Tag Archives: bookbloggers

#31ZombieAuthors – Day 29 Interview – Rick Chesler and David Sakmyster – ZOMBIE DINOSAURS!!!

Rick Chesler

WHERE TO FIND RICK CHESLER:

Amazon        Website

Facebook        Twitter

71hH90x3F4L._UX250_

WHERE TO FIND DAVID SAKMYSTER:

Amazon       Website

Facebook       Twitter

Holy Crap, 3.5 readers.  Holy Freaking Crap.

I’m so excited I’m about to plotz.

Since the beginning of time, there have been two badass varieties of monster:

  1. Zombies who ravenously devour any humans in their way.
  2. Dinosaurs who ravenously devoured any other dinosaurs who got in their way.

Zombies, as far as I know, are fictional.  At least I think they are.  Maybe that’s just what “The Man” wants me to believe.

Dinosaurs, on the other hand, were very real.  Long ago, they walked the Earth, stomping and chomping along, ruling all they surveyed like a bunch of gruesome lizard kings.

My next two guests have taken the sheer awesomeness of zombies and the raw power of dinosaurs to create two novels about….drumroll please…ZOMBIE DINOSAURS!

Oh my God I’m so excited I’ve got to pop a Xanax.  (Kids, that’s just a joke.  Say no to drugs.)

Unknown

Rick Chesler and David Sakmyster are the co-authors of Jurassic Dead.
When a research team uncovers fully preserved dinosaur corpses buried underneath the surface of Antarctica, what begins as a major scientific discovery turns into a deadly race to save the world from zombie dinosaurs run amuck.

The zombie-saur madness continues in Jurassic Dead 2 – Z-Volution.  A maniacal villain attempts to conquer the world, starting with Washington, D.C., with an army of zombie dinosaurs!

I…I can’t even begin to describe how cool this all is.  I need to sit down.

NOTE: BOLD = BQB; ITALICS = Rick and/or David

Q.  Rick and David.  Thanks for joining me for this interview.  Can we just get right down to it?  Do you dudes realize how epically fabulous this idea is?  How did you come up with it in the first place?

A.  RICK: Thanks very much for having us! We’re glad you like the concept. I’d always been interested in dinosaurs and am a Brontosaurus-sized fan of Jurassic Park (and now Jurassic World). So decades after that book came out, when my 4-year old kid was playing with plastic dinosaurs on the floor the night after The Walking Dead was on TV, and he started having the dinos attack imaginary zombies, a little light bulb flicked on for me and I thought, “Now that would be interesting, how could that happen…”

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE:  I hope you buy that kid all the toys he wants.  Totally earned it.

Q.  Listen, I have zero pull in Hollywood, but I have to say, these books seem made for the big screen.  I would surely be in the front row on opening day stuffing my pie hole full of popcorn.  On the off chance that Steven Spielberg stops by this blog on accident, please give him a pitch as to why we need Jurassic Dead: The Movie.

A.  DAVID:  “Hey Steve, listen… You know that Jurassic Park thing you were involved with? How about this? Similar feel and style, yet instead of cloning the things, we make them zombies. Yep, they’re even hungrier, nastier and oh a heck of a lot harder to kill. What do you say?”

Q.  Without delving too far into spoilers, can you give my 3.5 readers the lowdown on the science behind how a zombie dinosaur, in theory, might be possible?

A.  RICK: The way it is presented in JURASSIC DEAD, without giving any plot spoilers, is that dinosaurs have been found frozen whole in an Antarctic underground lake (real life Lake Vostok). This means that their blood, and whatever it had been infected with before they died, is still in their veins, frozen solid. So suppose that all the dinosaurs on Earth were actually wiped out by some type of microbial infection as opposed to, say, a meteor…Well, these frozen ones would be thawed out with that infection still in their blood. In the novel it is suggested that the infectious agent could be a prion, a type of protein well-known in real life for causing mad cow disease.


51kOXrbmxsL._UY250_Q.  Zombie-saurs.  Dastardly villains.  Heroes.  Are you guys students of the action/thriller genre?  Because it seems to me that you’ve packed all the elements an action movie fan would be looking for into these books.

A.  DAVID: Of course being a fan of the genre(s), we made sure to pack this book with not only a lot of our favorite action tropes, but also tried to keep it fresh and exciting and take the action in different dimensions than what you’d expect. That carries true in the next two books as well. With a subject like this, there’s the danger of having it perceived as being too obvious and SyFy-movie-of-the-week, but we tried to elevate everything to keep readers on their toes, to shock and surprise, and make you think too in new ways about everything you thought you expected.

Q.  Rick, you hold a Bachelor of Science in marine biology and have long been interested in the ocean and the mysteries locked in its depths.  You’re even a master scuba diver.  As a scientist/ocean explorer, do you draw on any of your experience in your writing?  How did you do so with Jurassic Dead?

A.  RICK: Many of my novels are set in and around the ocean or have threats born directly from the ocean that the main characters must deal with (HOTEL MEGALODON, WIRED KINGDOM, OUTCAST Ops: The Poseidon Initiative). While JURASSIC DEAD is not an “ocean novel” or sea monster novel per se, there are definitely significant story elements involving the sea that I had a lot of fun with.

For starters, the opening Antarctic scenes and the ice-breaker ship to transport the dinosaurs. The ocean voyage through a storm and ultimate shipwreck to reach the tropical volcanic island the bad guy has set up as his mad scientist base of operations. And in JURASSIC DEAD 2: Z-volution, there are actually a few prehistoric sea monsters swimming amok in modern times, which of course is great fun while scary at the same time.

