YOUNG AUTHOR OVERCOMES THE CHALLENGES OF MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY TO EXPLORE THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE
HUNTSVILLE, AL – Like many young writers, Javan Bonds dreams almost daily of the apocalypse – usually one populated by the walking dead. But his real-life day-to-day existence is almost as challenging as the world of zombies and collapsing civilizations. Javan, now 30 years old, was diagnosed with Friedrich’s Ataxia, a form of muscular dystrophy, at the age of 11.
Today, Javan’s condition is growing progressively worse. He was 13 years old when he became wheelchair-bound; his sight has been diminishing since 2010 (he is now legally blind), and his hearing has been affected as well. “The summer before my senior year,” he says, “my heart started beating out of rhythm.” Diagnosed as atrial fibrillation, it eventually formed a blood clot. “I had to undergo a transesophageal cardioversion to shock my heart back into rhythm. I went from being a fat kid at 220 pounds to a waif at 120 pounds in just a few months. The class ring I got in my junior year was size 10; I currently wear a size 6.”
But Javan has never let his disability rule him. In spite of it all, he continues to “read” as many as five audio books every week, and with the help of adaptive technologies, as well as his friends and family, he continues to explore his own dark, dystopian worlds. His four current books, he says, are only the beginning.
Javan’s MD hasn’t slowed him down; quite the opposite. He has already written and published three books in his “Still Alive” zombie series – Zombie Lake, Zombie Island, and most recently Zombies on a Plane – as well as a grim near-future dystopian novel, Free State of Dodge, about the decline of the United States and its rebirth. And to hear him tell it … he’s just getting started.
“I’m a working author,” Javan says. “Though not starving as some are, I do try to watch my girlish figure.” He published his first book, Zombie Lake, in 2016, and has plans to publish a total of six books in the series by the end of 2017. His books have become Amazon best-sellers, praised for their humor as much as their action. The Still Alive series follows a group of survivors in a small Alabama town as they try to keep their wits about them and make a new life in a world overrun by naked, nocturnal, yellow-eyed, blue-skinned zombies. “Fun times,” Javan says. “Think Zombieland, just better.”
Meanwhile, his condition continues to deteriorate, and Javan is not shy in talking about it. “Things that were blurry a few years ago are nothing but flat blobs now,” he says. “My sensitivity to color is gradually fading and my depth perception is nonexistent. Reading has always been my escape; and it still is; only now I am limited to audiobooks.”
Yet the stories keep coming. “For some time, I enclosed myself in a bubble of depression and bitterness, only viewing the world through eyes that could no longer really see it. In December 2015, I entered the hospital, holding over 30 pounds of water weight. The doctors gave me six months to two years to live.” But it was that pronouncement that changed everything. “In that moment,” he said, “I decided that if I was going, I would leave something of myself behind to be remembered.”
Free State of Dodge was released in May of 2016. The first of the Still Alive series would soon follow and was published at the end of 2016. Today, he says, “I am doing everything in my power to not let my disease keep me from living my life to the fullest.” And he has these words for other stricken by a life-shortening illness: “Live your life. Light your candle on both ends and let it burn. It may burn out faster, but your flame will burn brighter than some who live much longer.”
Please welcome Javan Bonds to Roadie Notes……….
1. How old were you when you first wrote your first story?
I started writing Free State of Dodge, my first published work, back in 2010. Amazingly, I was not inspired to write until after I started going blind. I finally got that book published, after a stay in the hospital and a diagnosis of “six months to two years to live,” in 2015.
The first story I wrote though, was penned decades before that. My mom was going through some things in the attic and found a story I wrote in kindergarten. It had something to do with a sad Tyrannosaurus rex meeting and becoming friends with a Stegosaurus. I was surprised to discover that I actually used quotation marks correctly!
2. How many books have you written?
There is Free State of Dodge, my first novel, a post-apocalyptic dystopian book following a small town after a series of nationwide terrorist attacks. Next comes my zombie apocalypse series set as a first-person journal, Still Alive. It includes Zombie Lake, Zombie Island, and Zombies on a Plane. I am currently finishing up a short story for an anthology that is slated to be titled Terrors of the Mind. You can expect Zombie Oasis, the fourth volume of Still Alive, to be released in the coming months. My mind has not seen an end to that series, I am already working on several more books in the series and there will be more to the story, indefinitely. I hope to one day return to the Dodge universe and would like to write other stories, my focus is just on my zompoc series at the moment.
3. Anything you won’t write about?
From my books it is easy to tell that I will talk about almost anything. I’m fairly honest and casually profane. In one of my future zombie books, I kill a main protagonist, writing that scene was heartbreaking and I cried like a baby the entire time. I don’t think I would ever be able to write erotica, but I realize that I can be pretty romantic in my writing when the occasion presents itself.
