Summer of Zombie Guest Post with Author Ian Woodhead

Author Ian Woodhead
Author Ian Woodhead

 

Guest post about Kingdoms of the Dead.

Oh boy, was this story a doozer! I can honestly say (Hand on heart) that Kingdoms of the Dead almost fried my brain during its construction, it certainly gave me a pounding headache on more that one occasion. Thing is, I thought the idea would slot together like a Meccano set, oh sure, it’s a complex tale, of course it is! Hell, you ain’t going to get ‘simple’ A to B story with three zombie infested parallel worlds, inhabited by the same (but different) characters, all jumping from one world to the other.

Meccano set? More like doing a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle, blindfolded.

I’m not really selling this book to you, am I? I’ll start again, this time, I’ll omit the whining.

So, the idea for this book sprang from just one question – Could any country profit from a mass zombie outbreak?

The UK wouldn’t, neither would any other western county. Everything we hold dear to us, would collapse in a few weeks. The following quote is from a BBC Docudrama called Threads, about the imminent threat of nuclear war. (It came out in 1984):

In an urban society, everything connects. Each person’s needs are fed by the skills of many others. Our lives are woven together in a fabric. But the connections that make society strong also make it vulnerable.

The same applies to our imaginary zombie outbreak. So how could any country come out on top after half their population die then rise up and munch on the remaining survivors? I couldn’t think of any, even our friends in North Korea, with their unique take on society would all end up dead.

I was about to throw that idea away, consign it to the bin of shit ideas when I happened to stare at one of my posters. It’s a Walking Dead one, where Rick is stood on an over turned bus with the prison in the background. I do believe I smiled when something clicked in my mind.

How about a walled off city, An oppressive, Orwellian government, always at war with their neighbours? A smaller contained society where everyone watches everybody else, cameras everywhere, with security, police and soldiers on every street corner? That could work.

That’s where the whole concept of using another, alternate world came from, as nothing like that exists on this planet now. I think we did away with our walled up cities a few hundred years ago, when our planet began to ‘urbanise’

How do our paranoid leaders profit from this catastrophe?  I added another twist to the zombie genre. You see, in our movies, TV, games books and comics, usually, when you dead, you rise again as a zombie, unless the brain is destroyed. Okay, well what if this outbreak was an airborne virus and it infected everyone and you’re going to turn no matter what?

Unless our ‘leaders’ somehow found a treatment, not a cure, just a method to temporarily halt the change.

Welcome to the city where every inhabitant is reliant on tablets, supplied by the authorities, that stop you from changing into one of the shambling dead.

That’s the idea I finished with, my little foundation in which I used to build my story. The first two bricks were where did the virus come from and why were the tablets beginning to fail?

It just snowballed after that and apart from the headaches and the dry writing spell once the book was in the bag, I am proud of this one. I enjoyed writing it and I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as well.

 

Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2014

 

The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2014, with 33 of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser… and pick up some great swag as well! Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them! #SummerZombie

https://www.facebook.com/events/286215754875261/?ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular&source=1

AND so you don’t miss any of the posts in June, here’s the complete list, updated daily:

http://armandrosamilia.com/2014/06/01/summer-of-zombie-blog-tour-2014-post-links/

 

@Armand Rosamilia & Ian Woodhead, 2o14. All rights reserved.

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Summer of Zombie Interview with Author Jay Wilburn

Author Jay Wilburn
Author Jay Wilburn

Your name.

Jay Wilburn

 

 

What is your latest zombie release?

Zombies Believe In You

 

 

Quick description of it (no spoilers)

It is a collection of a few longer zombie pieces including novellas and a few lengthier short stories.

 

 

Something unique about it.

The pieces are a bit longer than typically found in a collection. Two of the stories tell of the same event from two entirely different perspectives making the same events mean very different things. A few of the stories are more distant from the “Z Day” apocalypse stories moving into the realms of fantasy and legend.

 

 

Links for people to purchase it.

June 15th is the date, so at Hazardous Press’s bookstore would be the perfect link to jump on it and a number of other great works http://www.hazardouspress.com/ … My zombie novel Loose Ends is available there along with some other great zombie anthologies and other unique works.

 

 

Your promo links.

http://jaywilburn.com/

 

 

Your short Bio.

Jay Wilburn quit teaching after sixteen years to care for the health needs of his younger son and to pursue full-time writing. He lives with his wife and two sons in the coastal swamps of South Carolina. His novels Loose Ends and Time Eaters are available now. He has zombie pieces in the forthcoming Fat Zombie with Permuted Press, Best Horror of the Year volume 5 with editor Ellen Datlow and in More Recent Dead with Prime Books. Follow his many dark thoughts at JayWilburn.com and @AmongTheZombies on Twitter.

 

Summer of Zombie 2014 Blog Tour

 

The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2014, with 33 of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.

 

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser… and pick up some great swag as well! Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them! #SummerZombie

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/286215754875261/?ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular&source=1

 

@Armand Rosamilia & Jay Wilburn, 2014. All rights reserved.

 

Honor Amongst Creativity – Respect Or Lack Thereof

Recently a friend of mine discovered that someone he was aquainted with was going to use the title of his upcoming book for an anthology title. As you can imagine, this caused hurt feelings and a bit of outrage. For me, it was because I felt that a friend of mine was getting ripped off of something that was his, and because it went against the moral code I live by and the unspoken code amongst creative people.

There’s an honor amongst creative people that goes unspoken. It’s the knowledge that if someone creates something, it’s theirs and to infringe on that is to steal something of that person. The theift is personal, and it hurts.

I’m not saying that someone can’t use the same title, as titles are pretty much a “free for all.” What I’m saying is, you don’t do that to someone you know, especially if you call that someone a friend. It’s a low practice. In the instance of knowing the person you “creatively ripped off” it cuts deep. I would say it’s the same as kissing or having sex with the spouse of your best friend – that’s how deep the betrayal goes. You have to understand that when you create something, it’s part of who you are, and when someone violates that, there’s no way to make it right again.

What’s the right thing to do? Pick a different title, a different story, a different character… ANYTHING! Don’t use someone else’s ideas for your own gain.

I’ve actually had this happen to me, but unintentionally with no harm caused. I had this great story idea, and I was going to write a book called Bed Bugs. Guess what? A friend of mine (LA Taylor) beat me to it. I saw him announce his story on a social media site and I was bummed. There was no way that I could in good conscious use the title when someone I knew, albeit not well, but knew of, had already used it. To me, that would have seemed like stealing something from him. Logically I know that our stories would have been completely different, since no two writers are ever the same. Still… I couldn’t do it, and I still can’t. I never did write the story, although I might someday. One thing’s for sure, it won’t have the title of LA Taylor’s Bedbugs! LOL

Sadly, the kind of creative theft I’m talking about is commonplace – not only in writing, but music and other forms of creative art. People find out about something someone is working on and they steal the plans or ideas. While in the early idea stages, such things aren’t considered plagerism, but it’s the same in a lot of ways. You’re taking something from someone when it was theirs to begin with. Most creative people get to the point where they won’t even share their ideas with anyone for fear of them being stolen. I’m one of those people. I trust very few people with anything until it’s complete. At that point, it’s harder for someone to rip you off without being able to take legal action against them because you then own the copyright to your work.

