The Big Idea: Zac Topping

“Better to bring a casserole to your neighbor’s house than a shotgun” is a Midwest saying that rings extra true in author Zac Topping’s new novel, Wake of War. Follow along in his Big Idea as he takes you through war-torn streets of the near-future — streets that are all too familiar.


Crumbling, bullet-pocked buildings. Bombed out streets. Dust and rubble and the sound of snapping gunfire. A place that people had once called home, now called a combat zone. Devastation, despair. The epicenter of societal collapse. A scene that could be from any number of war-torn cities in far-off countries we see cycling through the news every day. But what if it wasn’t in some distant place? What if it was right here at home where you couldn’t just change the channel and put it out of your mind? 

That was the question I sought to explore in the pages of Wake of War, a near-future military thriller in which the United States finds itself embroiled in a second civil war. What would a conflict like this look like here on American soil? What would it mean for the future of the nation? How would it change our way of life? And if we could just imagine what it would be like for those of us here in the States, could we maybe better understand what it is others are going through elsewhere around the world? Would we be so quick to call for violence if we truly understood what that meant?

A lot of questions, I know, but it’s safe to say that it’s a good time to be asking them. Over the last several years we’ve come closer to the brink than ever before. We’ve seen cities burn. Protests turn to riots. Armor-clad enforcers snatching people off the streets. Tempers are high, opinions are set, and the political landscape has become dangerously volatile. Tensions are high for a reason, though. There’s a lot that needs to be set straight here in the US. An abundance of archaic mindsets preventing forward progress. Some radical ideas that might possibly be overcorrection. All the necessary ingredients for conflict laid out before us. 

Now I don’t pretend to have the answers, not even close. I consider myself an average person of average intellect with an average understanding of what’s going on. But what I do have is some perspective as to where we may be headed. You see, I’ve been to war. I’ve walked those rubble-strewn streets, I’ve seen the devastation violent conflict brings. I’ve been a part of that. But it was in a country on the other side of the world. It wasn’t my home. They weren’t my streets, and there’s a disconnect there that makes things…hazy. So to make things undeniably clear, I brought the story home.

Wake of War isn’t about the politics that led the nation to war. It isn’t about generals moving pieces around the board, or leaders plotting and scheming grand plans for domination. It isn’t a twisted fantasy of the apocalypse. It’s a story about the people who are caught up in the fighting, the people who are trapped by the violence, and rendered helpless by the inescapable situation. It’s a boots-on-the-ground look at where we may be headed if we don’t figure out how to live and thrive together. Wake of War is a cautionary tale. Brutal, raw, uncomfortable. But if we don’t look away, and if we truly consider the consequences of a complete societal failure, maybe we can realize that’s not the outcome we want. And instead of fighting, instead of burning the country to the ground, we can work together to create a better future, for all of us.

Wake of War: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s site. Follow him on Twitter.

4 Comments on “The Big Idea: Zac Topping”

  1. I get the impression that a lot of people don’t like how society is changing, and feel ignored by the powers-that-be. I think they WANT to tear it all down.

    It is of course a fair point that they have little or no comprehension of just how dreadful life would be …

  2. What worries me is that some people do understand what kind of dreadful circumstances their “burn it down” ethic would inflict upon the rest of us…and to such people, that is the main selling point of the crime they envision themselves committing.

  3. Going by memory: President Kennedy once said that those who make peaceful change impossible, make violent change inevitable. Too many people suffering for far too long with precious little hope, and with all the institutions and governments failing in every which way, I cannot blame some for wanting to burn it down. At least, it would be both a change and a chance, but those at the top are clamping down on all debate or any peaceful change while others see, vulture like, opportunity and help to make it worse.

    While I think that almost the whole of the political establishment and the elites that they serve should be fired with many on trial being because of the massive corruption and the overseas war crimes, I do fear the likely civil war. Too many people also want the system to remain as it is and will do almost anything to keep it in place. Funny thing about the first civil war is that both sides thought that the other side would just fold. That there would be no real fighting.

    But wars create their own meanings and often they, not the people in “charge,” that decides when it is “over.”

  4. I’m glad someone’s an optimist…

    if-and-when they get their wish, the GQP/WS/KKK/etc will be very surprised how fires don’t stop at the ghetto walls nor do viruses show deference to the elite… police will at some point slow walk responses to urgent calls from the rich ‘n pampered as their own families begin to look hollow-eyed and/or cold and/or denied education… I would savor being there as fly-on-wall as the elite get a fast (but brief) lesson in “economics of chaos”

    as to food supply, please consider how 3% of Americans feed 100% of the populace… flaws in supply chain not limited to dependencies upon synthetic fertilizers and affordable fuels and well-paved roads and warehouses… there is unavoidable need for stoop labor done by people who will work for eighty-seven cents an hour… if these extremist Christian Nationalists lock down the border and/or lynch too many non-whites there will not be enough cheap labor to exploit… as to hoarders & preppers, they are in for an unhappy surprise when it come to quality control-viability-nutrition of those so-called bunker foodstuffs… about ten years ago I got a closer look at a item of long term food storage (competitor to Mountain House) a buddy had in his basement for three years and the plastic had gone brittle… insects/mice gnawed into it and what was not pilfered was spoiled… whereas those newer items after sitting in cool dark when opened were almost inedible due to yuck smell… cooked off chemically or just not carefully processed… just does not matter how many guns you got if farmers cannot produce foodstuffs in large enough volumes

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