Tag Archives: indie books

Let’s Talk About Undesiredverse – BQB’s Space Opera Serial

Hello 3.5 readers,shutterstock_121570807

BQB here.  Let’s talk, nerds.

ABOUT THE UNDESIREDVERSE

The year is 2999.  Roman Voss, a bounty hunter with an addiction.  Alien Jones, a pilot who’d once achieved greatness as second in command of the Known Universe’s greatest democracy, now stripped of his powers and looking for redemption.

Caught in the middle is a mysterious and very confused woman.

Jones’ old boss, the Mighty Potentate, presides over the Rakan Collective, a group of pro-democracy, pro-science, pro-education peace loving aliens who despise war, though they have amassed an unbeatable army to protect what they have from the “undesirables,” the residents of Milky Way, Andromeda, and all points in between, the area referred to by His Potentosity as “garbage planets” or simply, “the Undesiredverse.”

Cast out of paradise and deemed unworthy of the Rakan Collective, Undesiredverseans fight amongst themselves pointlessly, aimlessly and yes, sometimes even hilariously.  The religious zealots of Vendros, for example, have been slaughtering each over for a thousand years of a translation error in their holy book that leads the color of the shirt warn by their holy being in question.

But then again, not all of the baddies are funny.  The underworld organization known as the Cabal has a hand in every aspect of life, from business to politics, though they are so secretive they do not even acknowledge their own existence.

Meanwhile, many years ago, the Tollusks, a violent, warmongering species, decided to reform their ways and seek peace and prosperity.  The Tarazni Clan quickly formed, seized the planet’s nuclear arsenal, took flight, bombed their own planet to smithereens to punish “the infidels” on the way out and have been conquering planets ever since.

In fact, Earth is their latest acquisition.  There is an Earth government.  The One World Order began when countries decided to cease their petty squabbles in light of the discovery of new alien threats.  Alas, anyone who’d of put up resistance to the Tarazni’s Clan’s rule has been either killed, marginalized, ostracized, or paid off.  The One World Order that remains is accused by the people of being a government of “collaborators” and “rubber stampers.”

Sourcemind is the first villain that we are introduced to in the story.  He is a highly evolved artificial intelligence who was constructed by the humans of Omcoros to oversee automation of all of their world’s systems.  Big mistake, as that led to Sourcemind taking control.  From his mainframe on the world he’s conquered, he can assimilate any machine that comes in contact with him (or any machine that comes into contact with a machine he’s assimilated.

AND SO IT BEGINS…

Sourcemind, the Cabal, the Tarazni Clan, the One World Order and other degenerates want the woman in Voss and Jones’ care.  These three become the most wanted beings in the Undesiredverse and our story becomes a manic dash to safety.

Only the bad guys know why they want the mystery woman.  Voss, Jones, and even the woman herself are in the dark.

WHY IS BQB WRITING THIS?

All too often, I stop and start a story.  This blog helps me get things finished.  Last month, I finished a project.  #31ZombieAuthors.  It took a lot of work, but because I promised 31 people I’d do it, I got it done.

The story essentially involves a trio’s journey for survival as they are hunted by various baddies.  Thus, I basically step into Voss’ shoes and every day, imagine a little bit more about what is happening and what he is up against.

I don’t want to say the story goes in a straight line, but it does.  But there are many bumps on that line our heroes must hurdle.  But because it essentially begins with Point A (the heroes are in jeopardy and ends with Point B (the heroes are safe) I feel I can write a little bit every day and eventually bring our heroes from jeopardy to safety.

QUOTES ABOUT UNDESIREDVERSE: WANTED

BQB said these things about his story because he couldn’t find anyone else who would:

“It’s like Star Wars with a twist of Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

“Finally, a space opera that can make me laugh, as well as experience mental stress over the fear that characters I’ve grown attached to might be gruesomely murdered at any minute.”

“It doesn’t totally suck.”

BQB NEEDS YOUR HELP

You, the 3.5 readers, are watching me write a first draft.  There will be errors in writing, plot, grammar, style, even story.  I’ve already identified several.

If you see something that leaves you scratching your head, don’t keep quiet about it.  Let me know.  You have all been drafted into being my 3.5 beta readers.

I won’t consider you rude for pointing out a faux pas.  I’d appreciate it.  You won’t be kicked out of the 3.5 readers club.  I can’t afford to lose any more readers as it is.  You might point out something that I intentionally left iffy because I intend it to turn into a big reveal later but that’s ok.  We’re making sausage on this site so I’ll give you a glimpse inside the sausage casing and let you know that a) yes, you pointed out a big goof on my part and thank you or b) I intended that and it’ll be addressed later.

Either way, if you see something off, let me know.