The betrayal of my friend caused me to leave a group on a social media site. I don’t know for certain that the title theft was of malicious intent, but you can’t tell me the person didn’t see the title or know about it beforehand, because chances are high that they did. Regardless, I wasn’t going to stick around anywhere where creative theft MIGHT be occurring: 1) because I couldn’t stand by and watch my friend get used and hurt; and 2) because being a writer (creator) is hard enough without people making it that much harder with mistrust.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to come up with something special and uniquely yours? Or how hard it is to get the attention of the masses once you do? You don’t need someone making it that much harder, wondering if they’re going to betray your trust at any moment.

The best thing to do is to have a small circle of friends you know you can trust. That’s not an easy thing to do or build, but it’s worthwhile in the end.

Find the people who hold honor in their hearts and have respect for you as a person and a creator. There’s more than enough ideas to go around without stealing someone else’s.

 

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©Rebecca Besser, 2013. All rights reserved.

Zombie Christmas Story – High Price for Hope by Rebecca Besser

Jerrold Brown sat by the small fire burning in a fifty-five-gallon barrel that had been cut in half. He watched his wife across the room, tucking in their son and daughter. Sighing deeply, he looked into the fire, thinking about Christmas. It was hard to believe it had been a year since the zombies had arrived. It was the worst Christmas Eve he’d ever experienced. He still remembered tucking the kids in that night–trying to get them to fall asleep so Santa would come. But he’d never arrived, just the rotting corpses of the animated dead.
With another sigh, Jerrold rubbed his face with both hands. His wife, Dawn, drew the blanket curtain they used to partition off the kids sleep area closed, and joined him by the fire.
“What’re you thinking about?” she asked quietly, her voice barely above a whisper.
“I’m thinking Christmas will be here in a couple of days,” he mumbled.
“And?”
“I think it’s sad that we don’t have any presents for the kids. Last year they didn’t get to open the presents we bought for them–we were too busy fighting for our lives. After a year of being sequestered in this basement we have lost all sense of hope.”
“What are you getting at?” Dawn asked, a suspicious look on her face.
Jerrold dragged his hairs through his hair, closed his eyes, and bowed his head. He knew she wouldn’t like what he was going to say next.
“I’m going to go out and get the kids presents. They deserve to have a decent Christmas, no matter what the condition of the world.”
He heard her gasp, but didn’t look up, just rushed on.
“We need food, too. I should have gone a week ago. You know it as well as I do. I might as well see if I can find some presents while I’m out there. Who knows, maybe all the zombies are gone, moved on to somewhere else in search of people to eat.”
Jerrold looked up at his wife, dreading what he might see in her expression. Tears were sliding down her sallow cheeks. It hit him again just how much they’d suffered–how much they’d had to go without. Clenching his jaw, he decided, be damned all danger, he was going to make this Christmas special for all of them, no matter what she said.
Dawn’s eyes were trained on the fire. The shifting light from the tongues of flame licking at the wood that feed it sent shadows dance over her features. She was upset. He could see that from the tightness of her jaw.
“Sweetie,” he said, caressing her wet cheek. “I have to do something. I can’t bear them not having some joy in their lives. What kind of existence is that for a child?”
Closing her eyes, she pressed her face into his hand and took a shuddering breath. “It’s too dangerous. I don’t want to lose you.”
“You won’t lose me,” he said, taking her into his arms and kissing the top of her head. “I’ll be careful. I promise.”
“I can’t bear even the thought of losing you,” she whispered and wrapped her arms tightly around him. “It’s not worth the risk. I don’t want you to go. Stay for me. Please.”
Jerrold took a deep breath and rubbed her back, tears coming to his own eyes at her pleading. He eyes fell on a stick that was jutting out from beneath the curtain to the kids sleeping area. It was crudely carved to resemble a human. He remembered making them for the kids for their birthdays. Their eyes had lit up and it was the only time he remembered seeing genuine smiles on their faces since they’d been down here.
Squeezing Dawn tight, he whispers, “I have to do it–for the kids. They should have sometime to play with, something to enjoy. All they play with are those damn sticks, or what they can draw on the cement floor with charred pieces of wood from the fire. They should have more. They deserve more. What kind of childhood are we giving them?”
She pulled back and looked him in the face defiantly.
“We are giving them the best childhood we can under the circumstances,” she hissed. “It’s not like we have a choice. We are doing the best we can with what we have. Those damn zombies took everything from us, but we have our lives and we have each other. That should be enough.”
“Believe me,” he said. “I am grateful that we are all alive and together, and I’ll never be able to express how glad I was that we found somewhere that had a good supply of food and water to stay, but it’s Christmas. I really need you to understand and support me in this, I need to do this, for all of us.”
Dawn clutched at the front of Jerrold’s threadbare shirt, kneading it in her almost skeletal hands. Tears ran freely down her face and dropped on her shirt, also threadbare and almost sheer in its overuse. Choking back a sob, she buried her face in his neck and whimpered. She took a couple of minutes to get herself under control before she spoke in a pained whisper.
“When will you go?”
Wrapping his arms around her and rocking her gently, he mumbled into her hair, “In the morning. It’ll be Christmas Eve. I’ll arrive back just in time to put the presents under the tree, just like Santa.”
He laughed at the irony of the thought, as he too choked back sobs.
She nodded against his chest and clutched at him, not wanting to let go, not wanting to think about what the morning would bring, when her husband would leave their den of safety and venture out into the world that held who knew what.
They sat by the fire, crying and holding each other for hours before they added a couple more pieces of wood to the fire and went to bed. Even though they’d been careful about sex, using condoms to make sure that Dawn wouldn’t get pregnant–which they’d run out of a couple of weeks ago–they made love that night, throwing caution to the wind. The action was full of desperation. They spoke to each other with their bodies, conveying their love and their need to be with each other, hoping that the bond they created would be stronger than the separation they would face in the morning, stronger than the fear of never seeing each other again.

