Many scenarios exist of a potential societal collapse in our world, such as nuclear war, biological warfare, plagues and disease, global financial collapse, political strife or a natural catastrophe. Regardless of how it could come about, survival is the name of the game. Jason Hartman interviews R.P. Ruggiero, author of Brushfire Plague, to talk about the book, about preparation, survival and the importance of community. Brushfire Plague is an action novel about a virulent plague that quickly spreads around the world. The main character faces a daily battle for survival, which leads to uncovering a horrible secret about the Brushfire Plague and having to make incredibly difficult choices. In the interview, R.P. talks about group dynamics, how issues are discussed and worked out under duress. We have to be able to deal with and communicate with other people, including others’ egos and fears. He further explains that in crisis situations, people tend to be slow to realize the rules have changed, and discusses preparation and security. His goal is stressing the basic responsibility of being prepared so as not to be a burden on others and being able to protect yourself and your family should a crisis occur.
R.P. Ruggiero lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and two sons. He spends as much time as he can in the outdoors and strives to live by Robert Heinlein’s credo that, “Specialization is for insects.” When he is not outdoors, writing, or learning a new skill, he works coordinating people to achieve their common goals. He brings his almost two decades of experience in group dynamics—particularly when people are under stress—to good use in writing The Brushfire Plague; a novel grounded in neighborhood defense during a devastating plague.
Narrator: Welcome to the Holistic Survival Show with Jason Hartman. The economic storm brewing around the world is set to spill into all aspects of our lives. Are you prepared? Where are you going to turn for the critical life skills necessary for you to survive and prosper? The Holistic Survival Show is your family’s insurance for a better life. Jason will teach you to think independently, to understand threats and how to create the ultimate action plan. Sudden change or worst case scenario, you’ll be ready. Welcome to Holistic Survival. Your key resource for protecting the people, places and profits you care about in uncertain times. Ladies and gentlemen, your host Jason Hartman.
Jason Hartman: Welcome to the Holistic Survival Show. This is your host Jason Hartman, where we talk about protecting the people places and profits you care about in these uncertain times. We have a great interview for you today. And we will be back with that in less than 60 seconds on the Holistic Survival Show. And by the way, be sure to visit our website at HolisticSurvival.com. You can subscribe to our blog, which is totally free, has loads of great information, and there’s just a lot of good content for you on the site, so make sure you take advantage of that at HolisticSurvival.com. We’ll be right back.
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Jason Hartman: It’s my pleasure to welcome R.P. Ruggiero to the show. He is the author of Brushfire Plague. It’s an action novel of survival and adventure in the context of societal collapse. And it delivers some useful lessons about survival that are woven throughout the novel. R.P. welcome, how are you?
R. P. Ruggiero: I’m fine and thank you for having me on your show.
Jason Hartman: My pleasure. Well hey, tell us about Brushfire Plague.
R. P. Ruggiero: Sure thing, yeah. I think it’s a pretty exciting and gripping tale of a plague breaks out, it’s virulent in terms of how fast it’s spreading. And also it’s sort of morbidity or kill rate. Essentially it’s like something nobody’s ever seen before so it really sets off right at the outset of the story society really reacting to that and essentially starting to unravel very quickly.
And the main character, his name is Cooper Adams, is sort of your average every man, he’s actually a traveling salesman. He’s forced to sort of react and deal with the situation, including his whole family, his neighborhood, and he really quickly needs to organize his neighbors for self-defense amongst the sort of chaos and violence that starts occurring as everything sort of unravels all around them.
And then he also sort of then gets the first clues that maybe this plague didn’t just start accidentally and maybe there was some intention behind it. And he actually starts tracking that down and throughout the course of the novel, tracks that down and really culminates and at the end of the novel he needs to make a decision, about does he tell the world what he’s learned or keep a horrible secret private and away from the world and give his nation a chance to recover and rebuild as the plague starts to actually lose some of its deadly effect towards the end of the novel.
Jason Hartman: Preppers and survivalists don’t pay enough attention to this one particular area. Well there’s two big areas I think they miss. Number one is communication. Kind of this mistake and maybe subconscious assumption we have that we’re all going to still use cellphones when things get rough – that’s unlikely. So ham radios-that’s an area everybody needs to become familiar with. Amateur radio or at least CB radio I think. Or at least family walkie-talkies if nothing else. But the other area is community. And the area of organizing with community, with neighbors and such. And there are some good lessons in Brushfire plague of how the main character organizes, right?
R. P. Ruggiero: Yeah I’m glad you actually brought that up on the first point actually, one of the characters, who’s essentially the main character’s side kick, does actually have a ham radio and that’s one of the ways they sustain communication with what’s happening throughout the world. But the second point is actually a great one. And I’ve been an avid reader of this genre my whole entire life and I’ve always thought the aspect of how the groups function and how communities function has really always been neglected. You know all too often it’s always a lone wolf character who goes out and everyone does exactly how he wants, and if he doesn’t he just kills them, you know? And I think that that’s just not reality.
