Buy The End Has Come, edited by John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey

Buy The End Has Come, edited by John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey

In collaboration with editors John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey, A Dribble of Ink is proud to introduce a series of interviews with the authors of The End Has Come, the final volume in the The Apocalypse Triptych. Following on The End is Nigh, and The End Is Here, The End Has Come contains 23 stories about life after the apocalypse.

Interview with Jonathan Maberry about “Jingo and the Hammerman”

(Interview by Hannah Huber)

What do you think it is about zombies that make them work as the source of an apocalypse?

Zombies are the perfect storytelling metaphor if you want to spin a tale about an extreme crisis, which makes them perfect for apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic storytelling. They represent a massive shared threat: something so big that it impacts every person, every relationship, every aspect of infrastructure, and every element of culture. Nothing escapes that impact. The zombie’s nature, threat, and potential are all easy to grasp, so once they’ve been introduced, they often fade into the background so the story can concentrate on what is most important: human people in the midst of life-changing events. People facing crises is the basis of all drama, and therefore the writer is able to tell any kind of story he or she wants. No other monster is so generous in enabling this, or in sharing the stage.

In a zombie apocalypse the crisis is so overwhelming that there is no time for us to maintain our affectations of who we pretend to be in day-to-day life. None of us are ever really ourselves – we edit ourselves depending on the situation. We are different people in public, at home alone, at work, in love, when heartbroken, and so on. Often we play roles that are vastly different from our natural selves, such as feeling ‘powerful’ because we have money, good looks, or position. In a zombie apocalypse, none of that matters. A captain of industry or a supermodel expect deference as a matter of course, but they might be the first to fall in an apocalyptic scenario. Whereas the bag-boy at the local supermarket might have tremendous but untapped leadership and survival skills. Steel is forged in the heat of a furnace, not while it is ore in the ground.

Why are they not only frightening, but also emotionally resonant to their audiences?

In all good fiction, the zombies are metaphors. In bad fiction, they are the focus of the story, but otherwise, they are stand-ins for other things that disturb us, frighten us, shake our confidence, and make us confront difficult questions about our personal strength, our character, and our ability to confront (and resolve) great challenges. Since the dawn of the zombie genre (1968’s Night of the Living Dead) the zombie story has been the vehicle in which we drive through the landscape of our fears. George Romero used zombies to explore the dangers of racism, rampant consumerism, the rise of the military-industrial complex, the impersonal nature of the digital age, and so on. Max Brooks used World War Z to explore the dangers of viral pandemics that could spread out of control because of politics and greed. Joe McKinney used Dead City and its sequels to discuss the dangers of a faulty government infrastructure during times of crisis. My own novels of the Rot & Ruin series delved into post-traumatic stress disorder as well as human corruption and opportunism. Zombie stories allow writers to discuss important topics with readers without making that conversation too obvious, and that allows readers to engage no matter where they align in terms of political party affiliation. This is also why the best science fiction and fantasy works.

Why are we seemingly readier to believe in a zombie outbreak than in any other kind of apocalypse?

We are particularly vulnerable to a new virus or bacterium. That vulnerability has been born out of a rampant and widespread misuse of antibiotics. Doctors prescribe these drugs for viruses because the public believes antibiotics actually work  for those kinds of diseases. Doctors prescribe them to satisfy their patients rather than educate them, or rather than admit that there isn’t much they can do for a flu or common cold. The result is that people have had so much exposure to antibiotics and have used them so incorrectly, that viruses have developed resistance to many of then. New strains of old diseases are presenting, and for many of these there are no treatment options currently available. Add to that the widespread use of antibiotics in chicken, pork, and beef farming. Ask anyone in the World Health Organization, the National Institutes for Health, or the Centers for Disease Control, and they’ll tell you how great a danger this poses. I know – I’ve asked them all. They have been posting warnings for years, which are unfortunately largely ignored. They all say that it is inevitable that a treatment-resistant flu strain will hit us at some point. That is scary. Zombies are how we talk about the fear of this. It’s why the CDC used zombies as a theme in their public health cautions. People completely ignored the standard viral warning e-mails; but when the zombie one went out, the response was so massive it crashed the CDC servers.

Moose spends a lot of thought on what keeps Jingo going in the face of hopelessness. He almost seems never to question why he hasn’t given up yet, and he seems to be both a realist and compassionate in the face of suffering – two character traits that might not be optimal for long-term survival in the face of the apocalypse. What is it that you believe keeps Moose going after the world has ended, and what makes him a better prospect for long-term survival than Jingo?

Moose is my proxy in the story. I’m a realist and compassionate idealist. I don’t consider those qualities to be weaknesses. Without them survival, becomes too self-centered. Left alone, a person will ultimately fail to survive because of simple despair. One has to care in order to hope, and without hope, living is nothing more than a routine with finite repetition.

Moose cares for Jingo and his friend’s enthusiasm – however misplaced – and that enthusiasm keeps Moose in the mode of ‘civilized human’. Moose would probably descend into barbarity or suicide if he didn’t have something or someone to care about.

