Tag Archives: horror writers

Zom Fu – Chapter 58

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General Tsang’s knees were old and weak. The pain was getting to him as he ran through the streets of the Forbidden City, slip sliding through rain soaked cobble stone paths.

“We’ll reach the escape passage soon, Your Majesty,” the general said to his wee charge. The Emperor’s little arms were wrapped so tightly around the general’s neck that the old man struggled for air.

The general came to a crossroads. None of the options looked promising. Zombified warriors approached from the side streets to the left and the right, as well as from the road straight ahead.

“We’ll have to double back,” the general said as he turned around only to find Rage Dog standing in front of him, his hair slick and wet. A flash of lightning illuminated the night sky. A thunderclap followed.

“Come back for more, have you?” General Tsang asked.

Rage Dog laughed. He drew closer, as did the zombified warriors. Evil closed in from all sides as the general produced his dagger.

“Don’t worry,” General Tsang said. “You’ll get it.”

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How the West Was Zombed – Part 10 – Dying With Your Boots On

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Blythe has loaded his vile army of the undead aboard a train headed East, schemes to backstab his furry friends and enlists the aid of a strange vampire colleague for some sinister doings.

The vampire lawyer makes Slade an offer he can refuse, but in turn, the counselor refuses to take no for an answer.

Blythe separates Slade’s women.  Will our hero be able to save them both before it is too late?

Gunther wishes his boots were off.

Chapter 95       Chapter 96       Chapter 97

Chapter 98      Chapter 99       Chapter 100

Chapter 101     Chapter 102

 

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How the West Was Zombed – Chapter 30

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1870

History has an uncanny way in which it repeats itself. Eleven years had passed since Joe discovered the monster that dwelled within him. For a time, he found money. Happiness. Success. A wife. A son. A home.

Alas, when he found himself in the middle of a dank, dark dungeon, his hands and feet bound to a stone table by silver chains, he began to realize that compared to his new master, Lorante had been a teetotaler.

An iron door opened and two werewolves lumbered in, their heads just barely scraping the ceiling. Blythe stepped into the room as merry as could be, as if he were off to a stroll in a park and not a torture session.

Joe struggled but the silver burned his skin. The more he moved, the worse it got.

Blythe looked down and wagged a finger in his captive’s face. “Bad dog. Bad, bad dog.”

The counselor turned to one of his wolves. “Mr. Hewett, have at it.”

Hewett dragged his claws across Joe’s chest, forcing the prisoner to cry out in pain. Then as quickly as Joe’s wound was made, it was gone. Nothing but bare skin remained.

“Joseph, I had a soul once,” Blythe said. “I can remember what it was like to be in the terrible position of caring. ‘Waah I want love. Waah I don’t like being sad. Waah I don’t want to kill anyone.’”

Blythe nodded at Hewett. A hot blast of air shot out of Hewett’s snout as he slashed Joe’s stomach again, producing even more agony.

“I blame myself for this, Joseph,” Blythe said. “Really, I do. I trained you poorly.  Somehow, you thought the only thing your new position required of you was to just stand around and keep me safe.”

Blythe chucked. “And somehow…you got the silly idea in your head that my orders are optional. Again, Mr. Hewett.”

Another slash. Another scream.

“Would you like to tell me what you were thinking?” Blythe asked.

“They were just…people. Innocent people,” Joe said.

Another wag of the finger from Blythe. “That’s that pesky soul of yours talking. You see them as people and I see them as blood bags. And not just any blood bags. Excellent physical specimens. Good health and breeding. Procured at some expense for the board of directors’ pleasure and you just opened up their cell doors and let them walk away.”

Splat. A giant loogie hit Blythe right in the face. Hewett took that as an invitation to slash the prisoner again.

“Just kill me and get it over with,” Joe said.

Blythe wiped the spit off his face with a handkerchief. “If it were up to me I would let you off so easily but I have a board of directors to answer to and our chairman is a real bastard in particular. Mr. Becker, if you please.”

Becker ducked his furry head under the door frame and left the room.

“Have you ever read the works of Plato, Joseph?” Blythe asked.

