Tag Archives: author interviews

#FridaysWithBQB – Interview #6- Sydney Everson – Young Adult Novels, Children’s Books and Sweet Romance

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Author Website

Hey 3.5 readers. Your old pal Bookshelf Q. Battler here. Today’s guest on #FridayswithBQB is Sydney Everson, a writer of children’s books, young adult novels and sweet romance. She’s also a recovering lawyer who ditched the old rat race to focus on the more important things of life, namely, raising her son and concentrating on writing.

Seriously, readers. Take your elbows off the tables and suck in your guts, there’s a respectable lady present.

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QUESTION #1 – Sydney, welcome to my blog. My apologies. It’s a mess around here. I’d pick up, but honestly, I don’t want to. You seem too good of a person, much better than the usual pack of vagrants who hang out around here, so I’ll try to get you on your way as quickly as possible.

We first virtually met on Twitter when we had a quick little chat about concentrating on one writing topic. I don’t recall what exactly was said, but generally, we were talking about how it’s not the best idea to deviate from one idea to another. A certain amount of stick-to-itiveness is required to get the job done, even when you’ve been working on an idea a long time and feel the need for a break.  It may seem satisfying to scratch that itch of a new project, but you’ll never get your old project done if you do.

You’ve completed several projects. What keeps you sticking to it?

ANSWER – I know the temptation well – you’re working on your baby, this book idea you’ve fully developed and thrown yourself into writing, but now you’re editing, you’re on draft two or three, and it’s starting to become a slog. Out of the blue, a bright, shiny new idea comes along to tempt you. It’s so fresh and exciting and you want to start on it right away. For me, I know if I chase the “shiny” I’ll never come back and finish the current project, I just won’t have the motivation anymore. But I do want to keep this nascent, fragile spark of an idea alive for when I can work on it, so I make notes. I start a new file where I jot down the ideas that come to me for the next book – plot, scenes, characters, anything that comes to mind, I jot it down and save it. Meanwhile, I keep plugging away at the current project and when it’s done, I’m ready to start on the “shiny” and already have some headway made.

QUESTION #2 – On your website, you mention you’re a member of a writer’s group in your community. Personally, I despise most people and prefer to live the life of a hermit rather than converse or share my thoughts and/or feelings with anyone. Also, I just feel I am a genius who is so intelligent that people with lesser brains could never possibly tell me anything I don’t already know, and I say that with all humility.

But, for all the normals out there, would you recommend joining a writer’s group as a means to share ideas, get feedback, stay motivated, that sort of thing?

ANSWER – Absolutely, but it may take a bit of “shopping around” to find one that’s the right fit for you. If you go to one and aren’t feeling it, don’t force yourself to keep going, but don’t give up either. Try to find another, or start your own! I’ve been to meetings of a few where I knew those just weren’t for me. Whether it was the writers’ personalities, differing goals, or even just different ideas about what the group’s purpose was, they weren’t a fit, but I’m currently in two that I love. In one group, the writers have become very good friends and are a wonderful source of support and advice. The other is a critique group which I find very helpful. Sometimes the advice is good, and sometimes it’s not, but the main thing is, by writing for it once a month, I’m forcing myself to step out of my current project for just a moment and knock out something short, quick, and creative. I find that really helps reset me sometimes and get the creative juices flowing again, especially when I’m in editing mode on one of my projects. So I guess the short answer is yes, they can help you stay creative and they can support an author’s journey to publication, but you have to find the right group for you and your goals.

QUESTION #3 – Let’s talk about young adult fiction. I don’t care for that genre myself. I mean, seriously, all these kids running around with zero life experience yet somehow they manage to save the day in the end, while leaving time for blossoming romance? Seems unrealistic to me as these kids aren’t worried about paying mortgages or credit card bills or finding the cheapest yet most effective brand of hemorrhoid medication. Don’t even get me started on what it takes to get a good life insurance policy these days.

Oh, wait a minute. I think I figured out why I don’t like young adult fiction. It’s because I’m an old adult and after a lifetime of seeing every dream I ever had flushed down the crapper, the idea of a happy ending seems like fiction to me.

You seem like a better adult than I am but still, is it hard for an adult to turn off that “adult” switch in order to put him or herself into the shoes of young characters? How do you do it?

ANSWER – I think there are a number of reasons adults enjoy young adult literature, both reading and writing it. The themes in YA lit are often ones we “adults” still struggle with, like figuring ourselves out and why we’re here, what we’re meant to be doing with our lives. I’m [censored]-ty years old and yet in some ways, I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Even as adults, we’re not stagnant. We change, adapt, and evolve based on our experiences and the people we meet in life. The heroes and heroines of YA lit are doing the same. The things they struggle with are not exclusive to teenagers – acceptance of self and others, expressions of our individuality, issues with our families or friends, how we handle crises, etc. Those aren’t just kids’ issues, adults wrestle with them too.

Also, I think there’s an element to youth we as adults want to experience again through literature, and that is this sense of possibility. Do you remember getting in a car with your friends when you were seventeen or eighteen years old on a weekend evening and feeling like literally anything was possible –adventure, love, who knows what, but the whole world was out there and anything could happen? It’s an amazing feeling and one adults get to relive through books. Let’s face it, at my age, if I go out for an evening my friends, I know will have a glass of wine, be home in sweats by 9:30, and wake up tomorrow with a wine hangover from that one glass of chardonnay. Through YA lit, I get to relive that magical sense of open-ended possibility.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE: I prefer to eat a bag of Chips Ahoy alone while watching old re-runs of “The Golden Girls.”  Blanche is such a card.  I’d invite friends over but then I’d have to share my cookies and I don’t want to.  I’m at an age where I value cookies over friends.  Also, I have no friends.

QUESTION #4 – You also write children’s picture books. What advice do you have for a writer who wants to get into that genre?

ANSWER – This is one I’m still trying to figure out. A lot of people think knocking out a quick picture book is easy because it’s so short, but it’s actually incredibly difficult. You have to get an entire story across in very few words and do so with heart, humor, whimsy, and, oh yeah, you might need to write the whole thing in verse. That’s insane. I’d suggest doing some research first. Publishers create picture books in fairly rigid formats, so your words and pictures may need to fit a predesigned layout of, for example, thirty-two pages. It’s a good idea to create a “dummy” layout and see how your wording fits.

QUESTION #5 – Suppose you want to write a children’s book but you have zero artistic skill. You’ve got the words planned out, but how do you go about getting the artwork? Collaborate with a designer? Are there resources out there for writers who need some illustrations for their picture books?

ANSWER – Many picture book publishers want to have the flexibility to choose the illustrator to go with the manuscript they like, so I’d say if you aren’t an author-illustrator, which I’m definitely not, you probably don’t need to worry about finding an illustrator and pairing up before you submit to a publisher as the publisher may want to choose their own illustrator. If you do want to team up with an illustrator though, a great place to start is the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). They are a wonderful resource.

QUESTION #6, Part 1 – I’m toying with the idea of writing a children’s picture book called “Get a Job and Stop Being a Terrible Financial Burden on Your Parents.”

Page 1 = Mommy and Daddy fighting over bills.
Page 2 = Kid gets a job as a bus station janitor.
Page 3 = Kid gets a job as a short order fry cook.
Page 4 = Kid gets a job as a bus driver. How he got a license I don’t know.
Page 5 = Kid gives his hard earned money to his parents who don’t have to worry about bills anymore.

The End.

Do you think I’d make a mint with that book or should I not quit my day job

ANSWER – Haha, sounds good to me! You never know what will find the right market and appeal to people. I mean, Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortés’s book, “Go the F*** to Sleep” was a huge hit, so who knows?

QUESTION 6, Part 2 – OK. There was actually a method to my above madness. You probably have to have a special source of optimism to be a children’s book writer, right? I assume you have to think positive thoughts and bottle up joy and happiness and distill that onto the page? Cynical schmucks like me shouldn’t apply, but how do you do it? How do you beam so much positive reinforcement out there into the world?

ANSWER – I’m a big fan of escapism. The real world can be a hard, depressing, difficult place to live sometimes, in fact, rather often, so escaping into a book either through writing or reading, is a wonderful thing. I love creating worlds people can escape into and feel love and joy, and while there’s usually some peril, I always deliver a happy ending. We don’t get enough of those in real life.

QUESTION #7 – Let’s talk about your foray into the genre of sweet romance. Personally, I’ve never experienced a romance that didn’t end with a woman spending zero amount of her time with me while she spends one hundred percent of her time with fifty-percent of my stuff. I should have hired you to be my lawyer. You could have talked those women down to forty-five percent of my stuff easy.

But I digress. For those of us who are romantically challenged, please explain what the sweet romance genre is. Bonus points if you tell us what inspired you to get into it as a writer.

ANSWER – Sounds like you may need a little of that escapism into a sweet romance too! Sweet romance is basically just a love story without things getting steamy. (Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with steamy, I have several good friends that write awesome love stories with plenty of heat). For me though, sweet romance is kind of like the Disney version of love stories, where in the end, the characters realize they are in love and seal it with a kiss. I think the fun is in the falling. I love stories that bring characters close, but then pull them apart until they finally come together in the end. I jotted down ideas for romances for a while, but never wrote them out until I learned that Hallmark was starting to publish sweet romances in the vein of their Hallmark Channel movies. I’m a not-so-closeted addict of Hallmark Channel’s movies so I decided I had to give it a try! Whether ultimately Hallmark likes my sweet romance manuscripts, or another publisher does, or I self-publish remains to be seen, but I definitely enjoy writing them.

QUESTION #8 – I notice on your website you mention you are querying many of your projects. How’s that process going and what advice do you have for anyone out there trying to do the same?