What is your Apocalyptic Fiction Required Reading List, and why are each of the entries required reading?

When I was a teenager, Richard Matheson gave me a signed first edition of I Am Legend, and that will always be at the top of my list. It is the model for all apocalyptic and outbreak stories that followed. And it holds up damn well more than a half century later.

Other favorites include:

  • Swan Song by Robert McCammon – an occasionally brutal, but ultimately hopeful story of the power of love in a time of crisis.
  • Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham – like I Am Legend, this is a seminal work that has inspired so many books and movies that followed it, notably 28 Days Later.
  • A Boy and His Dog by Harlan Ellison – an inventive bit of alt-history speculative fiction that is arguably Ellison’s most sentimental work.
  • The Stand by Stephen King – the most majestic novel of the apocalypse, blending Wagnerian drama with some of King’s most insightful character development. Truly brilliant. Only read the fully restored extended cut.
  • The Postman by David Brin – a story of compassion and courage. This exemplifies what I said earlier about how a crisis strips away who we were and allows us to discover who we are.
  • War Day by Whitley Strieber and Jim Kunetka – written during the last days of the Cold War, this is a brilliant and disturbing piece of apocalyptic meta-fiction in which the authors are the main characters.
  • Plague by Graham Masterton – a tragic story about parents and their children, and how the next generation will have to pay for the crimes we commit. Absolutely killer last scene.
  • The Death of Grass by John Christopher – published in 1956, but eerily prophetic, and this is not the kind of story you ever want to see come true.
  • Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny – an example of a book that is far superior to the movie adaptation. Balls-to-the-wall adventure with a strong core of political and ethical debate.

Here’s a general question about the writing of horror: what elements of story – character, plot, pace, tone, etc – do you believe are necessary to make a story truly frightening to its audience?

All good horror, just like all good science fiction, must begin with characters. You have to believe in the characters to write them well, and once you become invested in them, they will share their secrets with you. From a reader’s perspective, if the characters feel real, then we begin to care. Once we begin to care, we can be hurt, frightened, shocked, appalled, enchanted, and left devastated based on what then happens to those characters.

Would you like to share a few details of your next major project?

I’m in the middle of the busiest year of my career. I’m writing Kill Switch, the eighth book in my Joe Ledger series of weird science thrillers. Then I’ll write Glimpse, a standalone horror novel about a recovering junkie trying to find the child she gave up for adoption. Then I’m going to write a science fiction novel for teens about space travel, and then a mystery thriller for older teens. I have a slew of new books out this year including Predator One (the seventh Joe Ledger novel); The Nightsiders, Book One: The Orphan Army, the first of a new series of middle grade sci-fi/horror mashups; Bits & Pieces, the fifth book in my Rot & Ruin series of post-apocalyptic zombie novels for teens;  and then Ghostwalkers, a novel based on the Deadlands role-playing game. I have two graphic novels out this year: Rot & Ruin: Warrior Smart and V-Wars: All of Us Monsters; and there is a V-Wars board game debuting this summer.  And I have a slew of anthologies coming out that I’ve edited, including V-Wars: Night Terrors, X-Files: Trust No One, and Out of Tune, Vol. II.  And several of my projects have gone into active development for film and TV. So … yeah … it’s a crazy year.


About Jonathan Maberry

Jonathan Maberry is a New York Times bestselling author, multiple Bram Stoker Award winner, and comic book writer. He’s the author of many novels including Code Zero, Fire & Ash, The Nightsiders, Dead of Night, and Rot & Ruin; and the editor of the V-Wars shared-world anthologies. His nonfiction books on topics ranging from martial arts to zombie pop-culture. Jonathan writes V-Wars and Rot & Ruin for IDW Comics, and Bad Blood for Dark Horse, as well as multiple projects for Marvel. Since 1978 he has sold more than 1200 magazine feature articles, 3000 columns, two plays, greeting cards, song lyrics, poetry, and textbooks. Jonathan continues to teach the celebrated Experimental Writing for Teens class, which he created. He founded the Writers Coffeehouse and co-founded The Liars Club; and is a frequent speaker at schools and libraries, as well as a keynote speaker and guest of honor at major writers and genre conferences. He lives in Del Mar, California. Find him online at

About the anthology

Famine. Death. War. Pestilence. These are the harbingers of the biblical apocalypse, of the End of the World. In science fiction, the end is triggered by less figurative means: nuclear holocaust, biological warfare/pandemic, ecological disaster, or cosmological cataclysm.

But before any catastrophe, there are people who see it coming. During, there are heroes who fight against it. And after, there are the survivors who persevere and try to rebuild.

Edited by acclaimed anthologist John Joseph Adams and bestselling author Hugh Howey, The Apocalypse Triptych is a series of three anthologies of apocalyptic fiction. The End Is Nigh focuses on life before the apocalypse. The End is Now turns its attention to life during the apocalypse. And The End Has Come focuses on life after the apocalypse.

Buy the book

The End Has Come is available as a trade paperback or eBook.