Every time that Sirens Call Publications releases an anthology, we ask each of the authors to provide us with a guest post; something that speaks to the inspiration for their story that you will read. With the release of Carnage: After the End – Volume 1 & Volume 2, our inspiration series may run a little longer than our other anthologies. But that’s okay, we love Post-Apocalyptic Horror and both volumes have a fantastic mix of tales. First up is Shane Collins, author of The Vault in Carnage: After the End – Volume 1.
Shane R Collins has published two dozen short stories over the last three years in markets such as Aoife’s Kiss and OG’s Speculative Fiction. Collins lives on a mountainside in rural Vermont where he enjoys hiking, camping, kayaking, target shooting, fishing and snowshoeing. He is also the editor in chief of The Speculative Edge digest. Collins is actively seeking an agent and hopes to soon be a candidate for an MFA in creative writing. If you would like to connect with Shane, you can find him on his website, his personal Facebook page, or his Facebook fan page.
So without further ado, I give you Shane…
Writing The Vault
My inspiration for The Vault actually came from one of Shakespeare’s plays. I usually don’t like Shakespeare very much – I think most of his work is pretty overrated – but Macbeth is one play that really stands out to me. I love the dynamic between King Duncan, Macbeth, and Lady Macbeth. The seed for greed and ambition was already in Macbeth but it’s his wife who gives him that final push to become evil.
In my story, I essentially duplicate that three-way dynamic, but with some important changes. In Macbeth, King Duncan is a noble and righteous king. In my story, however, (king) Richard’s intentions aren’t clear. Is he crazy or does he really speak to God? He brings the whole community together and provides for them, but by doing so, turns them into peasants and field hands. He may be unstable, but he does right by Mattie and Oscar throughout the story. But if there is even the possibility that Richard could snap, given the delicacy of this new world, wouldn’t it be smartest to take him out of the equation before he did?
The other major change in the story is that the protagonist’s significant other is pregnant. This adds a whole new level of motivation to consider. Are Oscar’s action’s guided by greed and ambition or paternal instinct? The same can be asked about Mattie. In Shakespeare’s play, Lady Macbeth is clearly the instigator but in The Vault, Mattie may just be looking out for her unborn child.
I made these changes because life is almost never so clearly cut into black and white. If you look at Richard, Oscar, and Mattie, none of the characters are entirely good or entirely evil. They are simply themselves, but put into a desperate, post-apocalyptic world.
The ten stories in Carnage: After the End – Volume 1 are the terrifyingly harsh and brutal realities those survivors must face. Each one takes us to a place where humanity’s stragglers are forced to battle with enemies outside of their control; mutant beasts, groups of depraved and desperate people, and the terrifying threat of a dwindling food supply. Their fight for survival gets even more difficult as they search among the tatters of civilization for the will to carry on.
In a world where society has collapsed and terror lurks around every corner, no one can be trusted and nothing can be taken for granted.
Hell has invaded and happy endings are a thing of the past…
Contributing Authors in Volume 1 include:
Kimberly A. Bettes, Shane Cashman, Shane R. Collins, Laura Diamond, Rodney James Galley, Michael Griffin, Russell Linton, Adam Millard, Christofer Nigro, and Julianne Snow.
Contributing Authors in Volume 2 include
Angel D. Callido, Charlie Fish, Harper Hull, Magda Knight, Jason Lairamore, Harry Manners, Zachary O’Shea, Wednesday Silverwood, Adrian Tchaikovsky, and L.E. White.
Interested in picking up a copy of both volumes?
Here’s a quick taste of Shane’s tale The Vault in Carnage: After the End – Volume 1…
During the Freezing Winter, after the Financial Collapse, Oscar and Mattie spent the first few weeks living in the interior bathroom of their rented house. They draped blankets over the door to insulate it, filled the tub with water before the utilities stopped, and layered the sink counter with candles. The mattress didn’t fit so they slept in sleeping bags and ate canned food. After a few weeks, the snow began to melt and Mattie got pregnant.
Then one day, in early April, they heard a knock on the door. Mattie looked up from her crossword. “Who do you think it could be?”
Oscar shook his head. In the rural town of Syracuse in western Pennsylvania, they’d had few problems with looters or rioting after the Collapse. Pittsburg was an hour drive away, and Oscar figured that everyone headed east to the coast or to the Midwestern farmlands. Still, he grabbed a baseball bat and inched back the curtain to see who it was. He saw Richard, his neighbor, who lived down the street. Richard wore gray slacks, a white button-up shirt with a tie, and a gray tweed sports jacket. When Richard saw Oscar through the window, he smiled and waved.
Oscar leaned the baseball bat against an end table and opened the door.
“Morning, Oscar,” he said. “How’ve you been holding up?”
It had been weeks since Oscar talked to anyone besides Mattie and it took him a moment to reply. “We’re okay.”
Richard nodded. He brushed his trimmed gray beard with his fingers and asked, “How’s Mattie?”
“She’s pregnant,” Oscar said. “And hungry. We’re running low on food.”
Richard nodded again. “That’s why I stopped by. I’m doing some work to the house and could use a hand. My back’s not what it used to be,” he said and laughed. “I have plenty of food to spare. I could keep both of you fed.”
Oscar turned and saw Mattie watching. She nodded.
Richard smiled and Oscar and Mattie followed him down the street to his house. Oscar never considered how large Richard’s property was. It was an old two-story farmhouse that looked to have undergone several renovations. An extended three-car garage was tacked onto the side. Two chimneys sprouted from the roof and smoke drifted from one of them. Behind the house was a red barn and beyond that, a pine forest…
Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to hear about Magda Knight’s inspiration for Knock, Knock, Who’s There? in Carnage: After the End – Volume 2!