AMAZON – Well, the website implies I’m continuously querying when really it’s more in fits and starts unfortunately. I tend to finish a project, send out a handful of queries, and then follow that “shiny” I talked about earlier. In my eagerness to work on the next project, I tend to neglect querying a bit so if I give advice here, it’ll be something I need to learn to take myself. Writing is so much more than writing, it’s plotting, outlining, editing, querying or self-publishing, and marketing and every author knows how difficult it is to find time for all of that.

Nevertheless, it’s important to make time to get your work out there if you want to be traditionally published. No one’s going to publish your book if you don’t ask. So ask, and keep asking. Rejections are a part of the process. I would be shocked if there is any published author out there who hasn’t been rejected at least once, most get rejected many times. But it just takes one – one agent or editor who believes in your story and will champion it so that it gets into readers’ hands. I’d recommend researching successful query letters, find a format that works for you, and research agents, making sure they are a good fit for your story. Manuscript Wish List is a great site for finding agents who are looking for books like yours. Then keep at it! (I’m talking to myself here too).

QUESTION #9 – Have you ever thought about self-publishing? Ever since I made a whopping 12 cents off of a book I self-published, I have become a self-appointed ambassador for the self-publishing industry, trying turn as many converts as I can. Come on over, the water’s fine and Jeff Bezos is passing out entire cents like candy! “One of us! One of us! Gooble, gobble, one of us!”

AMAZON – Definitely. I have quite a few author friends in the self-publishing world. I’m watching what they do very closely to try to learn what works and what doesn’t as far as marketing. My goal right now is traditional publishing, but self-publishing offers a lot of perks so I am definitely not ruling that option out.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE: Since conducting this interview, I made another staggering, astounding, earth shattering 35 cents!  So many cents!

QUESTION #10 – Sadly, every author who submits to an interview on this poor excuse for a blog must explain how he/she would escape a scenario of doom using three unlikely items. Don’t worry, one day you’ll have an entourage who will keep you away from such nonsense. Until then, here’s your scenario:

You’re riding a train to wine country because, who wouldn’t? Wine country is fabulous this time of year. Suddenly, the lights flicker off. When they’re turned back on, you learn that everyone who had been sitting in your general vicinity was a werewolf the entire time, and they’re looking at you like you’re a fresh bowl of kibble.

You reach under your seat, hoping to find a weapon but alas, you find a) a half-full can of spray-on silly string b) a rolled up poster featuring the grim visage of Vegas crooner Wayne Newton and c) a tin of Altoid mints.

How will you use these items to extract yourself from this fury feeding frenzy?

ANSWER – I’m on a train full of wine-loving party animals headed to wine county. This isn’t as dire as it may seem. First, I’ve been noticing two of the passengers, now revealed to be werewolves, eyeing each other throughout the trip so far, so I give the mints to one and suggest he make his move. I do enjoy a good love story after all. That takes care of two of them. Then I spray silly string on my jaw like mutton chops and hold up the Wayne Newton poster to indicate that I’m clearly one of them. I mean, with those sideburns, was there really ever any doubt about Wayne? They’re warming up to me, but not yet convinced, so I offer to pay for their wine tastings which puts them in a cheerful mood and then I distract them with a heated debate over which is better, oaked or steel-casked chardonnay? They take the bait, follow the “shiny,” and before the day’s out, we’re all half wine-drunk, best of friends, and invited to the wedding of the cute were-couple on the train. See, aren’t happy endings great?

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE: I’ve run this answer through my supercomputer and it has determined a 94.8% chance of success, so well done.  Werewolves love wine country and Wayne Newton is a werewolf.  Surely, that explains his longevity.  You heard it here first.

Fun fact, this is the second time an interviewee on this blog has escaped a doom scenario using a sticky novelty substance and a celebrity photo.  Readers may remember Robert Bevan used spray cheese to paste a photo of Bea Arthur to his face in order to scare away a cavern full of monsters.  Read more about that tried and true sticky situation extraction trick here.

Thank you for stopping by, Sydney, and 3.5 readers, if you enjoyed this interview which, frankly, if you twist my arm and ask me to brag about my interviewing skills then I’ll tell you this puts anything Barbara Walters ever did to shame, then be sure to give our guest a shout out on Twitter.  “One of us, one of us…”

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#31ZombieAuthors – Day 17 Interview – Jeremy Laszlo – The E-Mail That Launched a Self-Publishing Career

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FIND THIS ZOMBIE AUTHOR ON:

Amazon        Website

Facebook       Twitter

Today’s guest is Jeremy Laszlo, the best-selling author of over thirty novels, including the Left Alive series, which chronicles the journey of Charles as he strives to make good on a promise to his dying wife to deliver their children to safety in the midst of a zombie infested nightmare of a world.

Jeremy’s works have broken the top ten of over ninety Amazon lists by genre, at times reaching the top ten of all books on Amazon.

Our noble scribe resides in Louisiana, where threats to his well-being include alligators, oversized mosquitos, and scorching temperatures.  Luckily, he avoids all that by chilling out in his air conditioned workspace, where he spends most of his time either writing or being boxed by children wearing cartoonishly large Hulk hands.

A pleasure to speak with you, Jeremy.

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Q.  When it comes to a good zombie apocalypse novel, how much do the zombies actually matter?  Is it the zombies themselves that attract readers or the threat of a lawless, no holds barred post-society world that said zombies represent?  Would it be possible to replace the zombies with hurricanes, tornadoes, plagues, or locusts and achieve the same result?

A.  First, thanks for having me. I think the notion of zombies really pulls from a deeper, darker, cruder portion of the human psyche. There is a part of everyone that craves chaos, especially in a world such as ours where there are rules and limitations enforced on every aspect of our lives. Zombies simply play into that less evolved portion of who we are. In a story, they don’t need to be the driving force, they certainly aren’t in my LEFT ALIVE series. But that element of devolved, cannibalistic people adds a dark edge to any story that readers can really associate with.

Q.  You’ve written so many novels.  Where do you get the ideas from?  For those of us who whine about writer’s block or a lack of inspiration, do you have any advice?

A.  I do write a lot. I’m actually shooting for 4 more releases before the end of the year, including another zombie trilogy. Ideas come from everywhere. My family and life experiences are a great source of inspiration. Truthfully though, most of my books start with a ‘What if’ scenario. It is really the building block for all of my novels, and a concept I explain in detail in my ‘Kindle Fiction Mastery’ book aimed to help struggling writers. For the LEFT ALIVE series, I simply asked myself what would happen if a strain of genetically modified fertilizer had unintended mutations and ruined the world’s ecosystem killing all plants on Earth. You can see how that alone could be an entire series of apocalyptic books (Coming soon), but what if coming into contact with the infected soil had consequences as well? What if it deteriorated neurons and brain tissue? That is how my zombies were born.

Q.  I read an interview on “The Bearded Scribe” in which you discuss how an errant email convinced you to go the self-publishing route.  Specifically, you submitted your work to a traditional publishing house only to receive an e-mail from a pair of interns joking about how one of them had just batch rejected 600 authors.  (Note to readers – watch out for that ‘Reply All’ button!)

Could you explain how this experience convinced you to take control of your own destiny as a writer?

A.  Ah yes… the intern. He will end up a character in one of my novels, eventually. I simply haven’t decided how to kill him yet.

What can I say? It was not only a direct blow to my own confidence as a writer, but also an eye-opening moment about the REAL state of the publishing industry.

The old model of publishing doesn’t care an ounce about writers. They actually artificially control supply and demand by doing precisely what was done to me, and batch rejecting the vast majority of writers without so much as reading the first word of their work. By limiting the number of books published, they can create a false sense of limited choices, and herd readers like cattle to purchase what they produce, simply because it was all that was available. They controlled trends in genres. They controlled the prices of books. They controlled who and what got published, and in many cases it was more about who you knew, rather than how well you wrote.

The intern laughing about rejecting my work without even reading it, along with nearly 600 others, was just the final straw. There was really no reason to wait around while agent after agent and publisher after publisher form rejected my work (even though some showed interest).

There was another option, and I went all in. Since then, I’ve met a ton of wonderful authors and a great community of people built around those authors. I’ve self-taught myself in graphic design to create the majority of my covers. I’ve spent countless hours learning the secrets of writing, publishing, marketing and promotion. There really isn’t anything writers can’t do for themselves. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t entertain a publishing contract from a large publishing house. I certainly would. But they’d better have some respect, and understand that I can do it on my own.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE: Yes! Viva la revolucion!

Q.  One of my 3.5 readers is a big orc fan and I noticed you’re also the author of the Orc Destiny series which follows the adventures of Orc warrior Gnak.

For me, this begs a question for the ages.  Orcs vs. zombies – who wins in that scenario?

A.  That is a tough question, but one that is sort of answered in the Orc Destiny trilogy. Orcs actually fight the undead in the series! That said, Orcs win. Hands down. Every time. Why? Because Orcs, that’s why. They’re big, hulking warriors. They fear nothing and kill everything. I’m a big fan myself.

Q.  You’re a marine.  Thank you for your service.  How does that experience come into play with your writing?

A.  You’re welcome…? That’s always been awkward for me. I appreciate your appreciation, truly.

Being a Marine is hard to explain. It isn’t just a way of life, it becomes a part of who and what you are. I suppose the obvious would be to say that my battle and fight scenes are probably a tad more graphic than many writers. I don’t shy away from the gore and the real emotion of the battlefield. But it goes further than that. Marines are known around the world for being determined and focused. We don’t surrender. Ever. The same goes with my writing. I knew I could do it, and I refused to let a few rejections deter me. I have the focus and stamina of a Marine, which allows me to sit and write until a story is finished. The third novel of my Blood and Brotherhood Saga, The Changing, is 87,000 words long and I wrote it in three days. I don’t intend to quit. Not even when my name is known in every household around the world.