THE FUTURE FOR BQB

My main goal is to get this written, re-written, edited, formatted and published at some point early next year.  I don’t have a date set but as early as possible.  If I get it up on Amazon before June I’ll be happy.

I have not forgotten about Pop Culture Mysteries.  Next year, I hope to launch the Pop Culture Mysteries website which will feature a Season One of Jake’s Mysteries, leading into a Jake novel.

Undesiredverse: Wanted will basically be me teaching myself how to write and self-publish a novel.  Pop Culture Mysteries will up the game a bit and from hereon, I hope to publish two books a year.

That’s assuming life agrees with that plan.  Come on life.  Don’t be a dick.

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#31ZombieAuthors – Day 31 – HALLOWEEN INTERVIEW – David W. Wright of the Self-Publishing Podcast

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Sterling and Stone

Happy Halloween, 3.5 readers.

This month, we’ve chatted up an absurd amount of zombie fiction writers, haven’t we?

They’re all impressive in their own right, and they all bent over backwards to help me out, so it was virtually impossible to figure out who to assign the coveted Halloween spot to.

Then it hit me.  Use it to talk to one of the dudes who got me writing again.

Not to make this about me, but long ago, I gave up on my dream of becoming a writer.  Like so many before me, the path toward traditional publishing seemed like it was riddled with one insurmountable wall after another.  Spend my time writing only to end up with my work tossed on a rejection heap with countless other writers competing for a highly coveted publishing contract?

Hell, I might as well have cashed out my life savings (all 3.5 dollars of it) and spent it on lotto tickets.

So I moved on and pursued a more realistic profession, but as the years went by, I always second guessed myself.

“What if?”

What if I’d kept at it?  Would I be a writer today?”

Around late 2014 I discovered the Self Publishing Podcast, starring full time indie authors Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt, and of course, today’s guest, David W. Wright.  Together, this trio have their own “story studio,” Sterling and Stone.

They’ve found success as multi-genre authors, with sci-fi epics like The Beam, steam punk adventures like The Dream Engine and TV style serials such as Yesterday’s Gone, just to name a few.  They’re so prolific I doubt I could rattle off all their hits in one sitting.
51yjssATf+L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Their self-publishing guide, Write. Publish. Repeat. (The No-Luck-Required Guide to Self-Publishing Success) has become a bible of sorts for the indie community.  I picked up a copy and thus far I’ve found the information it provides to be invaluable.

I have a standing appointment with these gents every Wednesday afternoon, during which I pop on their podcast and listen to the boys talk about the craft they love on my commute home.

To be clear, they don’t deal with get rich quick schemes or gimmicks.  They’re just three guys who talk about what works and doesn’t work for them.  They regularly schedule guests on the cutting edge of self-publishing, and most importantly, they have fun.

Yes, I said fun.  You won’t be bored when you listen to SPP.  The best way I can describe it is that Johnny, Sean and Dave aren’t the stodgy, tweed coat wearing professors who drone on and on in a boring lecture guaranteed to put you to sleep.

Rather, they’re the cool TAs who stop by your dorm, crack open a beer, joke around with you, and give you the straight scoop on what you need to know.

Will I ever self-publish a book?  I have no idea, but listening to these guys helped me decide to pick up my long abandoned dream of a writing career, dust it off, and start working toward it again, and that in and of itself has made me a happier person.

Dave, as one of Sterling and Stone’s preeminent horror fiction writers, welcome to the Bookshelf Battle Blog.  I’ve heard you and your compadres say it doesn’t get any worse than your other podcast, Better Off Undead, but I’d challenge that notion since last time I checked, my site only has 3.5 readers. 

NOTE: BOLD=BQB; ITALICS=DAVE

Q.  Happy Halloween, Dave!  Do you have any plans to celebrate?  (Redact as necessary.)

A.  If by celebrate, you mean hide away from anyone who might knock on my door, then yes, I’ll be celebrating in an undisclosed location.

Q.  What’s the deal with zombies?  The past month, I’ve interviewed authors from all different backgrounds and they’ve all managed to find their own unique take on the zombie genre.  For the layman who thinks, “I don’t get it.  All they do is grunt and groan and eat brains!” please explain why fans can’t get enough of the undead.

A.  I can only speak to the appeal from my perspective. As long as I can remember, long before I ever saw a zombie movie, I dreamed of hordes of slow-moving people coming after me. Most horror movies, the hero or heroine have some chance to defeat the bad guy, monster, etc… There’s something terrifying about an unyielding, unending force of nature like a horde of zombies.

There’s a cathartic nature to most horror, and I think zombies can be representative of many fears for people, and movies and books are just one way of facing those fears in a safe manner.

