The Story behind ‘Q Island’ by Russell James

Q Island, my novel about the impact of a virus that sweeps across Long Island, had two inspirations, both pretty far apart.

The first thing that sent the muse into action was a news story about scientists discovering a complete baby wooly mammoth frozen in the Siberian tundra. They dug out the ice around it, then I watched a clip of a helicopter slingloading the thing out of the ground. The mammoth was encased in a perfect cube of ice, with the exposed tusks protruding from one end. I could see the flawless outline of the baby through the frosted ice.

My first thought was “No way someone isn’t going to clone this.” My second thought was “Why did it die so young?”

I knew viruses lived practically indefinitely if frozen. Whatever killed this thing might still be inside it, waiting to be awakened from a 10,000 year slumber. And it would likely be something no scientist had ever seen.

So I wrote the story of the mammoth’s last moments, from the mammoth’s point of view. And that was it. I had no idea where the story would go after that, so it went nowhere.

A year or two later, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. A lot of people got isolated from the rest of the world. Society disintegrated in what seemed like hours. People abandoned jobs to save themselves. Cops did crazy things. Civilians did even crazier. I remember a story about people who were too sick for evacuation and how staff was forced to face that. The whole thing was horrific.

I wondered what would happen if that occurred on a larger scale. In a bigger, more populated place. And while eventually, the waters covering New Orleans would recede, what if the isolation was permanent. That seemed like a setting for a horror/thriller. My home stomping grounds of Long Island, New York came to mind since it would be a few bridges, ferries and a tunnel away from a natural isolation. Then I remembered my frozen mammoth idea, a novel way to introduce a new pathogen without having the government cook it up like most other post-apocalyptic novels do. That would fit in perfectly.

So the lesson I learned is to save every interesting idea. Sometimes it takes two of them to get a nvoel started.


Title:  Q ISLAND





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About the Book

Epidemic! An ancient virus surfaces on Long Island, New York turning its victims into black-veined, infectious, psychopathic killers. Chaos and madness rule.  In desperation, the military quarantines the island, trapping Melanie Bailey and her autistic son, Aiden. Somehow, Aiden survives the infection. He could be the key to a cure—if Melanie can somehow get him to the mainland.

A taut, tense, terrifying thriller that teems with intensity, Q Island is an eerily realistic tale. With a chilling plot, compelling characters, and a pulse-quickening storyline, Q Island will leave readers breathless.  Earning nods as one of this year’s best horror novels, Q Island is an extraordinary story exceptionally well-told.

About the Author

After a tour flying helicopters with the U.S. Army, Russell James now spins twisted tales best read during daylight. In addition to two horror short story collections, Tales from Beyond and Deeper into Darkness, James is the author of seven paranormal thrillers:  Dark Inspiration, Sacrifice, Black Magic, Dark Vengeance, Dreamwalker and Q Island. His next novel, The Portal, is slated for release in 2016. Visit him at

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