Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Judas Syndrome by Michael Poeltl

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Voted Best Writer/Author for 2010 by View Magazine:
A weekly alternative newspaper reaching over 1 million potential voters/viewers.

In a world devastated by an apocalyptic event, 
the bonds of friendship are tested in the haze of 
unrelenting depression, and paranoia.

Will you know who your friends are?

Joel and his friends are on the verge of graduation and excited and optimistic about their futures. But when they return from a camping trip in the remote woodlands to find themselves faced with a post-apocalyptic world, their daily lives acquire burdens and terrors hitherto unexperienced.

The Judas Syndrome is an unforgettable portrait of survival against the odds. Joel, the protagonist, is an average teen whose dreams of entering college in the fall have disintegrated with the rest of the civilized world. Experiencing a barrage of sinister premonitions prior to a camping trip, Joel struggles to shrug them off as nothing more than anxiety over the newest cyber-terror, the Grimm Reaper. For months the Reaper has been inundating the airwaves with threats of mass destruction if world governments do not adhere to his plethora of ridiculous demands. Finally, he does more than just threaten.

The deed done, the Reaper’s threats now realized, Joel and his small band of friends find themselves alone in a dying world. Their families are all dead and gone, and Joel’s family home is now their stronghold. Faith and faithlessness are investigated as his ongoing visions prepare Joel for the realization that the worst is far from over. Prisoners to a darkened sky and toxic earth, the group fights to survive. Through battles staged on their hallowed ground, through loss and victory, the group meets the Pilate to their Judas, unwittingly setting in motion - the Judas Syndrome.

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Michael Poeltl earned his diploma in Interpretive Illustration and began a career in the field while educating himself on the art of writing. Writing quickly became his passion and after completing several shorts, he undertook his recently published work, The Judas Syndrome.

Drawn to the dark places of the mind, Poeltl often works through his own demons when putting words to paper. When the author lives the words he writes, experiencing each moment as it passes, it becomes more than a story,it becomes tangible, something the astute reader will pick up on.

And as with the Yin and Yang, he can appreciate the good in people, and the hope, and the dreams, and the work that is put into building a better life. This too can be found in both his writings, and in his own life. An example of that would be his membership in the Free Masons, where the motto is, "Taking a good man, and making him better."

Poeltl lives in Ontario, Canada with his family, wife Lisa, daughter Tatum and dog Jackson.

What will readers like about your book?
Readers of the genre will appreciate the descriptive telling of the Apocalypse that befalls the teens. They will be able to firmly plant themselves in the world of The Judas Syndrome, and through the main character Joel, live each moment as he experiences them.
The Judas Syndrome is about the human experence when faced with a nuclear armageddon, and all the inherent problems that come with it. No Zombies or Vampires find their footing here.

Why did you self publish?
I decided to self-publish in order to build a fan following and reviews so that I could take my book(s) to an agent or publisher with a proven track record. I've had each book professionally edited as well (which is important). My books being Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic fiction is also a bonus, as the genre is exploding right now with books like The Hunger Games and The Passage having done so well.
At the rate my books are selling, I'm not sure I will bother with a traditional publisher. There are so many ways to market yourself for free on-line now, through forums and bloggers and social media, I can't see doing much better via a publishing house unless they dropped a million dollars in an effort to mass market me.

What inspired you to write this particular story?
Inspiration came to me on summer's evening as I sat upon the roof of a friends family home in the country. There we discussed the inevitability of an apocalyptic event, prophesy that supported it, population densities, wars, the theft of the earths' resources and decided where we were, should an end come quickly, would offer the best option for survival. The scenarios that would reveal themselves through the telling of such a catastrophe excited me, and the story-teller in me emerged.


The days just seemed to blend into one another. I’d lost count at day seventeen. I hadn’t even realized that so many had passed until Gil showed me the calendar he’d fashioned from an old school notebook.

“The army isn’t picking us up, are they, Joel?” he asked. I’d been asking myself the same question, but Gil looked so worried that I couldn’t bring myself to distress him further.

“I’m not counting them out yet. Listen, Gil, we can’t give up on ourselves, not ever.” Even if doubts had crept like dark shadows into my head, there was no point in letting on. Some leader that would make.

He didn’t reply, just picked the M-16 up off the floor and walked to the sliding glass door.

“Don’t know how much longer I can keep it together.” His voice was hollow. “I don’t know. The sadness, everyone’s sadness… I hear them, their cries in the night, the walls can’t contain it. I can’t listen to it anymore.” He began to jerk as emotion overwhelmed him and the tears came. “It can’t go on like this, Joel, I know I can’t.”

I joined him at the glass door and watched the darkness distort all that I loved, all that we were. It wasn’t easy to keep it together when somebody else was losing it, but I felt I had a responsibility to be strong. We stood there for God only knows how long. The sky was as the earth, muddied, wretched and dark. You could suffer a case of vertigo from staring for too long.

Standing there, remembering all that this view once offered- the beautiful vistas in the fall, the lush greens of the summer foliage, the crisp whites of winter snow- I realized that memory was all that remained of this place. In my mind’s eye I saw the sun come out and cleanly sweep over the trees and the lawn, the field and the pool; all that I knew were there, but could no longer see through the thick black rain falling hard from a bitter sky, just beyond the glass.
“Did you see it?” Never taking my eyes off the scene, I hoped the vision would return. It was so short lived. Was I shown a possible future? Or did I just fall back into memory to protect myself from the present?

“What? Did you say something, Joel?” Gil’s response was slow and hollow. He was only reacting to the sound of my voice, never relinquishing his stare into the abyss.

“Forget it,” I answered, knowing what I’d seen was nothing more than a memory.

“There’s a hole, you know?” Gil was starting to scare me. I listened as his voice took on a sobering new tone. “A huge hole...and I can’t fill it, not here, certainly not now.” He stared at himself in the blackened glass. “No one can... such a hole, nothing to fill it.” He paused, flexing his jaw muscles. “Only pain to feed it.”

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