There’s a reason Cowichan Lake is known as the crown jewel of Vancouver Island, with its pristine blue water and rolling hills on all sides. In a setting like this, it’s easy to cast aside fears of war, famine and pestilence, however, for Youbou novelist Jason Currie such fears were precisely what he hoped to tap into while writing his latest book.
No End: A Survivor’s Diary, which Currie self-published as an ebook available for Kobo, is the story of a mysterious plague that spreads across the globe, infecting more than 90 per cent of the world’s population. This is no ordinary illness — sufferers are driven insane, taking up arms and killing at random. The book is written from the perspective of Anthony Reed, one of the few survivors as he sets off across Canada from his home on the West Coast, searching for answers.
Currie, 26, said he’s not typically interested in dystopian novels but the idea just came to him out of nowhere.
“I was sitting online, watching Youtube videos and doing nothing, and I was just thinking about the inanity of the world. All we struggle through and all we have on our minds and I just thought: What would happen if people snapped? If there was this permanent change? What if everything inside people all of sudden got dumped out?” he said.
He thought about the story for a week or so before deciding to take the plunge. It turned out the dark tale came easily to him, and Currie undertook an intense writing process, holed up in his room in Youbou, sometimes forgoing food and sleep because he was so fixated on his writing.
Currie said he wasn’t interested in producing another post-apocalyptic story with zombies at its centre.
“I got tired of people making something else the villain… I mean, when you look at zombies you look at them and they maybe were once human but the moment they turn [into zombies] they become something foreign and alien,” he said.
Yes, the plague’s victims have become twisted, murderous incarnations of their former selves, but he wanted them to still retain some of their humanity and some of their unique personality traits. Ideas about sanity, insanity and mental health are important to Currie who said these were elements he kept finding himself coming back to while writing No End.
“I have a lot of friends with depression and some with mental illness, and I found that a lot of them go through similar things,” he said. “They’re fighting off a kind of darkness that never stops and this book has some similar themes to that.”
Although Currie has written novel-length stories in the past, this was the first that compelled him to seek publication. After a few unsuccessful attempts reaching out to publishing houses in Canada, he decided to self-publish. The book, which is written under the pen name D.V. Cattrovich, is on sale through the Kobo ebook store and Currie hopes to eventually make it available through the Vancouver Island Regional Library.
He acknowledged that the readers most attracted to the book are probably the ones still too young for some of the subject matter.
“I mean the people who should not be reading it because it is a bit too graphic, the 13- to 15-years-olds, they love it,” he said. “They love the idea, the fighting and the violence in it. I guess it appeals to them.”
Curie said he definitely drew on some experiences and observations from a lifetime growing up around the Lake, although the book itself is not set here.
The book’s protagonist starts his journey on the Lower Mainland and heads east as far as Ontario. The decision to place the story in this country was deliberate.
“Not a lot of stories take place in Canada and have more than Canadiana in them,” said Currie.
No End is the first in a series Currie has planned called The Mad Plague Saga. He anticipates there will be as many as seven books altogether.