We recently had the pleasure of speaking with the Author of “A Happy Bureaucracy.” It is one of the most entertaining takes on the Post-Apocalypse written in recent decades. M.P. Fitzgerald gives us insight into his book, tips for other writers and an exclusive sneak peek into his upcoming follow-up novel.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What kind of person writes a book like this?
A lunatic, mostly. I am a post-apocalyptic parody author with a penchant for the dark stuff. I was born and raised in the Sierra Nevada mountains where my only field trips as a boy were to the Donner Party’s campsite and occasionally to a casino.
I currently live in Seattle now where no one believes me that this was normal.
I have a very deep need to point out the abyss and laugh at it, and so far I am very fortunate that others find my behavior to be entertaining.
What made/influenced you to become a writer?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a kid. Books were all around me constantly, I think we had a couple of bookshelves per room growing up.
I have always had an artistic pursuit of some kind, but ultimately writing is always what I gravitate toward the most.
With the enormous amount of Zombie post-apocalypse novels out there, at last count over 1000, what made you decide to go in the direction that you did?
I do love my zombie apocalypse, but in my heart-of-hearts the post-nuclear holocaust is the gold standard for wasteland fiction. I grew up watching A Boy and his Dog on VHS and played Fallout 2 until my eyes bled.
It is far more frightening to me to know that at any moment the world could end in nuclear fire because our leaders act like toddlers then it is to imagine my neighbor eating my brains.
More realistic too. Plus, the post-nuclear holocaust is just rife with a brand of madness that is singularly its own and I really wanted to play in that irradiated sandbox.
I also think that doing a zombie-less apocalypse helps the book stand out. I love my Z culture, but a lot of it sort of blends together and the last thing I wanted to do was write something forgettable.
Tell our readers a little about your book.
A Happy Bureaucracy is Mad Max meets Hunter S. Thompson with a dash of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. It takes place in a post-apocalypse where the IRS is the only government institution to survive World War III.
Imagine the nail-biting, fever-dream action of Mad Max: Furry Road coming to a sudden halt as black-tied auditors pull Furiosa aside for not doing her taxes.
It is based off of the IRS’s real-life plans to handle an apocalypse, and I love how naively optimistic that plan is in the face of our traditionally bleak views of the wasteland setting.
If I were to summarize the plot: After the world ended the least important question was immediately asked: who is going to collect all of the taxes?
Arthur McDowell is a steadfast tax auditor craving the safety of the desk job due to him. However, his dreams are put on hold as the IRS plans a census into new irradiated territory and he is forced to work with freelance Enforcer, Rabia Duke, whose diet of drugs is hand to mouth.
This will be a suicide mission, and neither is keen to see the other survive. Arthur must survive roving gangs of cannibals, radiation, and starvation. But most of all he has to survive the biggest wasteland gang of them all: the IRS!
I am counting down the days until someone locks me up in an asylum for this 😛
What was the hardest part of the story to write for you?
The final draft. I had cut out so much and had rewritten a few chapters and it was hard for me to know when I was done—when it was appropriate to stop editing it. But in all honestly, I had a blast writing this book!
What was the most interesting experience that you’ve had since you’ve been writing?
I’ve had a reader of mine reach out to me and mail me cash from Hawaii for a book because they were retired and did not have a bank account (don’t tell the IRS, they will KILL me).
They let me know how much Sci-Fi meant to them and how much it helped them get through hard times growing up. It struck a chord with me— being able to reach a reader and connect with them on such a level is something I would never trade for.
I still talk to that reader, and they have lived a very interesting life. I would have never met this friend if it were not for my books. I cherish it.
Your writing reminds me of Terry Pratchett or Piers Anthony writing a post-apocalypse novel. Have they influenced your work?
That is a pretty high complement, thank you! Yes! Terry Pratchett is a big influence on my work, as well as Douglas Adams, Kurt Vonnegut, and Hunter S. Thompson.
I love how genuinely clever those authors are, and how well they walk the line of madness and genius.
I think Pratchett and Adams in particular opened my eyes on how lovingly one can make fun of their favorite genre and produce something wholly new and genuine.
What advice would you have for other writers?
Don’t filter yourself until your third draft. If you are punching the keys and you stop yourself to wonder “Is this okay? Does this cross a line?” keep going because you’ve struck gold.
Let your first couple of drafts be as raw as possible, then dress it up for others when you edit. That, and write everyday. Even if it is just a sentence, get it down on paper. The habit is the most important part of the journey.
What kind of projects are you currently working on?
I am working on the sequel to A Happy Bureaucracy and I am also constantly working on short stories which I share with members of mailing list.
Any teasers to the new book?
Oh hell yes! The next book is going to be called Fear and Loathing in the Wasteland. It will be faster, weirder, funnier and have a lot more curse words. Here’s a sample:
“What happened to that can of dog food I gave you?” Rabia asked with eyebrows lowered and smoke pouring from her lips. No answer. Rabia took another drag on her cigarette, and with no calm asked again, “What about the dog food, Dinner?”
“You got to eat the fruit. I don’t want the dog food!” Dinner finally responded, her eyes looking sour at the fire, avoiding Rabia’s gaze.
“The canned grapefruit helps metabolize my drugs quicker. Eat your food,” said Rabia.
“Do I get to do drugs?”
“Listen, I don’t care what you do with your money, kid, but the more people doing drugs the less there is for me. Eat. Your. Food,” Rabia said between her teeth.
When can we expect them?
The next book will be out this summer, and the short stories will be delivered right to subscribers mailboxes in the meantime.
Where can people buy your book?
You can find the book here on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MN5K1DW where it is free for Kindle Unlimited users and less than a Big Mac for everyone else!
You can also get its free companion book and prequel, Memos from the Wasteland when you subscribe to my Bunker Dispatches here: https://revfitz.com/free-novel/ Thanks for having me, this was a blast!
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