Q.  Similar question for David.  Your Morpheus Initiative series has been described as a mashup of the archaeological adventure and paranormal genres, or in other words “Indiana Jones meets the X-Files.”  On your blog, you discuss how when other kids were checking out Disney tales, your father was reading you Edgar Allen Poe’s greatest hits, and that you dreamed of becoming an author at a young age.  Can you tell my 3.5 readers and I how you drew on your interest in archaeology and the paranormal to create zombie dinosaurs?

A.  DAVID: Historical mysteries are my favorite obsession, and pairing that interest with the paranormal made for a thrilling combination with the Morpheus Initiative books. When the opportunity to write about zombie dinosaurs came along, naturally I gravitated toward speculation—what would have made them turn into zombies back then (and allow for their continued existence in the present day? That line of thinking led to some interesting alternative theories about what did the dinosaurs in back then, and allowed us to play with some really intriguing ideas.

Q.  How did you two find each other?  One or two of my 3.5 readers are aspiring authors.  Any advice for finding and working with a writing partner?

A.  RICK: David and I were (and are) both members of the same writer’s “support group,” where a small number of us discuss the business of writing from time to time. We had also both been separately published by the same small press a few years earlier, and in fact both had short stories appear in an anthology called THE GAME, which featured stories based on the classic adventure-thriller, The Most Dangerous Game, where big game hunters track humans for sport. So when I decided to seek a co-author on JURASSIC DEAD, I wanted someone with significant horror novel experience whom I also trusted to get the job done. David was enthusiastic about the book and the rest, as they say, is history.

As for working with writing partners, first ask yourself, “Why do I need a co-author on this—why can’t I just write it myself? What is the other person ideally bringing to the table?”

It can be that you would like to work on two stories at once—co-authoring can allow you to do that. Or it can be that each author brings complimentary experience to the project. It can be both of those things. It can absolutely be a learning experience for each writer, both in terms of craft, where you’re seeing how other writers approach the creation of the same material, and in terms of project workflow and business, seeing firsthand how other writers get things done. I have worked with many different co-authors now and it has taught me a lot about the writing and book creation process.

Q.  What’s next for you guys?  Are more zombie-saurs coming our way in the future?

A.  DAVID: I wouldn’t rule out anything, but for sure Jurassic Dead 3 will be out this year, where we wrap up things in a true trilogy fashion. Although as with any venture, this is such fun that it’s not one we may find easy to leave. I could see revisiting the world again—either in another novel or spin off stories (ala Fear the Jurassic Dead!?). We’ve created a fascinating and wildly open-world situation where there are any number of side stories that could be told. How about a story about extracting the dinosaurs or the behind-the-scenes madness that went into the villain’s plans? Stories of various rebel adventures or individual stories of everyday people (besides our main characters) fighting for survival.

Q.  Thanks Rick and Dave.  This was a lot of fun.  Before I go, do you have any advice that might help my friends and I survive the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

A.  RICK: Gear up and read a lot of zombie novels.

 

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

#31ZombieAuthors – Day 23 Interview – Peter Cawdron – Outsmarting Zombies

41CibZvigqL._UX250_

FIND THIS ZOMBIE AUTHOR ON:

Amazon        Website      Twitter

My guest today is Peter Cawdron, who comes from the land down under.  I don’t have to pay the Men At Work a royalty for saying that because Peter is an honest to God Australian zombie enthusiast.

Peter’s the author of the Z is for Zombie series of books which include What We Left Behind and All Our Tomorrows.  These books tell the story of teenager Hazel, who in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, searches for Steve, David, and Jane, the only people who ever understood her.

An avid fan of such classic science fiction writers as Philip K. Dick, Arthur C. Clarke and Michael Crichton, Peter is also a prolific science fiction author in his own right.

I wonder if there’s an extra charge to call Australia?  Aw screw it, the bill for this phone goes to Alien Jones anyway.

G’day Peter.

NOTE: BOLD=BQB; ITALICS=Peter

Q.  I just discovered that my perpetually angry uncle, who I thought never understood me, is in fact, the only person who ever understood me and what I need to make it in the world.  Unfortunately, he’s dead, though he visits me in ghost form from time to time.  Your protagonist, Hazel, feels like only three people understand her.  Is she really that confounding or is it typical teenage “no one gets me” angst?

41CT9h3vOuL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_ (1)A.  Teenage angst is cliche, and yet there is an element of personal growth we all go through where we’re learning about the world afresh. I don’t know that it stops as an adult, at least, it shouldn’t. It hasn’t for me. I’m always learning, and not just intellectually. Emotional learning is often more important than facts or figures. I think that’s one reason why coming-of-age books have such universal appeal. It’s a chance to re-learn and renew, regardless of how old we may be. 

In my novel What We Left Behind and the sequel All Our Tomorrows, we see life through the eyes of a teenager struggling toaccept the end of the world, fighting to make a change. All too often, it is the upcoming generation that is the catalyst for change. Us old farts need to respect that, listen and understand. It’s the youth of today that can change tomorrow, and that’s the message common to my novels as well as books like Hunger Games, Maze Runner, and so many others. Change is good. It’s the status quo that’s scary.  

Q.  As a zombie fan, I’ve noticed that in most zompoc tales, zombies are never referred to as “zombies.”  They’re “walkers” or “the undead” or “creepers” and so on but never zombies.  Your characters refer to them as “Zee.”  Why is that?  Is “zombie” too informal?  Will we ever crack open a novel where a writer has a character saying, “Holy crap!  It’s a zombie!”

A.  Oh, they’re called zombies in What We Left Behind as well as Zee, but Zee makes things more personal, and I think that’s important. Zombie stories are notorious for being impersonal. Survivors are often portrayed as brutal if not more brutal than the zombies themselves, whereas zombie stories are really about survivors. And what is a zombie but a survivor that fell and failed. Zee makes that more poignant, reminding the reader that zombies aren’t simply cannon fodder. To the survivors, they once were as we are, and the term Zee keeps that fresh in mind.   