Q.  Your books have topped various Amazon charts.  What’s your secret?

A.  Determination. Experimentation. Research. Commitment. That’s what it really boils down to. If you want to be a writer, first and foremost you have to write and keep writing. No matter what. Then you have to learn the business side of being an Author. It isn’t a part time job. If you write as a hobby, it will always be a hobby. If you want success, you have to earn it toiling away countless hours learning the ins and outs of the industry. Or, of course, you could read my Fiction Masters series, which details much of what I’ve learned these past years and how to employ my secrets and strategies.

Q.  Jeremy, thanks for your help.  Before I go, do you have any last minute advice that might help my friends and I survive the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

A.  If the media tells us anything, it’s be a redneck with a crossbow. Not only will you be a badass, but troves of women will follow you anywhere. If you’re going to survive the apocalypse, if might be nice to have a lot of… um… company.

If you can’t be a redneck, use bait. Use your brain, and be evil… it’s an advantage. I suggest driving an iron rod deep into the ground in the middle of your yard. Place a ring of cars around the rod, leaving a clearing between them about twenty feet wide. Then, go find a young guy. A healthy one. One that acts like he was probably an asshat before the apocalypse. Befriend him. Team up with him. When he’s sleeping, tie him up and cut off one of his feet. Don’t forget a tourniquet just above the ankle so he doesn’t bleed out. Then chain him to the stake in the middle of the cars. Now you have your bait.

He’ll scream, which will attract the zombies, but that’s ok, because you’re going to move off a safe distance and pick off the zombies as they struggle to get over the ring of cars. It’s not only entertainment, but it will also help to clean up the neighborhood. And don’t worry about whether or not it is humane. It is a kill or be killed world, and you’ll certainly be thought of as a hero, which leads us back to having lots of company.

Oh, and food… nah, never mind the food. Just put a sign up that says “Cellphones work here” with an arrow pointing towards the ring of cars. The idiots will likely have food. Let the zombies handle the idiots, you can collect their food later. After all, you have company to entertain.

Aside from that, if you have any questions about the apocalypse or zombies you can get in touch through my website at www.jeremylaszlo.com

Or Facebook at www.facebook.com/bloodandbrotherhood

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE:  Well, I’ve got to hand it to you, Jeremy.  You sure put a lot of thought into that last question.  Thanks for stopping by!

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#31ZombieAuthors – Day 14 Interview – Kate L. Mary – Nerds vs. Hunks

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FIND THIS ZOMBIE AUTHOR ON:

Amazon          Website

Facebook         Twitter

Today’s guest is Kate L. Mary, author of the Broken World series.  Follow protagonist Vivian Thomas on the road in the midst of zombie mayhem as she and her DD’s convince a duo of redneck brothers to give her a ride to California so she can locate the daughter she gave up for adoption.

A stay-at-home mother and Air Force wife, Kate and her family have lived in Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, California and Oklahoma.

Her Amazon author page states:

“Kate prefers nerdy, non-traditional heroes who can make you laugh to hunky pieces of man-meat…”

So in other words, there’s a distinct chance I might be able to convince her to become the Bookshelf Battle Blog’s 4.5th reader.

Hello Kate.  Thanks for taking my call on the space phone.

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Q.   Let’s talk about the role of trust in a zombie apocalypse.  Sometimes a disaster can bring out the best in people.  Other times, it can bring out the worst.  Unfortunately, you never know who you’re dealing with until it’s too late.  My group and I, having just located a survivor camp operated by a retired used car salesman/former television extra, are having trust issues.  I think it’s a pretty sweet set-up.  My girlfriend thinks we should run.  Naturally I thought about Vivian, who makes the tough decision to trust a pair of redneck brothers on her quest to find her daughter.  Can anyone ever be fully trusted in a zombie apocalypse?

A.   Trusting people during normal times can be tough, but when it comes to a lawless world it’s an even bigger gamble. I know a lot of people hold the belief that humans are basically good, but I wholeheartedly disagree. People are full of bad intentions, and too often the only thing keeping them from acting on those intentions are the consequences. Take away the threat of punishment, and the world will very quickly get a lot darker.

In the case of the used car salesman/former television extra, I’d have to say I’m with your girlfriend. I know the idea of a used car salesman being sleazy and underhanded is just a stereotype, but throw the role of television extra on top of that and every warning bell in my head goes off. This person spent his free time pretending to be someone else on a regular basis. What makes you think that just because the world has ended, he’s stopped pretending?

Q.   As a fan of zombie books, movies, TV shows, etc., I’ve noticed that whenever a group of people happen upon a place offering shelter and safety, it’s usually some kind of trick.  Someone inevitably ends up robbed, beaten, killed, sold into slavery, chopped up into lunch meat or what have you.  Maybe that’s why my better half is so jittery.

As a noted zombie author, can you settle a debate that’s long ranged in the world of zombie fandom?  When survivors happen upon a settlement operated by seemingly nice people, should their response be, “Feets don’t fail me now!” or “Thank you for your hospitality.  I think I will join you!”

A.   In a disaster like this, the idea that there are no good people left in the world has me thinking one thing: If that’s true, why go on? If you’re a good person just trying to survive, you have to assume there are other people out there with good intentions as well. But trusting someone shouldn’t be your first inclination or you’re liable to get robbed, beaten, killed, sold into slavery, or chopped up into lunchmeat. I think it’s important to give off a “thank you for your hospitality” vibe while keeping your eyes open for anything suspicious, much like Rick and crew did when they first arrived at Terminus at the end of season four of The Walking Dead. You have to keep hope alive or you’ll find yourself turning into the very monster you’re afraid to run into, but you need to be smart about it as well.

Q.   I’m led to believe you prefer laughable nerds over hunky pieces of man meat.  Naturally, as a poindexterish proprietor of a book blog that caters to 3.5 readers, who currently finds himself knee deep in a zombie apocalypse, I’m intrigued.  My ensuing inquiries are:

Q1)  Is that actually true or is that just something that women say before they make a beeline for the hunky man meat?

A.   It’s actually true! While hunky pieces of man meat are great to look at, that was never the type of man I dated, and it definitely won’t be who I rely on when the zombie apocalypse hits. Strength will only get you so far before a horde of zombies decides they want to feast on a meal of muscles, but intelligence will keep you going. And a sense of humor will not only keep you from losing your mind, but give you something to keep going for. While I do share the common problem of most female Walking Dead viewers—a love of Daryl Dixon—I have to admit that I’m in major awe of Glenn Rhee. I wouldn’t mind teaming up with him at the end of the world!

Q2)  Point of clarification:  Are we talking about a full blown, genuine, bonafide Star Wars toy owning geek despite being an adult type of nerd or the Hollywood version of a nerd, which is usually just a hunky piece of man meat that someone in wardrobe whipped a pair of glasses on?  (A hunk in nerd’s clothing, if you will.)

A.   I’m all about the adorable kind of nerd. Star Wars toys aren’t a must, but they also aren’t unwelcome—I own a few nerdy Walking Dead toys myself. My husband is a toy collecting nerd as well. For Father’s Day the last two years I got him Simpsons Lego sets. They are currently assembled and on display above our fireplace.

Q3)  What is it about a nerdy/non-traditional hero that intrigues you?

A.  I think it’s the unexpected. Seeing someone who didn’t think much of himself before the apocalypse rises to the challenge and becomes an important part of a group’s survival. Anyone who looks at a “hunky” guy will assume he’s going to be able to take care of himself, but it’s the people who surprise even themselves who are the most enjoyable to root for.

Q4)  Who are some of your favorite nerdy, non-traditional, non-hunky heroes?

A.   Glen Rhee of course. The evolution of his character over the last five seasons has been incredible to watch. Every now and then I like to turn on an episode from season one of The Walking Dead just to compare the characters, and seeing how much he has grown since then is mind-blowing.

I was also a huge fan of Chuck when it was on. Watching Chuck fumble his way through assignments was adorable, but seeing how much he had changed by the end of the series was even more fun.

Q.  The Broken World series is in Amazon’s top one hundred when it comes to post-apocalyptic and dystopian 511rJyBOZLL__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_fiction.  What’s your secret to bringing so many readers into your world?

A.  Honestly, I think it had a lot to do with timing. I wrote the first three books a few years ago, but sat on them for a bit while agents and editors took their time considering publishing Broken World. By the time I finally got around to putting the first book out myself, The Walking Dead had reached the status of TV phenomenon, and it’s popularity really helped the series take off. The fact that it’s a great series—I never get tried of rereading these books!—and so different from a lot of zombie books out there helped even more.

Q.  What inspired you to take your ideas and turn them into books that zombie fanatics the world over can enjoy?

A.  The Walking Dead, of course. I’ve always loved post-apocalyptic stories, especially zombie stuff, but the sudden popularity of The Walking Dead helped form a story in my head that I just couldn’t get rid of. I almost didn’t write it as a zombie novel, though. If you do any kind of research on what editors/publishers are looking for, you’ll discover the sad fact that they do not want zombie fiction. They say there’s no market for it, which is just crazy—especially now! I wrote the first chapter of Broken World as a post-apocalyptic novel similar to The Stand, but without the religious undertones. But only one chapter in and I changed my mind, deciding to take a risk and write the zombie novel I’d been thinking about for months. Broken World was the result, and I’m so glad I took that leap.

Q.   Kate, thanks for stopping by, and especially for enduring my inquisition vis a vis nerds vs. hunks.  Before I hang up the space phone, do you have any last minute advice that could help my friends and I brave the zombie apocalypse?

