Book Review & Author Interview: Brushfire Plague

Brushfire Plague by R.P. Ruggiero, Prepper Press ($13.95 on Amazon)

"The Brushfire Plague made the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918 look like a case of the common cold."

The publisher, Prepper Press, sent me a review copy of this book at no cost.

Brushfire Plague starts off with the main character's (Cooper) wife on her deathbed from a horrific flu-like illness that is going around in the Pacific Northwest.  Cooper is a regular guy, left devastated by his wife's death, raising his son in a suburban neighborhood.  His neighbor, Dranko, is somewhat of a prepper, who has a few surprises in the basement.

As the disease rapidly spreads, infrastructure begins to fail and lawlessness rules the area.  Cooper rises to a leadership role in his neighborhood and runs through adventures, battles, and investigating the source of the plague.

The main characters show true personality and growth as the story arc develops.  Secondary characters and those with brief appearances are there for reasons and important parts of the story.  There really is no fluff or space filler.

The scenarios and solutions presented have a realistic feel to them.  The source of the Brushfire Plague are hinted at throughout the book, but is still pretty much a surprise when it is revealed.  Sadly, it is not outside the realm of possiblity.

I really enjoyed Brushfire Plague.  It was an easy read, and well written.  It sounds cliche, but  had a hard time putting it down when it was time to go to sleep.  If you like TEOTWAWKI fiction, you'll love Brushfire Plague by R.P. Ruggiero.

Author Interview: R.P. Ruggiero

I was thrilled to be able to interview R.P. and thank him for sharing his story with you.  Here it is:

What is your background?  Brushfire Plague shows your knowledge in medicine, tactics, and survival preps.  How much of that comes from your life?

Since, Katrina, I got serious about prepping and have spent a lot of time learning skills, practicing, and storing supplies.  I very much believe in Robert Heinlein’s credo that “Specialization is for insects.”  He meant that each person should have a wide variety of skills and talents.  Both of my brothers served in the military, so I grew up with a keen interest in tactics and military history.  I also studied basic tactics as part of my research for writing Brushfire Plague.  I avoid being specific about my day job for operational security reasons, but I spend a fair amount of time working with others under extremely stressful situations.  That gave me an insight into how the dynamics play out between people during such times.  I think I’ve been able to bring those areas of knowledge and skills to good use in writing Brushfire Plague.  So far, I’ve been pleased as very experienced survivalists and preppers have read it and found the realism factor to be strong.

Without being a spoiler, Brushfire Plague really takes a look at what could happen with an uncontrolled pandemic.  How realistic do you think the potential is for a widepread, deadly pandemic?

We are overdue for another worldwide pandemic.  No one can predict how virulent the next one will be.  But, with modern travel, when it happens it will spread very quickly.  While I certainly hope one isn’t as deadly as I portrayed it in Brushfire Plague, it is prudent to be ready for this scenario.
What advice would you give to readers about building neighborhood or community involvement in preparedness?

Start small.  Host a workshop on Earthquake Preparedness (or other natural disaster, depending on where live) for your neighbors.  If everyone was ready to survive a few weeks in your neighborhood, guess what?  YOU have just increased your margin of safety. Get neighbors or friends to read Brushfire Plague—or one of the other great survival books out there—to get them thinking. 

Then, listen for opportunities to engage others further in prepping.  Does someone from that earthquake workshop sound pretty interested in preparing?  Discuss a joint purchase of food or supplies.  Ask questions, see where it leads.

Obviously, there’s a delicate balance on getting others involved and your trust level. That’s why I recommend starting small and then seeing where things develop.  Ultimately, the goal is to develop teams of people who are ready to work together in a time of crisis.

Your writing style is very smooth and easy to read and follow.  Have you written anything else?

Thank you for the compliment. I set out to write a very good novel.  I felt that a novel that engages readers imparts the survival lessons that are woven in most effectively. Brushfire Plague is my first novel.  I spent a year and a half writing it and had some great editing help from Prepper Press.  I’m been very appreciative of the amount of feedback from readers about how well written it is, that they find it riveting, and engaged they become with the characters.  Of course, the stories about people who ‘can’t put it down’ and stay up all night to finish it are truly great!

Brushfire Plague is a great, stand-alone novel.  But it certainly leaves room for a sequel.  Any plans for that?

Thank you.  I wanted to have a lot of closure to a very dramatic storyline.  I think I accomplished that, based on what I’ve heard from readers and reviewers.  Obviously, I left a door open to a new chapter for Cooper, Dranko, Jake, and the others.  Yes, I’m currently writing the sequel to Brushfire Plague and expect it to be released by the summer, if not earlier.  Your readers can stay up to date by visiting www.brushfireplague.com or “liking’ the Brushfire Plague page on Facebook or following me @rpruggiero on Twitter.

What do you think are the top few catastrophic events that folks should prepare for?

I’ve always believed in spending your preparation dollars and time on the most likely situations first.  First, whatever natural disasters are common in your area (hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.).  Second, temporary disruptions in civil order based upon economic or other breakdowns in society.  My third one is to be ready to survive a pandemic.

If you had to give one piece of advice to a budding prepper, what would it be?

Start where you are.  This topic can be overwhelming to newcomers.  We need to be realistic about people’s resources and time.  So, my advice is to start small.  Get two weeks of food and water set aside.  Then, build to 2-3 months.  I’d also recommend this approach in the key areas of preparation:  Food, Water, Shelter, Security, and Communications.  For example, after your food, figure out your security measures.  I’d start with firearms training and a pistol.  Then, get more training and a long arm.  This incremental approach on a broad front is smarter, I believe, than having 20 firearms and lots of expertise in their use, but no provisions for water.

If you had to give one piece of advice to a budding novelist, what would it be?

Read “Novelist’s Boot Camp”.  That’s what I did about three years ago and it changed my entire approach to writing.  Then, develop the discipline to start writing…and keep writing.  It’s worth it!

I really enjoyed reading Brushfire Plague and I want to thank you for getting me a review copy and for taking the time for this interview.  I'm sure my readers will appreciate it.

The pleasure is all mine.  Having it out there and hearing from readers has been a true pleasure.  I encourage those who read it and enjoy it help me spread the word…and let me know what you think at rpruggiero@gmail.com

Self Reliance Expo - Mesa, Arizona - Saturday!

After what looked like a great day on the Self Reliance Expo Facebook page today, Saturday is the last day of the SRE in Mesa, Arizona.  You'll get to meet great speakers like Survival Mom - Lisa Bedford, Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy, and our great sponsor, Jeff "The Berkey Guy" Gleason.  It is well worth it if you are anywhere close by.

Hurricane Sandy - Frankenstorm

Sandy is going to be devastating.  If you are on the DelMarVa peninsula or farther north, please make sure you are ready for high winds, extensive rain, power outages and downed trees.  A little farther west, you could get all that, but with up to two feet of snow in some places.

I've got to go down to work Saturday morning for a briefing at the city Emergency Operations Center, so that will disrupt my last minute preps a bit, but we are in pretty good shape.  After I got home from work today I changed the oil in the generators and fired them up for about 15 minutes.  I put a freshly sharpened blade on the chainsaw too.  First thing in the morning, I'll clean out the gutters and carry all the lawn furniture in the shop.  When I go in to work, I'll top off a couple of empty gas cans so that we have plenty for up to a week without power.  Hope it won't be out nearly that long!

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