Q.  How did you get into the zombie craze?

A.  My kids love The Walking Dead, and I enjoy it too, but I get frustrated with the inaccuracies. Gasoline, as an example, has a shelf life of about nine months. Diesel’s a little better, but will be pretty nasty after a couple of years. So at some point everyone’s going to be walking, or riding bicycles or horses. The SUV might look like the ultimate zombie killing machine, but it’s not sustainable, so in All Our Tomorrows, they drive around in a Tesla with the doors stripped off and the seats torn out to keep the weight down, charging the car with solar panels. For me, it’s fun to consider practical stuff like that. 

Zombies are dumb, right? So what’s the greatest weapon in the zombie apocalypse? Smarts. I’ve tried to write novels that have smart, unique solutions to the zombie apocalypse rather than relying on shotguns and machetes all the time. Shotguns might work on the zombie in front of you, but the noise is going to bring in a dozen more zombies, while a machete is just plain stupid. It’s going to get stuck every time. 

41IgGgymVqL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Q.  You’re also a sci-fi aficionado.  One work of yours that caught my eye is Little Green Men, about a crew of space travelers who set down on a frozen planet and are attacked by, sure enough, little green men.  Is a story about trustworthy, non-murderous aliens possible?  Does it say anything about us as humans that we have a tendency to think the worst about the possibility of life on other planets?

And by the way, I have a colleague named Alien Jones who is in fact, a little green man.  He’s been totally above board thus far, but do you think I should keep an eye on him?

A.  Little Green Men is brutal. It’s a homage to Philip K. Dick and has an alienesque feel to it (Alien Jones would love it), but yes, it is possible to write about trustworthy, non-murderous aliens. Anomaly is my best selling novel, having sold over 75,000 copies.  Anomaly was my debut novel and even today, a dozen stories down the road, it still outsells everything else I’ve written. If you enjoyed Carl Sagan’s Contact, you’ll love Anomaly.

413RLsZCgPL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_
As for Alien Jones, he’s clearly hampered by a paranoid companion 🙂

Q.  On your Amazon page, you talk a bit about the difference between general and “hard” science fiction.  Could you explain it for my 3.5 readers?

A.  Hard science fiction is a misnomer. 

Science fiction shouldn’t be hard to understand or hard and inflexible. There’s merit in keeping scifi as accurate and plausible as possible. There’s always a degree of handwavium in science fiction when authors start projecting their thoughts into the future, but the limitations of concepts like the speed of light actually add to the realism of a story. 
As much as I love the Star Trek reboots, I cringe when they ignore common sense. There’s one scene in Star Trek Into Darkness where Kirk is on the Klingon home world some undisclosed number of light years away from Earth, and he calls up Scotty on his handheld communicator. Scotty is in a bar on Earth and answers Kirk’s technical question. To me, that’s a wasted opportunity. Even if Kirk was somewhere within our solar system, say on Mars, Scotty couldn’t have a realtime chat like that, he’d be waiting at least half an hour for a message to arrive. Communication between star systems would be like the letters of the 1700s taking months to years to transit the globe. Star Trek Into Darkness wasted a wonderful opportunity, as instead of taking the lazy, easy way out, the writer could have used that limitation to drive up the tension. Sure, Scotty’s got the answers. But he’s not there, so Kirk has to figure it out on his own and that’s far more rewarding for the audience than watching Kirk being given a get-out-of-jail-free card. 
Hard science isn’t difficult, it’s just plausible and believable, and it makes stories more gritty and realistic. 

Q.  Peter, thanks for taking my call.  Before I go, do you have any advice that might help my friends and I survive the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

A.  Think before you act. Remember,

  1. You’re smart. They’re not. 
  2. They have numbers. You don’t.  
 Keep those two facts in mind and you’ll do fine. Oh, and keep a copy of What We Left Behind handy, you might find some good tips in there. 
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

#31ZombieAuthors – Day 22 Interview – Ryan Casey – Zombies and TV Style Serialization

61TuZz70E0L._UX250_

FIND THIS ZOMBIE AUTHOR ON:

Amazon          Website        Twitter

By: Special Guest Interviewer, Alien Jones

Attention all humans. Today’s guest is Ryan Casey, author of the critically acclaimed zombie apocalypse series, Dead Days. Zombie fans will also enjoy Infection Z and mystery buffs should check out the Brian McDone Mysteries series.

Known for tales filled with dark, page-turning suspense, complex characters and knockout twists, Casey has a BA in English with Creative Writing from the University of Birmingham. A resident of the United Kingdom, he enjoys American serial television and wastes too much time playing football manager games.

Thanks for taking my call, Ryan. I hope you don’t mind being interviewed by an alien. BQB was kind of a wuss about touching a phone covered in intergalactic goo. Go figure.

NOTE: BOLD=Alien Jones; ITALICS=Ryan

Q. Let’s get the important stuff out of the way. Are we talking American football as in the NFL or the game Americans call soccer but the rest of the world calls football?

A. Oh, soccer. Absolutely soccer. I’m a massive sports fan all round though and NFL’s profile is definitely growing in the UK, much like soccer in the US. Football Manager games are the height of addiction, mind. If you want to offer up a portion of your productivity to the gods of procrastination, go ahead and pick up a copy. You’ll absolutely regret it.

510gVdAGSWL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Q. Dead Days is the story of a group of survivors in a UK based zombie apocalypse. The description of Season Two of Dead Days states, “the only survivors were those willing to sink to the most brutal depths of humanity in order to further their own existence.”

So I just have to ask, if only the most depraved are able to survive an apocalypse, should we be concerned that a-holes are destined to inherit the Earth?

