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As a freelance editor, Lyn Worthen has helped indie authors polish over six million words of fiction, and her multi-author anthologies have received awards and acclaim from the League of Utah Writers, the Critters Writing Workshop, and the Horror Writers of America. She is a frequent participant in fiction workshops and conferences, both as a presenter and a student of the craft and business of publishing – and a self-described "caffeine-to-text conversion unit," which explains how she gets so much done.

For more information, follow Camden Park Press on Facebook, or learn about her editing services at www.camdenparkediting.com

Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse by Lyn Worthen

It's time to turn the "man and his dog wandering through a dystopian world" trope on its head, and tell the stories about cats and their women in appropriately dystopian settings. Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse wanders through the broken world narrative in stories of survival, technology, magic, and sheer human determination. But – like their cats – the authors frequently slipped out the upstairs window or knocked things off of countertops, and their stories are stronger for it. In these pages, cats help their women find a better life, protect and defend and fight for the women who have sheltered and protected them – and vice-versa. Because these are not only stories about surviving troubled times, but of the relationships between the women and their cats, between the members of communities both small and large, and how they thrive, even in the face of catastrophic loss. Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse – it's time to take them seriously!

CURATOR'S NOTE

Lyn's puckish sense of humor is perfect for 2020. She got tired of reading post-apocalypse stories about men and their dogs, so she had her favorite writers write about women and their cats in a post-apocalyptic world, never imagining how the first few months of 2020 would make this book even more relevant. When you finish this anthology, search for Lyn's other anthologies. They're wonderful. – Kristine Kathryn Rusch

 
 

BOOK PREVIEW

Excerpt

Introduction:
Apocalypse Cats

Lyn Worthen

Like so many things, this anthology began as a random conversation on social media – a handful of people tossing ideas and suggestions into the universe like the proverbial spaghetti at the wall. "We want to read about strong women." "We want to read about surviving the apocalypse." "We want to read about cats." After batting the ideas around a bit, Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse was born.

I have to admit, when the stories began rolling in – a trickle that quickly became a downpour – I was more than a little apprehensive at the prospect of wading through the resulting flood.

Had my inbox filled up with ravenous hordes of zombies?

It hadn't, for which I was grateful. I had hoped for a wide variety of apocalyptic settings and situations, and the authors delivered on all of the tropes – and twisted many of them in amazing ways. (Though I will admit that a few zombies did manage to shuffle their way into these pages.)

Would the cats be cute, fun additions, but not really essential to the stories?

Post-apocalyptic fiction is about worlds gone to the dogs; here, cats rule the day. Yes, some of our cats are cute and fluffy, others sharp-clawed and fearsome. But none are "token" to their stories – and without them, the stories would unravel like a ball of yarn.

Would the protagonists be portrayed as damsels in distress, stereotypical "cat ladies," or "guys with guns" cast in female bodies?

Thankfully, no. The heroines of these stories are strong women who encompass the same range of ages, temperaments, and professions that women claim in the real world. They're old and young, skilled and studying. In other words, they're exactly the women the people in that original conversation wanted to read about.

Finally, I was afraid the stories would all be variations of the same theme: "the world fell apart and the survivors were horrible to each other." For me, the greatest weakness of post-apocalyptic fiction is in its tendency toward sameness – with a few notable exceptions, all the stories blur into a single, never-ending narrative, where one shattered world looks pretty much like the next. It was with that in mind that I challenged the authors to think outside the broken box. I wanted them to break their worlds in new ways, and push their heroines beyond the standard "kill or be killed" tropes.

Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse wanders through the broken world narrative in stories of survival, technology, magic, and sheer human determination. But – like their cats – the authors frequently slipped out the upstairs window or knocked things off of countertops when I least expected it, and their stories are stronger for it. In these pages, cats help their women find a better life, protect and defend and fight for the women who have sheltered and protected them – and vice-versa. Because these are not only stories about surviving troubled times, but of the relationships between the women and their cats, between the members of communities both small and large, and how they thrive, even in the face of catastrophic loss.

As I write this, the COVID-19 virus is sweeping the world in a global pandemic. Daily news updates read far too similar to the opening pages of post-apocalyptic fiction for comfort. Panicked shoppers have swept grocery store shelves of basic necessities. Around the world people are trying to cope with the various states of "social distancing" they've found themselves in, ranging from working at home (such as myself and my co-workers) all the way to mandatory quarantine and hospitalization. Many are fearful, and my heart goes out to them.

We need stories that remind us that, even in the darkest of times, we can find hope in the simplest of things – such as a furry friend curled up at our feet or purring on our laps.

Welcome to our apocalypse!

– Lyn Worthen
Sandy, Utah
March 15, 2020