*   *   *

The next morning Jerrold was up and dressed before the kids awoke. He kissed them gently on their foreheads, brushed back their hair and said a quick prayer for them. Behind him, he heard the sound of Dawn’s bare feet padding softly across the cement floor. She paused at the curtain and sighed heavily. He could feel the tension radiating from her. Turning, he stepped up to her and wrap his arms around her, burring his face in her hair.
“I’ll be careful,” he whispered. “I promise I’ll come back.”
With a quivering breath, she nodded and pressed her face into the side of his neck. “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” he said, pulling back and kissing her.
Wrapping her arms tightly around his neck, she stood up on her tip toes and put her soul into the kiss, making it clear to him one last time how much he truly meant to her.
Breaking away reluctantly, Jerrold picked up his 30/30 rifle and his bag, and headed for the door.
“Make sure you put these back up as soon as I’m through the door,” he said, taking down heavily pieces of lead pipe and angle iron they had at different levels of the door. “I’ll padlock the door at the top of the steps from the outside, instead of the inside. Do you remember the knock I’ll use when I come back, so that you know it’s me?”
Dawn nodded, but he was facing the door and didn’t see her.
Turning, he looked at her. “Do you remember?”
“Yes,” she said. “Three fast, two slow, three fast.”
He smiled and nodded, stepped back over to where she stood, and kissed her one last time. Looking deep into her eyes, he said, “I’ll be back tonight.”
She smiled weakly, nodded, and closed the door behind him as he picked up his rifle and bag again, and stepped through.