If I’m being cynical, I’d say yes, that’s a very big concern. Nice guys really do finish last a lot of the time, as I’ve unfortunately discovered through experience on way too many occasions. So if you want to survive an apocalypse, get practicing being a depraved arsehole — fast!

In all seriousness though, I don’t think it’d quite play out like that. I think humanity would struggle, naturally, especially if communications and luxuries of a material world suddenly become irrelevant. I like to think there’d be a lot of room for good, positive movements, too. They just don’t make for quite as good reading.

Q. Piggybacking on that last question, when a zombie apocalypse requires survivors to “sink to the most brutal depths of humanity,” is there anyone left for the reader to root for?

Yes! Absolutely. I love these characters and apparently so too do readers. I think what makes them so relatable — or more specifically, empathetic — is that they all go through shit. They all make bad choices. They all do things in the heat of the moment that stay with them, haunt them.

But the difference between the heroes and the villains of Dead Days? The heroes overcome their demons. They face up to their sins, take responsibility. The villains succumb to their problems. Which, unfortunately, often makes them even more dangerous.

Q.  A lot of people want to write but not as many study writing formally. You studied Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham. Did you find that experience helpful and would you recommend Creative Writing as a major to other aspiring writers?

I found it a helpful experience. There were some good teachers and some fantastic fellow students, for example Stuart Meczes, author of the brilliant HASEA urban fantasy novels. But I’d say it’s all just a part of the wider learning program of being a writer. The learning doesn’t stop when we leave university. The learning continues, constantly.

I believe the only way to keep writing fresh is to consistently push myself. I want the novel I’m working on to be the best novel I’ve ever written… and for the next novel to be even better. I write a lot, but I throw away even more. Seriously, you do not want to see my unfinished novels folder.

Q. You like serialized television and it shows in your writing. In fact, Dead Days is offered to readers in a serialized format, meaning episodes come out at regular intervals to eventually form a seasonal box set. As an author, what inspired you to present your work in this way rather than in one large novel?

Dead Days was an experiment that worked out beautifully. I’m a big fan of serialised television, like you note, and was particularly influenced by this golden age of television we’re living in. Shows like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, True Detective, The Walking Dead — some truly stellar writing, better than anything the movie industry offers at present, in my humble opinion.

I always thought the serialised form went hand in hand with this generation of shorter-attention spans and constant distractions, but I was disgruntled with how many “serial” projects were actually just novels broken up into parts.

The intention of Dead Days was, and still is, to transform a television experience onto the page, and not just tear a novel to pieces for financial gain.

Q. A number of authors are embracing the serialized TV style format of writing. For aspiring writers out there, are there any advantages to this style? Any disadvantages?

A major advantage is, like I mentioned, how hand-in-hand with the television format it goes. I think in a world of infinite distractions—iPads, smartphones, Netflix, news—the serialised form is a great way to deliver tighter experiences to readers, so they can enjoy the story then get on with other elements of their busy lives.

A disadvantage is that you have to learn TV structure. As I mentioned, far too many writers just jump on the serialised craze and split their novels into chunks because they think it’ll lead to financial riches. That’s not how it works. If you want to write a serial, you have to learn the craft of television writing before you jump into it. You have to learn about episodic arcs, series arcs, all kinds of things like that. To me, it’s not a negative because I like learning and already had some experience in TV writing. But if you don’t like doing the work, it could be a disadvantage.

51pY7O7uCLL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_ Q. Infection Z is your other zombie apocalypse series. It follows Hayden McCall, a jobless layabout in his mid-twenties. Assuming his landlord has paid him a visit to collect the overdue rent, Hayden learns that his landlord has become zombified and the story begins. Is it a challenge to write an underdog’s way out of a zompoc? Would it have been easier had Hayden been a muscle bound military man/weapons expert? But of course, would Hayden have been as relatable to the average reader?

A. I don’t strictly believe in ‘write what you know,’ but I believe in ‘write what you can empathise with.’ I have more in common with a lazy underdog than a military expert (unfortunately), so I just find it easier to get into the heads of characters like Hayden. Only difference between him and me is he overcomes his demons. I’d be the guy locking himself in the bathroom whimpering until the zombies finally barged their way inside…

Q. Ryan, thanks for taking the time to be interviewed by an alien. Before I go, do you have any last minute words of wisdom that might help my human charges and I survive the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

I’d get punching that alien stomach of yours some more. If there’s a space phone in there, who knows what else is hiding within? A space machete? A space rifle? A space CURE?! You’ll only find out by trying.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

#31ZombieAuthors – Day 21 Interview – Al K. Line – Zombie Botnets, Literally!

zombiebotnet

FIND THIS ZOMBIE AUTHOR ON:

Amazon      Website

Facebook

My guest today is Al K. Line.

3.5 readers, you might want to log off Twitter for a moment.

Al’s the author of the Zombie Botnet series. The mayhem begins when a devastating computer virus delivers subliminal data packets via social media, turning computer users the world over into murderous creatures.

A resident of rural England, when Al isn’t busy writing, he spends his time with his wife, sons, and dogs, the latter of which he notes he has too many.

Al, welcome.

NOTE: BOLD=BQB; ITALICS=AL

51wVI4sSyfL._SX295_BO1,204,203,200_ Q.  You’re the twenty-first zombie author I’ve interviewed this month and I have to admit, I honestly thought I’d of heard it all by now, but people becoming zombies via a computer virus? For the less tech savvy among us, can you explain how this works in your books?

A.  Sure. Ven, the woman behind the “bit of bother,” lets loose a computer virus designed to infect millions of devices and allow her to get up to no good. Unfortunately, it all gets a little out of hand. The virus she unleashes has been compromised and the data packets go viral. An embedded subliminal message in the form of a video basically rewires the brain of anyone that views it and then it’s game over — welcome to zombieville.