“Is that a trick question?” Joe replied.

“Not at all,” Blythe said. “I never read them myself but that’s only because I had the chance to listen to him speak about them in person. He theorized that there were three classes of people: gold, silver, and bronze.”

Hewett, used to his boss’s tendency to prattle on, leaned up against the wall to rest.

“The gold class, they’re the thinkers. The politicians. The business tycoons. The big picture people,” Blythe said. “The silver class, they protect the world that the golds create and the bronze? They’re the lowly grunts who do the work that’s beneath the silver and gold.”

“I wish I could kill myself just so I wouldn’t have to listen to you anymore,” Joe said.

“The humans follow this system,” Blythe said. “And evil follows this system as well. At the very bottom of our food chain is the pathetic zombie. No soul. No brains. Mindless instruments of destruction who just bite and eat and destroy whatever is in their way. They’re ultimately useless until given some direction.”

Blythe pointed to the silver chains. “You’re a silver, Joseph. An unfortunate analogy seeing as what silver actually does to beings like us but an apt one just the same. Werewolves have been tasked with the noble duty of guarding the property of vampires since the dawn of time. We don’t ask you to think. We just ask you to do.”

The counselor stroked his hand through Joe’s hair just as one would a well-behaved puppy.

“Did I not take care of you, Joseph?” Blythe asked. “Provide you with a generous wage? Raise you to a higher station in life? And did I not protect you from those humans who’d protest that your shade of color disqualifies you from either? There is no one else on this planet who could have offered you the life I did and you thanked me by making me look like a fool in front of the board.”

Joe stared at the ceiling, praying for a swift resolution.

Becker returned with Lydia slung over his shoulder. He set her down. This time around, she was very, very scared.

Joe wrenched at the chains but that only made him scream. “HOW?!”

Blythe grinned. “Thought you hid her from me did you? Oh Joseph, the eyes, as they say, truly are the window to the soul and once you allowed me to look into yours I knew your achilles’ heal was your family.”

Lydia shrieked as Blythe pulled her body close to his. The counselor opened his mouth and hissed like a snake as two sharp fangs popped out. He used them to bite open a vein in his wrist.

“Henry, please,” Joe said. “This is between us. She did nothing to you. Let her go.”

“The board has already made a ruling, Joseph,” Blythe said as his blood dripped all over Lydia’s dress. “I am but a cog in a greater machine.”

The vampire wrapped his hand around Lydia’s mouth.

“Open,” Blythe said.

Lydia struggled and then relented. Drip…drip…drip went the vampire blood down her throat.

Joe lost control and yanked at the chains with all his might, the silver searing into his flesh.

“Your love and I are bonded now,” Blythe said. “A greater connection exists between us for my blood flows in her veins. It calls out to me, yearning for my guidance. My direction. My control.”

Joe’s eyes turned yellow. The beast fought to take over his body but the silver chains held it at bay.

“Of course,” Blythe said. “She’s burdened by that pesky soul of hers that tells her not to listen to me so let’s relieve her of that, shall we?”

A shot rang out, smashing its way through Lydia’s heart. Once she fell to the ground, Blythe set a smoking revolver down on a small table.

Had any humans been in the room, Joe’s roar would have popped their eardrums.

“Oh enough of the theatrics,” Blythe said. “Her soul’s in a much better place.”

Joe couldn’t see it but he could hear Lydia grown. Then she snarled. Ever so slowly, she rose to her feet. Her eyes were blank white, the retinas completely gone. Her movements were mechanical.  She had become a gruesome automaton.

Unsure of her steps, Lydia walked like a toddler towards Joe, then sunk her teeth into her husband’s shoulder. She snapped off a piece of flesh and devoured it, blood dripping from her lips. Joe’s flesh grew back immediately.

“I can’t be damned twice,” Joe said. “You killed her for nothing! NOTHING!”

“Did I?” Joe asked. “Mr. Becker.”

The werewolf henchman exited the room. Lydia moved into Joe’s neck for another bite but Blythe stretched out his hand in a “stop” motion.

“Down girl,” Blythe commanded.

