Author RJ Kennett knew he was going to write a zombie novel, but what he had in mind at the start wasn’t what he created.
Kennett, whose novel “Central Outbreak Response: Genesis” is available through Amazon, had an outline and a background story for the main character. As a writing exercise, he decided to script the scene in which the protagonist found himself at the onset of the zombie outbreak.
“About two pages in, I knew I had the start of my book, and that it would be a radical departure from what I planned,” he said. “’COR: Genesis’ isn’t the book I sat down to write – it is the book that demanded to be written.”
That book tells the story of veteran Max Newsome, who is haunted by his wartime experiences. He teams up with other survivors he meets to survive the initial stages of a zombie apocalypse, which happens in particularly visceral fashion while he is in a college classroom. He hooks up with an emergency response team from Central Outbreak Response, which is like a privatized CDC crossed with Doctors Without Borders. Together, they have to not only learn to survive, but try to bring in other survivors. Various rival factions begin to emerge, however, bringing the human element into play.
Kennett said the story approaches the subject matter with different sensibilities than other books in the zombie genre.
“I consider myself a horror author first, zombie author second,” he said. “I have an interest in writing at least one novel in every major subgenre – zombies, ghosts, vampires, werewolves, etc.”
COR: Genesis stands apart from other zombie tales in several ways, Kennett said. For example, the novel takes the reader through the early days of the outbreak, rather than dropping the reader into the action already under way.
“I’ve also set it in Greenville, North Carolina rather than the too often used New York, Los Angeles or Washington, DC,” Kennett explained. “I made extensive use of Google maps and street view, because while I’ve never actually been to Greenville, I wanted people there to recognize the streets and locations, even the smells of the city.”
A final unique aspect of the story is the titular organization of Central Outbreak Response itself. Kennett describes the group as a global organization well-positioned to battle the hordes after humanity is rocked back on its heels in the initial outbreak.
Kennett said that he chose to start with zombies first, as opposed to vampires or werewolves, is the mainstream popularity the undead are enjoying. Noting that the creatures have had their loyal fans for years, he said the recent upswing in their visibility is due to the downturn in the world economy.
“I think that in tough economic times, it’s natural for people to want to see how much worse it could be, and the same goes for any dystopian fiction,” Kennett explained. “It’s the same thing as the old Roman Colosseum – people would go to watch others fight and die, or be executed in horrifying ways, as a means of escaping their own problems. Zombies provide an escape that tells us things aren’t really that bad in our daily lives.”
While the initial story concept that Kennett envisioned was a stand alone novel, the COR storyline will exist as a trilogy.
“Each of the three has a very unique spin and purpose to the overall story arc,” he said. “I’m looking forward to starting on the second book in the series!”
Fans of the first book might expect a wait, however, as Kennett has been learning by doing with self-publishing and said the process has been slow going.
“I’ve moved with excruciating care. I want my book to be viewed as one of quality in every aspect. I’m blessed to have immensely talented friends who helped, from content editing and suggestions by Fletcher Haymes, to cover art by Craig Spearing,” Kennett said. “I have a background in marketing myself, so I’ve used that to help get the community itself to assist me in getting exposure for the book. It hasn’t happened overnight, but I feel that I’m beginning to gain traction with this book. It should be a wild ride!”
You can get your copy of the novel via this link.