Plot Outline:This is the end! B Smith is drawing near to the end of her journey, but there's still time for the biggest fight and biggest twist of her life. This is NOT going to end with a whimper...
Author Notes:I wrote up my plot notes for Zom-B Goddess on the 9th of September 2011 (the same day that I wrote up my notes for book 11), started writing it in October 2011, and finished my final edit on the 5th of November 2014.
I had a fairly good idea of where I wanted to take the story of Zom-B when I started writing the books back in 2008, but I wasn't sure exactly how many books it would involve (I guessed somewhere between nine and fifteen), or how many side-alleys I would go down with the story, or how exactly I was going to work my way towards the end. But one thing I was certain of was that ending. It burnt like a torch, drawing me forward. I wanted this series to serve as a warning to readers -- if we don't take a stand against the evil in our world... if we let the powerful and power-hungry manipulate us... if we just breeze along and pay no interest to what is going on around us... then we risk losing everything. To hammer that home, I wanted to write a series where everything WAS lost. Harking back to some of the darker sci-fi films of the 1970s, I planned to deliver a killer blow at the end, where the protagonist destroys the world in order to thwart the plans of the victorious villains. I even knew what the last line would be -- B, thinking of what she had done, and all that was lost, would shrug and mutter, "Good bloody riddance to the lot of us."
Fade to black.
That's the ending I wrote in my notes in 2011, but by that time I'd started to realise that I didn't want to end the books that way. No -- I COULDN'T end the books that way.
I don't know much about my characters when I begin my books. They mostly grow out of the story-telling process, and I learn more and more about them as I progress. In B's case, she changed more than most of my heroes. I discovered depths to B Smith that had never crossed my mind when I began writing the first book. She was braver than I understood, tougher than I knew, more tormented by her mistakes than I'd anticipated. To have taken her through all that she's had to endure, and then leave her there, at the end of the world, all alone and with only death to look forward to... it left a bitter taste in my mouth. It was the ending B had engineered for herself. Indeed, it was the ending she wanted, death a blessed relief after all she's been through. But it wasn't what I now wanted for her. I wanted her to have more than that. I wanted to find a way to reward her, to leave her on a hopeful note rather than a crushing one.
But how? The story was set up in such a way that the end of the world was unavoidable. I wasn't prepared to change that, to have B save the survivors of humanity from the crazy schemes of Dr Oystein. That crucial point still needed to be made -- if we let the ruthless and the greedy use us as puppets, they will in the end destroy us. But I started to sense that there was a way out, that all could fall, making the point, but that I could have at least a hint of a light in the otherwise overwhelming darkness.
The babies were the answer. Holy Moly had grown over the course of the books, becoming far more important a character than I'd foreseen, and that relationship proved to be B's salvation. Since B had truly become a mother to Holy Moly, why not carry that theme through, and have her also be the mother of a generation of hope? Why not tweak things so that love ultimately triumphs over hate, so that the babies save B the way she had hoped to save everybody else? I already had the Groove Tubes, which would allow B to sleep through the apocalypse and wake on the far side. All it required was a little leap of faith -- the idea that Mr Dowling could have found a way for his engineered babies to survive the unleashing of the viruses -- and B could live to fight another day.
I wasn't sure, at first, if that was a cop-out, so I went ahead and wrote the ending as originally planned. And I was right -- it was just too damn bleak. If we hadn't come to like B so much, it could have worked, but B became one of my all-time favourite protagonists, and readers came to reflect that view (not that I could be certain of that at the time, as I wrote the book before the first book had been released, but I had a pretty good hunch they would come to identify with her as strongly as I had). I couldn't just let her die, a goddess of complete destruction. So I set about turning her into a goddess of rebirth, and I stand behind that decision 100%. The ending that exists might not have been what I set out towards in 2008, but it's the ending the series deserved and needed. A good writer never inflicts their authority on a story, but rather follows where it leads, and this is where B and her colleagues led me.
Of course, the irony is that, in B's triumph, Dr Oystein actually got his wish, and so he was ultimately triumphant too. But, hey, that isn't necessarily a bad thing, is it? I mean, he was nuttier than a squirrel's horde, I agree, but his goals were pure. The evils he identified were real. The threats to our existence that he feared were also real. They way he went about his business was skewed and wrong, but I'm not altogether ill at ease at the thought of his spirit enjoying a wry little smile in the afterlife. I don't think B would begrudge him that either.
As soon as the book was released, some fans wanted to know more about the future world. They asked if I would write about B again, detailing her adventures a thousand years from now, describing the world of Holy Moly and the other matured mutants. Sorry, but that's not a path I want to go down, and it's also not a path I think readers would enjoy. The ending of Zom-B Goddess is all about hope and rebirth. What I wanted to say with it is that the future is a blank page. WE get to decide what gets printed on that page. WE get to choose whether humanity soars with the angels or sinks with the demons. As bleak as things ever get, we always have that option of turning them around and righting whatever wrongs we've been part of. You don't need me to tell you what happens a thousand years from now, because that's a decision all of us make with every step and choice that we take in this life. That's not really B Smith stepping out into the future at the end of the book. That's YOU.
I hope you enjoy that future as much as you've enjoyed this small journey towards it.
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Zom-B Goddess 1st rough (UK)
Zom-B Goddess (USA)
Zom-B Goddess (UK)
Zom-B Goddess 2nd rough (UK)