Lydia instantly complied and stood quietly, staring at the wall.

Becker returned with little Miles wrapped up in his paw. The boy was merely five years old and petrified for his life. He was set on the floor and he immediately scurried underneath the table his father was laid out on.

“Please,” Joe said, reduced to sobbing. “Just kill me.”

“If I had any emotions I’d sympathize with you Joseph,” Blythe said. “I truly would.”

Blythe stared at the bullet in his hand. It was remarkably shiny. A glint of candlelight bounced off of it. The vampire loaded it into the pistol then set it on the smaller table by the door.

“I’ll let you figure this out,” Blythe said. “The bullet’s silver in case you’d like to take personal responsibility for what you’ve done and call it quits. If not, well, you know what to do. The board has declared that either your head or hers will be sufficient to consider your debt repaid.”

Hewett and Becker got in front of their boss and formed one gigantic hairy wall of protection. Blythe reached for a lever on the wall, yanked it down, and Joe was released.

Joe lept from the table and charged at his captors.

Blythe snapped his fingers. “Feed at will, dear,” was his last order to Lydia.

Hewett backhanded Joe to the ground and the trio escaped, locking the iron door behind them.

Joe stood up to find the undead body of the woman  he loved on the floor, desperately clawing her hand underneath the table, attempting to snatch a crying Miles.

“Lydia,” Joe said.

Lydia waved her arm under the table furiously.

“Miles,” Joe said.

“Papa?”

“Stop…” Joe caught his breathe. “Stop that crying now. Mama’s just playing a game with you.”

“She is?” Miles asked.

“Yes,” Joe said.

“Silly Mama,” Miles said. The boy sniffed and the crying stopped. “What are we playing?”

Joe grabbed Lydia by the waist and pulled her away from the table but like a wild animal she kicked and growled.

“LYDIA STOP!”

It was no use. She wrestled herself out of Joe’s grip and dove to the bottom of the table again, the boy’s delicious flesh the only thing on her mind.

Joe grabbed the revolver. “Hide and seek,” Joe told Miles.

“I’m losing,” Miles said. “Mama keeps finding me.”

“I know,” Joe said as he pulled Lydia away again. She shrieked and waled, digging her nails into Joe’s sides and ripping her teeth into the arm he used to hold her with.

“You just have to try harder,” Joe said. “Close your eyes and count to ten.”

The little boy’s voice counted. “One…two…three…”

“Stick your fingers in your ears and sing a song,” Joe said.

Lydia’s teeth cut Joe’s arm all the way to the bone. He fought through it as he raised the revolver to his wife’s temple.

“Then she’ll hear me and find me!” Miles said.

“Nah,” Joe replied. “Mama’s sneaky. She’ll ask you where you are and if you can’t hear then you can’t tell her.”

“Oh,” Miles said. “Row row row your boat…”

Joe kissed his wife on the cheek. She snapped her teeth at his face.

“I love you,” Joe said. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

Joe pulled the trigger. The shot tore through Lydia’s brain and her undead body went limp. Gently, Joe laid her down on the table he’d been held on. He wolfed out, punched the iron door off its hinges, then morphed back into human form.

Miles was still singing. “…merrily merrily merrily…”

Joe picked up Lydia and carried her in his arms. He walked out of the room, down a dimly lit hallway, and found another cell. He laid his wife down again, then returned to collect his son.

He reached under the table and pulled Miles out.

“Where’s Mama?” Miles asked as Joe grabbed the boy by the hand and led him down the hallway.

“Her turn to hide now,” Joe said. “She’s hiding pretty good so I think it’ll be awhile before we find her.”

“Oh,” Miles said. “Why are you naked?”

“Lost my pants,” Joe said.

“I lose mine sometimes too,” Miles said. “Mama always finds ‘em for me. She’s a good Mama.”

“Yeah,” Joe said. “Yeah she is.”

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How the West Was Zombed – Part 3 – The Trial

A day of reckoning comes for the Buchanan Boys.  Judge Sampson comes to town and is hankering to pass out some hangings.

But “simple country lawyer” Henry Allan Blythe and his werewolf lackeys have other plans in mind.