*   *   *

Jerrold stood in the shadows of the apartment building basement, waiting to hear the scraping of metal as Dawn replaced the bars on the boiler room door. They’d been lucky to find such a place to stay. They had heat, and had been draining the water out of the building’s pipes for months. He’d also feed them on what the building had to offer. Each apartment had provided canned goods and everything else they had needed. The zombies had left the building after the people who lived there had died or been turned into one of the walking dead. Now their supplies were getting low, which after a year, they couldn’t complain. But this time he would have to venture beyond the safety zone and into the unknown.
Satisfied after he heard the last bar being placed across the door, ignoring the sobs he could hear from his wife, he mounted the steps to their second defense–a padlocked metal door that lead into the main lobby of the building. Withdrawing a small, sliver key from his bag, Jerrold quickly and quietly unlocked it. Taking a deep breath, he pulled the door open slowly. The hinges screeched loudly and Jerrold froze for a moment. Deciding it would be better just to get it over with, knowing the sound would have already alerted anything in the area to his presence, he jerked the door the rest of the way open and jumped through. Whipping his rifle around from where it hung on his back with a shoulder strap, he held it at ready and spun in a semi circle to check the room around him. Seconds passed and all that could be heard was his panting breath. No danger presented itself.
Turning back to the door, he quickly shut it and attached the lock to the latch he’d installed when he’d gone on his first ‘raiding’ trip. They kept it locked from the inside when they were all at ‘home’, and when he went out, he locked it from the outside.
Surveying the room again, Jerrold noticed that the only thing that had changed since the last time he’d been here, was that more plants were growing through the openings of the vacant windows, which had been shattered long ago.
It was still dark, the sun was just beginning to rise, casting a light yellow glow to the backdrop and in between the buildings he could just make out beyond the vines. Stepping carefully, holding his rifle in front of him, ready to pull it up at any moment, he advanced to the busted out glass door that had once been a grand entrance. Pushing aside the greenery, he stepped out into the world, breathing deeply of the fresh morning air, something that seemed almost foreign to him since they’d sought haven below. The sweetness and crispness of it almost made him cry, and at the same time, overwhelmed him with joy.
A bird flitted past and called to its mate, which soon joined it in a tree that had once neatly graced the sidewalk of the city, but was now growing wildly. Old Christmas lights hung from the branches, providing a ladder for the vines to climb–the tiny, twinkle light bulbs looked like alien berries waiting to be picked.
With a grin on his face, Jerrold shivered as a strong wind blew, cutting through his worn out clothes. He’d forgotten how cold it was outside when fall gave way to winter.
“First things first,” he said to himself, heading down the street to where he knew a man’s clothing store used to operate, knowing he needed a coat, gloves, and a hat if he was going to stay warm long enough to hunt for gifts and food.
The sound of his voice startled a black squirrel who’d been searching through the weeds for the last of the nuts from a small walnut tree. It chattered at him angrily as it ducked inside a faded blue BMW that was parked at the curb.
Bending down slightly, Jerrold could see that it had made itself a nice little nest in the interior, where it had dug into a rip in the seat and was not living lavishly in leather and insulation.
Chuckling and shaking his head at the absurdity, yet genius, of the upside down world that they now lived in, he continued on in search of warm clothes.
Soon he reached the store he was looking for. But, to his chagrin, he noticed that all the showcase windows of the front of the store were intact. Smeared on the inside was a dark-brown substance that he knew was dried blood, which meant someone or something could still be inside.
Jerrold stood there for a moment, indecision warring in his mind of the possible dangers of breaking the glass and alerting any zombies that might be lurking somewhere, and the possible danger of going in period when something could still be in there. A strong gust of wind easily penetrated his clothes and bit into his skin with tiny, pin like teeth, made the choice for him. He had to have something more to wear, and if he didn’t go it there, he could waste hours searching for the right items, and then hope they would fit him.
Looking up and down the street, seeing no movement, he lifted the butt of his rifle and broke one of the windows. Glass hit the pavement with a tinkling of accusation, as if angry for having been broken and disturbed after so long a silence.
Jerrold held his gun at ready and waited for a ghoul to jump out at him. He’d had it happen plenty of times before and had always come away the victor. Nothing happened. No one and nothing came from the new opening. Glancing up and down the street again, not seeing any movement, he started knocking away the jagged remains of the glass so he could get through. His hands were so numb from the cold he didn’t feel when a small sliver penetrated his palm, breaking the skin and letting out a small trickle of blood.
Entering the store, he hurriedly located what he needed. He found himself a new pair of jeans, a shirt, underwear, socks, boots, a coat, gloves, and a hat, piling them in the center of the store, where he could see all around him. Quickly he shed his worn out clothes, donned his new apparel, and took out his old hunting knife, adding it to his new outfit in case he did meet a zombie. Leaving his old clothes laying on the ground where he’d taken them off, he grabbed some more clothes and shoved them into a shopping bag he found behind the counter. Knowing that he couldn’t carry them around all day because he would be collecting more items he decided to jog them back down the block and leave the bag outside the door to the basement sanctuary.
While Jerrold had been searching through the racks of clothing, the small sliver of glass had come free from his hand, but he still hadn’t noticed. Unknowingly he began a blood trail, starting with the glass, to the racks, to the clothes he left lay, and the counter where he’d gotten the bag. The gloves he’d chosen were thick, and they absorbed the red liquid, only to start dripping around the cuff after he’d left the bag at the basement door. He didn’t think anything of it, as now his hands were warm and his palms were sweating.
Jerrold decided that clothing and food should be top priority for this trip, even though he wouldn’t return without presents. He just knew that finding appropriate gifts would take longer, and if he got his ‘duty’ done first, then he would have more time to ‘shop.’
Turning to the right this time when he left the building, he went to a department store he knew would have clothes for his entire family. There were plenty of shopping carts sitting around, so he used one to procure clothing for his family. Having not seen any zombies for a while, he started to let his guard down. He assumed they’d moved on to where they thought people might be more numerous.
Christmas decorations and fake snow were on all of the displays, some still standing and some destroyed. Strings of lights dangled drunkenly from cash registers, and Santas that had been placed close to the windows had faded from red to pink, where the sun had bleached them through the summer months. Seeing these relics reminded him of last year–of what a disaster Christmas had been.
After getting all the clothes the cart could hold, he paused to think of anything else they might need. Batteries came to mind. He searched around the counters where he remembered having seen batteries when he’d shopped there long ago, but there were none. The empty racks stared back at him menacingly, as if mocking his stupidity for thinking he’d find something there.
All the snacks and candy bars were gone as well. There was nothing of use or value.
Pushing the overloaded cart out of the store was harder than he’d first thought it would be. There was so much stuff knocked over and in the way, the wheels kept getting stuck and he had to continually clear a path. It was at one of those times, while he was bent over pulling an inflatable snowman, that had deflated long ago, from beneath the wheels that a noise from behind him alerted him that he was not alone.
Slowly he stood erect, sliding his rifle strap off his shoulder he prepared to fire. Spinning suddenly, he brought the butt of the 30/30 tight into his shoulder, and looked down the sights with the ease that only comes from practice.
Standing no more than ten feet from him was an old woman and a young boy, but they were no longer human. The wasting of their flesh released a stench that he should have noticed and probably would have if he hadn’t been constantly moving. But the fact of the matter was, he was accustom to the smell of death, he’d been living with it for a year now, and it wasn’t something he noticed anymore.
They stared at him, the little boy holding the old woman’s hand like they still thought they were living and he was going on a shopping trip with grandma.
The stand off ended when the old lady hissed and her dentures fell from her gapping, rotted mouth. Her cheek split and her bottom jaw slid from its sockets to dangle below her face by loose, flapping skin.
She darted forward at Jerrold, as if it was his fault she was falling apart. Not seeming to realize that she was still holding the boys hand, she ripped his decaying arm off as she came for Jerrold, the only fresh meat she’d seen in months. It didn’t matter that she didn’t have any teeth, or that she could no longer bite, she attacked him anyway.
Not wanting to draw unneeded attention, Jerrold quickly side stepped the woman, and grabbed the long knife that was strapped to his thigh. As he spun, he brought the blade down into the back of the old woman’s head, penetrating her skull with a sickening squish. She was so rotten that she was literally falling apart.
Amazed at how easy it had been to kill her, for a moment Jerrold just stood there marveling at the corpse, and didn’t pay any attention to the boy.
Suddenly, a shriek sounded–it was high pitched and angry. Turning toward the sound, Jerrold saw the boy had climbed up onto an empty rack and was about to propel himself at the him.
Jumping back and losing his balance when he slipped in the black blood that had oozed out of the old woman, he landed hard on the marble tiled floor, the knife fell from his grasp and slid a few feet away. For a few moments he couldn’t move, the breath had been knocked out of his body, and he’d jarred his back.
In those precious moments, the boy took advantage of the situation. Hissing and clawing, he scrabbled across the floor on all fours. He was a wild beast and he smelled blood.
No sooner had Jerrold got his breath back, than he saw the small body pounce into the air above him. He frantically searched around himself for his knife. With the boy in the air, merely two feet from landing on him, Jerrold gripped something and brought it up at an angle in an attempt to knock the boy sideways. He succeeded, hitting him directly in the head.
The boy fell to the side with a whimper and didn’t get up. Jerrold looked over at the boy, slowly sitting up, forcing his back to stretch. He’d picked up a large plastic candy cane, and had, by a miracle, stabbed the boy in the temple with it, killing him.
Sadness gripped his heart. He was here to get things that his family needed to survive. He knew that the boy had been a zombie and there was nothing he could have done to save or help him, but he still felt bad about ending his existence.
