Timmy: What kind of book is Exponential Apocalypse?
Eirik: At its most basic, the book is a send-up of all the depressing, post-apocalyptic, zombie holocaust, survivalist stories out in the world. The staple of those tales is that someone ALWAYS survives. Regardless of how shit goes down or when, humanity’s still kicking. But instead of getting all introspective and quasi-religious, I figured why not have some fun with it? It’s a quick, zany ride through how society would really react to the end of the world.
Timmy: The world of Exponential Apocalypse is filled with werewolves, zombies, mutants, cyborgs, robots, gods and presidential clones. They all seem to be a direct result of a failed attempt by man to save the world; be it by science, or government, or large corporations. Is there some genuine social commentary in these pages? Or is it all just a back drop for all the kicking ass and cracking wise?
Eirik: There’s definitely some commentary in there, yeah, a general disdain for the way corporations handle themselves, the way politicians seem to have lost sight of anything other than their own gain. The greed on both sides is overwhelming. Despite taking a cheap shot at Starbucks, I didn’t mean it to be directed at any one particular administration or company. I dislike most corporations fairly equally.
More than anything I’d say it’s a statement about what could happen if society keeps letting them get away with it. The momentary murmurs of outrage whenever some new, terrible business practice is revealed just aren’t enough. It doesn’t seem at all farfetched to me to believe it’ll eventually end in catastrophe.
To be fair, though, the scientists were only in there because I wanted an atomic werewolf.
Timmy: You mentioned comic books in the acknowledgments, were they a big influence on the book? Which ones?
Eirik: Maybe not directly, but they clearly had some influence. When I was a kid, my uncle gave me a couple boxes of early 70s’ Marvel stuff. I read through it all: Uncanny X-Men, Ghost Rider, Amazing Spider-man, Fantastic Four, all the team-up stuff with the secondary characters that no one remembers…
I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say that those comics taught me everything I know about storytelling, but it definitely imprinted in me that it’s absolutely possible to have a guy shooting lasers out of his eyes and still tell a compelling, moving story. For better or for worse, that’s an idea I’ve never really been able to shake.
The closest thing to a direct impact on Exponential Apocalypse would be the Thor comics from that time. There was a whole string of issues where Marvel was just illustrating the Old Norse myths. Most of the points about Ragnarok made in the book were the parts I remembered from those comics.
Timmy: Exponential Apocalypse is the first book from Jersey Devil Press, is there a lot of pressure on it to do well financially?
Eirik: It isn’t so much pressure to do well as to not make us regret it. So far we’re calling it a win. And, honestly, EA was a learning experience. We’ve got a much better idea now about what works and what doesn’t for marketing our particular style of writing. Any real pressure is going to fall on the next two books.
Timmy: What’s Jersey Devil Press doing that the other indy lit shops aren’t?
Eirik: We’re trying to focus on fiction with a more light-hearted tone. Fill the void between laundry list, open-letters-to-dead-people humor sites and the more literary journals. We want to be accessible to both accountants and English majors. It’s hard to pin our tone down precisely, but we tend toward stories you could recommend to your brother, a guy who maybe doesn’t read all that voraciously, but is always looking for a new book.
We’re also going to be having a theater reading on April 24th, with actors reading and minimally staging the first few chapters from our books, in much the same way they would workshop a new play. Pretty sure no one else is doing that, though I could be wrong.
Timmy: The second book by the press has already been announced. Are there more books in the pipeline?
Eirik: After Stephen Schwegler’s Perhaps hits in March, we’ll be releasing an anthology of short stories by our various authors during the summer. About two thirds will be collected from stories already published on the site, while the remainder will be new. We’ll probably be releasing another short story collection as an e-book during the fall or winter, but that’s still very early in the planning.