A.   Don’t lose hope! It’s the one thing that will get you killed faster than a horde of zombies. If you don’t have some kind of hope for the future, you won’t fight as hard or run as fast. You’ll find yourself wishing that you never wake up when you lay down to sleep at night. If you don’t have any hope that you will be able to find a safe place or that the horror will one day come to an end, it won’t be long before the only end you can imagine is death.

Thanks so much for having me, and I hope you and your group find a safe place to ride out the worst of the zombie apocalypse!

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#31ZombieAuthors – Day 12 Interview – Joe McKinney – Legendary Zombie Master

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Bram Stoker award winning novelist Joe McKinney is to fans of zombie fiction what Elvis is to rock and roll.  Simply mention Joe’s name to zombie enthusiasts and they’re likely to swoon and pass out.

If a zombie invasion were to ever go down, Joe could handle it.  After all, in his day job, he’s a Sergeant with the San Antonio, TX Police Department, where he’s a patrol supervisor.  He’s also worked as a homicide detective and a disaster mitigation specialist.

51CTSWUWJzL__SX302_BO1,204,203,200_As if that weren’t impressive enough, he’s also the author of the Dead World series.  The action begins in Dead City.  After a series of hurricanes rocks the Gulf Coast, a zombifying virus spreads to San Antonio, where police officer Eddie Hudson has to brave a zompoc in order to get his wife and son to safety.

Joe’s also the author of the Deadlands series, the latest book of which, The Dead Won’t Die, came out last month on September 29.  In fact, word has it that he’s heading to Atlanta October 16 and 17th for book signings, so if you’re in The Walking Dead territory, you might want to keep a pen handy.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today, oh wise zombie master.  My 3.5 readers and I greatly appreciate it.

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Q.   You got in on the ground floor of a zombie fiction renaissance that began in the mid-2000’s and to date, doesn’t show any signs of stopping.  What is it about zombies that have kept fans of these creepy creatures coming back for more after all these years?

A.   I was on a zombie panel at a horror convention a while back, and one of my fellow panelists was a writer who is generally regarded as “one of the literary elite” sort. I like this guy.  I have a lot of respect for him, both as a person and as a writer.  I’d even go so far as to call him a mentor.  And we’re good friends on top of that.  Well, somebody from the audience threw out a question very similar to this and my friend answered something like this:  “Zombies are a symptom of our self-loathing.  We so hate ourselves and our society that we invent a straw man like the zombie, a monster that both looks enough like us so that we see in its putrefaction how much we disgust ourselves and yet is anonymous enough that we can imagine those who anger us as we fire an endless barrage of headshots at the approaching horde.”

Now, I don’t totally buy that.  I don’t think self-loathing, or even societal loathing, is a strong enough emotion to turn a drive-in movie monster into a cultural archetype.  There may be something to that explanation, especially for the readers who spend too much time arguing about politics on Facebook, but that isn’t everybody.

What about the rest of us?  Why do we love zombies?  Well, aside from the creeping dread that comes with imagining streets filled with the undead and the way really great zombie stories tend to treat the apocalypse like a crucible that distills humanity down to its core, I think the zombie has caught on because it’s a blank page upon which writers and readers can draw anything they want.  What are you afraid of?  Disease; death of the mind, a la Alzheimer’s; societal collapse; or possibly illegal immigration?  You name it, if you’re scared of it, we have a zombie for you.  They are sponges for metaphor.  They can be anything you want them to be, and I believe that that’s their secret storytelling power. 

Q.   On your site, you mention how your daughter’s birth inspired you to follow your dream of becoming a writer, but it wasn’t easy.  You explain how you penned a 1950’s style space opera, came to the conclusion that it was “crap,” and wondered why you were even bothering.  Honestly, in my experience, most aspiring authors stop when they reach the “This is crap!” point, but you kept going and today you’re a rousing success.

For those of us who are convinced our writing is “crap,” can you give us a little pep talk to inspire us to keep going until we hit our non-crappy groove?

A.   Getting started is hard. Really hard.  There are days when you spend a lot of time looking at yourself in the mirror wondering why you’re even bothering.  And when you do finally get your first few pieces out there, there’s never a shortage of nasty trolls to tell you how you shouldn’t have bothered in the first place.  You need a lot of hard work, a lot of bullheaded determination, and a really thick skin.  Oh, and a super harsh inner critic that isn’t afraid to occasionally be a cheerleader.  Like I said, it’s hard.

But it can be done.  And while I can’t tell you the secret of finding that determination you need to get out of your own way, I can let you in on a little secret that will make it easier for you to write that first novel.

First, outline your story, in exhaustive detail, before you ever start thinking of your opening sentence.  It seems like every time I go to a convention, somebody says, “You know, I’ve got this novel I’ve been working on for three years now.”  I usually stop them right there and ask them if they outline or write by the seat their pants.  Invariably, I get some confused rambling about how Stephen King said writers should be pantsers because anything else would stifle creativity.  I usually answer by pointing out that never getting the story written is even more stifling to creativity.  Outline, outline, outline.  It’s the first step to success.  My outlines for novels will usually go 70 to 90 pages and they take me about two months to write…about the same amount of time as the novel itself.

The second part of the secret?  Write a little bit every day.  Don’t listen to the stories of Ray Bradbury writing Fahrenheit 451 in 9 days, or Robert Louis Stevenson writing Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde in 3 days.  You don’t need that kind of self-abuse.  What you do need is a manageable word count that you promise yourself each day.  When I started out, that promise was 500 words a day.  These days, it’s 1,500.  But you have to work up to that.  You have to start with digestible chunks and gradually build up from there.  Remember: How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time!

Q.   “Write what you love” is one piece of advice you mention on your blog.  Specifically, you hit your stride when you realized that after growing up on a steady diet of monster flicks, the zombie apocalypse genre was right up your alley.

So in other words, aspiring writers should just be themselves and stop trying to be something they’re not?

A.   Yeah, pretty much. One simple lesson I try time and again to convey is that if you want to be interesting, you have to be interested.  What that means is that you have to love what you’re writing about.  I don’t mean simply loving zombies, so you write a zombie story.  I mean loving the life of being a cop with a family, and so you write a zombie story about a cop trying to fight his way home to his family on the first night of the zombie apocalypse.  You’ll see the same love in every writer you read, both the great ones and the hacks.  The point is that writing is all about getting your inner joy out there, even if the mood in which that joy conveys is tragic.  Simply put, if you don’t love it, nobody else will either.  It doesn’t matter what you’re interested in.  If you are crazy cool madly in love with ladybugs, and you write a murder mystery, or a romance, or a horror novel, or a science fiction space opera about how cool ladybugs are, your chances of successfully connecting with an audience just went up about ten thousand percent.  We don’t care what your interest is, just that you convince us that you love it, and that we should too…through your characters!

Q.   “Write what you know” is a phrase often heard in the literary world.  As a police officer, you know law enforcement procedure and it shows in your writing.  For example, when I discovered that Dead City involved a series of hurricanes, it didn’t surprise me to learn that you worked as a disaster mitigation specialist.

How else have you drawn on your police experience to bring greater detail to your writing?  And should aspiring scribes go out and get some experience in something, anything before they put pen to paper?

A.   Well, I have to be careful about that. My department has specific rules about writing for publication that prohibit me from writing on cases I have personally worked on and cases that have yet to be adjudicated.  You can imagine why.  Imagine being a rape victim.  You somehow work up the courage to report the rape, and you spend the afternoon pouring your soul and anger and all the rest of it out to a detective.  Now imagine that detective turns around and sells your story to some magazine somewhere.  Imagine the outrage and violation you would feel.  I take my oath as a cop very seriously, and that trust is a bond I will never break.

Still, I get quite a bit of mileage from the things I’ve learned on the job.  Being on the job you learn a lot about human nature, and that definitely helps with writing.  It also helps with creating a unique niche for my writing.  Lots of horror utilizes police procedure, but grudgingly, because most writers lack any firsthand knowledge of it.  Writers will create situations where the police have to make an appearance, and then they’re forced to tap dance until they find a reason to get rid of the police.  I see it all the time.  I don’t have that problem, though.  I would definitely recommend that all writers develop some kind of skillset like that, be it beekeeping or pot making or anything, really.

Q.   You hold a Master’s Degree in English Literature.  For anyone out there hoping to break into the literary world, do you recommend such a formal course of study?

A.   It worked for me, but I’m just one voice shouting in the wilderness. I know hundreds of writers, and they come from every profession imaginable.  Some are butchers; some are call girls.  Some are beekeepers; some are college professors.  Some are cowboys; some are stand up comedians.  One writer I know owns a barbeque restaurant in New Braunfels, Texas that serves the best braised beef short ribs you could possibly imagine.  It really doesn’t matter what your background is.  What does matter is that you love something so much that you want, want, need to fit it into a story.  Find that spark inside you, and the words will come.  I promise. 

Q.   OK.  Here’s a big question.  You’re a busy police officer.  On top of that, you’ve got a family.  And yet, amidst all of these important commitments, you have managed to have an amazing career as a writer.

Meanwhile, I don’t want to call myself a slacker, but one time I sat down with my laptop to write an epic masterpiece, got frustrated after the first few lines, then ended up watching a Steven Seagal movie marathon while devouring an entire box of Oreos instead.

Please, for myself, and anyone else who can’t get their act together, give us some tips on how to juggle work, family, other stuff that happens in life, and still find time to pursue writing.

A.   Any author who tells you every day is an orderly procession of getting the words on paper is a filthy liar. Some days are hard, even after you make a name for yourself.  Some days, the Oreos and movie marathons are what the body and soul need.  There’s no shame in that.