Q. How did you come up with this idea?

A. The term zombie botnet is well known within the hacker community, it’s a way of describing a huge array of devices that have been infected and can be manipulated for all manner of nefarious naughtiness. What if the zombie botnet really could do as the name implies? It came from there.

Q. Everywhere I go, people are glued to technology. Phones. Laptops. Tablets. Everyone’s checking Facebook, Twitter, or some other site and usually the latest update is something as trivial as “I just blew my nose.” Do you think we might be zombies already?

A. I love technology, use it daily, and my career relies on it, but yeah, it can get out of hand. It’s the change it has caused to society that I find most interesting, making people slaves to the latest trend or social media platform — let’s face it, if we lose our internet connection for a few minutes we begin to panic, right? This is what the series plays on: our inability to look away. The first thing we do when we hear of a disaster is to check Twitter or Facebook, well, what if those platforms are the very ones causing the problem? People would still look, they can’t help it. It’s too ingrained into the fabric of our techno-reality now to ever go back.

Q. I notice this series is actually considered half-horror/half-comedy. I have to say, the idea of society being hoisted on its own technological petard seems rife with the ability to provide social commentary, not to mention a joke or two.  Personally, I’m so addicted to social media that if all I have to do not to become a zombie is not check Twitter, I’m not sure I could do it. How are you able to combine humor with horror, when the two normally don’t mix well?

A. You gotta see the funny side, right? It’s the whole premise. Yes, there is social commentary, but it isn’t judgmental. We all have our obsessions, our hangups and our needs, and the absurdity of how the infection is caused screams for a bit of a laugh at our own expense. Plus, to be honest I can’t help myself. Characters suddenly appear on the page (I mean computer screen really) and they often happen to be rather comical — there’s no stopping it once the words somehow jump from my brain to the developing book.

Q. Al, your book features people being turned into zombies via subliminal messages. Just now, a real live zombie actually just jumped out of my computer screen. Have you ever heard of such a thing happening in zombie lore and any ideas on how to defeat such a menace?

A. Oh, loads, it happens all the time. The best thing to do is to scream really loud and run really fast — only pausing to update Facebook and check if anyone has posted anything on Twitter that could help in 140 characters or less.

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

A. Nope. You’re going be dead any moment. Actually, should I even be answering this? Hello? I knew it, dead already, brains all over the floor. There’s probably some zombie granny chewing on your intestines at this very moment. Oh, don’t forget to follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authoralkline

Yeah, I get the irony.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

#31ZombieAuthors – Day 20 Interview – Rachel Higginson – Zombified Romance

rh

FIND THIS ZOMBIE AUTHOR ON:

  Amazon           Website

 Facebook         Twitter

Today’s guest is Rachel Higginson, author of the zombie apocalypse romance series, Love and Decay.  Currently in Season Three, it’s the story of Reagan, whose dreams of a happily ever after go up in smoke when she’s forced to run her zombified high school sweetheart over with her mother’s car to keep herself from becoming zombie chow.

Born and raised in Nebraska, Rachel spent her college years traveling the world, the highlights of said journey including Eastern Europe, Paris, Indian Food and the beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka.

She came home to marry her own high school sweetheart, who luckily, has yet to become zombified.  When she’s not writing, she’s either raising her four children or reading.

BQB: Rachel, thanks for taking my call.

RACHEL: Thank you! I’m so excited to chat.

NOTE:  BOLD=BQB; ITALICS=RACHEL

Q.   Love and Decay is serialized in a television-esque style.  Season Three came out in May of this year and you expect Season Four in December.  As you describe on your website, during a season, each episode comes out in the form of a novella of around 20,000 words.  When all of the novellas are out, you put them together in a seasonal omnibus.

Thanks to streaming media and the ability to watch whatever you want, whenever you want, television has drastically improved in recent years.  What inspired you to serialize your work and is there any benefit to doing so as opposed to releasing the entire season in one novel up front?

A.  It was my husband’s idea actually. He thought it would be a great way to get more content to my readers faster. 20,000 words seemed easy to him. While it’s not actually easy, it is so much fun. And the 20k setup forces me to write in a different way than I would a full length novel. These episodes are intense and action packed. The plot-building is stripped down to bare bones to allow everything that needs to happen happen in a four chapter novella. If I were to write the same story in a 100k novel, I would write it completely different. It would be the slow build to the climactic moment. And while a zombie apocalypse book can be nothing but action-packed and exciting, the build-up would still be stretched out over time and chapters. The novellas give me permission to pack a punch with each episode. The story arc is still there, but it’s less of a consistent rise. It’s more like taking a roller coaster up the side of a mountain- you’re always going up, but it’s the most exciting way to get to the top.
 
Q.  I have to admit the idea sounds interesting.  We’re all so busy these days that the idea of sitting down to read an entire novel can be daunting for me, whereas the idea of perusing 20,000 words every two weeks seems doable.  What do your readers think of this approach?

A. They love it. They also hate it! They love it because they get to stay engaged with a fictional world they adore for six entire months. I finish a novel in a few days, a week at most. And then I fall into book depression because I have to leave that story behind. With the novella setup, my readers don’t have to leave the Love and Decay World. They get to stay involved for six entire months. And with how the episodes are set up, each read is exciting, each novella propels the plot forward. There isn’t time for slow, calm, world-building chapters. Each novella has to be an adrenaline-pumping ride through the zombie apocalypse. They hate it though because they really are short reads. Some of my readers can finish them in an hour. And then they’re forced to wait for two weeks to find out what happens next. They don’t like that part- and I really don’t blame them. But I secretly think they love the anticipation. That’s half the fun! 