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Chapter 21         Chapter 22      Chapter 23

Chapter 24        Chapter 25      Chapter 26

Chapter 27        Chapter 28

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Pop Culture Mysteries – Case File #TBA – Kill ‘Em Again – (Part 3)

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The air was stale – cheap food, booze and leftovers.  I wasn’t helping the situation with my cigar.  My head was reeling from the evening’s festivities.

Upstairs, there was a couch in my office with my name on it.

But I needed to find out what the hell Battler wanted.

I slit open the manilla envelope, procured the piece of paper inside and read:

Hatcher,

A group of teenagers in peril.  A vicious psychopath wants them dead.  One by one he picks them off until the last one or two, depending on how gracious the film’s screenwriter was feeling at the time.

Somehow, our hero manages to get the upper hand.  He shoots, stabs, maims, or even runs the killer over with a car.  Alas, thinking the madman to be dead, the protagonist celebrates too early.  To the audience’s dismay, the killer gets up and starts chasing our hero around again.

Jason.  Freddy.  Leatherface.  Happens all the time.

Why, Hatcher?  Why, oh why do heroes in slasher flicks refuse to double-tap?

I’d heard that phone books had become a thing of the past and that it was possible to get a person’s number by dialing 411.  I tried it.

“Hello, thank you for dialing 411, how may I direct your call?”

“Uhh, yeah, hiya Toots,”  I said.  “Do you know Agnes?”

“Who?”  the operator asked.

“Agnes the Librarian.”

“You want the number for the public library, sir?”  the operator asked.

“Jeepers H. Crowe, dollface,”  I said.  “What kind of a question is that?”

“Excuse me?”

“Well I doubt the library is open at this ungodly hour, don’t you?”  I asked.

“I have no idea what you want me to do, sir.”

“Agnes,”  I replied.  “Get that old broad on the line and make it snappy.  I’m a busy man, see?”

“Do you have her last name?”  the operator asked.

I slapped my forehead.

“Oh for the love of Edward G. Robinson’s sneer,”  I said.  “What was it again?  Aloysius?  Anchorage?  Alabaster?  No…ABERNATHY!  Yes.  That’s the ticket.  One Agnes Abernathy please.”

“I have one listing for Herbert and Agnes Abernathy,” the operator said.

“That’s it.  Put me through sweetheart.”

All of a sudden there was a robot talking to me.

“The number you have requested can be dialed for an additional charge of thirty-five cents by pressing the number one…”

Thirty-five cents.  Highway robbery if you asked me.  “Aw screw it,”  I thought as I hit the number one.  “I’ll just send an invoice to Battler for it.”

“Hello?”  came an old lady’s voice.

“Agnes!”  I shouted.

“Yes?”

“Listen, I’m sorry to bother you at home but I’ve got quite a caper transpiring here…”

“Who is this?”  Agnes asked.

“Jacob R. Hatcher, Pop Culture Detective,”  I answered.

“Oh for the love of…”

There was a long trail of unlady like obscenities I won’t bother to offend the ears of you fine 3.5 readers with.

“Jake, are you nuts?  You can’t bother me at home!  This is very inappropriate for you to be calling my home this late.  How did you get this number?”

“Information,”  I replied.

“Are you some kind of weirdo sex pervert?”  Agnes asked.  “Are you stalking me?”

I laughed.

“No offense old gal, but I wouldn’t touch you with Herb’s business,” I said.  “Say Agnes, now that you’ve got all that out of your system, what’s a fella gotta do to find a monster movie around here?”

“A what?”

“A mons…Jumpin Jehosaphat, Agnes, are you deaf?  MONSTER….MOVIE!”

“Jake, I’m not in the mood for your nonsense,”  Agnes said.  “Herb’s been up all night throwing up in the bathroom and I’m exhausted.”

“Yikes,”  I said.  “Sorry to hear that.  You should tell him to lay off the bottle.  That’s why I do when I start praying to the porcelain god.”

I could hear the disdain in Agnes’ voice.

“HE HAS CANCER YOU JACK ASS!”