But you have to hold two seemingly disparate ideals in mind if you want to write professionally.  First, you have to have a love of craft and a determination to keep butt in chair that, frankly, defies human nature.  The kids are playing with the dogs in the backyard, and begging you to come join them.  There’s a lovely breeze blowing.  Your youngest looks at you with a smile you know won’t be there in her angsty teenage years.

But you have a deadline.

That kind of denial of human nature.  Bullheadedness, my wife calls it.  Maybe even assholery.  Yeah, it sucks that bad.

But how do you get to have problems like that?  Well, that comes with manageable word counts.  Seriously, folks, 500 words a day.  Treat everyday like it’s NaNoWriMo.  Do 500 words a day.  You can do it.  Outline first, figure out what you’re going to be writing during those precious few moments out of each day that you can spare for the keyboard, and then start typing.  Get the first draft done.  Don’t go back and edit what you wrote the day before, just push forward to the end.  Once you’re done, go back and edit.  That’s why they call them first drafts. 

Q.   Thanks for checking in, Joe.  Before I go, do you have any last minute advice that might help my friends and I survive the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

A.   Well, yes…obviously Cardio! Oh, and as a cop, I wholeheartedly recommend the double tap as well.  But after that: Be smart.  Be watchful.  Pay attention; it don’t cost nothing.  Take a good look around you every moment of every day.  Even if the apocalypse doesn’t come (and I think I’m not alone in kind of wishing that it would come), you will still have the observational aptitude to write about it.

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#31ZombieAuthors – Day 11 Interview – Rachel Aukes – Dante Zombified

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My guest today is Rachel Aukes, author of The Deadland Saga.  Set in a zombie infested midwest, the first book of the series, 100 Days in Deadland, was named one of the best books of 2013 by Suspense Magazine.  The trilogy concluded in May of this year with Deadland Rising.

Under the pen name, “Berinn Rae,” Aukes also wrote Stealing Fate, a USA Today recommended read.

Ahh let me see here.  Pick up the old space phone.  Dial up Rachel.  It’s ringing.  Hmm hmm la la la.  Hello!

RACHEL: Hey, BQB. Great to hear from you! How’s life treating you?

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51thgaVbyUL__SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Q.  Terrible, Rachel.  I’m currently riding out a zombie apocalypse in a small locked room.  Outside, zombies are desperate to get in here and gobble me up like a nice Christmas ham.  Inside, I’m stuck with my insufferable ex-girlfriend, who complains about everything I do.  Naturally, I feel like I’m trapped in the seventh circle of hell. 

But I don’t want to bother you with my personal problems.  What I want to know is what inspired you to weave that classic English 101 staple, Dante’s Inferno, into 100 Days in Deadland?

A.   I’d always wanted to write a zombie tale but never found the right inspiration… that was, until I was watching O Brother Where Art Thou one night, which is a quirky retelling of Homer’s Odyssey. Dante’s “Inferno” popped into my mind, and instantly I knew the zombie tale I needed to write.

Oh, and look at the bright side. You’re not trapped inside with two ex-girlfriends.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE:  TWO ex-girlfriends?  What am I, Hugh Hefner?

Q.  The series continues, mashing Dante Alighieri’s other writings with zombitastic goodness.  I’m going to go out a limb and guess you’re a lover of the classics.  If you could zombify another classic novel, which one would it be and why?

A. I do love the classics. Most modern stories I’ve read seem to be simply new versions of old stories. If I zombified another classic, I’d go for The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emma Orczy (a newer classic). I think it’d be a hoot to write a fun romp of a witty master of disguise who rescues people during the zombie apocalypse.

Q.  Your protagonists come from two very different backgrounds.  Cash is an office worker with few survival skills while Clutch is a battle hardened veteran/PTSD sufferer.  Do disasters have a tendency to bring people together who would normally never have anything to do with one another?

A. I believe disasters unveil the best and worst in people by throwing them into inconceivable situations without a lifeline. Cash and Clutch never would’ve met in their normal lives. It took Cash running from zombies on the interstate and being given a lift by Clutch in his big rig for the two to be given the chance to meet… and discover that they made a perfect zombie-killing pair.

Q.  You’ve also written sci-fi romance under your pen name, “Berinn Rae.”  What are some of the key components of a good sci-fi romance story?

A. Sci-fi romance needs to have the same ingredients of any good story—a tempo that turns the page, characters we can love or hate, and a plot that makes us think. For sci-fi romance, you sprinkle on a happily-ever-after ending (or happily-for-now in the case of my stories since I’ve never been one for Disney princess stories). Then, stir in elements of science fiction. In my Colliding Worlds trilogy, an intergalactic war came to earth.

Q.  Rachel, you’ve received accolades from USA Today and Suspense Magazine.  Did you ever dream you’d get this far when you first put pen to paper (or fingers to keys?)

A.  Hell, no. I began writing because I had too many stories playing bumper cars in my head. I was ecstatic when people paid money for my stories. Whenever my stories receive accolades, I’m downright delirious. I love telling stories—that I’m fortunate enough to be building a career out of it makes me feel like the luckiest person on earth.

Q.  Speaking of, how did you end up writing professionally?

A. After I wrote my first story (a paranormal thriller), I shopped it around to a few agents and small presses. One of those small presses gave me my first break (This was before self-publishing had become a big thing). With that first sale, I learned the full editing process and the publishing process on a publisher’s dime. Not long after, I wrote a sci-fi with mild romantic elements and got a three-book deal with a larger house for the Colliding Worlds Trilogy. It took me three years before I dipped my toes in the self-publishing waters with the Deadland Saga, and I’ve never looked back.  

Q.  Thanks for taking the time to help a nerd out.  Before I return to my own seventh circle of hell, do you have any last minute words of advice that could help my friends and I survive the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

A. Use the ex-girlfriend as bait so you can escape. It’s a win-win situation… for you, anyway.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE:  Not a terrible idea.  I’ll submit it to the group and let them mull it over.

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#31ZombieAuthors – Day 10 Interview – Armand Rosamillia – 150 Stories, 2 Podcasts and Still Going

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Today’s guest is Armand Rosamilia.  A New Jersey native transplanted to sunny Florida, he’s an active member of the Horror Writer’s Association, a baseball and metal music fan, and an expert on everything zombie.

Armand is the author of over one-hundred and fifty stories, running the gamut from horror and zombies, to contemporary fiction, thrillers and more.  Not one to be hung up on genre labels, Armand’s goal is to write a good story, no matter where the subject matter takes him.

When he isn’t busy writing, Armand runs two very successful podcasts on Project iRadio:

Arm Cast: Dead Sexy Horror Podcast – interviewing fellow authors as well as filmmakers, musicians, etc.

Arm N Toof’s Dead Time Podcast – with co-host Mark Tufo, the duo interview authors and filmmakers and anyone else they feel like talking to.

Zombie fans will want to check out his series, Dying Dayswhich chronicles zombie killer Darlene Bobich’s ongoing efforts to save the day from the undead.

Welcome Armand.

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Q.  I’m having a hard time getting started as an author.  I have several ideas but am never able to focus myself on just one.  I’ll work on one idea for awhile, get distracted, then before I know it, I’m onto something else and nothing ever gets done.  What advice do you have for someone in my situation?

A. Just keep writing. I have 5-7 projects going at all times so it never gets stale. I might work on one more than the others (especially if it is already paid for and I have a solid deadline) but the goal is just to keep writing and get your daily words in so it keeps growing.

Q.  Why are people so fascinated with zombies?  Is it the creatures themselves?  Is it the fantasy of living in a post-apocalyptic world with no rules?  Is it something else?

A. Zombies are just cool to me. I know you can do the entire ‘mirror to consumer society mentality’ crap if you want, but they are just interesting to write and read about for me. And we all want to shoot the neighbor in the head but can’t until they turn, right?

Q.  Do you think zombies are going to stick around in the entertainment world for awhile?  Is there another type of monster that could unseat them?

A. Everyone keeps talking about how five minutes ago zombies are, but I don’t see them ever truly going away. There will always be a small rabid fan base into zombies. I’m one of them. I’ll keep writing zombie stories until I have nothing more to say about them.

Q.  What inspired your interest in zombies and moreover, what motivated you to write about them?

A. The Rising by Brian Keene. I was always a fan of some zombie movies but his book showed me you can do something unique with the genre. It led me to write a couple of flash fiction pieces and Highway To Hell, an extreme zombie novella. That led right into Dying Days.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE:  Brian Keene was kind enough to grant me a Twitter interview.  Check it out!

51mUO31KscL__UY250_Q.  Regarding your protagonist, Darlene Bobich, one Amazon reviewer wrote, “she is a well-developed character who grabs a hold of you with her guts, fears, pain, uncertainty, and determination to keep going.”  There has been a lot of discussion for the need for more female roles in fiction lately.  How did you come up with the idea for Darlene and how were you able to portray her in a way that intrigued readers?

A. It started out as a flash fiction piece I wrote for an anthology. I wanted to see if I could write a zombie story. The idea was simple: a woman is faced with having to shoot her turned father with the gun he bought her. I loved the character (who is named after a real person, a friend I’ve never actually met on Facebook) and wanted to portray her realistically in future stories. She’s a regular woman. A little overweight, average looks, boring mall job, and no military training. She cries, she has panic attacks and she is just someone you can relate to.

Q.  You’re also the author of Keyport Cthulhu.  Kudos to you, sir, for I’ve always felt Cthulhu has been underrepresented in fiction.  So here’s my question.  Zombies vs. Cthulhu – who would you put your money on?

A. I will not give the odds on it, because if either side wins we all lose. Isn’t that how it works? But it would be a helluva fight to get some popcorn and sit down and watch as the world ended.

