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The Female Perspective: It’s Post-Apocalyptic Survival Month!

Welcome! This is a twice-weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.


Seriously, I just discovered that this is a thing, September is honestly known (to some) as Post-Apocalyptic Survival Month. It seems a silly thing to celebrate since September is other things as well, but this struck me as a fun topic to write a blog about.

If the end of the world happened, what would YOU take with you in your backpack?

Don't just survive, thrive!
Don’t just survive, thrive!

The Essentials

No list would be complete without the essentials, the stuff you really actually need if you are running for your life from some kind of disaster, we’re going to say it’s a Zombie disaster because that’s just less depressing than a nuclear disaster (and also less plausible, which makes this “game” more fun). The fact is you have to leave your house, it’s too close to a city and you want to find your loved ones. What do you bring?

Here’s what I’d bring …

1.) Change of clothes – I’d only bring one because I only have so much room in that backpack and until I get a bigger, better one, I’m going to have to use the space that I have. Hey, it’s the end of the world, I can always snag some new threads at a local shop when I have a better pack. For now I’d bring a spare pair of jeans, a warm shirt, a tank top (or maybe even two, they’re small), underwear and socks. Anything else is unnecessary. Actually, a spare pair of boots would be a good idea except I don’t have a spare pair of boots so we’ll just walk on with the ones I have.

2.) Medicine – I am NOT leaving my home with the medicine I need, I’m not talking vitamins and daily meds (we’re going to have to figure life out with that stuff eventually so just take what you have I suppose), I’m talking stuff for headaches and body aches because spending all day walking is going to cause some aches baby. Tylenol and anything else that helps with bodily distress (Pepto, Imodium, etc) is a good idea.

3.) Canned Goods – this is tricker and heavier but I’d snag whatever canned goods I currently have, plus water (again this is tough) and pack them up. I know I’m going to have to scavenge on the land but for the first few days I’d like to have something right at hand.

4.) Backup weapon – this is a must! I’ll have something great, like a baseball bat or my trusty MagLite and then an extra weapon, just in case I drop, break or lose my weapon in some kind of melee. Extra weaponry is half the battle in getting through this alive.

Knowing your weapons is half the battle.
Knowing your weapons is half the battle.

That Other Stuff

So what else would need to happen if the end of the world occurred? With shows like The Walking Dead and Z Nation and Fear The Walking Dead, it’s actually an interesting question. What kinds of things would need to happen in order to be really well stocked/prepared for the apocalypse? I think I would go to the local nursery and get myself some seed packets, in case I ever settle in one place and want to start actually growing food instead of eating it out of cans. I’d also make sure I had these seed packets packed up really good so water, dirt, etc can’t get into them and destroy them. Nothing is worse than happily homesteading and then discovering that you have no seeds with which to create a home.

I also think that breaking into or walking into a library is a good idea. You can find books on gardening (if you’re like me, you have no clue), building and more that can really help in a pinch. I mean, no one knows how to do everything so this is where books can come in really handy.

Click here for some handy book title suggestions from Book Riot. Even if the world never ends, some of these titles can be a good read … just in case.

For Now…Read a Book!

Right now the world is alive and doing well, um, it’s doing okay. The fact is, none of us know what’s going to happen and I’d like to hope that the world keeps on spinning for millions of years to come. Until such a day as the end of the world, I’d say pick up any of these books, recommended by Tor.com for some light, post-apocalyptic reading.

My personal apocalypse books have to be The Road by Cormac McCarthy and I simply adore World War Z. Another great one is The Passage and it’s sequel, The Twelve by Justin Cronin.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

"The Road" by Cormac McCarthy
“The Road” by Cormac McCarthy

This is a tough one, as a lot of McCarthy’s books often are. The movie version (if reading isn’t your thing) is excellent and fits with the book amazingly well. The story is a simple one, the world has ended (nuclear explosion) and the tale is about the boy and the man. We never get their names and that makes it a tad bit easier to remain detached from the characters, but the story is not a happy one. We encounter cannibalistic behaviors and more in this post-apocalyptic read and there isn’t a post-apocalyptic book list that would dare omit this title from it’s list. If you have a strong stomach, this is well worth the read.

World War Z by Max Brooks

"World War Z" by Max Brooks
“World War Z” by Max Brooks

Chances are, you’ve heard of this one. The movie version is okay if you’ve never read the book since it really doesn’t follow the book at all. The book itself is a great twist on the Zombie tail. It’s told by dozens of characters, from dozens of points of view. It is totally the oral history of the outbreak, the battle and the aftermath. Max Brooks does a wonderful job in fully encapsulating the true disaster that would be the zombie apocalypse but makes it easy to read, almost fun, and easy to believe. I remember there being some sections that brought me to tears. It’s a well-done and interesting view of what the zombie infestation would look like in today’s world.

