Tuesday, March 18, 2014

5 Ways Rabies Influenced my (Zombie) Romance

by Tara Quan

Once upon a time, I was fortunate enough to have one of those jobs where I was expected only to (a) have a pulse, (b) answer the phone, and (c) track down a place in the United Arab Emirates that sold HRIG (Human Rabies Immunoglobulin). I won’t confirm or deny whether or not I spent any work time writing my novel, but let’s just say I had plenty of brain capacity leftover for plotting.

When writing science fiction, I prefer to base my more pie-in-the-sky ideas on a grain of truth. When I decided writing a fairy tale set in a zombie world was going to be my path to fame and fortune (man was I in for a world of disappointment), I drew inspiration for the Undead Reanimation Virus (URV) from Rabies.

Here are 5 things Rabies and my Undead Reanimation Virus (URV) have in common:

  1. Transmission: Rabies is transmitted when infected saliva of a host (a monkey, in the case I dealt with) comes into contact with a patient, most commonly through a bite. Sound familiar?
  2. Prevention: Rabies is prevented by eliminating hosts, usually through ensuring adequate animal vaccination and educating those at risk to recognize signs of the disease in animals, to include changes in behavior, reduced food and water intake, increased saliva production, violent out bursts, and biting at the slightest provocation. URV is prevented by eliminating zombies, usually through a shot in the head, and educating survivors to recognize signs of zombie-ism, including violent behavior, foaming at the mouth, and excessive biting.
  3. Disease Progression: Rabies has an incubation period between 10 days -7 years, though the average is 3-6 weeks. Symptoms include drooling, convulsions, excitability, loss of muscle function, fever, muscle spasms, as well as numbness and tingling. For story purposes, I reduced the incubation period of URV to 24 hours, but the rest of the progression of rabies jived well with zombies, so I kept it as is.
  4. Treatment: For an unvaccinated patient, rabies is treated by cleaning the wound well with soap and water, followed by an injection of human rabies immunoglobulin at the site of the bite the day it occurred. This provides immediate antibodies until the body can respond to the vaccine by creating antibodies of its own. This injection is followed by 5 doses of the rabies vaccine. Guess how URV-immunoglobulin works.
  5. Vaccine: Made from inert rabies virus, the vaccine is given to people at high risk to protect them if they are exposed. It can also prevent the disease if it is given to a person after exposure. It should be considered for people who might come into frequent contact with rabies and international travelers. In both Tower in the Woods and Catching Red, Federal Military Agents sent from Washington, D.C. into the wastelands (which I equate with international travel) receive the URV vaccine. Refugees from the wasteland who have been bitten also receive the vaccine as a form of treatment.

Catching Red

Scarlet “Red” Ryding is on a mission. To prevent mass suicide, she must fulfill her grandmother’s evil wishes and return posthaste. With knives in hand, she dives headfirst into an abandoned hospital full of zombies. But after getting trapped within, she is forced to accept help from the world’s most dangerous predator—a man.

Covert Agent Marcus Woodsman received strict instructions against interfering in the affairs of nomads. As a spy for the Federal Military Agency, his mandate is to observe and report. But when he finds a little redhead caught in the center of a brain-eater swarm, conscience compels him to put his ax to good use. By the time he realizes this smart-ass scout comes equipped with a world of trouble, it’s too late—he would do anything to keep her safe.

As Red and her Woodsman work together to survive undead, brave a snowstorm, and bring down an evil cult, they learn to laugh, love, and fight for happiness. The second book in Tara Quan’s Undead Fairy Tales series, Catching Red is a post-apocalyptic thriller with a happily ever after.

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About the Tara Quan

Globetrotter, lover of languages, and romance author, Tara Quan has an addiction for crafting tales with a pinch of spice and a smidgen of kink. Inspired by her travels, Tara enjoys tossing her kick-ass heroines and alpha males into exotic contemporary locales, fantasy worlds, and post-apocalyptic futures. Armed with magical powers or conventional weapons, her characters are guaranteed a suspenseful and sensual ride, as well as their own happily ever after. Learn more at www.taraquan.com 

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  1. Great post, Tara. Love how you drew parallels between rabies and a zombie epidemic and then twisted it into a fairy tale based apocalyptic story. Sounds like some great creative thinking behind the concept. The science elements of your story sound very well executed.

  2. What a fun premise all around!


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