Everybody likes a good story because stories entertain and enlighten us. Sometimes they’re the only way to express significant ideas people will pay attention to.
And that’s what Jeff Motes had in mind when he began writing is Once Upon an Apocalypse novels. He wanted to tell the kind of story that would get people thinking about what they would do if we were hit with a widespread disaster, such as an EMP attack. The aim is for us to put ourselves in the shoes of the characters and consider the possibilities.
Apparently it’s working because reader response has been much better than Jeff expected. He’s making inroads with people who haven’t given much thought to being prepared for trouble.
As of this writing, there are two novels in the Once Upon an Apocalypse series. The first is Once Upon an Apocalypse: Book 1 – The Journey Home – Revised Version, and the second is Once Upon an Apocalypse: Book 2 – The Search. A third novel will be released shortly.
In April of 2016 Jeff and I visited on DestinySurvival Radio about his first book. He came back to talk about the second book and give a glimpse of what’s in the rest of the series. Below I’ll share a mix of highlights from our conversation and my thoughts on why you’ll want to read his novels.
See my thoughts on our first visit here.
Meeting the Story Teller
Like many authors, Jeff fits his writing around his day job. Here’s info about his background.
Jeff received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering in 1984 and a Master’s in Business Administration Degree in 1994. He is a licensed Master Electrician and a licensed Professional Engineer.
He owns and operates an electrical contracting business and has provided electrical services to many of the industrial plants and water systems in Southwest Alabama. Prior to entering into business with his father, Jeff work for 10 years as the System Engineer for the local electric cooperative.
Jeff is a strong believer in “life-long” learning and holds to the idea we should do “the best we can with the best we have to live, and help those around us live.”
Jeff lives in the Salitpa community, near Jackson, Alabama, with his wife, Donna and youngest son. His two other sons are married and living with their families elsewhere in Alabama.
You’ll enjoy my chat with Jeff because he’s a soft spoken, modest, Southern gentleman.
Getting Acquainted with the Series
The Journey Home has been rewritten in the first person point of view of each character. Jeff went to considerable trouble (and expense) to make sure it flows better and is easier to follow.
Chapters in both books are short, making for quick and easy reading.
Book 1 gives the account of John and Jill from Alabama who meet up in the wake of an EMP attack and struggle to get home. How they developed a love for one another unfolds as the story progresses. Book 2 tells us about their teenage children, Will and Lizzy, and how they fared in their community after what people call the day.
Though these stories aren’t meant to be “how-to” books, plenty of instructional information is woven into events. For example, two chapters in the first book describe the packs John and Jill carried. Near the beginning of the second book we see how John, his father and several neighbors put a preparedness plan into action and formed the Repose Alliance Group.
A few books on preparedness mindset and self defense receive several mentions in Book 2, including one by the late Col. Jeff Cooper.
Both novels are openly pro-gun. We meet women and girls who aren’t afraid to use firearms.
In contrast, we’re introduced to Jimmy, the father of Lizzy’s friend Amy. He and his family typify those who aren’t well prepared. You and I don’t want to be like him. He’s an example of what desperate people will do when things get desperate.
As I said in my earlier post about Jeff’s first book, these novels defy genre labeling. They’re prepper adventures, but they’re more than that.
Most of the main characters are Christians. Yet, because some profanity and violence are scattered throughout these stories, they wouldn’t likely qualify as strictly Christian fiction.
There’s enough romance to keep the interest of romance fans, but the books aren’t strictly romances either.
I’ll be honest. Romances and Christian fiction aren’t my cup of tea. And, believe it or not, I don’t read much so-called prepper fiction either. Nonetheless, as I read Jeff’s novels, I couldn’t help but be drawn in.
Regardless of what niche this series might fit into, I invite you to give the stories a chance, and you’ll be drawn in as I was.
Exploring The Search
The Search picks up right at the cliff hanger Book 1 has left us with. The first two chapters continue the narrative of John and Jill before giving way to a flashback in chapter 3. We’re taken back to “The Day” of the EMP to see how the area copes where John and Jill came from.
While Book 1 takes us to 13 days after the EMP event, the second only takes us through day six. We know there has to be more to come in a third book which will bring us through day 13. Jeff said Book 3 will tie up several loose ends.
We meet John’s son Will for the first time in chapter 3 of Book 2. We meet Jill’s daughter Lizzy in chapter 5. Several chapters throughout the book feature Jimmy, the father of Lizzy’s friend Amy.
At first people sought to figure out what happened. Endeavoring to maintain the sense of a normal life, Jimmy went to the mill where he worked and got stuck there.
He made it home, but it wasn’t easy. To make things worse, he received an injurious welcome, thanks to his wife’s incompetence with firearms. You’ll have to read the book for details of how that plays out.
Will was fortunate to have support from his grandpa and several other men in the community who pulled together a group for survival in the event of the kind of situation they were experiencing.
While Will searched for Lizzy, he and his friends encountered a number of challenges, such as vandalism, looting, and dangerous bullies. Just when it seemed like things were going reasonably well, bad guys popped up from nowhere.
Jammer, one of Will’s good friends, is black. They got along famously and didn’t experience racial tension until they found themselves in a crime and drug infested area by mistake.
Will discovered more than once how costly seemingly little mistakes can be.
The Search contains plenty of suspense. It’s amazing how the characters manage to make it through each situation as well as they do.
Of course, this is fiction. But we should all be so fortunate in the real world.
Pondering Issues Beyond the Story
We must be extra alert. We never know just what might happen in the aftermath of a long term disaster.
The mistakes Will made should serve as reminders to us. How important is it to follow protocols set up by family or the community group? Who can be trusted and when?
Will there be bad guys around every corner? If we must be on guard all the time, and we have to forget about trusting others, how can we maintain such a tense demeanor?
After an event like an EMP, how many towns and cities will roll up the sidewalks, so to speak, and not readily let people in or out. How will we cope with road blocks and checkpoints as the new norm?
How might we become part of a well prepared community like the Repose Alliance Group?
What does it take to start such a community?
In my chat with Jeff, you’ll hear his advice for starting such a community preparedness group.
How prepared do we need to be?
Consider John and Jill in Book 1. Some readers may think it isn’t realistic that John was so well prepared. But Jeff meant to show us the positive possibilities of preparedness.
What could you and I accomplish if we started now to work on getting prepared with those around us? It’s something to think about and act on whenever possible.
As noted above, Jeff’s stories aren’t “how-to” books. But The Search shows us how everyday situations might be handled, such as doing laundry by hand, patching up cuts and scrapes, the need for a dentist, and giving birth to a baby.
Other topics Jeff and I covered include…
- Aftermath in rural vs. urban areas
- How people will behave in the short and long term
- Response of police, military and government authorities
- The rise of good and bad militia groups
- Avoiding costly mistakes
- How and when to trust others
Hearing Our Conversation
Hear my conversation with Jeff Motes by listening to DestinySurvival Radio for August 10, 2017. (Right click to download.)
To get either of Jeff’s books, click on their titles where you see them linked in this post. You’re welcome to connect with Jeff on Facebook.
During our conversation we didn’t give away too many details about the events that take place in these novels. But I hope we wwhetted your appetite to read them and ponder what you would do to survive in the aftermath of widespread disaster.