Daily Archives: October 24, 2015

#31ZombieAuthors – Day 24 Interview – W.J. Lundy – WTF

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My guest today is soldier/writer W.J. Lundy.

A veteran of the U.S. Military with service in Afghanistan, W.J. has over fourteen years of combined service with the Army and Navy in Europe, the Balkans, and Southwest Asia. W.J. is an avid athlete, backpacker and shooting enthusiast.

After being asked in jest about how it would be possible to defend against a zombie attack, W.J. began taking notes about his ideas and sure enough the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot series was born. In fact, W.J. wrote the first book of the series, Escaping the Dead in a small, spiral bound note book and later tapped it out on a keyboard once he got back home.

So it just goes to show you, 3.5 readers. You never know where or when inspiration might strike.

 NOTE: BOLD=BQB; ITALICS = WJ

61iZBK4i3+L._SX353_BO1,204,203,200_ Q. W.J., welcome. Thanks for talking to me today and thank you for your service. Obviously, I’m not a military man but I’m going to wager that “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” translates into “WTF” or in other words, a phrase I might yell if I see a zombie, correct?

A. Absolutely, it is a bit of military vernacular. There are so many common phrases like this, and when I came up with the story line WTF fit the tale best, it really punctuates that first flash message to your brain when the target refuses to go down. It also translates nicely into civilian speak.

Q. I’m just going to throw it out there. I’m envious of your multi-tasking skills. I’m always whining that I’m never able to find the time to write and yet here you are, serving in the military, fighting evil, being an all around bad ass and such, and you still find time to write and publish. Meanwhile, if I feel a little cranky, or tired, or if there’s a good movie on HBO then I call it quits on writing for the rest of the day, so my hat goes off to you, sir. How do you do it? For aspiring scribes like myself, what advice do you have to balance work and writing?

A. I have to admit I find it very difficult. When I first started writing it was to fill the voids and occupy the down time while overseas, I could pour words on the page. As I returned from Afghanistan, my downtime was replaced with family time and many, many, other things. Now that the series and demand for more books has taken off, I typically find myself writing in the midnight hours of the day. I have pushed a lot of TV viewing and pleasure reading to the back for a while.

Breaks tend to help me and motivate my writing. Recently I was out on a 12 week training stint, it pulled me completely out of my creative zone, those reboots slow down my production, but I also come back with fresh ideas and a stronger drive to tackle a project. I like opening a document back up after one of those extended breaks, it’s like seeing something from a different POV and the characters really begin to take off again.

Q. There’s an old adage that goes, “Write what you know.” Obviously, you’re doing that here. How does your military experience inform the journey of your protagonist, Staff Sergeant Brad Thompson as he and his brothers and arms fight the zombie hordes?

A.  The biggest connection to my experience is with the character development and the character interactions, I also like to take readers to different parts of the world, places the average civilian will never experience. At the heart of the story, I like to stay true to my service background, and the military’s core values. Even if it at times it makes the story line feel stiff, I will choose realism over fantasy action scenes. In a civil breakdown like in WTF, it would all fall down to discipline and small unit leadership. Most of my real world missions have all been Joint service and I like to describe the “one team-one fight” relationship that the different branches of the service have. As long as those things remain after the balloons go up, I think we have a chance. If people stop working together and the military and law enforcement fall into anarchy and chaos we are all F’d….

Q.  Divided We Fall, which is Book Six of the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot series, has currently sold 150,000 copies and has 1,000 five star reviews by Amazon customers. Admittedly, I’m no publishing expert, but I am a book nerd and in my experience, that’s pretty amazing. The average of all your customer reviews is 4.8 and to put things in perspective, George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones has a 4.5 average. I’m not putting down Game of Thrones, but it just goes to show even the likes of the great George R.R. will have the occasional crabby reviewer throw a monkey wrench in the works. Can you take my 3.5 readers and I under your wing, oh wise one, and put us on the path to greatness with a few writing tips? How are you able to acquire such a high level of customer satisfaction?

