At least, that's how my 11-year-old granddaughter expressed her excitement when I told her that I'm editing books for Jacqueline Druga.
I've loved post-apocalyptic books since I read Alas, Babylon then On the Beach and Level 7 when I was 14 or 15. I read them over and over until the nuclear nightmares became so unbearable that I finally stopped reading p-a and sci-fi until I was in my 30s.
Growing up in the late 1950s and 60s did a number on my psyche. One of the first big events that I remember, besides the space shots and Kennedy's election, is the Cuban Missile Crisis. For some reason that really affected me deeply even though I didn't know much about what was going on. We lived across the street to the entrance to what was then Byrd Airport (now Richmond International Airport) so planes went over at all hours. Now that I frequently fly into that airport from Key West I realize that we lived right in the flight path. About the only thing that I remember from the Cuban Missile Crisis is seeing odd-looking planes flying overhead and telling my sister that it was Cubans coming to bomb us. Heh heh. I was so scared that I reassured myself by scaring the crap out of her. Nice of me.
(Mom has told us recently that Air Force One used to fly into and out of Byrd Airport to practice take-offs and landings. I don't remember anything about that, either.)
Betty remembers the hide-under-your-desk drills at Sandston Elementary School. I don't. I guess I've blocked them out of my brain entirely; denial is a lovely state of mind. She remembers bus drills, too, and I don't remember those. The only thing that I remember Mom or Dad saying anything at all about the era is Dad saying something about sit on the floor, put your head on your knees and kiss your ass goodbye. Maybe he didn't actually say "ass" back then, but I can hear him say it like it was yesterday.
Then there was the Cold War. More talk about nuking Russia or them nuking us. But eventually I found a few more good post-apocalyptic books and started reading them again. I found my original paperback copy of Level 7 (not nearly as good as I'd remembered it) and bought new copies of Alas, Babylon and On the Beach. When my nephew, a very smart young man who made straight As, was supposed to read On the Beach as part of his English class, I answered the worksheet questions on it for him. Back then I could remember stuff like that. You see, he prided himself on getting through high school without ever reading one of the assigned books..... He did well on the test for that one, too :)
But it's hard to find paper copies of many post-apocalyptic books. Once I'd read those I mentioned above and Lucifer's Hammer and The Stand, there really wasn't much left. Occasionally I'd come across a new one (at least, new to me) and devour it. But it was frustrating; I love the genre so much (I prefer nuclear holocausts to zombie ones) and there just weren't enough available.
Along came the internet. I was able to read about more books and put them on my want list, but I couldn't find them in the bookstores I went to. Once in a great while I'd come across one at a flea market or used book store, but that was rare. Then--ta da! Amazon.com arrived. I could search for and keep a running wish list of the books I wanted online. Once in a while I could afford to order a few. It was so cool to be able to read more and more of these p-a books.
Then, the Gods of Amazon smiled down on me and gave us the Kindle. And e-books. Lots and lots and LOTS of e-books. I started a collection of e-books on Kindle for PC long before I bought my Kindle after Christmas last year. I was hesitant to get a Kindle; I've always loved reading and actually owning copies of the books I love. But suddenly I wanted one; I don't know what "kindled" that desire, but I bought one.
And then I found the Amazon forums with discussions about all kinds of subjects--and there's a whole section devoted to post-apocalyptic fiction. People recommended books and authors to each other. I'd put 'em on my wish list and, when I could, buy them. Two things that I like best about Kindle: It's so easy to carry over 1500 books in my purse (my K3 will hold 3500!), and there are so many free and inexpensive books available. And many of them are in the p-a genre.
I got to know a few ladies in the p-a forums. One, Liz, seemed to like the same things I do, so when she recommended a book or author, I checked it out. Once Kindle allowed loaning of e-books, she sent me some that she liked, and some she didn't (she wanted my opinion on them). She's my age, is disabled and on a tight budget, but she bought e-books.