I think one of the books that truly gets that fear right is The Girl With All the Gifts. Those zombies will track you down, and just wait outside wherever you’re hiding. They’ve got nothing but time, and they will eventually get you, unless you find a way to fight back.

61NWfE06WqL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Q.   Z 2134, which you co-authored with Sean, features a dystopian America of the future, one in which zombie plagues have ravaged the world, giving rise to a totalitarian government, not to mention the Darwin Games, a televised survival show in which people have to fight zombies on air.  What inspired you to write these stories?

A.   Well, I’ve always wanted to write a zombie story. Sean wasn’t as keen on the idea, as he felt like it had all been done, and there was a lot of it at the moment. However, if we could mash up other genres, he was a lot more interested. So we thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a Hunger Games type story with zombies?” At the time, I’d not even seen The Hunger Games, and had read only the first few chapters. But I knew the idea, and we thought it would be cool to blend it with zombies and add a dose of 1984.

We pitched it to 47North after they’d reached out to us because of Yesterday’s Gone’s success, and they bought the trilogy.

Funny that some of the one star reviewers say it’s a “direct ripoff” of The Hunger Games, which I have to laugh at given that the only thing we ripped off was that it was a) a game and b) how The Hunger Games did the opening part where everyone had to make a mad dash toward the loot (which is as far as I got in the series). Anything similar beyond that, if there actually is, is pure coincidence. Fortunately, enough people liked the series for what it was to make it a bestseller at Amazon.

I think that mash-up of Z 2134 was sort of a dual-edged sword, though. While it earned us a lot of new readers, I think that people who thought we merely ripped off The Hunger Games, probably didn’t go on to give our other books a chance. They probably thought we were mash-up hacks churning out derivative stuff, which is a shame, because I feel that our other books are original and genre defying in many aspects.

Sean and Johnny are currently writing the first book in a zombie series that I’m super excited about, which seems to have an original sorta twist to it. Perhaps Sean and I will write in that world, since I’m still itching to do a proper real zombie story.

Q.  One thing I’ve noticed about science fiction/zombie lore is that authors have a tendency to forecast a future of doom and gloom.  I can’t say as I blame them though, given that every day there’s a new story on the news that rattles my faith in humanity.  Do you think a book where people are actually happy and the world has come together in a peaceful, harmonious future would ever be viable (or dare I say, realistic?)

A.  As much as I’d love to believe otherwise, it all comes down to a few things that seem immutable: there are limited resources on this planet, and people are clannish by nature. Therefore, there will always be struggle.

Q.   Let’s talk SPP.  You guys do a fair amount of busting on one another, all in good fun of course.  Still, I have to say I envy the partnership you’ve formed.  I’ve worked on a number of group projects in my life and to date, I’ve never walked away from the experience without holding back the desire to strangle my partners (who probably felt the same way about me.)  Do you guys realize what you have and more importantly, when the microphone’s off, do you tell each other?  It’d make me happy if the three of you would break out in a chorus of Bette Midler’s Wind Beneath My Wings one day, in celebration of a rare collaboration that actually works.

A.  I don’t think we talk too much about it. We’re usually busy talking about the work that needs to be done to fulfill our dreams. When we met in Austin in Sept. 2014, though, it was the first time all three of us were together, and we had a long heart-to-heart-to-heart talk, and it felt good to get to know Johnny (I’d already known Sean) in person. We’re like family, except we get along more often than most families.

Q.  Dave, as mentioned on your site, “Sean is the Tigger to your (Dave’s) Eeyore.”  I’d even go so far as to say that Sean is the Professor X to your Magneto.  In other words, Sean’s an optimist while you’re a pessimist.

Is that why you two work so well together?  One of you holds out hope, the other can see problems coming at twenty paces, and together you equal each other out?

A.  Good analogy. I think we’re a good mix, though I’m sure we’d be better off if I were a bit less pessimistic and a bit more hopeful. I think pessimism can be good as a protective shield, but there are times it costs you in potential.

Q.   Not to bore you with my problems, but a maniacal alien dictator from an unnamed world despises reality television to the point where he’s demanded that I write a novel so finely crafted that it causes the public to abandon shows where cameras follow around vapid celebrities and focus their attention entirely on scripted media.

But I don’t want to bother you with that.  You’ve been in self-publishing for a long time now.  Is there one nugget of advice, something that you wish someone had told you early on when you were getting started that you could pass on to me?

A.   Work through the doubt, and write a lot. Growing up, I tended to abandon projects the moment they got a bit too intimidating. I’m still prone to self-doubt and lots of rewriting before I’m happy, and I blow deadlines, but I am still always moving forward toward a goal — something I didn’t do before I had Sean as a partner.