“Oh,”  I replied.  “Even worse.  Tell him I’m pulling for him.  So howsabout that monster movie?”

“It’s Halloween time,”  Agnes said.

“What’s that got to do with the price of tea in China?”  I inquired.

“Put on your TV and there will be one on every channel.  Were you dropped on your head as a child?”

“I doubt it,”  I said.  “Ma Hatcher was a world class baby rearer.”

I grabbed the remote control and turned on the TV Ms. Tsang had mounted on one of the side walls of the restaurant floor to entertain the customers.

The old gal was right.  Every channel I flipped through had images that were gorier than the last.

“Thanks Ag,”  I said.  “I’ll let you go.”

Silence.  An exasperate sigh.  Loud heaving sounds in the background.

“What the hell,”  Agnes said.  “I’m going to be up for awhile.  Tell me what channel you’re putting on and I’ll watch it with you.”

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#31ZombieAuthors – Day 30 Interview – J.M. Wilde – Australia Zombified

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:::Looks in the mirror.  Slaps myself.:::

OK, BQB.  Get a grip.  You’ve got a half-hour left until East Randomtown is blown up.  You need to complete this interview, then go save the day.

Time is of the essence and you’re about to talk to a professional.  Sure, J.M. Wilde is one of today’s top Australian zombie fiction authors, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk and ask her about Australian stuff.  She doesn’t want to talk about kangaroos, koala bears, or dingos.  She doesn’t want to compare knife sizes a la Paul Hogan in Crocodile Dundee.  Don’t ask her about vegemite sandwiches or if the Men Without Hats’ mandate to ostracize friends of your friends who don’t dance is still in effect over there.

Just take all of your pre-conceived Aussie stereotypes and throw them out the window.  The fans of the highly popular Eva series deserve no less.

OK.  The space phone is ringing.

NOTE: BOLD=BQB; ITALICS=J.M.

Q.  Hello J.M.  I’m trapped in a zombie apocalypse and my hometown is about to be blown to smithereens as part of an elaborate conspiracy, but I’ve dropped everything to use a highly sophisticated alien communication device to place a call clear across the world in order to ask a question of utmost importance:

Clockwise or counterclockwise:  which way does the water swirl down the drain in the land down under?  Please.  Go flush your toilet, take copious notes, then come back with a full report.  I swear that’s all I’ll need to get all the curiosity about Australia out of my system.

A. I actually have no idea. I’ve never really noticed, I guess counterclockwise? Flushing the toilet isn’t any help because most toilets here don’t swirl, they just flush down. I didn’t even know that myth existed until that one episode of The Simpsons when they came to Australia.

Q.  By the way, since its already October 31 in Australia, Happy Halloween!  I realize this is an American holiday that began in the pre-colonial days of the U.S. in which colonists believed it was necessary to ward off evil spirits by running around in costumes, because if it’s one thing that a hell beast fears most, it’s a puritan in a bed sheet.  Fast forward to today, where once a year we all openly encourage children to disobey all the rules we impose on them throughout the rest of the year by encouraging them to “go ahead and knock on that stranger’s door and demand free food stuffs!”

Long story short – Halloween in Australia.  Does anyone over there do anything to celebrate or is it just another day?  Don’t worry if the answer is the latter.  With all the goofballs running around in costumes and all the weight I gain from eating fun size candy bars, there are times I wish it was November 1 already too.

A.  This is an interesting one. Halloween is also connected to Samhain, which takes place in Autumn. Here in Australia, Samhain takes place on May 1st, so technically that’s our Halloween. But thanks to commercialization and the many American TV shows and movies we watch, Halloween has made its way here over the last few years and is celebrated more and more on October 31st. It wasn’t celebrated here at all when I was a kid, but I would have loved to have gone trick or treating just like all my favorite characters on TV. Now, I see more and more kids and teens knocking at my door in costumes, and more Halloween decorations being sold in stores. Halloween parties are becoming a thing, too, which is awesome as I love a good costume party!