And I tried to build in a lot, there’s actually a lot of useful lessons around group dynamics and how to bring people together for that common cause, common purpose of defense. I described sort of how those issues get discusses and worked out in a way that’s certainly not boring and it actually adds a lot of drama and suspense to the novel and the main character doesn’t always get his way with his neighbors. I think that adds a whole element of both reality to the novel and drama to the novel, but also again it does reinforce, I think, some valuable lessons for folks who want to be prepared for what might come, that you’ve got to be able to deal with and communicate with other people. I think that’s essential to thriving and surviving in any situation that’s outside the norm. And that certainly is a strong thread throughout the novel. I think it really, again in terms of this genre, is going to add a lot of value that people may not have normally seen in other works of a similar nature.
Jason Hartman: Well what are some of the lessons, communicating with people, working with other people – certainly important, but maybe drill down on that a little more if you can.
R. P. Ruggiero: Sure, I’ll just give one example. There’s another character in the story – his name’s Calvin Little. And the protagonist Cooper Adams and Calvin have a lot of tension at the beginning and a lot of it is around ego. And I think that’s one of the fundamental things if you’re dealing with other folks in your neighborhood. You’ve got to learn how to deal with different egos – different approaches to a similar situation and essentially that’s what plays out in the novel as one example.
Another one I think that goes into survival aspects that plays out in Brushfire Plague, is the notion that some people will not figure out fast enough that the rules are changing and what worked in sort of a normal functioning society, those same rules are not necessarily going to work in a society that is confronting a huge crisis that is unraveling around them. So that’s another dynamic that I play out a lot in the story, of how Cooper Adams essentially deals with that as well.
Jason Hartman: And beyond community and organization, what are some of the other things that he encounters and lessons people can learn? Real life lessons in terms of how to handle those things?
R. P. Ruggiero: I think a lot of it I think to cover a lot of the basics that sometimes get forgotten. You mentioned communication. A lot of times people forget the basics of food, water, security measures, so again the protagonist of the story, he is not a survivalist, he does not have his sort of bunker full of food stuff, full of water. So through his experiences, they impart a lot of valuable lessons to readers about how do you go about getting prepared. On the security front, I really walk through a realistic situation which is they sort of do an inventory of their neighborhood and find out they’re actually pretty weak and under prepared in terms of weapons to sort of defend themselves.
I talk about another aspect that I get into a lot, is this notion of not only once they’ve got their own neighborhood organized, how do they go out beyond their neighborhood and into the neighborhoods that surround them. And they encounter a lot of different situations, some where they’re able to make some alliances, and work together, other folks that they start encountering conflict.
And so I think that’s another notion if you think about layers of security. You can think of your home, you can think of your neighborhood, and then I think you need to start thinking about the neighborhoods beyond your own. And that’s another aspect of the novel that I think is unique to this genre. So those are just a couple of examples of other areas I try to bring out and get people to think about.
And I think also, and I’ve had this feedback already from readers, is that I think people that are into preparations are always thinking about how do I get my spouse or my family or my friends who may not understand the need to be prepared and what are some ways to get others thinking about that, and folks have already started to give me feedback that they really see the Brushfire Plague as a not only great read, and interesting for them and they learned a few things from it, but that it’s really a great sort of introduction or primer to bring other folks along who maybe right now are not thinking about the need to be prepared for potential crisis that they might encounter in the future.
Jason Hartman: So well, you can’t give us a spoiler. I was about to ask you for one. But just any other things? I mean there’s so many reasons to prep. I mean it’s not just societal collapse due to plague. It might be to economics, it might be due to political strife, and it might not be America that’s the only place in the cross hairs. Of course we’re talking to a global audience and many countries have much more eventful history even than the US does with this kind of stuff. But just any tips that people can learn? You know, any things that kind of go wrong? Your novel’s very realistic and I think that’s one of the things that I just want to bring to listeners in this talk.
R. P. Ruggiero: Yeah I think the other aspect that we haven’t talked about, and again it comes out in the Brushfire Plague, is just how quickly things can sort of come apart. I think people, even some folks who really are getting prepared think they’re going to have a week or two weeks to really get ready for something. The reality is that if a plague like this broke out that is so destructive and spreads so fast, things really do come apart in a matter of days and certainly when you think about an earth quake or other situations, I mean, we’re not going to always have any other time to go and get those last few supplies at the store. I see that mistake made obviously by folks who aren’t even thinking about being prepared but even amongst those who are getting ready, sometimes miss that fact.
And I think just how quickly things can turn ugly when confronted with a collapse such as set out in the Brushfire Plague. So I think those are just another couple few lessons I would share with it. And I think as people read the novel they’re going to learn through Cooper Adams. He’s not someone who is really prepared at all. Now, what’s a great foil is his sidekick, that character’s name is Paul Drenko, who is a pretty hard core survivalist. He’s able to really, he’s really the vehicle to really impart some of those really valuable lessons and to educate Cooper on what he should have done and what he needs to do going forward as well as then the reader is then going to obviously pick up those lessons as well.
