> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Interview with the Union Creek Journal



Interview with the Union Creek Journal

By popular request, we've reached out for an interview with the author of The Union Creek Journal, Toby/Mudinyeri. 

Toby's a great writer, good guy and a fellow prepper. He had some interesting thoughts on the Journal--why he got started, what he has planned for the future--as well as some of his thoughts on prepping. Worth a read!

Toby, thanks for taking some time to talk with us. A number of our readers are big fans of the Union Creek Journal and were curious to learn more about the man behind it all and what makes him tick. What got you started writing the UCJ?

Thanks for reaching out, Alexander.  The Journal has really been fun for me.  Most of my readers know that I started The Journal as an experiment.  I’ve been writing for decades.  I started writing stories as a kid.  My undergraduate degree is in journalism.  I’m published as a non-fiction technical editor by Que Publishing and I’ve published more than a dozen professional white papers. 

With all that behind me, the blog format, as a basis for a fictional work, caught my interest when I began reading Adrian’s Undead Diary.  The first-person, journal approach in Adrian’s Undead Diary also intrigued me.  I was working on a different book at the time and decided to set it aside for a bit to try out the almost-daily, first-person blog format for a fictional work.

Honestly, it’s been much more successful than I’d imagined.  I’m very grateful to my fans and readers.  Many of them take it upon themselves to “promote” my book in their own circles of friends.  To me, that’s one of the greatest compliments anyone can pay a writer.

In the UCJ, a worldwide economic collapse brings about the end of modern society. Can you tell us about why you chose that particular end of the world scenario?

In my mind, the economic collapse is the most frightening of the many traditional TEOTWAWKI scenarios because it represents the most clear and present danger.  I’ve read most of the seminal works in this category of fiction.  I could have written about zombies or EMP’s or traditional nuclear blasts or any number of other causes.  As I took stock of our current situation, we seemed closer to an economic collapse than any other cataclysmic event.  I wanted the book to have a sense of realism that I didn’t feel could be created by any of the other traditional apocalyptic events.

How much of the Johnson family's preps are based on your own? Do you prefer a Glock 20? Live on a farm like Union Creek?

Good question!  I’m asked that quite often.

Let’s just say, “quite a bit”.

I can’t say that I’m as well-equipped as the Johnson clan but my family does own a farm and I am a big fan of the 10mm round for personal protection and close-quarters hunting. 

The Glock 20 isn’t a great concealed carry pistol but if you live in a place where open carry is allowed … it’s hard to beat the sum total of the firepower of the Glock 20.  I carry mine as a backup gun when I hunt and I’ve hunted feral hogs with it.  Of course, the down side to a 10mm handgun in a TEOTWAWKI scenario is the limited availability of ammunition.  You’re not likely to find 10mm just “lying around” like you will 9mm or .45 ACP.

My immediate family and I live in the suburbs but I’d like to retire to the farm in the not-too-distant future.  Maybe if I can get a good publisher for The Journal, its sequel and the other book that I started before I began to write the journal …. [chuckling]

What do you have in store for the future of UCJ? Do you have an "end" in mind, or is it going to be ongoing for the foreseeable future?

A part of my background includes consulting in strategic planning.  One of my primary tenets in strategic planning – or any planning, for that matter – is to begin with an end in mind.  The Journal definitely has an end in my mind.  In fact, I know what the last four words will be.  Beyond that, I have a skeleton structure to which I continually add meat, so to speak.

Frankly, I’ve had to add a little bulk to the story.  I’d like to have the sequel complete at or very near the same time that The Journal is complete.  That would allow me to release the sequel almost immediately after The Journal is wrapped up. 

A sequel, huh?  What can you tell us about that?

The sequel will pick up almost immediately where The Journal leaves off.  It will also be a first-person diary but it will be written by a different character – someone you already know from The Journal.

Readers can look forward to a lot of what they’ve come to expect from The Journal – multiple plots with tricky twists, three-dimensional characters with foibles and flaws and helpful, thought-provoking advice and suggestions for preparing one’s self for disasters.  A reader recently commented about The Journal, “When you ain't pouring out action, you bring out some thoughts we all need to think about.”  That’s pretty much the essence of The Journal.  I plan to carry that same spirit through the sequel.

The sequel will be available two ways.  First, just like The Journal, readers will be able to read it for free with entries released almost daily like The Journal.  Second – something a number of my readers have asked for – the sequel will be available in its entirety for a fee just like any other e-book.  I’ll publish it for Kindle and other e-readers as well as make it available as a PDF for those that don’t have an e-reader.

Speaking of three-dimensional characters, how do you develop your characters?

Many of my characters are based on actual people … or combinations of real people.  I find that really helps me develop them into someone with whom readers can identify.  Often, I take a characteristic of a real-life individual and inflate it or exacerbate it in the book’s character.  For example, Jake’s character was based on someone I knew a long time ago, but the guy was nowhere near as bad as Jake.

Other characters, like Ariela for example, are entirely fictional.  I use an avatar for my completely fictional characters to give them a physical presence in my mind.  The avatar may be an actor or actress or a photo from the Web … just something to give me a tangible touchstone to use in the character’s development.

Finally, if you had one piece of advice for someone starting out in preparedness, what would it be?

Get started.  Do something … anything … to begin to prepare yourself.  Everyone has to start somewhere.

Society as we know it may not tumble into a heap tomorrow … or next month or even in the next few years … but it takes a long time to be as prepared as the Johnsons.

Get started … now.

I’ve tried to show the struggles of different levels of preparedness in The Journal.  People have to decide if they want to try to get by looting and running like Rick Milton or be as prepared as the Johnsons … or somewhere in between.  Regardless, everyone has to start somewhere.  I recently wrote an article for another blog entitled The Bug Out Bag, Foundation of Preparedness?

In my mind, the venerable BOB is as good a place to start as any.  Just remember the Rule of Threes as you put it together:

You can live:
Three minutes without air or necessary emergency medical treatment
Three hours without shelter in a harsh environment
Three days without water
Three weeks without food
Three months without (faith,) hope (and reason)

Admittedly, I modified the last rule with a couple of my own edits based upon the research I’ve done for The Journal but you get the point.  I’ve seen far too many pictures of BOB’s filled with weapons and ammo but no water filter or even a dust mask.  Sure, guns and ammo are fun but you may not even get a chance to use them if your lungs are filled with ash from an erupting volcano.

Secondly, acquire as much preparedness knowledge and as many survival skills as you can and practice them.

[Laughing] I’ll stop there before this turns into an article on how to get started in preparedness.

Thanks again for your time, Toby! If you have not read the Union Creek Journal, you can start here at the first post and work your way forward. Be prepared to spend some time glued to your screen!