Q.  Reagan falls for one of the Parkers, the brothers who come to her aid.  Love is hard to find even when the world is running smoothly and the damned aren’t trying to crack open your skull just to feast on the sweet, juicy innards.  For  cynics like me, is there any way you convince us that love in the time of a zombie apocalypse is possible?

A. Oh for sure! I think it’s human nature. We’re not meant to be alone, live alone. Even at the end of the world. The greatest goal of humankind is to be known and understood. And there is no greater way to know and understand a person than by loving them. I would think even more so in a zombie apocalypse where fear and uncertainty rule the day. Sure, there’s also a lot of killing and running for their lives, but love happens in all those in between places. Even if it’s not convenient, it’s something we can’t stop. We are designed to love. But then again, I’m a romantic. 

Q.  The undead aren’t the only ones after Reagan.  Not to give too much away, but threats come in the form of a stalker and bounty hunters, just to give some examples.  What is it about a zombie apocalypse that brings out the worst in people?  Can anyone be trusted when zombies are afoot?

A. In my vision of the zombie apocalypse, men and women are ruled by fear. Sometimes that manifests in helping others survive and sometimes that manifests in grappling for control in any way that you can. In our world today, there are bad and good people. I think circumstances in a zombie outbreak would only amplify those roles. Without standards or authority, bad people are free to do as they please, free to find control anyway that they can. If they can control a situation, there is nothing to fear. That makes it nearly impossible to trust people. You can’t predict how another person will react to their fear or living with fear on a daily basis. But I can’t believe everyone would turn to their darker instincts. There will always be good people in the world or maybe just people who cope better. Trust can happen, but slowly. Or very quickly, depending on the life-threatening situation you find yourself in. 🙂 

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

A. Stick together and get creative! You’re going to need a lot of weapons, so you might have to be flexible with the definition of “weapon.” But whatever you end up using, make sure that sucker is dead before you turn around. 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

#31ZombieAuthors – Day 18 Interview – Deirdre Gould – Maine Prepping and Self-Publishing

dg

FIND THIS ZOMBIE AUTHOR ON:

Amazon             Website

  Twitter

My guest today is Deirdre Gould, who has strategically placed herself in Maine, where cold temperatures make the zombies run slower and remote isolation means zombifying viruses take longer to spread.  Better yet, harsh storms make it so no one thinks Deirdre’s crazy for prepping.

In other words, she finds it to be a primo spot for writing the After the Cure series, which chronicles a world in which “the December Plague” has turned humans into violent, bloodthirsty, cannibalistic monsters.

I just hope they don’t eat me.  I taste awful.

Let me see if I can Deirdre on the space phone.

Q.  Hello Deirdre.  Are you a prepper and if so, I’ll ask the question I’ve posed to other prepper authors this month.  Why?  Are we all doomed or is it just a better safe and sorry thing?

A.  Hello BQB, things are getting pretty dodgy for you and your comrades! I hope I can help! Am I a prepper? Well, yes and no.  What lots of folks forget about Maine is that most of it is very, very rural.  And in the winter, when the tourists go home, even the cities are kind of rural.  There are some places, like my home town, that first got electricity within my lifetime (and I’m in my 30s).  Not only was a significant portion of my childhood spent without running water or electricity, but even after we got put on the grid, it wasn’t reliable. For a long time, it wasn’t unusual for the power to go out at least once a week.  It’s still pretty normal for it to go down once a month or so. And although our power workers are truly the best, it’s a big state (landwise) and once the power goes out, it could be out for a few hours or several days.  

As recently as the 1998 ice storm, my family spent two full weeks with no power and no running water.  And winter up here is no joke. You know that Stephen King book. The Storm of the Century?  Yeah, we have one of those at least every year.  Really. Had to turn one of the kids over to Linoge like six years ago. So almost everyone has a wood stove, most rural places still have an old hand pump well (and someone that lives there knows how to prime it and is constantly reminding people not to fall in), and lots of us have pantries stocked full at any given moment.  Especially because we can our own goods. And because for many people, the closest grocery store is forty five minutes to an hour away (everything is very spread out here).  Solar panels are big here, when people can afford them. Homemade windmills too.

But I don’t know anyone who has a bunker, unless it’s been turned into a root cellar after the Soviet Union collapsed.  Or a gun unless it’s for deer hunting. While a packed pantry is good, I try not to store more than about six months worth of anything, it’s just not practical for my particular family. And while Mainers have a reputation for being curt or crotchety, we really do take care of our neighbors instead of try to hide what we’ve got from them.  And I know there are lots of very generous preppers out there who do the same, but I’ve also heard stories about secret storehouses and guarded water sources. But probably somewhere in the back of almost every Mainer’s mind is the memory of someone helping them out when they most needed it.  Whether it was being rescued from an icy accident, sharing water with each other during the ice storm, or that emergency delivery of wood or oil in the worst part of February, we’ve all got them. Even in this modern world, we wouldn’t survive out here without each other. Besides, having the neighbors over is an excuse for a party. I like to think of us more as the Hobbits of the Prepper world. We do it because it makes good sense, and because we are always expecting company.  Not because we’re all doomed. 

Q.  Soap.  Water.  Tacos.  iPads.  Netflix.  Showers.  All these great inventions become lost in a zombie apocalypse.  Why do zombie fans fantasize about a world where all these things we take for granted are lost?

