Forstchen wraps up trilogy with 'Final Day'

Paul Clark,

Montreat history professor Bill Forstchen wraps up his “One Second After” trilogy with his recently published book, “The Final Day.” And it has nothing to do with current world affairs, he said.

Forstchen wrote “The Final Day” (Forge Books) in late 2015-early 2016 during the heated days of campaigning by the Republicans and Democrats who hoped to be their party’s presidential candidate. Despite the horrific events portrayed in the book (and series), Donald Trump’s apocalyptic vision of America didn’t influence the storyline, Forstchen said.

The Final Day

“One Second After,” about the United States’ struggles to rebuild itself after an electromagnetic pulse plunges the country into darkness, bringing about starvation and death, was followed closely by “One Year After.” All three books are set in the Montreat-Black Mountain area.  

Forstchen’s job is teaching history to Montreat College students; writing is what he does in his spare time (he also flies a small green WWII-era Aeronca L-3B recon plane in the skies above Montreat, his home, and Black Mountain). He’s a political conservative who has known U.S. Rep. Newt Gingrich, a Tea Party darling, for two decades, but he emphasizes that his novels are nonpolitical and “for all Americans.”

“It doesn’t matter if you’re liberal or conservative, pro-Hillary, pro-Trump – all of us are going to be caught in this mess unless we do something,” he said in a recent interview.

Forstchen, who has written some 30 novels, hopes the trilogy makes people aware of how vulnerable the nation’s electrical grid system is to electromagnetic pulses, as well as to the devastation the so-called EMPs would have. “Preppers” -  people who are preparing for a breakdown in society – have taken the books to heart, he said.

Bill Forstchen

He likens his raising the alarm to famed WWI fighter pilot Eddie Rickenbacker campaigning before Pearl Harbor about how aircraft carriers, a new technology then, made the U.S. vulnerable to attack. “Tragically,” Forstchen said, “he was right.”

The press release for “The Final Day” sets up the trilogy’s denouement in breathless terms, stating that the book “picks up after John Matherson and his community defeat the designs of the alleged federal government. … The Constitution is no longer in effect, and what's left of the U.S. Army has been deployed to suppress rebellion in the remaining states.”

It’s all just fiction, and anyone who would read politics into it should “lighten up,” Forstchen said. But you don’t have to be a prepper to see how what happens during “The Final Day” could be the preamble to a parable about the times we live in.

“The question in the novel is how to rebuild the country,” Forstchen, a “passionate believer” in the U.S. Constitution, said. “Is it done by the few who made it to the bomb shelters, or is it folks like us that restore an America based on the Constitution? I happen to be a believer, as (Abraham) Lincoln said, in the wisdom of the ordinary man.”

“The Final Day,” published Jan. 3, was the most difficult of the three books to write, Forstchen said.

“How do you wrap up all the various loose ends, plot lines?” he said. “My intent with the series was to do more than write a book but also to get a message out there. I feel like I achieved what I set out to do.”

“In ‘One Second After,’ one of my main characters says to another, ‘all that stuff we used to argue about a month ago seems so meaningless now.’ We as Americans should realize that we have a lot more that binds us than divides us.”