Lifelong Herndon resident Jake Ziemba will be reading excerpts from his first novel, "The Yukon Glory," on Saturday, Aug. 23 at Reston’s Used Book Shop in Lake Anne.
"The Yukon Glory" is a genre-spanning work of fiction that re-imagines late 1970’s America in the wake of a crippling energy shortage and pandemic flu that collapsed the government. With the country having fallen into disarray, four vampires stow away on a train heading from California to New York, one of the last outposts of civilization. To survive the journey, they must learn to work together to overcome the dangers of a nation that, although mortally wounded, refuses to die quietly.
"The element of illness is certainly an important theme in the book," Ziemba stated in a release. "It was a plague that brought down the country, and the vampires themselves are portrayed more as diseased people than supernatural creatures. At the time I was writing it, the idea of sickness weighed heavily on my mind."
Ziemba’s novel was written during an extended battle with Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria, or PNH, a rare, potentially life-threatening bone marrow failure disorder. Although he first became ill in 2003, at age 16, he wasn’t diagnosed until two years later. His symptoms were so severe he was forced to leave his job and drop out of George Mason University during his freshman year. "More often that not, I was too sick to leave the house, and when I was feeling well, I had nowhere to go. I wasn’t in school, I had no job, and all of my friends had gone away to other colleges. I had a lot of time on my hands; that’s when I first gave serious thought to writing a novel."
In January of 2007, Ziemba was admitted to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., to undergo an experimental stem cell transplant to cure his PNH. After a week of chemotherapy to kill his own defective bone marrow, he received a transfusion of stem cells extracted from his older brother Zack. Upon entering his body, the stem cells travelled inside his bones, where they became healthy, PNH-free marrow cells.
Now 21 years old, back at his old job and re-enrolled in school, Ziemba has been PNH-free for over a year.
Copies of "The Yukon Glory" are currently available for sale on amazon.com. The book signing begins at 2 p.m. at Reston’s Used Book Store, located at 1623 Washington Plaza. For more information on the event, call 703-435-9772.