Inside, “The Chronicles of Thomas Briggs”

 

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Since there has been so much excitement over my new book, World of the Damned, I decided to write an article about The Chronicles of Thomas Briggs series as a whole. I think my readers will gain valuable insight from it, and hopefully it will serve to get their gears of imagination turning.

Admittedly, zombies are not my favorite thing in the world. Sure, I really like the zombie apocalypse genre, but I am extremely selective about what zombie media I read and watch. Mostly, I think, because I am almost always left wanting. Not wanting for more story, or even entertainment, but wanting for more depth. So many zombie books and movies are just about hacking apart the undead, going from one fortified position to another. They seem to lack the most fundamental element of the whole thing: the human mind. This is probably why I like The Walking Dead TV series so much, because they do a wonderful job of looking into the human condition and the drama that would exist in such a survival scenario. It’s about more than killing zombies, which is so one-dimensional to me. I wanted to do the same, but with a different spin on it. I knew I could never make a better story…just a different one. I wanted to explore the human mind just a little bit deeper. I wanted to start with a character who had no relationship with violent behavior, someone whose life before the apocalypse represented something closer to most of our own lives. Thus, Thomas Briggs was born. A 32-year-old architect living in Seattle, with a completely uneventful past. He had never killed anyone, never had a life of crime, never even been in a real fight. Thomas ended up being the perfect candidate for my fictional experiment. I think it goes without saying that anyone who is tossed into an undead apocalypse will eventually resort to more brutal behavior (especially someone who is forced to assume a leadership role). I believe that is true regardless of the tendencies of the person in question. This is what I wanted to explore, and it ended up opening a door to an even grander adventure.

Following Thomas’s journey throughout World of the Damned was eye-opening for me. I found myself thinking about what I would do in a certain situation, then being forced to assume a completely different personality in order to portray Thomas accurately. After all, I am a former soldier and deputy sheriff. Violence and unfortunate experiences are, admittedly, not unfamiliar to me. As a result, I quickly realized that I would need to “get into character” a little more than normal. This was a completely different experience for me, considering the type of character that James Vance was in my previous book, The Fall. For those of you who have read The Fall, you understand exactly what I’m talking about. For those of you who haven’t, let me put it like this: Vance was cold and calculating. He was a former special forces operator, a solitary individual, a killing machine. Thomas, on the other hand, is not. At least, he isn’t throughout the beginning of World of the Damned. And that, specifically, is what the book is about. The transformation from benevolent architect to ruthless leader is a dramatic one, and I wanted to portray it in a realistic way. The reader will not always agree with his decisions, or continue thinking he’s “the good guy”. There might be some points where the reader is left asking, “What the hell, Thomas?”

I wanted Thomas Briggs to be more than just a character in a book. I wanted him to represent the majority of my readers. He needed to be a character that people could easily identify with. Most of all, he needed to be a character that forced readers to ask themselves, “Would I do something that brutal?” Given the right circumstances, we are all capable of violence, of sheer ruthlessness. I didn’t want Thomas to be predictable, because I don’t think any of us would be if we were thrown into a similar situation. We would be lost and confused. Thomas Briggs doesn’t want to be a leader. He wants to get himself and his sister Mindy to New Mexico, so they can hopefully find their parents. However, just like our own lives, unexpected events will occur. Some avoidable, some not. Those events help shape Thomas into his new skin. They force him to assume the role of both leader and protector, neither of which he has any experience with. And when that happens–when we are forced into positions we are not ready for–we make mistakes. We go too far, or not far enough, and things get broken in the process. Alternatively, we have Thomas’s sister, Mindy. She is the other half of the coin. Mindy is a nurse, and as such is very caring and compassionate. While both siblings are peaceful by nature, Mindy remains that way. Her brother takes on the role of protector, and assumes most of the decision making. Mindy’s views on everything that’s happening around them vary from Thomas’s, and she is not nearly as ready to resort to brutal means. Thomas must respond to her disapproval carefully, not wanting to lose the support of the only blood relative who he knows for certain is still alive. Mindy represents the stabilizer, a symbol of everything that the world should be.

Hopefully this will encourage you to read World of the Damned when it comes out in the next few weeks. I am eager to see what my readers think about it, and also how much of themselves they see in Thomas Briggs. It’s going to be an exciting series, and World of the Damned is really just a stepping stone to the main story. Be sure to stick around for the coming books in The Chronicles of Thomas Briggs series, and thanks for reading. As always, be inspired!

 

–D.K. Neville

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