A.  I think it’s that old urge to pit man against nature. We want to imagine that we are tough enough to measure up without our crutches. We’ve conquered every bit of this old earth (there’s even a litter problem on Everest and tourists in Antarctica), so there’s no place left for those that feel that drive to explore, to prove that rugged individualistic streak. Much of apocalyptic fiction is concerned with the end of civilization, of course, but why? Is it because there is something inherently wrong with showers and readily available bacon? For the majority of these stories, no. It’s not really about damning our current way of life (though lots of these stories contain “warnings”), it’s about wanting to do better. About wanting to be better. But we all know we are creatures of habit. We won’t stop what we like unless we’re forced to.  We won’t make a better world until the one we live in is destroyed.  These stories aren’t about losing technology and history and massive portions of the population.  That’s just a byproduct.  The real story is about the people that emerge when they are forced to do without.  To do without modern implements, without the convenience and interconnectedness of society, even to do without the most basic and precious commodity we have, other humans and their brain power (cause it’s being snacked on).  It’s about being alone in an unfamiliar world and not only surviving, but making that world a better place.  Starting fresh.  That’s what we all really want to do. Start fresh.

Q.  You provide your readers with an interesting spin on the zompoc genre, namely, your series begins “after the cure” has been found.  This cure turns the Infected back to normal, regular humans but alas, they have to live with the realization of all the horrible things they’ve done.

I hate to ask for spoilers, but here’s the question that pops into my mind.  A zombie turns back to normal.  Should we blame him for eating other humans or should we be all like, “It’s cool, man.  You were a zombie.”

A.  No worries, that’s not really a spoiler, that’s one of the biggest questions of the series and why I started writing it in the first place.  Remember that the non-zombies aren’t totally innocent either.  They would have had to kill to survive as well. In the world of After the Cure, some of the Immunes killed even when they didn’t have to. But they didn’t know that the zombies would be cured. Should we blame them too?  How does a society function when everyone is a killer? You’d think that it would just fall apart. But we know, from our own human history, that it happens. We don’t have zombies, but we do have war and atrocity and cruelty. But when the war is over, when the conflict is resolved, people still have to go home. Maybe their neighbor was on the opposing side. Maybe their boss at work betrayed them to the opposing side. Maybe their grocer was their prison camp guard. But somehow, life goes on, people still interact, even when it seems incomprehensible.  So that’s a running theme throughout the series.  Who is guilty? Who is evil? How do people live not only with their neighbors, but with their own memories?

Q.  In the first book of the series, a court psychologist and a defense attorney work to bring those responsible for the virus to justice.  I could be wrong here, but I can’t think of another zombie apocalypse series where the reader actually gets to see a zombie apocalypse end and people turn their attention towards rebuilding society.  How did you come up with the idea for this?

A.  Actually, it was from reading truckloads of zombie books! I love them, I can’t get enough of them, even the ones that fall into a sort of formula. But after tome number gazillion and one, I realized that the causes of zombieism were always kind of limited.  For the most part, it was either a deadly virus or some chemical spill that caused zombies (with an occasional voodoo spell or electrical malfunction thrown in).  But I’d never seen a zombie story where a bacteria was involved.  That’s it, that was where it started. I started to wonder why nobody ever used a bacteria, and I realized that it was because a bacteria had the potential for an antibiotic, a cure, where a virus didn’t. It violated one of the most cherished rules of zombieism: They can’t be cured, so all you can do is kill them. It’s part of the “fun” of zombie fiction. There is no moral quandary about killing them because they can’t come back. They aren’t “people” anymore.  Zombies who can’t be cured might as well be a tornado or locusts or a volcano, just a natural disaster to be avoided or beaten. But what if that rule changed? What if people discovered that not only could the zombies be cured, but that once they were cured, they could remember everything that had happened while they were sick? And what if they found out late? Really, really late. 

If they were anything like us, the first thing they’d do is try to find someone or something to blame for what had happened. Something to excuse their own guilt. That’s why the trial became the initial frame for this world. But are the defendants really guilty or just convenient scapegoats? 

Q.  What motivated you to start writing?

A.  I’m one of those weird people who never wanted to start doing this for real. I mean, I’ve enjoyed writing since I was a little girl, but I never wanted to be a writer. I went to school for something very different, but when I was in college my mom was diagnosed with cancer. I took a year and a half off from school to help her. It meant many, many really long days of driving and sitting in doctor’s offices and hospitals (remember, everything is far away in Maine!). So to amuse myself, I started writing a novel. I didn’t finish it and set it aside for a long time, but I thought about it often and I’d add a bit here and there. Finally, the year my oldest child was born, I heard about Nanowrimo and decided I was going to finish this book (I think it had been about 7 years since I started it at that point).  At the end of November I had a draft and put it away. Three years later, I’d been laid off from my copywriting job and struggling to find something else and honestly just couldn’t find anything. So I sat down and worked on the book for another year. I pretended it was just going to be for me, that I didn’t care about anyone reading it, but I started reading all these sites by agents anyway. Finishing the book made me more confident and I started working on other things, just for fun. I submitted a few pieces but everything I was reading on the agent sites convinced me that I shouldn’t even bother trying. Nobody ever took on new writers any more. I had a better chance of winning the lottery as being picked up by even an agent, let alone a publisher. And then I heard about KDP. I decided I had nothing to lose, and posted one of my finished novels, just to see what would happen.  It was addictive. I got sucked in.  I still considered it a hobby, something for my spare time, pretty much until last year when I started hearing from readers. Then it started to get serious, because someone besides me actually cared what happened to my characters. I’m now firmly entrenched and I actually sometimes feel guilty because I enjoy doing this so much, it feels like I’m goofing off instead of working a “real” job. 

