My writing has made me a little paranoid…

which isn’t a bad thing. I think.

Here’s the situation. My son needed a ride to a friend’s house on a weekend morning, and like every weekend morning, I like to lounge around (after writing…I’m up early on weekends too out of sheer habit). 9:30 rolled by, and my son appeared out of nowhere to inform me, “It’s time to go.” I was dressed in a pair of shorts, a sweatshirt and Birkenstocks (no socks). Without donning a jacket, I dutifully jumped in the car and drove him. I didn’t plan to get out of the car, so why would I need a jacket or shoes? On the drive home, my brain started to come up with SCENARIOS, and NONE of them ended well for a man dressed in shorts, a flimsy sweatshirt and sandals, on a 25 degree morning.  

I spend six months at a time (longer for my first book, The Jakarta Pandemic), researching, creating and “playing out” one worst case SCENARIO after another. Not surprisingly, it has left an indelible mark on my thought processes and awareness. 

We had our first “sticking” snow this morning, and after a brief, “I love winter” sentiment, my mind went somewhere else. “Do we have enough food to last the winter, if the power failed right now and didn’t return?” That’s a product of The Jakarta Pandemic. The protagonist had to endure a Maine winter without power or the prospect of replenishing their food stockpile, while everyone was trying to take what they had. Which reminds me, “better check the ammo supply to0…what time does Cabelas open?” Eventually, I settle back into “these SCENARIOS are one in a million,” no need to run out today and fill up the grocery cart with canned goods, dried foods, medicine…”where’s my list again?” See what happens?

Right now, I’m living in Alex Fletcher’s new world, imagining what it would be like to navigate the unfamiliar jigsaw puzzle streets of Boston, in a city on the verge of violent, ugly collapse. He’ll get back to Maine, eventually, but the state will never be the same—for either of us. When I look around, I catch glimpses of the post-apocalyptic Maine brought to life in The Perseid Collapse. I can live with that…at least I’m not writing about zombies. I can’t imagine running around with that in my head.

Is this a writer’s curse? An occupational hazard for sure, but I think it better describes a writer’s GENESIS. The SCENARIOS didn’t start when I decided to write a novel. The novels came when I finally decided to write about the SCENARIOS. At some point, everyone asks at what point I decided to write a novel? It’s hard to answer, since I’ve been creating them for years.

I just finally decided to put one of them on paper. Now I can’t stop.

Maybe my paranoia made the writing!


  1. Ghaltai says:

    So the scenarios came first. My guess is that this is the situational awareness you honed for years, and that some of us practice every day.

    I understand that you’d be more sensitized to your environment. We are sometimes told to fight against hypervigilance, but I’ve decided to go with it. You saw what havoc was wrought in order to save a few dollars on Thanksgiving… imagine how folks will behave come something real..

    I keep a spare jacket/sweatpants/rain pants set in the truck, all sealed in a ziplock. They come in handy. And nobody laughs at my “man purse” with a good stout pen a pad of waterproof paper and a few other necessities in it. No telling what’s inside.

    Keep writing, please:)

    • Steven Konkoly says:

      Situational awareness is a great description. I’m a bit of a daydreamer this way. Even sitting at a coffee ship, I’ll think of three things that could go wrong in the next few minutes and imagine how they would play out and how I would react. I’ve honed this to the point where I often do it as soon as I walk in the door. New places and old. It’s a form of hyper vigilance, I suppose. This is half the battle to being prepared. The other half is taking your SCENARIOS and making an assessment. Case in point is your bag (car and man purse). I know I should have those, but I haven’t taken the steps. Now I’ll have some work to do 🙂

  2. wolfshades says:

    I “suffer” from this too. It actually cuts into my productivity time with everything else, and has done so since I was a little boy. Found out about five years ago (after going for extensive testing and analysis) that I have ADD. *shrug* So now I get to actually use this gift (of sorts) without guilt or concern.

    My wife would say “why haven’t you taken the trash out?” And I would respond “GET OFF MY CASE WOMAN. I HAVE ADD”. So now we’re divorced.

    Whatever the cause for your flights of fantasy, Steve – it is *so* worth it. At least, from a reader’s point of view.

    • Steven Konkoly says:

      I like the term Flights of Fancy. I may have developed this “day dreaming” thing from sitting in thousands of hours of boring meetings. Sort of a defense mechanism to keep myself from going crazy. Now I do it all the time. Between the Navy and Pfizer, I probably logged 3,000 hours of “day trip” time.

      I’ll try to avoid saying something like “Get of my case woman! I’m plotting a book!” Keep the marriage intact is my goal.

  3. Rosemary says:

    “I just finally decided to put one of them on paper. Now I can’t stop.”…and thank God you can’t stop! I love reading those scenarios! Not only that, it has made me much more aware. My brother has always been what I considered a “horder”. He lives with me now, and between him and your books, I have become a “horder” myself…at least of food supplies. Just wish I could afford the other preparations as well. I always think of those who can’t even afford extra food, much less guns and ammo and sleeping bags and tents and all the myriad of other things we should be stockpilig.

    • Steven Konkoly says:

      I won’t stop. Oddly enough, I never set out to “educate” or “raise awareness,” but it’s the most consistent feedback theme I’ve received regarding The Jakarta Pandemic…and it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me, because it raised my awareness too! It still took me about two months (after writing) to start working on some preparations.

      Hoarding can be a good thing, as long as you stay away from shoes, lawn ornaments (that you don’t put outside…I’ve seen that on the hoarders show). Preps can get expensive, which is why I think anyone should start with the basics, food, medical supplies and water. Build up over a long period of time. If you have those items, you don’t have to leave your house/apartment and unnecessarily expose yourself to potential problems.

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