We’re heading into a series of interviews featuring authors from a new digital imprint from Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing. Introducing: EDGE-Lite.
First up: Matt Mayr, with his debut post-apocalyptic novel, Bad City.
At the end of the interview, check out Matt’s awesome one-man interview on YouTube.
9DW: What do you think draws readers to dystopian works like Bad City?
Matt Mayr: I think dystopian works resonate with people especially in times of turmoil: economic uncertainty, civil unrest, war. The 2008 financial crisis had a lot to do with the current rise in popularity of dystopian fiction. People see things changing around them, degrading, and they tend to fear the worst possible outcomes. There is such a distrust of government and large corporations as well that adds to the cynicism of the times we live in. It’s kind of like we’re on the precipice of a major change, a paradigm shift, and people sense that both consciously and subconsciously.
9DW: How did Nostradamus influence your fascination with the end times?
MM: Nostradamus was really my first experience with the idea of the end of the world, the idea of a paradigm shift. As a teenager, I came across a vhs tape at my public library that talked about his prophecies and I was fascinated. There seemed to be so many things he predicted that came true, so I thought: why not this. I grew up when the year 2000 was talked about as a possible end times so that definitely fueled the fire as well.
9DW: How have your extensive travels impacted your vision of a bleak future?
MM: Travelling India and Nepal was really an eye opener to how the rest of the world really lives. I’ve always said I learned more in four months there than I did in four years of university. India is poor, a lot of it, and many people there live a hand to mouth existence, but they are close to the land in a way that most of us here in the west aren’t. If the world were to end tomorrow, it would be these people, the fishermen, the hunters, the farmers, who would stand half a chance. And not just in India, but everywhere, all over the world. They know how to survive because they practice it everyday. Most of the developed world, with our prepackaged, grocery store lifestyle have let our survival instincts atrophy to such a point that we wouldn’t even know where to begin if food wasn’t made available to us.
9DW: How are spaghetti westerns like the post-apocalyptic genre?
MM: Lawlessness, a terrible, singular villain, and a bleak landscape. But the frontier-like lawlessness and the idea that you are on your own when the threat of violence is real is probably the most western-like theme found in many dystopian works.
9DW: Where’s the best place in the world for long-term survival after all we know and love is gone?
MM: That depends wholly on the individual, and the environment they are familiar with. You need to be able to grow food and you need meat for protein and you have to protect your family. Wherever you can do these things confidently is where you need to go. Definitely a familiar setting because that immediately gives you an advantage. To know the terrain is hugely important.
9DW: There have been countless religious and pseudo-scientific predictions about when and how the world will end, and yet we never seem to make an effort to prevent our own demise. What kind of a prediction or sign would it take to make the world change its behaviour?
MM: I don’t think there is one. We live in a time where laws and rules are governed mostly by large corporations and their lobbying power to governments. As long as we live in a capitalist society, as it exists now, we will continue to make decisions that keep profits climbing and fulfill the mandates of exponential growth. For example, we will continue to exploit all gas and oil reserves until they are all gone and then we exploit something else, whatever turns the most profit. Human beings rarely change unless they are forced to for their survival. As long as the love of money and corporate greed are the driving forces of our societal system, exploiting resources simply become business decisions. A pessimistic view, but the realistic one I think.
9DW: People have predicted plenty of ways that the world could end, ranging from the ridiculous to the scientifically plausible. Which end-of-world scenarios really catch your attention?
MM: Economic and social collapse from scarcity of resources. We have wars over oil now, but when we start to have wars over things like water resources and workable farmland, that’s when dystopian visions begin to come true. The post apocalypse for me isn’t a singular event but rather a long slow decline into medieval lawlessness. Viewed like that one could say that the end of the world is already under way and has been for a long time, that it is a subjective thing.
9DW: In your Edge video, you mention a “speck of light in the endless dark.” What, or who, is that? And how does that fit into Bad City?
MM: Bad City is essentially a lawless place, but it’s also an allegory to our society now. The protagonists recognize they can’t change the place they live so they decide to flee. The speck of light is the hope that a better way of life is possible, one built on love and hope rather than fear and hatred.
9DW: The apocalypse begins tonight, so you’ve only got a couple of hours to find supplies and shelter. What (and who) do you bring with you, and where do you go?
MM: My family. We drive far north to where I grew up. We take whatever food supplies we have on hand and hope to scrounge the rest along the way. I live in a big city, so getting out fast is the most important thing as it won’t take long for desperation to kick in, just a few days, once the grocery stores are empty. A map for the back roads because GPS won’t work and you want to avoid the main drags. And a shotgun under the seat.
Enjoyed this interview? Then stayed tuned for our next EDGE-Lite interviewee: Jack Castle.
Get yer own copy of Bad City either from Amazon.com or directly from the publisher’s online catalogue at http://www.edgewebsite.com/books/badcity/badcity-catalog.html.
Watch that video I mentioned: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRGGVk7wyIA