chatter about what had just happened, someone suggested space aliens were the cause. The notion of aliens doing something sinister illustrates how all kinds of theories will pop up in the wake of a widespread disaster.
Several people saw the Northern lights in the night sky. But bigger flares in the morning brought about chaos. The school science teacher explained to the kids what had happened as best as he could determine it.
As the story unfolds, people are figuring out the nature and extent of what has happened. For example, not only were most cars inoperable; but police communications systems were down. Radio and TV were unavailable. Jason could no longer play his electric guitar.
Now and then characters in the story notice shootings and other violence in the city in the days soon after the EMP. Fortunately, these events took place at a distance. A real world example took place after Hurricane Katrina when police were ineffective because communications were down.
More than one of the story’s characters noticed the silence after the EMP knocked out the power grid. Scott and I talked about how rare and precious silence is. Of course, in the wake of a disaster silence may be forboding.
April got brave and worked on David’s old Mustang. Amazingly, she got it running. How many unfamiliar tasks like that will you and I have to take on in that kind of situation?
April had a couple of harrowing encounters when she finally got on the road. Scott and I discussed whether it’s better to take the main highways or back roads. Each has its risks. But there are also pathways others may not have thought of.
We’re also given background in the narrative on Mitch’s keen archery and wilderness survival skills. Those skills serve him well throughout the stories told in the novels that follow.
The book ended with a cliff hanger as April and Mitch meet for the first time. It’s where the original book in the series starts.
Horizons Beyond the Darkness
Let’s flash forward in time to the fifth book in The Pulse series. It’s another page turner.
I know I say something similar to this every time I read one of Scott’s novels, but just when you think things are calming down, something drastic happens. For example, I gasped at one point over half way into the story when I read that a yacht named Pocket Change had mysteriously disappeared.
Unless you binge read a series, the down time between books makes it difficult to pick up where the previous installment of the series ended. It’s why I ask Scott to give a summary of a series when we visit. Plus, he’s good at dropping nuggets of back story in the beginning of each new narrative.
The insider talk of sailboats and their attributes is over my head, but it lends authenticity to the story. Those who understand such details will appreciate them.
Horizons Beyond the Darkness starts in the Bahamas, where the characters have sailed to escape troubles in and around Florida and the Keys. Larry meant for the Bahamas to be a temporary stopping point, but the need to leave even sooner than planned becomes evident through the story.
I’ll share a few bare bones details to whet your curiosity.
We don’t get very far into the book before the action and intrigue begins. One thing is for certain. Any stranger must be met with suspicion. Even strangers in uniform need to be viewed with scrutiny. Is that guy really a policeman? Or is he a criminal in disguise?
Meeting strangers turned out badly for Mindy and Thomas, but it went well for Larry and his crew when they met Charles, Holly and Brian on a high class yacht called Pocket Change.
Mindy found herself stranded on a place called Darby Island. In contrast, Artie and Larry try to get the Sarah J. off from where it was grounded hard. They’re approached by the strangers on Pocket Change who offer help.
Friends became split apart again as Larry, Grant and Jessica went back to look for Mindy and Thomas.
Larry found himself accosted on Darby Island by rogue constables who weilded guns, stolen or otherwise, as their authority.
Jessica is forced to defend herself and Larry, who had been handcuffed by the vilains. She proves the value of a .22 handgun by firing off a few rounds at one of their assailants, winging him. Though the man escaped, he was certainly slowed down.
A touch of romance runs through this novel. We see an intriguing turn of events as Jessica’s interests turn from Grant to Larry. That took pressure off Grant, since Jessica and Casey had both shown interest in him earlier in the series.
Desperate situations call for difficult decisions. Circumstances made it necessary for the boat owned by Thomas and Mindy to be sunk–a sad event for any sailor. But it wouldn’t have been able to keep up with the other boats when it was time to sail on.
Larry set his sites on sailing to the San Blas Archipelago near Panama. Not everyone was in agreement though. Two members of Larry’s group decided it was time to part company.
In a conversation with Tara, Larry gave a piece of good advice that applies to all of life. Ships are safe in the harbor, but that’s not what they’re meant for.
Spoiler alert. Larry and his crew make it to their intended destination, but they have to make bargains with the natives which they hadn’t counted on.
So might it be with us. What unexpected bargains will we have to make?
Circumstances forced Tara, Charles, Holly and Brian to face an unpleasant reality in the midst of unpleasant realities. They realized Larry’s plan of action was right after all.
I realize that sounds vague, but I don’t want to give too much of the story away.
Suffice it to say many of us may face situations where we’re forced to change our minds about how things really are in the wake of a long term disaster. And we may have to team up with those we wouldn’t have expected to.
The novel ends on an optimistic note. We’re left to hope the loose ends will tie themselves up in a favorable way. That would be a relief in a world damaged by disaster.
Thoughts About Other Stories
In the last portion of our DestinySurvival Radio chat Scott previewed his next series. It’s post -apocalyptic fiction, but no EMP’s are involved.
We also discussed the value of a good story. It can be enjoyable, but it can do a couple other things of benefit for us.
Stories can bring to mind ideas we may not have thought of. Also, as we imagine ourselves in the place of the characters, we can think through what we might do if we were in their shoes. And isn’t that what visualization is about?
Thoughts About Going Deeper
Hear my conversation with Scott B. Williams by listening to DestinySurvival Radio for August 24, 2017. (Right click to download.) Get Enter the Darkness, Horizons Beyond the Darkness, or any of Scott’s books by clicking on their titles where you see them in this post.
Whether you cultivate your survival mindset now by contemplating fictional scenarios or by practicing preparedness techniques (or both), don’t wait. When disaster comes, the level of that mindset will be revealed.