Q.  Thanks for talking with me today.  Before I go, do you have any last minute advice for my friends and I that might help us survive the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

A.  Well, you are a couple of weeks in now, you’ve probably got some nicks and scrapes by now. You are going to want to keep any wounds clean and free from infection. In a world where antibiotics will be hard to find, you are going to need some easy alternatives or else that blister on your foot could mean amputation in a few weeks, or worse.  Honey is a great topical antibiotic. It can be rubbed directly onto small wounds to fight off infection before you bandage them. For internal or systemic bacteria (like listeria from that bad deli meat you ate from the mall after the coolers lost power), if you have a silver dollar or a piece of real silverware, some water, and a battery, you can make some colloidal silver to fight that nasty bug off.  Use too muc, though and your skin will turn a lovely shade of blue, permanently. If you listened to Sarah Lyons Fleming on day one, you probably have some baby wipes to clean yourself, but what are you doing about those nasty blood spattered weapons? Those things are crawling with zombie virus. Washing them won’t completely kill the germs, so you’ll need to find some copper. The pipes in your building probably aren’t doing much good now, if the electricity is off. Hack off a length of copper pipe. At night (or whenever you stop to flop down, exhausted from the near constant run/slaughter/run combo) place your pipe over the weapons. In two hours or so, almost all the germs will be gone, even a foot away from the actual copper!  Here’s hoping you make it to day 19!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

jl

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.

NOTE: BOLD=BQB; ITALICS=JEREMY

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!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

#31ZombieAuthors – Day 15 Interview – Peter Meredith – Finding Your True Passion

41t0irGAGRL__UX250_

FIND THIS ZOMBIE AUTHOR ON:

Amazon

Website       Facebook

51Hxq5kK0WL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ My guest today is Peter Meredith, author of The Undead World series. The tale begins when efforts to cure cancer go horribly wrong, and survivors are forced to do whatever they can to survive in a world crawling with zombies.

A multi-genre author, some of Peter’s other works include: The Trilogy of Void, The Hidden Lands Series, The Sacrificial Daughter, A Perfect America and Sprite.

Hello Peter. Good to speak with you.

NOTE: BOLD=BQB; ITALICS=PETER

Q.  Peter, I’ve tried a number of jobs in my life. I’ve been the assistant to the assistant to the Vice President of Corporate Assistance at Beige Corp, the world’s premiere producer of beige products and accessories. I started up a website that boasts upwards of 3.5 readers and now, as luck would have it, I’ve just been named Deputy Mayor of a settlement for zombie apocalypse survivors.

According to your Amazon author page, you’ve had quite the journey yourself. You tried your hand in real estate, worked as an emergency room nurse, and you were also the CEO of a national lighting company. Today, you concentrate on what you refer to as your “true addiction,” writing. For anyone out there who’s searching for their passion and has yet to discover it (or worse, won’t embrace it) what advice do you have for them?

A.  Don’t be shocked when you find it and embrace it when you do. Unlike almost every other author I’ve run across, I wasn’t reading at the age of two and writing my first poem by my third birthday. Quite the opposite, I hated to write. I never learned to type and my penmanship hasn’t progressed beyond a second grade level. Since I would fret over every little error, an e-mail used to take me close to an hour to write, if the client was important enough.

But that all changed in 2010. With the economy in the dumps, my company decided to rework our website and in order to attract attention to it, I was told I should write articles and submit them online. So I painstakingly wrote five articles. They were terrible.

Not terribly written, just dull. Writing about the technical aspects of LED lights is super boring and not just to me but for everyone. So with Halloween coming up, I decided to write about the two super-natural occurrences that I had been involved with instead. The boss wasn’t exactly happy, but seeing as she’s my wife, what could she do?

So I wrote two little short stories. Just like that, something kicked in. Suddenly I became a writer. It was altogether inexplicable to go from writing as little as possible to writing all the time. Without any classes or real training, I wrote a book, and then a trilogy, and now I’m currently working on my nineteenth novel. Life is strange, but great.

Q.   What motivated you to take the stories in your mind and put them down in written form?

A.   It’s a mystery to me. I had always been an unparalleled day dreamer but I never knew I could write. I didn’t know I had the discipline or the drive to write an entire, full-length novel until one day I just started.

Q.   Your reader reviews are very positive. One reviewer of The Apocalypse Crusade stated, “DO NOT pick this up until you are ready to commit to an all-night sleep-defying read!” As an author, how are you able to grab a reader’s attention and draw him or her into your world?

A.   For me the answer starts with creating realistic, relatable characters—that is key to any book. Then comes the story, and it has to move along at a good clip, one action leading into another in a manner that runs just along the edge of possible.


Q.   As William Ernest Henley’s poem, Invictus, goes, “Beyond this place of wrath and tears looms but the horror of the shade…” You’re the author of The Horror of the Shade, which begins with a recitation of Henley’s classic poem. I’ve always been a fan of Invictus. What is it about that poem that inspired you?

51wu5HwzQpL._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_

A.  The clear call of courage within it matched what I was trying to write about with two of the characters William, the father and Will, the son. Both had their courage tested throughout the book, this being especially true with the confrontation of the demon.

Q.  In Sprite, you tell the story of Audrey “Odd” Wyatt, a twelve-year old girl afflicted with startling, dreadfully red eyes. To add to her problems, she’s saddled with Karen, her miserable, bar hopping alcoholic mother who rarely misses an opportunity to make Odd feel bad about herself. What I noticed about this book is that in Odd, you’ve created a very sympathetic character while Karen is likely the kind of character that readers will love to hate. How were you able to craft two completely different character types in one story?

41JsLlh4NtL._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_A.  Anyone who wishes to become a writer needs to be a student of humanity. It’s far more important than knowing where commas are supposed to go, or what participles are. When you know people and when you realize that human behavior is, for the most part, unchanging, then almost every character is opened to you as a writer.

Q.   Peter, thanks for taking the time to share your expertise with me today. Before I go, do you have any last minute advice that might help my friends and I survive the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

A.   Run very fast.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

klm

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.

NOTE: BQB=BOLD; KATE=ITALICS

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!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

jm

FIND THIS ZOMBIE AUTHOR ON:

Amazon           Website

     Twitter               Facebook

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.

NOTE: BOLD=BQB; ITALICS=JOE

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Advertisements