A. Honestly I am amazed at my readers and the kind reviews I have received. The best thing I can say is write in your own voice, and don’t try to paint a picture in someone else’s vision … If that makes sense. I’ve helped a few aspiring writers and some of the worst things I’ve read is when a writer is trying to mimic another work, or write in someone else’s voice. Just tell the story the way you’d tell it to a friend, describe the scenes the way you see them. And of course find a quality trusted editor that you like and enjoy talking to. If you don’t like your editor, or have a bond with them it will show in the end result.

Q. Do you have any plans to branch out and possibly have the military fight other types of monsters? Just spitballing here, but Army Dudes vs. Cthulhu would be pretty sweet.

A. The Darkness Series is an Alien\Zombie hybrid tale, I have big things in mind for that series. The tone really hardens in the second book of the series The Shadows. If you like Body Snatchers with a mix of Battle of Los Angeles I think you will dig The Darkness. It is a fast developing Science fiction horror tale with some hard hitting guerrilla warfare dropped on top. The setup has been laid down with TD and I am really letting things go wild in TS.

Q. W.J. thanks for taking the time to speak with me today. Before I go, do you have any last minute advice that might help my friends and I brave the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

A. Zombies are synonymous with any threat (hurricane, terror attack, random violence). Stay vigilant, stay alert and stay alive. Whenever possible travel in pairs, know when to fight and when to run, and when you must fight, then fight as a team. Know your terrain and most importantly, always have a plan and a place to regroup with family if you lose comms.

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BQB’s Zombie Apocalypse Survivor’s Journal – Day 24

I tied a string to the locked door handle and carried the other end to the middle of the locker room.

“Call me MacGyver because I’m about to turn something into nothing,” I said.

“You’re going to encourage them to floss?” Alien Jones asked.

“No,” I said, handing the Esteemed Brainy One the string. “You yank on this when I’m in position and as soon as our captors open the door to investigate, I will round house kick them in the face, steal their weapons, and we’ll make a run for it.”

“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” VGRF said.

“Not really,” Alien Jones replied. “Funny story, but that’s actually how the Tardoznians conquered Solano.”

“Not exactly a MacGyver move though,” VGRF said. “MacGyver would take like a paper clip and a milk carton and make a tactical nuke.”

“Does anyone have a better idea?” I asked.

Hearing none, I took a spot next to the door.

Alien Jones yanked the string. The handle rattled a bit.

Everything was quiet for a minute, then from the other side of the door, Carl yelled, “Hey! Stop rattling the handle!”

I looked at Alien Jones and nodded. The little green guy yanked the string again.

“Seriously!” Carl yelled. “That’s mildly annoying! Knock it off!”

Alien Jones yanked the string again.

“Fine!” Carl yelled. “You all want to be a bunch of jerks and make noise all day? Fine by me! Rattle away!”

We gave up.

“OK,” I said. “That was a shit plan.”

“What now?” Blandie asked.

“Sit here and wait for our imminent demise,” I said.

Everyone huddled around Alien Jones’ space phone to watch Netflix.

Bernie hanged back.

“Yo homie, I got yo back.”

“Thanks Bern.”

“Nah G,” the wannabe rapper said. “I been thinkin’ a lot about that shit you said to me back at Price Town. You was mad right yo.”

“I was?”

“Hellz to the yeah,” Bernie said. “I need to get my shiznitty together. Get a day job. Pay my bills and get me a fresh crib so I can work on the Funky Hunks revival in style.”

“I thought I said to give up the Funky Hunks.”

Funky Hunks represent.

“You was wrong about that, playa,” Bernie said. “It’s Funky Hunks or die as far as I’m concerned. But you’re right. I need a job until that happens. And luckily, thanks to the Internet and technology, I can kick my fresh rhymes and deliver them straight to the public without the middle man.”

“You’ve got a point,” I said. “I run a blog for 3.5 readers. You could probably find 3.5 forty something ladies in blue denim stretch pants who’d appreciate the Funky Hunks’ wholesome style, just as the soccer moms of the past did.”

“Damn straight, sucka,” Bernie said.

He bumped my fist and then we performed an elaborate handshake.

“You still remember our shit?”

“You know it.”