Q.   Self-publishers are often vocal about their fears, which is understandable. Amazon might change their terms.  Tech companies they depend on might go out of business.  Traditional publishers might find a way to flip the proverbial poker table over and take their chips back.

But lets forget all that and be positive for a moment.  Let’s be Seans and not Daves.  As an expert in the field, do you foresee any major, positive developments coming in the future that will make self-publishers jump for joy?

A.   I’m hoping for a universal e-book format which would allow people to migrate their collections across readers without having to jump through hoops. I’d love to be able to buy at any store and read on whatever reader I prefer, without having to go through proprietary apps.

While companies may be resistant to this, I think in the long run it will help the companies sell more e-books.

Q.   Dave.  Seriously.  Thank you for all that you do.  When The History of Self-Publishing is written, there should be twenty chapters dedicated to you, Sean and Johnny.  The floor is yours.  If there are any last minute words of wisdom you’d like to share with my 3.5 readers, please feel free to do so.

A.   Thank you for having me. I’m not sure if this is wisdom, but I’ll share one thing. I started putting comic strips on the web in 1999. I was clueless to how bad I was. I think a lot of artists early on come in one of two flavors — they think they’re awesome or they think they’re shit. The truth is probably somewhere in between. Had I realized how bad I was, I’m sure I would’ve quit. Instead, I thought I was better than I was, but knew I wasn’t as good as I wanted to be, so I pushed through, always trying to get better, until I had a semi-successful comic which I could be proud of. So, I’d say don’t beat yourself up early on, but don’t ignore the areas you need to improve, and just always keep creating.

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

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Wattpad

:::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 28 Interview – A. Giacomi

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Today’s guest is A. Giacomi, author of the Zombie Girl Saga, which includes Eve Brenner:  Zombie Girl and a sequel, Eve Brenner: Zombie Agent.  Believe it or not, but in these books, the zombie is actually the heroine!  After being infected by a zombifying virus at an Ancient Egyptian burial site, Eve develops supernatural zombie powers.
A Canadian born writer, educator, and artist, Ms. Giacomi is also a graduate of York University.  She devours books like a bad zombie eats brains and is an all around fangirl.  Favorites include Tim Burton, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Marvel, and Star Wars.
Thanks for taking my call, A.G.
Q.  I’ve checked out a lot of zombie books this month and I have to say, your protagonist is the only zombie I’d actually root for.  Obviously, Eve is not the traditional, old-fashioned type of zombie that shuffles slowly, has no thoughts, and just shouts “GRRR!” and “ARGGH!”  Have you pretty much turned the zombie genre upside down by creating a heroic zombie?
A.  Ha ha I’m trying! I just can’t help but think zombies were people once, they can’t possibly lose their humanity all in one go! I’d like to think that some of us would fight off the virus fully taking over like Eve does…and besides a flu bug affects everyone differently…wouldn’t a zombie virus? Is it that far fetched that someone might actually fight their zombie qualities and try to use their last bit of life for some good? I think not!
Q.  Surely Eve suffers from those bloodthirsty urges that all zombies suffer from.  How does she satisfy them?  Should I be worried about her friends?
A. She tries her best not to eat people, but you know zombies tend to get hangry. When she doesn’t feed for awhile, that’s when innocent people die. When she learns not to ignore her urges she can decide who she feasts on…she tends to stick to a diet of not so innocent people, so I’d say her friends are safe.
Q.  Is romance possible for a zombie?  I’m thinking Eve might have some issues in that department.
A. It’s possible, put her partner would have to be very patient, zombies have good days and bad days and sometimes it’s just not safe to go in for a smooch, for example if they’re hungry. Eve has a pretty big undead heart though, so she’s worth loving, she’ll fight for the ones she cares for until the very end.
Q.  What inspired you to get into the writing game?
A. I’ve been writing since high school, I just love coming up with strange characters and inconceivable situations. I write poetry all the time as part of my daily wind-down, but as for writing books that only took place a couple of years ago. I decided to just go for it, I want to be able to tell my kids I went after my dreams and they should do the same!
Q.  What’s next for Eve?  Is another book in the works?
A. Book 3 is complete and heading into editing now, it should be out Spring of 2016! As for Book 4, I’m not sure of the release date yet, but I just completed it! It’s surreal ending a series like this, the characters have lived in my head a long time, it’s hard to say farewell to them!
Q.  A.G., thanks for taking the time to take my call.  Before I go, do you have any last minute advice that could help my friends and I survive the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?
A:  Hmmmm…I always say head for the hills, or at least away from other people. If we haven’t learned anything from film or television shows like The Walking Dead, it’s people that are the real danger. They get scared and lose all sense of morality, so go hide and stay hidden with lots of supplies!
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#31ZombieAuthors – Day 24 Interview – W.J. Lundy – WTF

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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. 

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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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