Since I write in both genres, I thought I’d share my observations with you.
There are differences. After multiple books in both categories, I’ve realized it’s a harder to write PA fiction than thrillers. With post-apocalyptic fiction, if you’re writing a series, you have to bring the time line forward. When you do, you have to decide how the world has begun to evolve, correct, or put itself back together from whatever event caused the apocalypse. The world isn’t static and people move forward. Societies may have unraveled, and some PA writers take the world back to near stone age, but things always progress.
Time lines: Setting out a realistic progression can be tricky. In my series, an EMP attack caused a national shut down of electrical power and destroyed all modern engines and devices. Now, nearly four years later, how far would we have progressed?
Rebuilding society: I postulated that the country would have devolved back to city-states in organization. But gangs would have been brought more under control from the anarchy that would have been present early on. Now I have to bring world politics into the picture while looking at how our country could begin to put itself back together. How would other global players who were not affected by the power shut down deal with the US? I sense the writer must tread carefully here to maintain credibility.
Thrillers are easier. In writing a thriller, the world can be presented pretty much as it exists. One doesn’t have to recreate it or move it forward in a fictional time line. If one wants to make their story timely, there are enough hot spots around the world for a thriller writer to place their protagonist in.
Latest example: I placed my latest thriller, Death in the Congo, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC. I could focus on the instability as it currently exists. I was able to set up the tensions and exploitation that are currently going on as part of my plot. Even the Chinese involvement in the DRC and other African countries is present and documented. These current events were more than enough to provide the tension and conflict for my protagonist to have to navigate.
The Chinese situation: While I’m currently busy finishing my fifth PA book, I’m already thinking about my next thriller. With what has happened recently, our country may change from a posture of pushing back against the Chinese to one of accommodating them for the sake of large corporate/globalist interests. I may have to go back to the Chinese involvement for my conflict. They certainly wouldn’t be happy with what happened in Death in the Congo (not giving away any plot secrets) and would have reasonable suspicions about who might have been involved. We haven’t seen the last of the Chinese and their threat to our country. Both in real life and in fiction.