Bernie turned himself into a human beatbox, dropping a beat with his mouth. Then he launched into our signature song, “We Be Recylin.”

WE BE RECYCLIN

MC PLOTZ:

Yo. 1999. It’s Funky Hunk time!

Check it!

You mixed in your cans with a banana peel.

Fool, you why you givin’ Mother Nature a raw ass deal?

Recyclin’ is what you need to do.

To save the world and make a difference too

Bernie paused and handed me an imaginary mic.

I was reluctant at first.  It’d been so long since I picked up the mantle of Read N’ Plenty.  But then I just went for it.

READ N. PLENTY:

Give me the mic!

And let me recite

About the trash in my can that I pack in tight!

I keep the bottles from the cans and the cans away from paper!

We only got one world and it’s up to us how we’ll shape her!

We turned to the group, struck the classic 90’s rapper folded arm pose and said in unison:

Word to Gaia, bitch!

Alien Jones scratched his head, unsure of what to make of the spectacle. Blandie rolled her eyes. VGRF stood up and clapped her hands.

Carl piped in from the other side of the door.

Read N. Plenty

Read N. Plenty

“Are you guys doing that Funky Hunk stuff? Aww, I loved those songs! That’s so cool and non-threatening! Reminds me of the simpler days of my youth! Can you do, “Look Both Ways Before Crossing the Street, Bitch?

“Umm,” I said. “OK.”

“Cool.”

We heard the door unlock.

“Hold on,” Carl said. “I’m going to come in and watch.”

I ran into position next to the door. We all looked at each other, unable to believe Carl was this stupid.

The hill billy walked through the door and BAM! I round house kicked him right in the face, sending him crashing to the floor.

I grabbed his rifle.

Quickly, we made it to the hallway only to find George and Billy coming up from the other side.

“Damnation!” George said to Billy as soon as he spotted us. “I leave your idiot brother in charge for two seconds and look what happens!!”

George and Billy took a few shots at us. I returned fire. All three of us were terrible shots. NRA memberships were definitely not in our futures.

In the middle of the hallway, there was a door. I grabbed the handle and covered the group as they ran in, sending a hail of suppressing fire at our captors.

I learned that move from watching Video Game Rack Fighter play War Shooter for hours on end.

Finally, when everyone was in, I locked the door.

George and Billy and pounded their fists on it.

“Believe you me,” George yelled. “That ‘aint a room you want to be in, Battler!”

The room was pitch black. We couldn’t see anything.

Groans. Grunts. Ugghs.

“Did you leave one of your pornos going on the space phone?” VGRF asked.

“I don’t think so,” I said. “Um, I mean no, I don’t watch stuff like that.”

“Humans, I sense a problem,” Alien Jones said.

I found the light switch and flicked it.

We were in an empty room filled with at least twenty zombies. They all lunged at us. There wasn’t much room to fend them off.

“Ideas?” VGRF asked.

“The Mayor isn’t ready for you to meet them yet!” George shouted.

I opened the door. My group and I returned to the hallway to find George and Billy pointing their weapons at us.

George locked the door. The zombies on the other end pounded on it.

“They’re for your trial,” George said. “The Mayor’s going to have some fun with you, boy.”

“Can you stop calling me, ‘boy?’” I asked. “No offense, but it makes you sound like you’re from Deliverance.”

George grabbed me by the back of the neck.

“Come on, nerds! Back to the showers with you!”

We were returned to the girls’ locker room. Carl’s knocked out body was collected and we were locked in.

“Try another stunt like that and every last one of you will be executed where you stand!” George warned.

“Thank you,” I said. “Thank you, guy who used to cut my hair for five dollars and hand me a lollipop when I was a kid. Good to see the zombie apocalypse has worked its magic on everyone.”

I looked at Alien Jones.

“Do you have to hack it up again?”

“Nope,” the Esteemed Brainy One said as he handed me the space phone. “I just stashed it in my pocket this time. These cargo pants are fun AND functional!”

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Tech difficulties

stand by 3.5 readers as I’ll have to post 31 zombies day 24 and 25 tomorrow

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