It took Jerrold precious minutes to get his back to stretch enough to allow him to stand. After that, he hobbled his way out of the store. By the time he was half way home with the cart, his back was almost back to normal, with only a few spasms every now and again. Pushing forward and through the pain, he made it back and dropped off the cart, leaving it beside the bag he’d brought back earlier.
Now that he’d seen a couple of zombies, his guard was back up. Slipping off his glove, he wrapped his hand around the padlock, giving it a swift tug. Looking back over his shoulder when he heard a rustle in the rubble, he slid his hand back into his glove. Not seeing the blood he had smeared all over the padlock. Holding the rifle in front of him like a combat soldier creating a perimeter, Jerrold snuck over to where he’d heard the noise. A rat jumped up from a hole and scurried away. Startled by the sudden appearance of the rodent, he almost pulled the trigger.
With a deep sigh, Jerrold bent over and closed his eyes for a moment, still thinking about the boy he’d just killed. Mentally shaking off the thought, he reminded himself why he was out here, and left the building once again, this time going straight across the street, heading into a residential area, where he had the best chance of finding food and presents.
The first house he entered was small, and it looked like it had been the home of a young couple with a small children. Baby toys were strewn about the decaying, dirty carpet. They looked as if a small animal had decided to play with them. Having gotten brittle over time, the soft plastic and plush toys now sported holes and teeth marks.
Quickly doing a check to make sure there was nothing moving around upstairs–where he found a crib and a toddler bed in one of the rooms–he ventured back downstairs. Sitting under the Christmas tree were many presents. Jerrold knew his children would be too old for the toys, but he knew he could use the bright red wagon to haul food and gifts. Digging it out from beneath the packages, he was about to leave, but then thought he better check a couple of the woman’s presents to see if there would be anything Dawn would like.
Knelling down, he tore open a small, somewhat flat, rectangle box. The paper came off easily as the weather had broken it down. He discovered that it was a new cell phone. With an ironic smirk he tossed it aside–the once vital piece of technology no longer having a purpose. He dug through more of the pile and opened a few more packages, finding CDs, DVDs, and all kinds of other things that needed batteries or electricity to function. He was about to give up when he came across a small box far back under the tree. It held a dainty opal ring. He slid it into his coat pocket, knowing that Dawn would love it. Deciding to open one more thing and then check the kitchen, he found a collection of children’s books. They were too young for his children, but they hadn’t had much experience in reading and he knew that it they could use them to practice. He hoped he would find more age appropriate books at another house. It would be great for what little schooling and teaching they tried to provide.
A quick check of the kitchen cabinets yielded a couple of cans of soup and vegetables, bu not as much as he’d been hoping for. A door standing in the far wall of the kitchen was slightly ajar, and Jerrold decided to check it out, and was glad he did. It was a pantry, and all kinds of canned goods and dry goods where stored on the shelves.
Feeling like a kid at Christmas time, the thought of which made him laugh, he pulled the wagon close to the door and started to fill it.
He wasn’t paying much attention to what he was grabbing and when something warm and furry slithered against his hand, he screamed and dropped it. He looked down at a box of corn flakes that had a hole chewed through the side. The light tan flakes inside moved and wiggled. He knelt down and gently brushed the cereal aside to see a rat’s nest.
Standing, he kicked it off to the side and was more careful while loading the wagon. Once it was full to the point of over flowing, he set out for another house. Pulling the wagon with the hand that was injured caused it to bleed more profusely. Blood ran down the handle and dripped on the ground, but Jerrold didn’t notice, he was still on a high from finding so much food in one place. Now all he had to do was find a few more gifts and he could go home. He had plenty of time before the sunset.
The next house he entered smelled like muscle cream, even after the time it had sat vacant and open to the elements. He knew that an older couple had lived there, it was a smell that no other dwelling would have possessed. It reminded him of his own parents, and what it had been like to visit them. He didn’t look through the presents, but he did take the time to look through the medicine cabinet, taking anything that he thought might be useful.
Two houses later, he hit pay dirt. Quickly securing the house had shown him that a boy and a girl had lived here–there was a room for each. He took some of the decorations from each room for his children, so they could decorate their sleeping area. But he was mostly happy with the books he found on their shelves. After carrying them downstairs and putting them in the wagon, he knew he would have to find something to make sides for it. If he hit one bump on the way home he would lose everything.
With a little bit of thought and some quick innovation, he fashioned sides for the wagon out of shelves from a book case. He held them on and together with a roll of duct tape he’d found in a small tool box underneath the kitchen sink.
The family had purchased a live tree, which was now dry and bare of all needles. They lay on the floor of the room in a carpet of brown strands. Pushing them aside Jerrold dug through the presents and was disgusted when he had to throw more than half of the items aside. Electronics. They were so worthless now.
Finding a couple more books, he added them to the wagon, along with the other gifts he thought his children would enjoy. He left the house, focusing his attention on the wagon as he maneuvered it down the front steps. When he turned around to look forward, he noticed there were five zombies stumbling down the sidewalk toward him from the way he’d come.
Frowning, he wondered where they’d come from. Lifting his rifle, he shot the first zombies in the head. The bullet pulverized its rotting brain and still had enough power to hit the third one back in the neck, taking out enough tissues for its head to fall off–both fell to the ground at once.
The second, fourth, and fifth in the stumbling line up kept coming, ignoring their downed comrades lying in their path.
Jerrold clenched his jaw, hating to fire once, but hating even more to fire again, knowing now that there were still zombies around and they would come searching for the source of the sound. He wouldn’t be able to search for anything else, he would have to hurry home after this or risk serious danger.
Jerking the lever action of the rifle, releasing the spent casing and chambering another bullet, he took aim again. Hoping to do intentionally what he’d done by accident with the last shot, but it wasn’t to be.
After three more shots and a stab with his hunting knife, the zombies were all down. Hurriedly, he jogged in a round about way back to his home. It took him a half an hour, with all the curbs and debris he had to navigate through.
The sun was beginning to set now, as the apartment building came into view. He breathed a sigh of relief and increased his pace even though he was exhausted. The thought of seeing his wife, of holding her and the kids, gave him the strength he needed to make it back.
Fatigue made him lazy, and he didn’t even take the time to peer into the lobby before rushing in with the wagon clattering noisily behind him.
Twenty zombies were gathered around the door that lead to the basement, pushing and clawing at each other, fighting over who got to lick the lock. They turned, as shocked to see him as he was to see them.
Jerrold stood frozen in shock until the zombies started to cock their heads and sniff the air, inching closer and closer to him.
Raising his gun once again, he blasted as many as he could. Some of the zombies went down as legs were severed in a splash of thick, black blood.
Jumping over the reception desk, Jerrold took cover and reloaded the gun, when he stood, hands that had been stripped of flesh reached for him. Stepping back, he let bullets fly. The rotted corpses were so far gone that the bullets had almost nothing to stop them. They went through two or three zombies before losing momentum.
He caught glimpses of eyeballs dangling from sockets and grotesque figures with missing or damaged limbs. Face after face of hungry horror eager for him to fill their bellies or join their ranks.
After a couple more reloads and attacks, he killed fifteen of them, and the other five were wounded to the point where they were no longer a serious threat. Jumping back over the counter, he thanked God they hadn’t been smart enough to find the little swinging door, or the latch that held it shut, otherwise they would have gotten back there with him and he would have been trapped.
He finished off the last five with his knife, retrieved his bag from the wagon, and attempted to unlock the padlock. His gloves made him clumsy and he dropped the key. Biting one of the fingers of his glove, he yanked it off. Crying out in pain, his teeth parted and the blood soaked glove fell to the ground.
“That’s how they found me,” he whispered to himself. “I was leaving a trail.”
Knowing now that it was just a matter of time before more zombies showed up, following his trail of blood, he quickly picked up the key and unlocked the door. He threw his bag of clothes down the stairs, and then moved to the cart. Armload after armload of clothes followed the bag.
Heaving the cart out of the way, rushing to the wagon, and dragging his feet in a shuffle so he wouldn’t fall in all the blood and guts, he retrieved the wagon.
As he made it to the door, more zombies came falling through the entry way in search of the fresh meat they’d been trailing.
Rushing and panicking, Jerrold pulled the wagon down the stairs after himself. Scrambling, he struggled to reach around the wagon and close the door. He slipped and the wagon, with all its weight, shoved him down the stairs. He tumbled down the stairs, landing hard at the bottom, his head hitting the pavement just beyond the pile of clothes.
Dazed and fighting for consciousness he was only vaguely aware of what was actually going on. His eyes focused on the door to safety, to sanctuary, it was his only chance. Forcing himself to crawl, he made his way to the door to the boiler room where his family was safe from the danger that hunted him.
Knocking on the door, just like he had told Dawn he would, he was relieved to hear the metal bars being quickly removed. He sighed with relief and closing his eyes, he let his forehead rest on the cool cement floor, too confused to understand that there were now six zombies stumbling down the stairs after him.
Dawn opened the door and he looked up into her sweet face, smiling, but frowning quickly at the look of fear he saw there–her eyes were focused on something behind him. Half rolling onto his side he saw what she was looking at–a huge brute of a zombie stood over him.
The zombie growled, with what would have once been a grin on his decaying face. He lunged forward and overpowered Dawn in an instant.
Jerrold cried out weakly, holding his hand up as if pleading with reality, asking it not to be real. He cried out again, this time from physical pain as two of the other zombies bit into his legs, tearing flesh from bone.
As he bleed out, Jerrold stared into the eyes of his dead wife who lay on the floor in front of him. When death was about to overtake him and his eyes drifted closed, he heard the chorus of screams as his children were eaten alive.

