The Fall of Polite
by Sam Kench
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Thriller

In a freshly lawless New England in the dead of winter…
A bloodied and barefoot 17-year-old, grieving the loss of her father, trudges around a smoldering pileup on the road out of town. She’s endeavoring the 120 mile trek to her only living family member through blizzard conditions…
A once kind-hearted lumberjack splits a teenager’s nose in half with the rim of a metal gas can. Since the day his family was slaughtered before his eyes, he’s been consumed with an undying fury that can only be quelled through acts of violence…
A two-time college-dropout, trying to do good, howls in agony as her face is slashed with a razor-blade. The crackhead who did the deed is taking back her five-year-old child who the drop-out was trying to protect after finding him abandoned in a dumpster…
Anyone wishing to live must harden and adapt to the new rules of a world post-fall of polite. This dangerous new world will make you into a survivor… or a corpse.

Q: What can we expect from you in the future?
A: Hopefully, many, many  stories across all genres. I have two novel projects currently in the works, one mystery/thriller, one western, plus outlines for a couple of other novels once these first two are finished. I also have a sizable back catalogue of screenplays that I hope to turn into films at some point, and I’m writing more scripts all the time (five new feature-films in 2020 as of August).

 Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in The Fall of Polite?
A: There are three main protagonists in the novel: Maria, Eamon, and Maisey.

17-year-old Maria is grieving the loss of her father when the world falls into a state of disarray. She embarks on a 120 mile trek toward her only living family member through harsh, blizzard conditions.

Eamon, once a kind-hearted lumberjack, is now consumed by an undying fury following the slaying of his family. He wrestles with inner turmoil as he finds himself drawn more and more toward acts of violence.

Maisey is a two-time college-dropout trying to finally do something worthwhile with her life by rescuing the five-year-old boy she found abandoned in a dumpster. But when the child’s abusive mother returns and attacks Maisey with a razorblade, she is left permanently disfigured.

Each protagonist comes from different walk of life but each finds themselves stuck in the same dreadful situation as the world around them falls apart at the seams. They are bound through shared personal tragedy as they each embark on their own journey for revenge. These characters each desire revenge for different reasons, seek them through different means, and are changed by this pursuit of vengeance in drastically different manners.

Q: How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
A: The post-apocalypse is my favorite setting. I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about the ways in which the world would change if the rules of civility were lifted. The growing political tensions of the contemporary U.S. were a strong motivator in setting the apocalypse here and now. I lived for many years in the state where the novel is set and would often explore the abandoned structures scattered across the towns and the concrete ruins out in the forests, imagining them apocalyptic. Many locations in the novel have real-life counterpoints around New Hampshire, including Maria’s home where the novel opens which was based on the apartment I lived in throughout high school. Everything in the book is driven by the apocalyptic setting; the ways I believe people with different life experiences would act and would be changed.

 Q: How did you come up with the title of your first novel?
A: The Fall of Polite is my self-coined term for the end of the civilized world. I wanted a unique phrase that could signal the novel as a post-apocalyptic story in an abstract way without saying it outright.

 Q: Who designed your book cover?
A: For the cover, I reached out to an artist friend of mine whose work I’ve loved. It was their first time designing a book cover, and I think they knocked it out of the park. If any other authors would like to commission a cover design from them, you can reach out through

 Q: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
A: I learned a lot about the differences between writing screenplays and writing prose. As I was far more accustomed to writing in screenplay format, I kept catching myself sticking to unnecessary structure and formatting conventions in the early stages of writing the book. Once I shook those habits, I found writing prose to be an incredibly liberating feeling. That freedom in the writing made exploring the setting and characters an extremely enjoyable experience that felt fresh and exciting.

 Q: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
A: I’m a huge of Elsie Fisher after her incredible performance in ‘Eighth Grade’. I would love to work with her and I could honestly see her playing a role in practically all of the stories I have written thus far.

 Q: What is your favorite part of this book and why?
A: Exploring the post-apocalyptic world was easily my favorite part of writing the book. I’ve found that almost all apocalyptic books, movies, and games are set far into the apocalypse or begin at the very start of the apocalypse, and then jump ahead (often by having the protagonist wake up from a coma oddly enough). One sort of mission I had going into the book, if you want to call it that, was to start right at the beginning of the chaotic collapse of society and progress forward in real time without ever jumping ahead. I wanted to show the full devolution of society through the eyes of the characters and watch the civilized world crumble into full lawlessness and progressively harsher violence and turmoil over the course of the book. Getting to thoroughly explore that chunk of time that the vast majority of apocalyptic stories skip past was a great joy.

 Q: Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
A: I strongly root for characters hijacking the story. I greatly admire filmmakers like Mike Leigh, Sidney Lumet, and John Cassavetes who encourage freedom and improvisation from their casts, allowing the characters to dictate the story. To paraphrase Mike Leigh, if you know exactly what is going to happen before it happens, then it isn’t nearly as exciting.

 Q: Did you have a particular favorite character to write in the book?
A: The most fun character to write was probably one of the antagonists, Georgie the mute sharpshooter. I’ve always found mute characters intensely interesting and writing from this ruthless killer’s point of view was always interesting.

 Q: Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
A: I would talk to S. Craig Zahler for hours and hours. He’s the writer with the most similar style to myself (and I might be secretly attempting to model my career on his). I find his high level of output inspiring and I aspire to become as good at titling pieces as he is. I’ve certainly taken some cues from his work in regards to keeping stories surprising and in writing violence that feels visceral and heavy.

Sam Kench is a 23-year-old writer and independent filmmaker. His screenplays and short films have been awarded by festivals and competitions around the world. Click here to check out work on
In 2014 he was named one of the top defenders of free speech by the National Coalition Against Censorship.
He grew up in New England and spent years exploring many of the locations that found their way into the novel. He now resides in Los Angeles. ‘The Fall of Polite’ is his debut novel.

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