Armand and Cthulhu (fun-sized)

Armand and Fun-Sized Cthulhu

Q.  Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today.  Before I go, do you have any last minute advice that might help me survive the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

A. Keep your eyes open and don’t get caught in a dead-end or surrounded by these monsters. Good luck.

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#31ZombieAuthors – Day 6 – S.G. Lee – Advice From the Journal of the Undead

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Today’s guest is S.G. Lee, author of the Journal of the Undead series and proprietor of sgleehorror.blogspot.com, where he spins yarns of zombitabulous mayhem free of charge, assuming you don’t include the hours of sleep you’ll lose thinking about the twisted horror scenarios he’s concocted.

A self-described Philly sports fan, he claims an ability to bleed all of Philadelphia’s sports team colors, much to the shock of his local medical community.

S.G. welcome.  Personally, I think the East Randomtown Mascots would trounce the Phillies any day of the week, but alas we must discuss more serious business.

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Q.   I’ve just learned that my mentor, the illustrious Dr. Hugo Von Science, caused the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse on purpose as part of a villainous scheme.  For me, this begs a question I must ask you:  

Who’s more dangerous in a zombie outbreak?  The monsters that want to eat us or the humans who take advantage of the chaos to get what they want?

A.   Without a doubt, the human race is far more dangerous. With the ability to think rationally and problem-solve, mankind is the most vicious animal on the planet.

First, there will be the sinister types … the ones who create the outbreak and/or those who profit from it. Then there are the people in desperation; they paid no attention to preparedness protocols for any type of disaster. They didn’t even make sure they had spare bottles of water, a first aid kit, or flashlights if the power goes out so how are they going to handle the zombie apocalypse?

Desperation brings out the basest of animal instincts in people. They’ll kill over a half-empty bottle of water if thirsty enough. Let’s not forget, even in good times, there are people whose only pleasure is derived from harming others. They’ll knock someone down just to watch a zombie tear ‘em to shreds.

That’s not to say all of humanity is monstrous, there are always going to be good people out there too. Just be sure to watch out because it will be harder to tell in the direst of times.

Q.   Why is the public so obsessed with zombies these days?  

A.  I know I’ve said this before but I truly believe the reason zombies are so popular is because, at their core, zombies represent hopelessness. Tragically, most people look at the world around them and feel little or no hope. They’re disappointed in so many things: their government, their spouse/significant other, their dysfunctional families, their finances, an ever-growing abundance of bills. The list goes on and on but none of that is as awful as being torn to shreds by a cannibalistic eating machine that used to be your neighbor or mailman. In a strange way, zombie books and movies give us hope. If a group of ragtag strangers can survive a cataclysmic outbreak in the zombie apocalypse, maybe … just maybe, you can too. Or, at the very least, you can survive holidays with the in-laws.

51n4ONFgx2L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ copyQ,  In Journal of the Undead:  Littleville Uprising, Evan Stone’s godfather is Dr. G.E. Mitchell, author of Journal of the Undead: A Survivor’s Guide.  Are there any tips in that survivor’s guide you could pull out that would help my merry band of survivors and I?

A.  Absolutely! Dr. Mitchell, a.k.a. Doc, will be working with me to release his survivor’s guide soon but, until then, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if I share a few tips.

First, preparation is key. Have a bug-out bag (BOB) packed nearby and ready at a moment’s notice. You never know when the flesh-eaters might break through your perimeter. There won’t be time to pack when that happens so be prepared. He recommends having more than one bag since you’ll have different seasonal needs.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE:  See this interview with Sarah Lyons Fleming for more on how to pack a zombie apocalypse ready bug out bag.  Back to you, S.G.

Second, don’t give those monsters anything to grab onto so, avoid baggy clothes and long, flowing hair. In Littleville, one of the students was, as Emma so delicately put it, “hauled in like a marlin” by the girl’s long hair. So, cut it or keep it in a tight braid but make sure your hair can’t be used against you.

Another tried and true tip is to have more than one type of weapon, preferably a multi-tasking tool in addition to a gun. The sound of gunfire attracts enemies so a non-firing weapon is essential when you need to stay undercover. Besides, guns require ammo and that might be in short supply.

Finally, this one is helpful no matter what type emergency arises, be sure to have back-ups of both prescription and over-the-counter medications on hand. The last thing you want is to keel over because you didn’t pack your medications!

Q.  In a note in Littleville Uprising, you state that zombies vary in their abilities from story to story, and that yours “shuffle along, always searching for a bite of warm and juicy living flesh.”  Why did you choose to make your zombies shuffle and do you have any advice to defeat the East Randomtown zombies, who, as my luck would have it, all run like they trained with Jackie Joyner-Kersee?

A.  The reason my Journal of the Undead zombies are the slow shufflers is two-fold. One, this series was written for my sweetie, an old-school horror purist. In my beloved’s world, it would be sacrilege to call those sprinters, “zombies.” Secondly, we are both of the opinion that the fast moving, super-human cannibals are “infected” as opposed to zombies. So, in our house zombies shamble and vampires are not sparkly love interests.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE:  Kind of fun to picture the Lees sitting around the dinner table, being all alike, “this is a slow shambling zombie house and it always will be, damn it!”

Q.  Can you confirm reports that your desire to write about zombies was “spawned by intense road rage?”  I read something on your Amazon Author page that led me to think that might be a possibility.

A.  Well, I am not at liberty to confirm or deny these claims outright but I will say this … you can take the driver out of Philly but you cannot take Philly out of the driver. We are always in a hurry so slow drivers make me want to take a tire iron and—Ahem, it appears my attorney has advised me to invoke the fifth amendment and shut up before I incriminate myself.

Q.  Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, S.G.  Before I go, do you have any other advice that could help my friends and I survive the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

A.  I know this is expression was made popular in a movie but don’t forget the most important rule in dealing with the undead: always, always, double-tap! It goes without saying that you need to make sure those flesh-eaters stay dead this time.

As we touched on earlier, don’t trust the living either. Desperate times call for desperate measures.. Don’t believe someone if they say they haven’t been bitten. Check it with your own eyes.

Most importantly, don’t let the infection spread. Keep it contained, perhaps in the East Randomtown Mascots’ locker room.    *sigh*    I have been advised by my attorney to publicly apologize for my insensitivity to the East Randomtown Mascots and their fans.

Additionally, the plight of those injured or killed in the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse is a tragedy. It should not be taken lightly. It was not my intention to offend the good people of East Randomtown or their sports teams. As a gesture of goodwill, I am headed to East Randomtown now to assist in the containment and clean up from this catastrophic event. Perhaps I can convince some of the Phillies to come with me. They’re already armed, after all.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE:  Thanks, S.G.!  We need all the help we can get!

Also, the action figure above was developed by Mark Neto of Markneto’s Mightiest Mego Super Customs.  Get your own custom action figure today.  You know you want one.

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#31ZombieAuthors – The Week in Review with Schecky Blargfeld, Zombie Comedian

Meanwhile at the East Randomtown Chuckle Barn…shutterstock_226147114 copy

ANNOUNCER:

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and ghouls, please remain calm!

Yes, East Randomtown has been devastated by a zombie apocalypse, but you know our motto, “the show must go on!”

So pick your hands up off the floor and clap them together for Schecky Biggsfield….wait.  What?  He’s a zombie now?  Oh great.  OK put whatever body parts you have left together for SCHECKY BLARGFELD, ZOMBIE COMEDIAN!

SCHECKY:

Oh stop!  Please, you’re too kind.  Cut it out!  No really, you in the front row, cut out that patch of gangrenous skin out before you keel over and become a zombie like yours truly.

Actually, being a zombie isn’t that bad.  Half the women run from me in terror.  The other half just give up and let me bite them. Come to think of it, Saturday nights aren’t much different for me as a zombie than they were when I was a human.

Take my wife…PLEASE!!  Ha ha but really, she’s turning into a hideous beast (more so than when she was alive even)…someone take her outta here before she eats my entire audience, all 3.5 of them!  Hey-yo!

So I’ve got good news and bad news.  The bad news is that this whole town has been overrun by dirty, smelly zombies.  The good news is that the zombies will never attack Washington, D.C.  We tried that once, but we couldn’t find anyone with a brain, so we all starved!  Whoa!

I just want to say it’s great being here on the Bookshelf Battle Blog.  3.5 readers?  I’ve seen dishwasher user’s manuals get more reads than this joint!

So we had quite a week, didn’t we?

THREE COMPLETED INTERVIEWS!

DAY 1 INTERVIEW – SARAH LYONS FLEMING

sarah lyons fleming

You know, time was when a zombie could walk up on a gal and have himself a nice lunch but now thanks to the whole “Walking Dead” zombie pop culture craze, everyone and their Uncle Bob is fully prepared for a zombie attack.  Now if you’re a zombie and you try to eat someone, your intended victim is likely to reach into a bag and pull out everything from a ninja sword to a cuisinart.

Want to learn how to pack the perfect bugout bag?  The Until the End of the World series author will teach you how.  “Until the end of the world?”  I can’t wait until the end of my set!  Not that I’m trying to disparage the good name of the East Randomtown Chuckle Barn, but I’ve been in bomb shelters with more ambiance.  Yowza!

What’s this?  Someone just handed me a note.  Yeesh, the hand’s still attached.

“Do not go running around packing a bug out bag full of dangerous accouterments like some kind of dummy.  The Bookshelf Battle Blog is not responsible if you hurt yourself or someone else with your bug out bag.  This is fiction and we’re just joking around here.  Sincerely, Attorney Donnelly, BQB’s Lead Counsel.”

Wow.  Lawyers.  Yet, I’m the bottom feeder!

