WRITER ON A MISSION

Honors College dean publishes post-apocalyptic novel to support his daughter’s mission trip

By TERESA KILLIAN TATE

The possibility of a zombie apocalypse has come up so often around the dinner table that the daughter of Brian Railsback, WCU Honor’s College dean, said she was not surprised her dad wrote a post-apocalyptic novel. “He and my two brothers are always scheming about what they would do,” said Cadence Railsback. “I feel confident we would be well-prepared.” What did surprise her, however, was her dad’s offer to direct all proceeds from his book “A Going Concern” to help her raise enough money to participate in the World Race. Adventures in Missions, a Christian organization, sends “World Racers” in squads to 11 countries in 11 months to serve. “It makes me feel like he really supports what I am trying to do, and it also makes me feel very humble to know that I am so loved,” she said. “This is a project that he spent at least five years of his life on that he handed over so readily to help me.”

A Going Concern

Honors College Dean Brian Railsback is directing proceeds from his book “A Going Concern” to help fund daughter Cadence’s mission trip.

The concept for the novel struck Brian Railsback, an award-winning writer, after he read Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic book “The Road.” He began to wonder what would happen if most of the human population were dead but the rest of the world was fine. Was it possible to write a post-apocalyptic story that wasn’t completely dark? Could there be a story that was at once frightening, dramatic and humorous? “I lay awake at night wondering how that would play out and what it would be like,” said Railsback.

He dreamed up someone ill-equipped to survive – someone who was not a scientist, not knowledgeable, not spiritual and who was wrapped up in popular culture. Who emerged was Trent Sheets, a 42-year-old guitarist in a band called Subculture. The book follows Sheets as he comes out of the woods near Cullowhee, discovers a virus has killed almost everyone and treks across the country. Railsback titled the novel “A Going Concern” to capture the story’s exploration of the future of humanity – will people thrive or fade away?

Railsback completed the novel in 2009. After no initial response from literary agents, he set the project aside until deciding to self-publish the book. The experience would help him learn about the emerging e-book industry and support his daughter. Among the book’s fans is Ron Rash, WCU Parris Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Culture, who said the novel is excellent and noted that the story “has taken the bleakest of human scenarios and within it found decency and hope.”

Railsback’s previous works include the novel “The Darkest Clearing,” which was published in 2004. Awards for his writing include the Prose for Papa (Hemingway) award, which was bestowed in 2006 for his short story “Clean Break.” “A Going Concern” is available online at Amazon.