Long about May of this year Liz recommended Jackie Druga's Dust to me. I had to wait a couple of weeks until I could buy it, but once I got it, I devoured it. I was amazed at how well Jackie writes about such a dark subject as nuclear annihilation. She researched it well (turns out she's very much a prepper in that department), but what really hit home with me is Jo, the protagonist. She's a very strong woman who was determined that her circle of friends would live through a nuclear attack; she made lists of things they needed to be aware of, gave them prepper backpacks for Christmas, and they decided that they'd meet at her house if they could after the bombs went off, then eventually would leave for a cabin deep in the woods. I won't give away any more of the story; just trust me that it's a lot more interesting than my description sounds.
I was so taken with the book that I reviewed it on Amazon, and Jackie contacted me. She was blown away that Liz and I loved the book so much that we recommended it to others and went on to read her other books. The one problem that Liz and I had with this and subsequent books of Jackie's is that they needed editing. Jackie writes beautiful stories; they're about the human connections, not just the mechanics of an apocalyptic event, but she has problems with grammar, sentence structure, spelling of homonyms, etc. She originally asked Liz to beta-read some of her books, but Liz is in poor health and decided that it wasn't fair to Jackie to promise to do so, so she suggested me. I was absolutely thrilled! This is the kind of dream job I've always wanted!
The first book that Jackie asked me to edit (I call it edit, but I don't think that's the proper word for what I do) was The Flu, which as you can guess, is about a pandemic that sweeps the world. It was the second book of hers that I'd read and I'd loved it even more than Dust. The characters in this one became friends that I loved (mostly), and when I got to the end of it, I cried for the last three chapters. I did not see that end coming. It was heartbreaking, and the novel and characters have stayed with me for over 5 months now. I knew that I'd cry as I was editing it and really really dreaded getting to the end of it. I warned Tom that I'd cry; I talked about it for days in advance. And I cried; I must have gone through half a box of tissues, blowing my nose and wiping my eyes over and over. When I finished the last page, I told Tom that I was so glad that it was over. His comment? "You didn't cry. You thought you would." I stared at him. Turns out he thought my allergies were bad that night.......... ;)
After I started working on The Flu, Jackie was contacted by ***** Press (I won't link to them here because I'm miffed with them) (yes, I'm petty that way) and signed a contract for The Flu and for first shot at her next p-a book. She insisted that I stay on as editor and they agreed. ***** released The Flu on November 9 but has not done one thing to promote it. Jackie thinks that maybe they're waiting for the paperback to be ready. But they've announced several other books that they've released in the last month, on Facebook, yet they haven't made one mention of hers. That irritates the shit out of me. I've read books by one other of their authors, Craig DiLouie, who writes zombie apocalypse novels. Normally I won't read z-a, but his are really good. They promote the hell out of Craig, yet they haven't said a word about Jackie.
So I'm taking it upon myself to push Jackie's novels. I'm in the middle of editing the 5th book for her since August; I'd already read Dust and The Flu; these others are new(er); the one I'm currently working on she just finished last month. I've loved everything that I've read of hers, and fortunately for me she's a very prolific author. I'm guessing that she's written and self-published about 50 books; I'm still working my way through them.
If you like this genre, give The Flu and Dust a try. Dust just went up on Amazon a day or two ago and is already selling. It had already been on Amazon for some time; this is the newly-edited version. Another one, Beyond Fear (vampires!!!) will go up soon. Again, she writes great characters and such good stories. They aren't expensive e-books, $2.99-4.99; if you're familiar with e-books you know that best-sellers and top names go for $9.99 and up. I think that Stephen King's new novel is $16 in the e-edition. I won't pay that. I've only paid $10 a few times. Jackie's books are a bargain--and they're GOOD.
I'm making a small percentage of her sales, but I don't care about the money. I'm getting to read really good books for free--and getting paid to do it :)