DAY 2 INTERVIEW- JAIME JOHNESEE

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 Not all zombies are bad.  In fact, most zombies just want your brains because they lost theirs and that’s why they’re so dumb now.  I always attach one of those little keychains that beep when you clap your hands to my brain.  Otherwise, I’d lose it all the time.  Bob the Zombie is an ok guy in my book, though he shares Bookshelf Q. Battler’s love of Taco Bell, which is a surefire way to start an apocalypse…in your toilet!

 DAY 3 INTERVIEW – STEVIE KOPAS

stevie k

“The End of the World is Not Glamorous.”  It sure isn’t.  I just had to staple my pinky finger back on.  Can’t wait to find out which body part is going to fall off next.  My body parts are dropping faster than network television’s ratings.  Nope, nothing glamorous about the zombie apocalypse at all.

Be sure to check out The Breadwinner Trilogy.  By the way, I hear Stevie’s beverage of choice is Zombie Killer beer.  Personally, I prefer a White Russian.  In fact…excuse me…I’ve got a little bit of Ivan still stuck in my teeth.  Zing!

WHO’S NEXT?

TODAY – ANN CHRISTY  will be taking BQB’s space phone call.  She’ll give us the 411 on her Between Life and Death series, which is about an angry female that likes to smash the undead with a hammer.  Kind of reminds me of my wife.  Also, I hear there will be some talk of were gophers.  Miserable little jerk faces.  You really need to keep an eye on them.  Here, take one of mine.  It pops right out.

TOMORROW -Oct. 5 – PERRIN BRIAR

perrin briar

Perrin is going to tell BQB about his creepy tales, including Z-Minus, a series about a father who races against time to save his daughter.  Perrin’s also the author of SwissFamilyRobinZOM, a classic book that was turned into a Disney movie.  I wonder if we can get Perrin to zombify all the Disney films.  Zombie Aladdin.  Zombie Lion King.  Zombie Frozen.  “Let it go, let it go, please let your brains go!”  Ha, I’m hilarious!

TUESDAY – Oct. 6 – S.G. LEE 51FYROgGgoL._UX250_

Mr. Lee will dip into his Journal of the Undead to see what tricks he can offer BQB to keep him out of trouble.  Also, S.G. is a diehard Phillies fanatic (as in a fan, not the mascot pronounced “Phanatic”) whereas BQB is a loyal supporter of the East Randomtown Mascots, so things are bound to get heated when the conversation turns to sports.  Steeee-rike!

WEDNESDAY – Oct. 7 – Gillian Zane

gzSpeaking of sports, when it comes to the ladies, BQB has absolutely no game whatsoever.  LeBron James he is not.  Don’t worry, the NOLA Zombie author will give our nerdy amigo some lessons on how to be an alpha male, just like the macho men in her books.  I’ll give Gillian an A for effort but I wouldn’t expect any miracles here.  BQB isn’t an alpha male, or a beta male…he’s pretty much a zeta male, and that’s being generous.

THURSDAY – Oct. 8 – Joseph “Zombie” Zuko

Joseph

Joseph “Zombie” Zuko – he’s like Van Helsing, but for zombies.

Oh my God.  NOT ZOMBIE ZUKO!  ZOMBIES, RUN FOR YOUR UNDEAD LIVES!!!

Seriously, I’m gonna get while the getting is good when this world class zombie fighter comes around.  A renowned zombiologist, Zombie Zuko is going to turn BQB into a world class zombie fighting champ.

Look, Zombie Zuko, it’s cool.  I’m just a harmless zombie comedian.  I don’t want any trouble.

FRIDAY – Oct. 9 – Devan Sagliani

devanauthorphoto copy

The HVZHumans vs. Zombies screenwriter will talk about his Zombie Attack! series as well as how he brought the City of Angeles to life (so to speak) in LA Undead.

SATURDAY – Oct 10 – Armand Rosamillia

armand

OK.  Now I can’t decide who I’m scared of more.  Zombie Zuko or Armand Rosamillia.  Crap, if they were to ever team up, you’d probably never see a zombie ever again.  Worldwide zombie extinction.  Armand will give BQB the scoop on his Dying Days series and I’ll steer clear of this guy lest my days be numbered.

Want more information on these fabulous zombie scribes?  CLICK HERE

Check out their books.  Tell your friends about them on social media.  Honestly, stop popping photos of your lunch on Facebook.  Put up a link to a zombie author instead.  Much more interesting than your chicken salad sandwich.  You don’t see zombies posting pictures of brains before we eat them do you?  No.  We’re too classy.

And while you’re at it, if you like their books (and I’m sure you will because BQB is known for spotting talent at 50 paces), leave them a review on whatever site you bought them from!  There’s nothing you can do to thank these zombie authors for helping to save BQB’s useless carcass more than leaving them an awesome review to make them feel appreciated for all the hard work they do in bringing zombie stories straight to your e-reader.

OK 3.5 readers, I see I’m about to get the hook.  That’s not a pun either.  There’s a survivalist chasing me with a hook.  I’d say you’ve been a great audience but I’ve seen livelier statues in a museum.

See you next Sunday!

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#31Zombie Authors – Day 2 Interview – Jaime Johnesee – What If There’s a Good Zombie?

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FIND THIS ZOMBIE AUTHOR ON:

Amazon

Twitter     Website

Today’s guest is Jaime Johnesee, author of the Bob the Zombie series. Twenty-five year old slacker Bob dies in a comical way. When his mother can’t stand to see him gone, she hires a necromancer to bring him back to life and alas, Bob has to adjust to a new existence as an undead being.

Along the way, Bob is thrust into all kinds of funny scenarios, from taking on the dating world to becoming a spy.

Jaime, welcome. Thanks for taking my space phone call.

NOTE: BOLD=BQB; Italics=Jaime

misadventures of Bob Amazon Size copyQ.  A dispute has arisen amongst my group of survivors. My friend, Bernie Plotz, says all zombies are vicious monsters and we should waste every one of them that we come across. My girlfriend, Video Game Rack Fighter, maintains that they all can’t be that bad. There might be a few zombies who are bumbling, confused and not really out to hurt anyone, thus we should leave them alone. I find myself agreeing with her, because after reading Bob the Zombie, I’ve come to the conclusion that some zombies might actually be ok guys.

What motivated you to write a book about a good zombie?

A.  I am a huge zompoc fan and one day I thought about how rough it would be for a zombie that was nothing like the current stereotypes to make it in our society and so Bob was born.

Q. As an Average Joe I find myself sympathizing with Bob. Most people, upon gaining zombie powers, would probably fumble around for awhile until they get the hang of it. Do you find that readers relate to Bob’s antics?

A. I do. Bob is sort of the everyman, well, everyzombie. He likes classic rock, movies, books and is just trying to get through each day without any problems. Poor fellow is sort of a magnet for bad luck, but he keeps a good sense of humor about it.

Q. The words “comedy” and “zombie” do not seem like they’d mix well together, yet you’ve managed to do just that. How do you bring these two very different genres together so well?

A. I humanized Bob. In his world zombies aren’t mindless beasts craving flesh, they’re just people who had their souls stuck back into their rotting corpses via magic. He’s not a bad guy, he’s sort of a victim.

Q. Surely, Bob still needs to survive despite his good nature. If not the brains of innocent victims, then what does he eat?

A. Bob is a big fan of Taco Bell. Though he does have some friends in the Coroner’s office that occasionally supply him with leftovers. He also eats calves brains to get by.

Q. It’s not all comedy in the Jaime Johnesee world though. Can you fill my 3.5 readers in on some of your other works? You know, the ones that feature characters who, unlike Bob, I should totally shoot if I see them?

A. I used to like to write about the scariest monsters in the world, humans. Serial killers in particular. These days I prefer my monsters to be a little less real. In Bob’s world there are all kinds of evil beings he has to contend with. In the series Revelations that I am coauthoring for Devil Dog Press with Christine Sutton and Lisa Lane, my character is a demon, the First Knight of Hell no less. That said, she’s not completely evil, though she does track down and destroy those who are with the help of a succubus and a shapeshifter.

Q. Thanks for your help. You’ve convinced me. If I see a zombie like Bob out there, I won’t take a shot at him. Before I go, do you have any other advice on how to survive the East Randomtown Apocalypse?
A. Thanks for having me by to chat. The best advice I can give is to make sure you beware the people. They are often more deadly than the zombies.

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#31ZombieAuthors – Day 1 Interview – Sarah Lyons Fleming – Packing the Perfect Bug-Out Bag

sarah lyons fleming

FIND THIS ZOMBIE AUTHOR ON:

Amazon

Facebook          Twitter

Website             Blog

Kicking off this zombie author interview series in style is Sarah Lyons Fleming, the writer behind the Until the End of the World series, billed as “a story of survival, humor and true love.  And zombies.”

Reading Order:

1 – Until the End of the World

2 – And After 

3 – All the Stars in the Sky

She’s also the author of the novella So Long Lollipops, but recommends you read Book One first before delving into it, unless you’re a sucker for spoilers.

NOTE: BOLD=BQB, Italics=Sarah

Q.  Hello Sarah.  BQB here.  I’ve called you because my friends and I find ourselves in quite a predicament.  We’re locked up tight in Price Town, a Wal-Mart-esque store with everything you could ever possibly want under one roof. The security gate is holding for now, but zombies continue to fling themselves at it in an effort to break in and feast on our sweet, sweet gray matter.  I doubt we’ll be able to stay here forever. My colleague, Alien Jones, has suggested we all pack a bag full of supplies in case we need to make a run for it.

On your Amazon Author page, you note that you have “an unhealthy obsession with bug-out bag equipment.”  So please enlighten us, what is in the perfect bug out bag?

