Queen Anne’s Kevin Cole and Renton’s Vernon Owens recently published their first book, “Zombie Safety and Self-Defense Handbook.” This isn’t a typical zombie-survival guide, though. The subtitle reads, “Also Works on Stalkers, Vampires, Werewolves and Frat Boys High on Jell-O Shots and an Overinflated Sense of Entitlement.”
This is a book about all of the dangerous situations in the world, using the traits of common mythical monsters.
The idea came when Cole, a former speech pathologist and university professor, was working with his martial arts teacher, Owens, to create handouts for a self-defense class that Owens was teaching.
There are a lot of safety books out there, but often, they’re full of statistics about all of the ways you could be in danger. Cole was inspired by the show “1,000 Ways to Die” and its ability to mix content and entertainment.
A lot of the existing materials were highly technical and dealt with people who were already in dangerous situations, said Owens, a master martial arts teacher who also works in emergency management and business emergency consulting. He wanted to create something that would teach people to avoid trouble. It’s also a manual to help you keep a clear head and get out of a bad situation once you’re already in it, he said.
Owens was excited about putting the book together. He handled a lot of the format and content of the book, calling on his martial arts background.
About four years ago, Cole and Owens began writing the book, focusing on marketing the information to high school students and young adults. The book is something that parents or grandparents can give to younger kids, Cole said. Some parents are giving it to their middle school-aged children, but Cole said to use your discretion because the book does cover serious topics like date-rape drugs. Cole got feedback from his sons and other younger people to make sure the content and references would fit that age group.
Appealing to younger readers
Incorporating monsters was a way to appeal to that younger audience, but it was also a way to allude to all of the negative traits that bad guys have. In the book, vampires are sexual offenders who are sneaky and charming, while “modern gremlins know how to dig in your recycling and steal your identity.”
To Owens, the monsters are representations of bad situations. People can’t always point out a bad person, but it’s much easier to identify a harmful situation, he said. The book incorporates wit and humor to keep the message entertaining.
“The idea is real information in a flippant way so the Millennials and [other] people will like it,” Cole said.
Cole and Owens co-wrote the book together, inspired by real-life incidents where people they knew got in trouble when they shouldn’t have.
There are a few main takeaways from the book, Cole said: Trust your gut, stay away from places where there’s trouble, use common sense, give up your belongings to robbers and always hit with your palm.
The book incorporates some practical fighting tips, calling on Owens’ expertise.
“Every day, people have the opportunity to make themselves safe,” Owens said.
Once people make themselves safer, that spills out to their family and greater community. Owens believes that each person has the ability to make the world a safer place.
Common sense is a big theme in the book. Everyone has a sixth sense, Owens said, but they often ignore it and think they can handle a situation. People can be oblivious, Cole said, in part because they are inherently nice and assume everyone else is like them.
Even on Queen Anne, there’s an assumption that it’s safe.
“Even [here] you have to be safe,” he said.
Promoting the book
The book published in March and is available on Amazon, although Cole hopes to sell it in local bookstores like the Queen Anne Book Co. Cole, who designed and printed the book through Amazon’s Createspace, a self-publishing company, said he learned to have a thick skin going through many edits and having friends and family give the book a read through.
For Cole, who had only published professional articles before this, “it was a really different experience — it was fun.”
The response has been positive, Cole said. He has given away about 200 copies and sold some through Amazon and book signings.
Owens has been doing book signings, including one in his hometown of Denver, and did an impromptu one over a guys’ weekend in Pony, Mont. He started talking about the book, and people started buying copies.
“That was pretty intense,” he said. “In a place where they believe in guns and the Second Amendment, they still saw the value in the book.”
Now that the book is done, Cole hopes to create new versions of the same book for different audiences, from nurses to teachers and speech pathologists.
Nurses are the group he’s focusing on next. He’s collecting information and anecdotes now to see what kind of training out there. So far, he’s discovered that there’s a lot of information for nurses about medical safety but not as much for personal safety. Nurses encounter a lot of aggression, particularly working in close proximity to sick and stressed people, their families and people on drugs, Cole said.
Cole plans to begin working on the nurse version of this safety book and publishing it within two years.
Writing his current book and focusing on safety has made him a safer and more aware person, too. “You can always be more aware, but you shouldn’t walk around being scared all of the time, either,” he said.
Owens is having a fantastic time promoting the book and said whatever Cole plans to do, he’ll do, too.
“This guy is phenomenal; he’s the brightest guy I know,” Owens said of Cole. “I tell people Kevin is the brains; I’m just there to facilitate how things are put together.”
For information on book signings or self-defense classes, email Vernon Owens at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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