 

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©Rebecca Besser, 2010-2012. All rights reserved.

Interview with Author Jeremy C. Shipp

Jeremy C. Shipp is the Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of Cursed, Vacation, and Sheep and Wolves. His shorter tales have appeared or are forthcoming in over 60 publications, the likes of Cemetery Dance, ChiZine, Apex Magazine, Withersin, and Shroud Magazine. Jeremy enjoys living in Southern California in a moderately haunted Victorian farmhouse called Rose Cottage. He lives there with a couple of pygmy tigers and a legion of yard gnomes. The gnomes like him. The clowns living in his attic–not so much. His twitter handle is @JeremyCShipp.

www.jeremycshipp.com


Bec: Welcome to my blog, please start out by sharing a little bit about yourself –

Jer: Thank you for having me! I’m a writer, a geek, a yard gnome whisperer, and an attic clown wrangler. I live in a moderately-haunted Victorian farmhouse. I enjoy short walks on the beach and candle-lit dinners in spooky caves.

Bec: What first got you interested in writing?

Jer: My dad would read to me and my brothers all the time when we were kids. That’s when I fell in love with books. And then in 4th grade I wrote my first short story. That’s when I fell in love with writing.

Bec: What are the worst struggles you think writers face, writing and marketing?

Jer: I enjoy all my struggles, so I’d have a hard time saying what’s worst. I suppose the most difficult thing is that accomplishing your dreams requires a lot of hard work and a lot of luck. The hard work isn’t so bad, but it can be difficult to create luck.

Bec: Tell us about your book/s –

Jer: My books are weird, surreal, dark and funny. My newest books are called Attic Clowns and Attic Toys, because, in my mind, the world needs more books about attics.

Bec: Are you working on a sequel/s?

Jer: I would love to write a sequel to Cursed, because those characters are so fun to be around, but so far I haven’t thought of an idea that would work. I would want the sequel to be better than the original. Otherwise I won’t write it. I’m also considering writing a comic book series about Globcow from Attic Clowns. He’s my favorite little monster.

Bec: What other projects are you working on or involved with?

Jer: I’m working on a new short story collection about monsters, a comic book, a new anthology that I’m editing. I might even create a web series in the near future. More details will be available on all these projects at jeremycshipp.com.

Bec: What’s your favorite color?

Jer: I love the color of a chupacabra’s spleen.

Bec: Do you like to listen to music while you write or have complete silence?

Jer: Every once in a while, I’ll listen to some Cranberries, but most of the time I prefer silence. And by silence I mean the meowing of cats mixed with the chortling of attic clowns and the yodeling of yard gnomes.

Bec: What’s your favorite writing snack?

Jer: More often than not, I forget to eat or drink while I’m writing. In general though, I like potato chips and fried Smurf brains.

Bec: What genres do you most like to read/write?

Jer: I like fantasy, classic literature, horror. I try to read a little bit of everything. When I’m writing, I don’t think about genre. But my books and stories usually end up getting classified as some combination of horror/fantasy/sci-fi/literature/bizarro.

Bec: Sticky or slimy?

Jer: Slimy. I love the feel of ectoplasm squishing between my fingers. And there’s nothing slimier than ectoplasm.

Bec: Do you find writing a lonely profession?

Jer: I don’t think writers feel lonely while we’re writing, since we’re too busy playing with our imaginary friends to notice that we’re taking part in a solitary activity. But of course, it’s important to socialize with real people as well.

Bec: If you could design your own army of killer Smurfs, what would it be like?

Jer: I would create a horde of zombie Smurfs that would use little pick axes to break into my enemies’ skulls. Then the Smurfs would eat their way inside. I’d also make tiny suits of armor for my zombies, so they would be pretty much unstoppable.

Bec: Country or city?

Jer: I would prefer to live in the country, not far from a big city that I could visit from time to time. I want to make my own cheese, but I also want to visit museums when the mood strikes me.

Bec: What would you share with a beginning writer?

Jer: Write, write, and write some more. Try to write every day, even if you only write a paragraph or a sentence. Don’t let anyone’s negativity discourage you, including your own.

Bec: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Jer: I would want to change my arms into dragons, so that I could have dragon arms.

Bec: There is a city of trolls living in your sink drain. Once you’ve made contact with them, how do you convince them that you’re a friend and not an enemy?

Jer: I would dump mead and grog into the drain until the trolls were drunk. And as we all know, a drunken troll will believe anything.

Bec: What do you wish someone would have told you when you first started your writing journey?

Jer: Everything’s gonna be alright, buddy. Just chill out and enjoy the ride. Oh, and here are some peanut butter chip cookies I made for you. I know they’re your favorite.

Bec: Date night: Going out to eat and drinking? Or meal at home and having your woman all to yourself?

Jer: I like to switch things up. Out to eat one night. Meal at home the next night. Then, another night, we’ll eat inside a cave and paint antelope on the walls.

Bec: Do you think having other writers as friends is a good thing for your growth as a writer?

Jer: More experienced writers can definitely teach new writers a lot about how to survive and succeed. And, of course, if you have a writer friend you respect who gives you feedback about your work, this can help you grow.

Bec: What’s your favorite book? Why?

Jer: One of my favorites is The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. I love the creative use of language in the book. Every sentence feels like magic.

Bec: Zombie hookers or zombie clowns?

Jer: Zombie clowns, because they might eat some of the clowns in my attic. And there are WAY too many clowns in my attic. Five million is too many in my book, anyway.

Bec: Who’s your favorite author? Why?

Jer: Kurt Vonnegut is one of my favorites. He wrote so many brilliant books. He was able to express complex ideas and emotions in simple and graspable ways.

Bec: Is there anything you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

Jer: I’d like to share my opinion about juggling babies. Personally, I believe that juggling babies is almost always wrong.

Bec: Thank you for stopping by and sharing! Best of luck with your books and future projects!

Jer: Thank you kindly! May the yard gnome and attic clown gods smile upon you.

 

©Rebecca Besser & Jeremy C. Shipp, 2012. All rights reserved.

Interview with Author Murphy Edwards

Bec: Welcome to my blog, please start out by sharing a little bit about yourself –

Murph: I’m from a small town in Southern Indiana, a lover of dogs, books, firearms, knives, Indian cusine and people with bold, bombastic attitudes. I was the drummer for Sidecar Prophets, Dante’, OFB, the Mystic Prisoners and a long string of bar bands. Over the years I’ve worked as a delivery driver, farmer, foundry worker, X-ray technician, carpenter, bar tender, busker, weapons inspector and a ton of Joe jobs.

Bec: What first got you interested in writing?

Murph: Three things. First and foremost would be my oldest brother. From an early age he was engrossed in literature. He would often read entire books in one sitting. On my thirteenth birthday he gave me a boxed set of “Lord of The Rings” and began feeding me the classics like “Catcher in the Rye”, “David Copperfield”, “Sherlock Holmes”, Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. Sadly. I lost him to cancer eleven years ago and I’m still struggling to come to grips with that. The second major influence comes from both my brother and my grandfather. Being of Irish descent comes with a few advantages, one of which is the beautiful and often brutal skills they both had for telling a story. They could sit at a table or gather around a campfire and weave a tale out of thin air that would have you hanging on every word. The stories always involved quirky characters or oddball locales that pulled you into the story. Some of it was fact, some of it was fiction, but all of it was entertaining. With each telling, the stories would take on something new—an additional character, a new twist, a different ending—anything to keep it fresh. I think my good fortune of being exposed to this over the years got me interested in seeking out unusual people and places for my own stories and then finding unique ways to tell them. The third significant influence was Ms. Nancy Hamilton, my high school English Literature teacher. She was a stickler for accuracy in all things writing—not just the basics like punctuation, spelling and grammar, but theme, substance, voice and detail. She always told me: “If you choose to write fiction, write it BIG.”

