The draw has been done for this month’s winner of the signed copy of The Undead The First Seven Days and some other goodies. As ever, the procedure was watched over by three very serious dogs who were promised some chicken if they remained attentive.
The winner is STAN – a review left on 13th Sept. Stan got the word “Raccoon” nicely into the review, so Stan, please contact me to arrange the sending of the book.
Righto, well my last blog said I would do a Question and Answer session and asked that if anyone had any questions then to send them through. I was rather worried thinking that I wouldn’t get any and would either have to invent some up to make it look like I’m more popular than I really am or just pretend I never wrote that blog entry and maybe say someone hacked into my computer. Or move country and start writing under a different name…..
But! There have been loads sent through, some real corkers too that made me think really, really hard till my head was almost falling off.
Q: How did you come up with Dave? Day One was the first thing I had written and I never expected the series to become as successful as it has done. Day One is simply Howie, on his own trying to survive and shouting at me lots because of my god awful shit writing abilities. Dave was initially introduced just to allow me to practise dialogue and speech. I wanted someone “quiet” simply because I was scared of dialogue and wanted to ease myself into it. However, the evil maniac part of me refused to listen and insisted Dave have more layers than an onion, and the initial scene where we first meet Dave in the supermarket – where he selects the knives and reverses them so the blades rest against his forearms – was such a strong visual image that I just had to run with it.
Q: What would you have done if writing didn’t work? I would still be writing. No doubt about it. I love writing and story-telling. I cannot imagine a time when I wouldn’t be writing, or thinking about writing, or dreaming about writing.
Q: What is your favourite non-zombie based TV show? Storage Wars. It used to be Storage Hunters until I realised it was more fake than a rusty Rolex. I love Storage Wars. It’s simple and straight-forward and no one gets hurt, no bad language, easy watching and entertaining. Love it.
Q:What is your favourite book cover so far from the series? Eddy, the illustrator, is a fantastic artist and I would recommend him to anyone needing a cover for an e-book. He has done all of the covers so far (I hope you read this, Eddy, and give me a big discount!). My favourite is Day Eleven with the image of Meredith on the cover. I love the hazy background and grey sky with a hint of blue sky over the dog, which reflects the purity of the animal. I asked Eddy this question – he said his favourites so far are Day Ten with Howie looking up at the compound and also The First Seven Days cover.
Q: What did you do before writing? Can’t say. It’s a secret!
Q: Which character was hardest to kill off? Oh my good lord! What a difficult question. Er… Big Chris was bloody hard to kill off as he was such a strong character. Sarah was hard as it had been so difficult to “rescue” her in the first place. Jamie – in Day Seven – I found him hard to kill as I really liked Jamie. Sometimes, I won’t say who, but there are characters brought in just to be killed off later – like the old Star Trek television shows when Captain Kirk would go on a mission with some unsuspecting, unknown background actors who you knew would be getting zapped very shortly. But then a character can grow on you to the point of wanting them to stay alive so the story gets altered to allow that to happen.
Q: In a fight, who would win? Howie (in one of his “special” moods”) V Dave? – Dave. Definitely Dave. No doubt about it.
Clarence V Mr T – Brilliant! Ooh, good match-up. I’d like to think Clarence would win as he is not only massive, but also trained and has spent almost two weeks fighting hordes of zombies.
Lani V Marcy? Wow, what a sight that would be! Marcy hasn’t actually been involved in that much conflict other than taking out meek and scared humans, so Lani would whup her arse. Especially as Marcy tried to do the funky groove with Howie too…Hall hath no fury like a woman scorned….
Q: What is the best advice you have received from another author? (that you don’t know personally) Er…I don’t know any other authors or writers really. I guess there is a special place where they all hang out and talk about prose and narrative, but they don’t extend the invitations to mere zombie horror writers because we don’t write about Arthur who has worked in the advertising agency for twenty years and his long suffering wife, Susan, and the daily struggle they face to keep the spark alive. But Arthur meets a younger woman and they embark on a torrid relationship that tests the strengths of his morality to the limits??? WTF??? Nah, zombies! Get Paula with some home-made bombs blowing shit up! That tests the morality better than bloody Arthur and his crap job and being a dirty bastard for shagging the younger woman. Take up a hobby Arthur and get a grip man! That didn’t really answer the question did it? So, er…the best advice? This sounds stupidly simple but the best advice for ANY writer from ANY writer is to write. End of. Put words on a page every day, learn the craft and write. Just write. Don’t just talk about it and think about it and tell everyone about it – just write.
Q: If the series were to be made into a film, who would you choose to play Howie and Dave? Cor! This is a cracker of a question. There have been some debates online about who would play them. Personally, I like Jason Statham for Dave. He isn’t huge or over-developed and can portray that quiet unassuming look, plus his skills would be fantastic to show what Dave can do. Regarding Howie….I’ve thought about this soooo much….but I still don’t know. Can I throw the question back out? If you could choose any actor to play Howie, who would it be?
Q: Who is your favourite character? Honestly? All of them. Obviously there is a special feeling for Howie and Dave, but like a father to many children – I couldn’t possible say and just give the bland answer of “I love you all equally” while secretly thinking of which one is my favourite but don’t tell anyone cos that would be bad…
Strangely, I really liked Paco Maguire and there is a part of me that wishes he didn’t get chomped by the zombies.
Q: Where would you go if the zombie apocalypse happened? Ah, good question. Assuming the Zed event was the same as in the series – I would avoid densely populated zones and head somewhere rural. I think in any catastrophe like this, being around other people at the initial stage would be safe as human nature is instinctive to help others in distress. It’s the bit after that that worries me, when greed kicks in and morality slips. That’s when I would be doing one somewhere far away from anyone else. Think escape routes and always have one ready to be used.
Q: What bad review did you take on board the most? Indie self-published writers careers live and die from reviews. We don’t have the marketing power of publishing houses so we can only go by “word of mouth” and reviews. A bad review is awful and really gives any writer a sense of despondency. Believe me when I say writing is hard. It’s lonely and there really isn’t anyone else that can help with it. People can advise and suggest but ultimately it’s down to that person sat at that keyboard to do the best they can.
Bad reviews on the basis of personal judgement are understandable. A reader may not enjoy the story and simply state this in a manner which is obvious. What hurts are the scathing, brutal nasty spiteful reviews.
When the series was first out, it was almost acceptable that I could get away with poor editing and proof-reading as it was a low selling home produced series. However, as it has become so popular I find that readers are expecting that high end, professional product and it’s quite right that I try to deliver that. Self-editing and proof-reading is a nightmare of epic proportions and best avoided at all costs. You have to edit the story yourself to make it the best you can, but the actual checking it through is always best done by someone else. It’s finding that someone else that is so bloody hard!
There is a light at the end of the tunnel here though. Monique Happy from Monique Happy editorial service (who edits for the giants of Shawn Chesser and Sean Liebling) has now taken me on and is currently working through the books.
Q: Will there be a second compilation for books 8-14? Yes there will be, but I’m still not sure what to call it. The Next Seven Days was the first contender but what about the seven days after that? What would that be called? But The Undead The Second Seven Days doesn’t sound that good, maybe The Undead The Second Week….hmmm possible….
Well, that’s it from me for now. Day Fourteen is underway and I am still hacking away feverishly. Updates will follow.
Thanks again for all those people who have sent comments through and I can only apologise that I am unable to respond to everyone. I cannot express enough how much I enjoy getting them and it gives a real pick-up when the writing gets hard.
Love the idea about having a character named after a reader, will definitely be doing that and possibly for Day Fourteen.