Short Story Review

Environmentally Friendly by Elias Zanbaka With Author Q & A

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“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.” (Ferdinand Foch).

Environmentally Friendly is a powerful, intense short story of the whirlwind of emotion faced after trauma. It is symbolic of the mental anguish felt from loss. Though it is brief, it will grip you and leave you wanting more!

The Plot: One man has made it his mission to destroy Mother Nature. She has caused him heart ache and loss, and she must suffer! Though his actions are dangerous, one LAPD officer is hell bent on giving this man the satisfaction of exacting his revenge, with a new type of emotional therapy.

Though it was mighty short, this one packed a punch! Environmentally Friendly hits you hard. It holds heartache, action, and humanity in its ephemeral beauty. Read it twice, because when you hit the ending, the beginning will make more sense. I was definitely touched by this story and the dedication of Major Bushell to avenge his loss, and of Officer Schaefer for being determined to give this man his solace.

Environmentally Friendly addresses PTSD and the aftermath of loss. It shows that there is always one thing in life you can never control. Mother nature is a fierce, beautiful beast.

“Mother Nature, she does what she wants to do…” (Phil Grigsby).

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Thank you to author, Eliaz Zanbaka, for sending me this free e-copy in exchange for my honest review and for answering my questions!

(Both quotes were used by the author in the epigraph of the story.)

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Author Q & A

What was your biggest inspiration for writing this? 

I think my biggest inspiration came from re-watching “First Blood”, particularly its final act where Sylvester Stallone’s character, who’s a veteran of the Vietnam war suffering from PTSD, has been finally pushed into this full-blown delusional frenzy and begun unleashing his own war on this small town, treating it as if it were another enemy camp that needed to be infiltrated and destroyed. Just the idea of a soldier still thinking that he was still back in the war behind enemy lines was something that really stayed with me. I remembered making a mental note of it at the time without really knowing why at first. It was much later when that atom of an idea collided with another I’d been thinking about that involved films like “Inception”, and episodes of the original “Mission: Impossible” television series where the protagonists relied on some feat of trickery or illusion to take down their opponents. Once those two ideas collided, a story that involved the use of film trickery or illusion as a form of experimental psychological therapy for a decorated, but highly unstable soldier who thought he was still on the battlefield was born.

MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD


What is the history behind the story idea? 

When I had come up with the main idea for the story about two years ago, the character of the soldier, who would be the subject for this new form of therapy, came from looking at an old assignment I’d done in high school on the possible consequences of our current treatment of the environment. I remember lingering on an image I had in there of many protestors chaining themselves up to trees to prevent them from being chopped down. It was then that a question popped into my mind – “What if someone thought they could provoke Mother Nature into unleashing a natural disaster by deliberately trying to destroy it?” and “What if this natural disaster was an enemy that this person wanted to flush out into the open in order to confront it?”. From there, it was really just an ongoing series of ‘what-ifs’ that ended up fully colouring in the character of the soldier and shaping the final story. It was really just an onslaught of wild images and sounds that came to me.


Have you watched any movies or television shows that gave inspiration to the story?

Aside from the ones I’ve already mentioned, I drew from quite a few other books and films. Once I’d figured out that this story would take the form of a chase and then switch gears and turn into a primal battle, I took cues from some of my favourite action films like “Lethal Weapon” [for the sheer energy and determination in its foot chase towards the end], and the final scenes in “Predator” [for the heightened way in which they depict a stripped-down and purely visual battle between two characters in an isolated environment]. For the relationships and tension between some of the main characters, I had quite a few thrillers and adventure films that centered around some form of mutiny playing in the back of my mind. I also may have been subconsciously inspired by the final scene in “Sunset Boulevard” when it came to the second half of the story. I always think of each scene from each film as playing in a key that you want a particular moment or scene of your story to be played in as well. 

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 Are you involved in any environmental movements? 

No, but I feel I should be.


Any new books or projects in the works? 

Well, I’m currently several drafts into a story that’ll also be playing in the action-thriller ballpark. I’d started it long before “Environmentally Friendly” and have been working on it for a few years now. I’m not sure when I’ll be releasing it though, as I’m still tinkering with it and refining it, making sure everything’s working and firing on all cylinders from page one.

Do you have any information about yourself you can give me to showcase in my blog post? 

Well, the short answer would be that I’m the person who just takes down all the images and sounds that make up a story just as they present themselves to me. The longer answer would be that I’m from Sydney, Australia, and have always had a great passion for both teaching and storytelling. Like a lot of people, I grew up on a lot of exciting and engaging stories as if they were another major food group that couldn’t be skipped. This would eventually manifest itself as a love for both devouring and telling the most exciting and entertaining stories as I can.

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