My novel The Rising was first published in 2003. It went on to become a cult-hit, and then a bonafide bestseller, and served as a major inspiration for the current zombie craze in our pop culture, and was translated into a dozen different languages, and was imitated endlessly, and had its ideas and concepts pop up in other zombie films and books, and was a trivia question on an ABC game show, and was cited by actors, politicians and other public figures as being among their favorite books, an was also cited by a generation of up-and-coming horror writers as their gateway drug into this genre, and was the subject of several cinematic false starts and an ill-fated comic book adaptation.
I never planned for any of that to happen.
I began writing The Rising in the mid-Nineties. Back then, it had a very different plot and a different title — Cabin Fever. The plot then morphed into what you know it as, but the book still had a different title — More Than Infinity (a title I would have liked to have kept, but my editors at Leisure Books and Delirium Books voted The Rising).
When I started The Rising (or Cabin Fever, as it was then known) I was a much younger man, working a series of dead end jobs for very little money — anything I could do to pay my child support on time and have enough left over to eat while I worked on becoming a famous horror writer. Most of my friends were in the same position (meaning they were also working dead end jobs and broke most of the time).
My saving grace at that time was my friend Michelle. We’d worked together at one of those dead end jobs, and she dated and eventually married (and later divorced) one of those friends of mine. Her kids and my first son were the same age, and playmates. At a time in my life when I wasn’t so much living paycheck to paycheck as I was living bounced check to bounced check, Michelle let me live in her home. She had a spare room that I stayed in, and I gave her money towards rent and the bills and watched the kids for her when she was at work. And when I wasn’t watching the kids, or at one of my dead end jobs, I sat in that spare room and I worked on the novel you know as The Rising.
When I go back and re-read the novel now (something I rarely do with any of my work, but did with this one in advance of the preparation for the ten-year anniversary edition that was published a few years ago), I see Michelle’s influence all over that book. Indeed, she and her then-husband are even name checked early on, as friends of Jim’s who didn’t survive the Siqqusim’s initial attack.
Quite simply, without Michelle, without her kindness and grace and charity, there would have never been a novel called The Rising. And there would have never been all the other novels and stories and comic books that have followed. I owe my career to a lot of people. Michelle is definitely one of them. Without her help, I’d probably still be working a dead end job somewhere, and the zombies y’all love so much…well, who’s to say?
Michelle’s charity and kindness helped me become who I am today. Now, I’m asking you to give her some charity an kindness in return. Michelle suffered a series of debilitating strokes back in October (multiple strokes — the doctors don’t know how many for sure). Although she is now recuperating, the strokes have left her financially devastated. She has been unable to work since October, her savings are wiped out, an she’s not allowed to return to work until January at the earliest. Her medical expenses are in excess of $10,000 already and are still climbing.
Michelle has started a GoFundMe to help get her through this. If you have read The Rising, and you enjoyed the book, or you’ve enjoyed any of the nearly fifty books I’ve written since then, please consider donating if financially possible. Even a dollar or five or ten will help. Again, I can’t stress enough, without Michelle’s charity, I wouldn’t have a career today. If you’ve ever wanted to help me out, or thank me for writing something you enjoyed, then the best way to do that is by helping my friend.
And thank you.