Victim Zero Milestone / by Josh Guess

As many of you know, I'm currently running an IndieGoGo campaign for Victim Zero, which is an actual novel set in the Living With the Dead universe, rather than a book collecting the blog.

The campaign hit a milestone yesterday: 10% of total funds reached. That may not seem like a lot to some people, but it is for me. I promised to write a blog post giving some background on the book when we hit that $500 mark, and this is me keeping that promise.

So, you want to know who stars in this, the first LWtD novel? Sorry. Can't tell you.

If you read the blog, you've met this character. He isn't a main character, but once you read Victim Zero you'll know exactly how vital he is to the story. The idea with this book is to show how the actual organism that started the zombie plague got started. Most zombie fiction skims over that fact, but the (albeit extemely dubious) science behind zombification fascinates me. So, like any good writer I came up with an idea, looked into the biology of it, and fudged the facts one hell of a lot to suit my purpose.

This is the first in a planned series. The number of the book is right there in the title: zero. The events I'm currently writing about in the story begin well before the first post of the LWtD blog. Unlike many books, this one will cover a fairly long stretch of time as the main character deals with the onset of the plague as well as the immediate fallout from society collapsing.

It's entirely possible you'll see some familiar faces in there, too.

Important to remember is that Victim Zero is a standalone novel. You don't have to read LWtD to know what's going on or to feel like the story has been told. Likewise you don't have to read this book if you already read LWtD. Each will, if I do my job right, exist as intertwined stories that can be consumed separately with no loss of coherence or quality.

It's hard to give any hints about the book without mentioning who the main character is and what he does. That's central to the entire thing. However, I did promise to share something of the book with you, and I keep my word. Since I can't give away much at this point, allow me to post the prologue to Victim Zero for all of you to read. You helped raise that $500--now almost $600--and you've earned a peek.

It's short and sweet, but hopefully sets the tone:

 The end of the world started on a fishing boat.
That was not the primary mission of the boat; it was a science vessel. Though the men and women who worked its decks pulled fisherman's hours and suffered the same weather, their purpose was fundamentally different. One group sails to eat, the other sails to know.
The boat should have been at its current location a day before, but harsh seas and high winds kept her anchored longer than anticipated. The marine biologists aboard and their many student researchers discovered the delay to in fact be a lucky break—the algae bloom was spectacular following the churning of the sea in storm.
For hours they hauled small pots of water, a cycle repeated until the tanks were full of iridescent blue-green algae. Then the plastic containers finished their last trip into the sea, were cleaned and stowed, and the vessel turned toward home. A day late but richer for the potential in their discovery, the crew celebrated with cold beer and fresh-caught fish grilled on the main deck.
It would be years before they learned of their part in the end of the world, innocent and small as it may have been. Lost among the understandably more vital news of the day, no one connected the suicides of one tenured professor and two of his former students. By the time anyone could have connected their research to that day on the boat and the haul they brought in, it was far too late. At that point the world had fallen too far for anyone to care.
But that was later. After it all happened.
This is the story of how it began.

Because I can't share much at this point, I'm happy to answer questions about the book in the comments. I may have to give you a RAFO (read and find out) but what I can answer I will. So get asking if you're curious!