Jason Hartman: Well, good stuff. Well where can people get the book, and by the way, when was it published?
R. P. Ruggiero: July 29th was the first day it was available to the public. And yeah, and folks can get it on Amazon.com on trade paperback and also The Kindle eBook Reader. It’s available on BN for barensandnoble.com, again paperback or for The Nook Reader. An easy website if folks want to get more information about the book is the site dedicated to the book. It’s really easy to remember. It’s www.brushfireplague.com. And there’s links to purchase the book from that site, there’s some more background on myself, the story, some of the reviews that have started to come in and there’s obviously a fair amount of reviews already on Amazon as well.
Jason Hartman: Right, right. And just so the listeners know, the name Brushfire Plague, that was just to connote that it spreads like a brushfire and it’s very destructive, right?
R. P. Ruggiero: Absolutely. So in the story that’s what the media calls this plague, is Brushfire Plague because it’s spreading so quickly and it’s so destructive. So that’s where that comes from.
Jason Hartman: So hey, just in closing here R.P., are there any things you’d like people to know just about being prepared in general? Why to do it, how to do it, not necessarily relating to the book but you’ve been fascinated by this type of reading for many, many years and I just wanted to see if you have any thoughts there?
R. P. Ruggiero: Absolutely. I think I like to try to speak to folks who maybe aren’t into this yet, and I think it’s important, and I say to folks you have home owner’s insurance, you have car insurance, why wouldn’t you have some insurance in terms of food, water, basic security, communications, clothing, medical, that would get you through at least even a short term crisis and hopefully the more you have resources and ability and preparation, longer term crisis. I think that’s the biggest thing I’d say to your audience is that that’s so important and I also fundamentally believe that it’s just a basic responsibility.
So in the Brushfire Plague, a really strong relationship is between the father and his son and his efforts to obviously protect his son from everything that’s going on all around them. And I have two boys of my own, and I just take that it’s just a basic responsibility I have as a father and I think just as a citizen of this country, as an American that’s also a responsibility. And I think for those of us who are already prepared to whatever extent that we are, we do have a fundamental responsibility to bring others along with you will, and get them involved and get them prepared, because the more preparations that have happened in a community or a neighborhood or a family, etc., we’re all better off. If a crisis, and obviously we don’t want anything to happen, but if a crisis were to come, we’re all better off the more of those in our nation, our community, our neighborhood or our families who are prepared.
And I really think that Brushfire Plague was really written to just really be an entertaining and great novel with engaging and real and evolving characters. And I think again that folks will enjoy it. But I think it’s also a great vehicle to maybe introduce some folks that aren’t there yet, to open their eyes about possible crisis that they could end up facing. But I think that’s the basic thing, is we’ve got to bring others along and get them to be maybe a little bit more aware than they currently are today.
Jason Hartman: Yeah and I think the fundamental reason, like you say, it’s a responsibility. It’s the thing you have to do. Even if you’re not that concerned about yourself, you need to prepare so that you can become less of a burden on the community. Because people who aren’t prepared, they’re a total burden to everybody else. So it’s a basic responsibility as a part of society that each of us, it’s incumbent on us to be prepared so if you do nothing else, buy some extra canned food, and some extra water, that would be a huge leap over most people, so.
R. P. Ruggiero: No I think that’s right, because if someone was walking around and they don’t have fire insurance for their house or car insurance, we would call them irresponsible. And I think it’s the same dynamic here. It’s funny you mentioned canned goods. One of my favorite lines of feedback I’ve gotten back from a reader was someone who said, I don’t normally read this genre. I got a recommendation from a friend who read it, and I never thought about this stuff before. It’s got me thinking I should have some more canned goods on hand and I should know how to defend myself if something like this were ever to happen.
And I was thrilled to get that kind of feedback because one it shows that reader’s impact, your work has had, your novel has had on that individual. But even more than that is just that again I think that’s someone else who’s eyes were opened a little bit, that at least now they’re thinking about getting on hand at least some supplies to be ready for at least some sort of crisis. So I do think it’s a basic responsibility and I think our responsibility as people whose eyes are opened a little bit, is to again help bring that knowledge and awareness to others.
Jason Hartman: Good stuff. Well hey, R.P., thank you for joining us today. We appreciate it.
R. P. Ruggiero: Oh, I appreciate your time. Thanks a lot.
Narrator: Thank you for joining us today for the Holistic Survival Show. Protecting the people, places and profits you care about in uncertain times. Be sure to listen to our Creating Wealth Show, which focuses on exploiting the financial and wealth creation opportunities in today’s economy. Learn more at www.JasonHartman.com or search “Jason Hartman” on iTunes.
This show is produced by the Hartman Media Company, offering very general guidelines and information. Opinions of guests are their own, and none of the content should be considered individual advice. If you require personalized advice, please consult an appropriate professional. Information deemed reliable, but not guaranteed. (Image: Flickr | Jeff Tidwell)
Transcribed by Ralph