4. Tell me about you. Age (if you don’t mind answering), married, kids, do you have another job etc…
I’m thirty years old. I know that sounds pretty young, but my mom told me there were gray hairs in my goatee the other day.
I’m not married or in a romantic relationship and have no children. I would like to get married and pop out a couple of kids one day. Here’s hoping I become a bestseller. My brother and his wife did just have their first daughter, so I’m a proud uncle.
I have never had a real, eight hours a day, forty hours a week job. The doctors diagnosed me with Friedrichs Ataxia at age 11. Spinal surgery to correct sclerosis was my first trial that year. Walking with a cane for a couple of years, I became fully wheelchair-bound by the age of thirteen. There was not a time I don’t remember being functionally deaf, but hearing is not a problem with one other person in a small room. My heart started beating out of rhythm (atrial fibrillation), a blood clot formed in my left ventricle, and I almost died at seventeen. I lost nearly 100 pounds in just a few months. Soon after that, I became diabetic and insulin-dependent within the next year. Things seem to level off for a few years and I didn’t do anything but waste time. In 2010, I started slowly going completely blind. I was forced to give up watching TV, movies, and began reading audio books constantly. Because my only form of entertainment was reading, I was urged to write my own story. I began writing casually and then things took a turn for the worse. In 2015, I was retaining over 30 pounds of water weight and my heart was barely functioning. Being given less than two years on this earth drove me to get my books published and write like a demon. I have since published four books and I’m hoping to get many more out there. The doctors gave me some really good news a few months ago. The time limit of two years no longer applies.
5. What’s your favorite book you have written?
Zombies on a Plane is my favorite published work. Keeping the humor in my books is my top priority. There are scenes in that book that I find hilarious. Mark Tufo must’ve thought I did a pretty good job on the humor, he said it was “damn funny” in the foreword.
6. Who or what inspired you to write?
After Reading 3 to 4 audio books every week in 2010, my dad came to me with a proposal. “You’ve been doing all this reading, you probably have a story in your head to put down.” “Yeah. I do.” was my only response. I started writing Free State of Dodge Using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. A couple of years went by of working on that, and I read the Zombie Fallout series by Mark Tufo. That series is the reason Still Alive exists.
7. What do you like to do for fun?
I honestly have fun publicizing my books. I guess because I have had basically no ambition to do anything throughout my life, it is fun to finally be moving forward. Of course I love reading zompoc. I occasionally drink a little liquor with a very small group of friends.
8. Any traditions you do when you finish a book?
The first thing I do when I finish a book is start another one. I refuse to be idle. That’s amazing. Ten years ago, I was nothing but idle.
9. Where do you write? Quite or music?
I must have my silence when I write. I tried listening to music, but since I only listen to songs I know, I’m always anticipating the next word and music is nothing but a hindrance. I even tried listening to classical because I always heard it’s supposed to somehow help the creative process. It does not.
10. Anything you would change about your writing?
As soon as I have a chance, I want to reedit and re-release Free State of Dodge as the beginning of a trilogy. I also want to reedit Zombie Lake. The more I write, the more I seem to evolve. At least at the beginning, you will notice a lot of stupid structural mistakes that I am pretty anal about now.
11. What is your dream? Famous writer?
I would love to be a famous writer. If I could do more than simply scratch out a meager existence, I would be beyond happy. Until now, it never seemed possible, but my dream has always been to get married and carry on my name. Like the quote at the beginning of Zombie Lake says, I won’t be forgotten when I’m dead and rotten, because I have written something worth reading, and this interview proves I have done something worth the writing.
12. Where do you live?
My books will tell you that much. I live in Marshall County, Alabama.
I have a dog. His half black lab, half great Pyrenees, and his name is Chewbacca. He is enormous and hairy the name fits him to a T.
14. What’s your favorite thing about writing?
My favorite thing about writing is also my favorite thing about reading. Because I can no longer see, actions can be described in a book so that the reader can see it with the mind’s eye. It is beyond fun to be able to describe something and see it play out as if it were a movie.
15. What is coming next for you?
The fourth volume of Still Alive will be released hopefully within the coming months, Zombie Oasis. I’m already working on books to continue the series. If everything goes right, I should be able to release 4, 5, and 6 before the end of 2017.
Links to his books on Amazon:
Zombie Lake: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MY2S3A9/
Zombie Island: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XHJP7JZ/
Zombies on a Plane: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0728L5YRS
Free State of Dodge: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01F9PRXL4
Javan on social media:
Author page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/javan.bonds.books/
The Official Javan Bonds Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1446780428741620/
Still Alive Series on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Still-Alive-The-Zombie-Series-610814469076865/