I’m not going to lie, plotting how to kill off 90% of the world’s population was, well, a strange, strange endeavor. A work friend and I debated for weeks what the most efficient way to do it might be (did I just write that?). We contemplated and researched nuclear war, massive flooding and other weather related events, and then two ideas began to emerge as the proverbial winners: solar flare that causes a massive geomagnetic storm and a virus.
Answer Leads to More Questions
So there it was, my world-ending event that would create the backdrop and new landscape for my cast of characters. But how would the virus work? How quickly would it kill? How would it be spread? These were the next set of questions I had to explore and then, thanks to the Google algorithm that starts showing you things based on your search history, an article popped up and caught my eye.
Hate to Tell You This, But Herpes Are Rampant
While this isn’t a subject I’d generally make small talk about, it was an interesting fact that came out of a rather strange week when virus-related articles dominated my news feeds.
According to the World Health Organization:
“Nearly 2/3 of humans under 50 carry the
Type-1 Herpes virus.”
Two out of three humans under the age of 50 already carry this virus. That’s one virulent microbe and in the hands of a post-apocalyptic fiction writer, a convenient, if not staggering statistic. My devious writer brain thought, how can I use this to my advantage? And then it hit me. What if the geomagnetic storm, with it’s strange cosmic radiation, somehow mutated a virus already infecting a significant portion of the world’s population? And what if that mutation proved deadly?
Ending the World Got A Little Easier
The discovery of this idea certainly made my job of “ending the world” a bit easier. All I had to do was take advantage of a vulnerability in world populations that already existed, tweak up the percentage to make it really devastating, add some solar radiation, and voila, I had my killer virus. And since there seems to be a portion of the population immune or simply resistant to said herpes virus in the real world, it just made sense to use that same idea in the book.
But…I didn’t exactly want to be know as the author who killed the world with Herpes.
Can you even imagine?
So I needed a new name. But what?
The Laying of Easter Eggs
I had already begun to amass a series of Easter Eggs to include in this book, each a nod to my favorite book, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, so it just seemed a natural given to look there for inspiration. A quick Wikipedia scan and the JN-1675 virus was born. JN for Jane and 1617 for her birthday (December 16, 1775)