51b3SGDcMfL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Q.  Let’s talk about The Eva Series. In this three-book collection, you’ve turned Australia into one great big zombie infested death island.  Readers follow the journey of Eva as she and her friends make their way through the madness in search of safety. I have to admit, this is a pretty unique turn for the zompoc genre.  How did you come up with Eva’s story and what inspired you to tell her tale?

A. It really started because of my husband. I’d never written fiction before and wanted to try it, and at the time I thought my husband would be the only one who would ever read it. He loves zombies, so I decided to write a zombie story. And seeing as we live in Australia, I figured it would be cool to write about what might happen if a zombie virus broke out here. And voila! As They Rise, the first in the series, was born.

Q.  As I told a pair of writers the other day, I don’t have much pull in Hollywood.  Sure, Taye Diggs follows me on Twitter but I’m pretty sure he hit the follow button by accident.  That being said, “Zombies in Australia” seems like a concept ripe for a movie. On the off chance that J.J. Abrahams visits my blog by accident, give him your pitch as to why we need an Eva movie.

A. Taye Diggs follows me too! Okay, here’s my pitch. Hey J.J (or other equally awesome Hollywood person), enough already with zombies in the U.S of A! It’s been done to death (Ha! Puns.) Let’s move the fun down under where the stakes are higher and the production is cheaper. I’ve got the story, you’ve got the skills and the connections. Let’s make movie magic.

Q.  OK, I don’t want to brag, but I have been known to attract as many as 3.5 readers to my blog.  I thought that was pretty impressive until I learned that The Eva Series has racked up over 3 million reads online.  How did you get so many eyeballs on your work and for any aspiring writers out there, what can they do to attract more readers?

A. It’s all thanks to Wattpad. I don’t really know how it happened, but once I started uploading chapters to Wattpad a few years ago, it skyrocketed. I wouldn’t have ever considered being a pro writer without all the support from those early readers who kept begging me for more Eva. Aside from writing a good story and having a cool cover, I’ve found that being persistent and consistent is key when it comes to writing on Wattpad and attracting readers.

Q.  You’re a Wattpad star.  For people who aren’t as hip as we are, Wattpad is an online site that allows users to post their works and receive feedback from other users.  What about this site have you found useful and would you recommend it to other authors?

A. I adore the hell out of Wattpad, and I definitely recommend it to other authors. I think my favorite aspect about it is the interaction with readers. I’ve made friends and get to talk to my readers regularly, gain feedback on my work and just have so much fun with them.

J.M. Wilde on How to Get More Readers on Wattpad

Q.  So what’s next for you?  Any other book ideas in the works?  Could the zombies attack your neighbors?  Just going to throw it out there.  I feel like “TaZmania” or “New Z-Land” are rife with potential.

A. Haha! I love the New Z-Land idea. I’ve started working on a spin-off about one of the characters from book three, and I’ve been thinking about a potential fourth book in the series. But right now I’ve got a few other projects in the works; a couple of geeky YA contemporaries and a fanfic of The 5th Wave commissioned by Sony that’s being posted to Wattpad.

Q.  You’re a self-described fan girl.  On your website, you talk about how you want to be Iron Man and have pictures of yourself in Marty MacFly’s “future wear” from Back to the Future II, in which you’re meeting Christopher Lloyd, the actor who played Doc Brown.  I tip my hat to you, madam.  You’ve dethroned me as the Internet’s most renowned poindexter.  A lot of great superhero/comic bookish movies are coming out next year.  Which one or ones are you looking forward to most?

A.  Meeting Doc Brown was definitely one of the best moments of my life. BTTF is my fave movie so it was surreal. He’s such a nice dude. To answer your question … All of them! Deadpool. Captain America: Civil War. X-Men: Apocalypse. Suicide Squad. The list goes on!

Q.  J.M., thanks for taking a moment to talk with me.  Before I go, do you have any last minute advice that might help my friends and I survive the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

A. As Eva learned the hard way, fire doesn’t work against zombies, it just turns them into undead fireballs. Running is always the best choice. If you can’t run like hell, fight like hell. And always follow Rule #2 of Zombieland: double tap.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE: J.M.’s running a Halloween sale!  Get all three books of the Eva series for .99 cents!

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

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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!

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

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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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