Bec: What are the worst struggles you think writers face, writing and marketing?

Murph: I think many writers, including me, have struggled with rejection. When I first began submitting to editors, publishers and agents I quickly became disheartened by the responses I received. I had prepared myself for negative responses, so that wasn’t really an issue. What I found discouraging were the number of “form letter” replies which provided no detail into why the submissions were being rejected. All writers crave input, even when it comes in the form of criticism. Sadly, like most authors, I’ve also received a few very unprofessional rejections which bordered on a personal attack. Eventually, you learn to filter those out. On the flip side of the coin, are the editors and publishers who take time to provide you with extraordinarily professional and precise input to your work. They usually center around weak points in the story, rough transitions or lack of detail. These are the ones I focus on because they give valuable insight into ways of strengthening my work.

With marketing, I think most authors tend to find themselves in a constant state of playing “catch-up.” With the advent of social media and the ever changing world of electronic publishing, an author can quickly become discouraged and feel like they are not making much headway. I think it’s something we all have to deal with, but not to the point of becoming overwhelmed. Several things work for me to help me remain focused. First, I am learning to think more like a publisher. How do they market? How do they promote? How do they reach consumers? Once I’ve done that, I put an “Indie” spin on it by realizing I have as much, or more skin in the game simply by having my name on a given project. From there, it becomes: How do I market? How do I promote? How do I reach consumers? And finally, as an author, I realized I had to seek out and research trusted information on marketing, social media, platform development, promotion and valid support groups. To avoid being overwhelmed I decided to divide all of this into manageable chunks that could be easily developed and added to my marketing plan a step at a time. It’s a long process and each author tackles it in a different way. The important thing is to not give up.

Bec: Tell us about your book/s –

Murph: I have been fortunate enough to be featured in all three of the Dead Bait series of books alongside such greats as Tim Curran and Ramsey Campbell. Dead Bait included my story “Noodlers”, DB2 included my story “Heavy Weather” and Dead Bait 3 features the crime / horror smash-up “Sinkers”. The series is published by Severed Press and they do some outstanding work. Coming out later this year will be my first release of an eBook, titled Deadly Detours. It will feature seven of my short stories of crime, horror and debauchery. As Editor, I have been extremely pleased with the response to Indiana Crime 2012, which I co-edited with friend and fellow writer James Ward Kirk.

Bec: Are you working on a sequel/s?

Murph: There are plans for another book in the Dead Bait series and the editors at Severed Press has approached me to write a full length novel centered around the briney deep. There are also plans for Indiana Crime 2013 and James Ward Kirk and I hope to open for submissions in early 2013.

Bec: What other projects are you working on or involved with?

Murph: Perhaps the one I’m most proud of to date is Indiana Crime 2012, which I co-edited with James Ward Kirk. I pitched the idea to James shortly after he accepted my story “Bumper Music “ for his anthology Indiana Horror 2011 and he was very enthusiastic. He followed up with an e-Mail and after ironing out some details he asked if I would like to edit the book with him. We worked through a massive amount of responses and ended up with Indiana Crime 2012, which is full of short fiction, poetry, artwork and photos all centered around Indiana Crimes and Indiana authors. I’m very proud of the finished work and we plan to do another for 2013. Amazingly, James and I never met in person until long after the finished book went to print. We did everything electronically and it just clicked. James is also working on some projects for Static Movement and my stories will be featured in two of those volumes, “Ace of Spades” will be included in Graverobbers and “Identity Theft” will be in Serial Killers 2. My short story collection Deadly Detours has just passed muster with my editor and is scheduled for release through Amazon Kindle in November. My short story “Devices” is set to appear in Indiana Science Fiction 2012 and Early 2013 will see another of my short story collections published through Amazon Kindle. I plan to follow that up with my recently completed novella “Pain” and a full-length novel which is nearing completion.
I will also be working with fellow writer and editor, Elisha Murphy on her Halloween anthology, tentatively titled Haunted Highways. If all goes as planned, it will be opening for submissions around March 2013 and released in paperback in September 2013. This will be a collection of all things horror, including fiction, poetry, art, photos, the works. Elisha has some awesome ideas for this collection, including stunning cover art, some old school lithographs, modern art, photography, poetry and a boat load of opportunities for both new and experienced authors to strut their stuff.

Bec: What’s your favorite color?

Murph: Black and Blue, baby. Black and Blue.

Bec: Do you like to listen to music while you write or have complete silence?

Murph: Music. As a drummer I’ve always loved music. I’m a big Prog fan, so if you throw on a little Spock’s Beard, Porcupine Tree, Yes, Tool, Marillion Coheed and Cambria or Dream Theatre, I’m down with it. Also got my stand-by’s like Foo Fighters, Led Zepplin, Rammstein, Bad Company, Iron Maiden, Motorhead and Whitesnake just to keep the old feet tapping. If I’m writing in flow, the music helps keep me pumped. When editing difficult sections I have to have minimum distractions and complete silence.

Bec: Walking or riding a bike?

Murph: Walking. It gives me a chance to think, which in turn helps me develop characters, scenes, plots and those dark and deadly details. I know they say once you learn to ride a bike you’ll never forget, but I don’t want to take that chance. And nobody wants to clean a mess like that up!

Bec: What genres do you most like to read/write?

Murph: Reading, it has to be crime, noir, horror and pulp fiction in all of its forms, although I also dig a good western and the odd sci-fi when well written.

Writing, it’s pretty much the same. I love mixing genres in my writing. I’ll usually have elements of crime/horror/ and noir all in the same piece. I have written everything from westerns to romance, but my pen always seems to swerve over to the dark side of fiction.

Bec: What’s your favorite type of bird?

Murph: Gotta be the hummingbird. They fascinate me simply from the “mechanics of flight” perspective. I mean, your eyes are taking it all in, but your brain is saying “There’s no way a bird should be doing that.” I’ve seen them fly up-side-down, backwards, sideways and those incredible wings never stop buzzing. There’s a lesson to be learned there—even when you’re in a crash dive, keep on flapping those wings.

Bec: Do you find writing a lonely profession?

Murph: I do. Fortunately, I have all these bizarre characters in my head to keep me company. Seriously, though, I think as a writer you quickly learn to become your own best friend. Once you enjoy yourself and become comfortable in your writing skin, you can seek out others you can trust and rely on.

Bec: Water or soda?

Murph: Water. I worked in a soda bottling plant when I was young and I gotta say, I despise the stuff.

Bec: What would you share with a beginning writer?