A.  You are in quite a predicament, BQB, but you might just be in the best place. The perfect BOB (bug-out bag, not to be confused with “BQB”) should have everything you need for a situation where you have to leave your digs. Of course, your situation is zombies, so you’re going to need weapons, and fast. Let’s do that first.

Tools/Weapons:

Thankfully, Price Town has a camping/hunting section. Find a good knife, preferably full tang—one in which the metal of the blade continues to the end of the handle. Guns and ammo (your choice). A machete could work.

Thank God! Price Town has a two machetes for the price of one deal!

Thank God! Price Town has a two machetes for the price of one deal!

You might as well throw a few more quiet weapons in there, because guns will only call zombies your way.

Good screwdrivers: great for an eye socket and screwing things.

Maybe a hammer: Plus, you never know when you’ll have to board up a few windows.

Axe: firewood and skull-cracking, it doesn’t get any better than this.

You should have some tools anyway, or a good multi-tool, so these are dual purpose.     

Never a flame thrower—Moving zombie torches? No thanks!—although I think Price Town stopped carrying those after that one incident, as I’m sure you remember.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE:  I do.  It was all over Network News One.  A sad day for the flame-throwing industry.  Back to you, Sarah.

But will it hold my action figures?

But will it hold my action figures?

You’ll need a large backpack. Remember, weight is going to be a big factor. Only put in the things you think you’ll need, and only get a bag as big as you can carry for long distances (and run from zombies while wearing). Use that waist belt to keep the load stable and take the strain off your shoulders. Cool looking? No, but you’ll thank me for it.

Now, what else do you need? Water, food and shelter, right?

Grab some bottles of water, along with a way to filter more. Water is heavy, and if you know you can reach a natural source of water and make it safe to drink, all that weight won’t slow you down. I have a UV filter, a hiking filter and a Lifestraw. They’re not all in my BOB, but, obviously and possibly frighteningly, I really like water filters.

Food: Try to go light on this—cans are great, but they’re heavy, so look for things that come in packets or things such as nuts and dried fruits and protein bars. MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) are a wonderful invention. Not having to cook is always a plus. You can get a backpacking stove if you insist on warming things up. And, let’s face it, a hot cup of coffee or tea may just give you the sanity you need to survive another day. But there’s always a campfire for that.

A light cooking pot and metal utensils so you can cook and eat that food. Don’t forget you’ll have to clean out the pot, so you might want a sponge.

Clothes: Shelter your body first. What’s the weather like? Pack for it. Stay dry. Ponchos/rain gear may not be the height of fashion, but they keep off rain and zombie guts. Extra socks and underwear (because when being chased by the undead, there are bound to be a few accidents). Also, GLOVES. Make them leather—good for the cold and rough handiwork, as well as keeping those zombie teeth off your skin.

BQB's stain resistant teflon underpants, designed by Dr. Hugo himself. Resistant to all zombie related accidents!

BQB’s stain resistant teflon underpants, designed by Dr. Hugo himself. Resistant to all zombie related accidents!

Shelter: A tent? Maybe, and only if it’s very light. A tarp? That works, too. Don’t forget rope to string it up—actually, just don’t forget rope in general. It’s a useful item. Emergency blankets will help to keep you warm, and they weigh next to nothing. Wool blankets would be better, and insulate even when wet. A light sleeping bag is awesome. Garbage bags can be stuffed with leaves to make a sleeping pad and get you off the wet/cold ground. Be creative if you don’t have room for the fancy stuff like a tent.

Heat: Don’t skimp on this. How much does a lighter weigh? Yeah, next to nothing. How about matches? Put them all in a waterproof container and hunt down a flint fire starter. You should have three ways to make fire. You can make your own tinder but, hey, you’re in Price Town. Get some of that emergency tinder. Or a tube of Vaseline and a bag of cotton balls—works like a dream once you’ve soaked the cotton balls with the petroleum jelly.

First Aid: We all know there’s no coming back from a zombie bite, but other situations might arise where you’ll need to play doctor. Throw in some pain-killers, digestion-related meds, and any medicines you take regularly. If you can scavenge them, get some antibiotics. Yeah, you’ll need Band-Aids, bandages and ointments, but you could also need blood clotting agents, gauze, moleskin, tourniquet and a suture kit. These things can be expensive, but, right now in Price Town, they’re free. Go for it!

Hygiene: I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but showers may be a thing of the past. Get wet wipes and antibacterial wipes. All purpose camp soap. A small towel and washcloth. And you’re gonna need some toilet paper. Maybe a trowel to bury your, um, leavings. A small mirror can help you to make sure you look your best and be used for signaling. On second thought, don’t look in the mirror. You’re a mess.

Lighting: Flashlights, headlamps. Spare batteries (or get a hand crank light). You can’t see in the dark, and you’ll need to see what’s coming. In my BOB, I have several ways to light up my world, and so should you. I also have a solar charger with which to charge batteries/phones. It’s handy and pretty awesome, but it doesn’t need to be at the top of your list.

Other things: You’ll want a map of the area. Paper and a pencil to leave a note when/if the gang gets separated, or you’re suddenly inspired to write a poem. A compass and whistle. I have a small monocular as well.

It might do you no good in the zompoc, but a BOB should have some cash in it, preferably in small bills.

Two-way radios would be great. You want to be able to talk across long distances without screaming—unless you want to end up as dinner. Also, you might want a regular or shortwave radio. You’ll want to hear where to go when the government opens those Safe Zones, or know how to avoid them when they’re overrun by zombies. Because they will be.

Happy packing!

Q.  How did you come about this unhealthy obsession anyway?  What’s up with being a “wanna be prepper?”  Are we all doomed or is it a better safe than sorry thing?

A.  We’re all doomed, BQB. Every last one of us.

Nah, I really like camping supplies and survival stuff. And I like to be prepared—or at least semi-prepared—because I get edgy when I’m not. I call myself a “wannabe” because I don’t have a bunker or five years’ worth of food, but I do what I can. It’s easy enough to buy an extra box or can of something at the store and stick it in your pantry, right? You’d be surprised how quickly that adds up.

Q.  While everyone’s packing, let’s talk about your books.  How did you get into the writing game?

A.  I wanted to read a post-apocalyptic book with regular characters who were like me (slightly goofy, pretty snarky and definitely not military experts), so one day I decided to write it. Some of the characters have a leg up in that they have access to supplies, but they’re regular folks who face very irregular events.

As the story grew, I became so invested in the world and characters that it turned into a series. I’d never written fiction before, and now I can’t imagine NOT writing. It’s my happy place, even with the zombies.

41vqvdKyrfL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Q.  Your tale begins with Cassie Forrest who, according to Until the End of the World’s description, “isn’t surprised to learn that the day she’s decided to get her life together is also the day the world ends.”  Isn’t that always the way?  Irony, I tell you.  I often find myself lamenting that if something good happens to me, something bad must be lurking just around the corner to equal things out.  Why is that?  Are we all just saddled with bad timing?

A.  Stop being a pessimist, BQB! You won’t survive the zombies with that outlook. Even with all the hardship and loss, I think you’ll find it will all work out in the end, even when it doesn’t seem possible, even when people you love die. There isn’t always something bad lurking around the corner. Although there probably is a zombie, so look out!

Q.  Cassie’s obviously made some bad choices, chief among them dumping her fiancee Adrian and dating a jerk instead.  To make matters worse, she has to escape a zombifying virus outbreak with said jerky ex-boyfriend in tow.  To her credit, she longs to fix her mistakes.  Do you think readers identify with a protagonist who isn’t perfect?  I know I’ve made a few doozies I’d like to sweep under the rug, so I can relate to someone who longs to take back a bad choice or two.

A.  For sure. I can definitely relate to that. No one is perfect, as we all know, but I think most of us respect someone who learns from their mistakes and strives to be the person they want to be. Plus, perfect people—or people who think they are—are annoying. They make good zombie bait, though, so you might want to have one stashed away.

Q.  You’re into humor.  I try to be.  I heard a rumor this blog made one person in Ohio laugh once, but to date it’s unconfirmed.  Where does your sense of humor come from and how are you able to weave laughs into a story about people trying to avoid being eaten by vicious beasts?

A.  Ha! You’ve made me laugh, so now you’re up to two people. My humor? I suppose it came from my family—no one is safe from teasing, and to make fun of yourself is comedy gold.

I think that you need to laugh, even in the zombie apocalypse. If you can’t find anything to laugh about, you might as well lie down in front of the zombies and call it a day. I’m the kind of person who thinks of jokes at completely inappropriate times, so it comes easy for me. Of course, there are plenty of parts that don’t call for humor, but you have to laugh at some point. When I reach that point, I take it.

Q.  On your blog, “Whatnot,” you talk about all the research you did for All the Stars in the Sky.  At least one or two of my 3.5 readers are aspiring writers.  Do you have any tips on tracking down the information required to bring a sense of realism to their tales?

A.  I can’t imagine doing all the research I’ve done without the internet. I’d have to live at the library. Google Maps Street View is my best friend, as are a multitude of random websites. But I also pester unsuspecting people with emails and phone calls. I’ve gotten some good tips that way. I wanted to see the inside of a grocery distribution center for my third book, so I found one by me and contacted the company. And what do you know? I got a tour of the inside by an amused manager who liked zombies. You never know until you ask!

Q.  Thanks for taking the time to speak with me.  Before I go, do you have any last minute advice to help me brave the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

A. Head shots. Always.

Also, don’t forget to laugh, and never forget you need to surround yourself with good people. You don’t want to laugh by yourself—that just looks crazy. So you’ll need them, both for companionship and to watch your six.

Thanks for calling, BQB. Good luck!

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