The Passage & The Twelve by Justin Cronin

"The Passage" by Justin Cronin
“The Passage” by Justin Cronin

When I read The Passage I was blown away. It’s a complex tale about vampires. Yes, you read that right, vampires. They take over the world (much like zombies would) and this is a tale that is not a quick read but it’s well worth it. Cronin crafts a story that is unbelievable in it’s scope, showing us how the “bat virus” would be found and brought to the US and then destroy it all. It is a story that leaves you wanting more, which is good because Cronin intended for The Passage to be the first in a trilogy. The second book, The Twelve, is equally as intense and challenging and not quite as good. It is, however, a fascinating look at how people have survived this disaster for years upon years and what they have to do when they realize they are running out of resources. I honestly cannot wait for the third book and writing this makes me realize that I have to re-read the first two!

Honorable Book Mention

Oh, also, if you are looking for a sort of apocalyptic book choice, why not pick your local blogger and author JL Metcalf? I wrote a collection of short horror stories that are perfect for the pre or post-apocalypse! Check out Menagerie Of The Weird!

"Menagerie Of The Weird" by JL Metcalf
“Menagerie Of The Weird” by JL Metcalf

The End Is Nigh?

No matter how you choose to celebrate this illustrious (aka, little known) month, make sure that whatever you do, it involves picking up a good apocalypse book and enjoying all that you have around you and of course, making a plan.

Now tell me, what would you pack and why? 

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The Female Perspective: My Favorite Book Is…

Welcome! This is a Tri-weekly blog by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!


I thought that I would change things up a bit today and write about something dear to my heart, books. I admit it, I have an addiction to the written word (duh) and I cannot possibly ever have enough books. Not eBooks mind you but REAL, physical books. To that end I sat down today and tried to contemplate what my “favorite” book is.

Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy.

The fact is, I had to go with the book that has made the biggest impact upon me, the book I read over and over again on an almost yearly basis. Each time I read it, I find some new nugget of wisdom, some new moment or some new lesson.

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For me, that book would have to be Stephen King’s The Stand. It is by far one of the most well written of his works and the sheer expanse of the book can be overwhelming to most. At a healthy 1,472 pages you don’t read this book unless you are serious about it.

For those of you who haven’t picked up this novel yet (and shame on you, kidding!) The Stand is Stephen King’s answer to the “end of the world” genre. He doesn’t create zombies or a flood or any other type of disaster. No, King decides that the world will be caused by a mistake at a military base that studies (and creates) nasty, nasty germs. This particular bug is dubbed the “super flu” by many and “Captain Tripps” by others. It’s a truly devastating virus, causing delusions, high fever, lots of gross mucous and the infamous “tube neck” – it ends up killing about 80% of the human population in the span of a month or so.

But that’s not all…

King diabolically crafts a story about death and disease but includes a true battle between good and evil. The “good” being the folks who meet up with a 108-year old woman named Mother Abigail. They make camp in Denver, Colorado (that was oddly the scene of a mass exodus during the epidemic so it is strongly lacking in corpses like so many cities). They are a varied group of survivors. From the musician and playboy, Larry Underwood to the stoic and brave cowboy that is Stu Redman. They know, from dreams they all have that evil  is preparing for an onslaught and they have to prepare themselves.

The “evil” is represented by Randall Flagg, also know as “the walking dude” or “the black man” – he is a creature made of pure evil. He is unsure of his past but he knows he has been an integral part of so many uprisings and brings a feeling of dread to everyone he meets (even his followers). This camp sets up in Las Vegas (of course!) and includes criminal Lloyd Henreid (as his lieutenant) and The Trashcan Man (who is an insane pyromaniac who actually ends up being a sort-of hero). This camp is made up of criminals, drug addicts and confused souls who though that “the walking dude” was the right path for them.

Randall Flagg is one bad man...or creature...
Randall Flagg is one bad man…or creature…

Where Flagg is a tyrant, Mother Abigail is a welcoming and open soul. Flagg crucifies people who don’t follow his “rules” while Mother Abigail mostly leaves her people alone to do their (and God’s) will. It’s a wonderful study in duality. We see that the world truly can be broken into two camps, good and bad, God and The Devil. It’s also a story about redemption and discovering who you are. Many of these folks never had a real purpose in their lives before it the world ended. Nick Andros (one of the “good” guys) is a deaf and mute young man who drifted from town to town, doing odd jobs. He becomes a powerful force and finds that he can be a leader. Same with Larry Underwood, who is said to be “no nice guy” at the start of the book but in the end, manages to summon his strength and bravery and do his best to save his people.

I don’t want to spoil the end (and it’s a good one folks) but I want to say that it’s well worth reading. The Stand might be one of King’s finest works because it doesn’t rely on gore or cheap scares. No, he shows us how great a writer he truly is by crafting a story of biblical proportions.

Nick Andros is an important character and he gets the holy heck beat out of him more than once...
Nick Andros is an important character and he gets the holy heck beat out of him more than once…

Currently, The Stand comes in every format you can imagine and is easily found at bookstores and online. What’s really fun is that it also comes in a graphic novel addition which is well worth a ready. The editors did an awesome job editing this massive story into a comic format. The artwork is a lot of fun and I highly recommend it!

So tell me, what’s YOUR favorite book and why?