Murph: Believe in yourself, read as much as you write and never, ever give up. There will be times when it feels as if you are moving backwards and nothing is going your way. Ride it out. It will get better. And always seek out other writers. Talk to them, ask questions, seek wise counsel because most will give it freely. When you have achieved any level of success, no matter how small, take time to thank those who helped you get there. Above all, pay it forward. You will be repaid sevenfold.

Bec: What was your most memorable birthday? Why?

Murph: The one I’m celebrating this October 31st, cause it means I’m still alive and still writing.

Bec: What do you wish someone would have told you when you first started your writing journey?

Murph: To always make time in your life for your passion, be it writing, music, painting, gardening, auto mechanics, or bowling, you owe it to yourself to pursue it with all the gusto you can muster. Take risks, be bold, seek out mentors and follow your dreams, even when everyone around you tries to discourage you. Don’t ever look back and say ‘what if’ or ‘if only’.

Bec: What’s your favorite number?

Murph: .357—cause there’s just something about a magnum.

Bec: Do you think having other writers as friend is a good thing for your growth as a writer?

Murph: Absolutely. I find creative people in general to be very supportive, and writers especially so. The vast majority of writers I’ve encountered have given me awesome support, often in unbelievable ways. Writers carry a spirit of generosity that I seldom encounter anywhere else in my life. This has helped me grow and take chances I might not otherwise have taken.

Bec: What’s your favorite book? Why?

Murph: This is always a tough one because I enjoy so many. I’ll try to narrow it down to a few, knowing I’ll be forgetting someone. Anything by Ken Bruen, but especially “Once Were Cops” anything by Elmore Leonard, Ray Banks’, “Saturday’s Child” and Brian Keene’s “Ghoul” are all top of the list, followed closely by all of Raymond Chandler and Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series. All of them have several things in common which draw me in as a reader: The techniques they use for dialog, scene, atmosphere, language and tension are what entertain me as a reader and inspire me as a writer.

Bec: Who’s your favorite author? Why?

Murph: Another toughie. Again, I have to say, I’m drawn to several. Ken Bruen, for his excellent crime voice and the Irish atmosphere, Ray Banks, Anthony Neil Smith, Seth Harwood and Victor Gischler for their down-in-the dirt crime writing, Elmore Leonard, Robert B. Parker and Raymond Chandler for outstanding and quick witted dialog, Brian Keene, cause, hell he’s Brian Keene! And I’m way into Jeff Somers and his Electric Church series. Jeff mixes the sci-fi, crime and horror genres seamlessly. On a more local front, I love the work being produced by Paula D. Ashe, Matt Cowin, David Bain, James Ward Kirk, Marianne Halbert, Paul DeThroe, Todd Card, Jeffrey Ashby and David Scott Pointer.

Bec: Is there anything you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

Murph: Yes, I had an interesting writing experience that I think would benefit a lot of writers. This one, again started out as just a quick idea batted around on e-Mails and coincidentally, also involved my friend James Ward Kirk. One of us, I forget which one, asked the question: Have you ever thought of writing a story together? We decided to toss it out there and see what would happen. James fired the opening salvo with a first paragraph which was e-Mailed to me. I then added the second paragraph and fired it back. We followed this method all the way through till the end. The only rule we established was that there were no rules. Neither of us knew where the other would wind up taking the story. We decided to call it a ‘deadly duo’ and it soon turned into ‘writer’s roulette’. We didn’t even consider editing, changing or altering anything till the story was through the first draft. We had a ball. The resulting story, “Me and Sister Mercy” was shopped out and eventually picked up by Criminal Class Review. They will be publishing it in the next volume of their excellent journal. The piece has elements of crime, horror, sci-fi and hardboiled fiction. I encourage others to try their hand at this. It’s a challenge, but quite rewarding as both a writing and learning tool.

The only other thing I can think of to share it this: “Never insult seven men when all you’re packin’ is a sixgun!”

Bec: Thank you for stopping by and sharing! Best of luck with your book and future project!

Murph: The pleasure was all mine, dear lady. I’ll have you over to the Murphy Edwards Dungeon real soon.

About Murphy Edwards:

Murphy Edwards is the award winning author of “Serious Money”, “Bumper Music”, “Heavy Weather”, “Noodlers”, and “The Last Days of Maxwell Sweet”. His work has appeared in Dimensions Magazine, The East Side Edition, Black October, Horizons, MidAtlantic Monthly, Modern Drummer, The Nor’Easter, Walking Bones,Escaping Elsewhere, Trail of Indiscretion, Hardboiled Magazine, Barbaric Yawp, Samsara, The Magazine of Suffering, The Nocturnal Lyric, Night Chills, Big Pulp Magazine, Criminal Class Review and in the anthologies Dead Bait (Severed Press), Assassin’s Canon (Utility Fog Press), Abaculus II (Leucrota Press), Night Terrors (Blood Bound Books), Unspeakable (Blood Bound Books), Bloody Carnival (Pill Hill Press), Dead Bait II (Severed Press), Indiana Horror 2011, Indiana Horror 2012 (Indiana Horror Writer’s Association), Dead Bait III (Severed Press), Grave Robbers (Static Movement), Serial Killers 2 (Static Movement) andIndiana Science Fiction 2012 . His short story, “Mister Checkers”, was chosen to be among the best in science fiction, fantasy and horror of 2009 for the Leucrota Press Anthology, Abaculus III. Edwards is a 2011 recipient of The Midwest Writers Workshop Writers Retreat Fellowship Award for Fiction and is the Co-Editor ofIndiana Crime 2012. In addition to the United States, Edwards has been published in Ireland, Australia, South Africa, and the U.K. He resides in Indiana and on the web at:

http://murphyedwards.wordpress.com

www.facebook.com/murphy.edwards.96

 

©Rebecca Besser & Murphy Edwards, 2012. All rights reserved.

Interview with Author Brady Allen

Bec: Welcome to my blog, please start out by sharing a little bit about yourself:

Brady: I’m a dad and a writer. A rural, southern Ohio boy who is stuck in the suburbs for a while. I also love Reds baseball and horror films and Waylon Jennings and AC/DC.

Bec: What first got you interested in writing?

Brady: My folks were both big readers. Mama always read to me and took me to the library. Pop would tell me these “make-up” stories at bedtime, where I’d have to fill in the blanks and help him.

Bec: What are the worst struggles you think writers face, writing and marketing?

Brady: With writing, I’m not sure. I guess some folks get writer’s block, but I’ve never had that issue (knock on wood). Maybe reading too many “how to” books and not just reading fiction and writing. Marketing? Decisions! There are too many to make. Agent, big publisher, small press, indie press . . . ? How do you know where your writing fits? None of us have time to explore every angle and avenue. Researching markets and all takes up a lot of time, writing time!

Bec: Tell us about your book:

Brady: Back Roads & Frontal Lobes is a short story collection. I love short stories. There’s a lot of horror, but much more, too. This is what the description on the book says: These 23 short tales take you along dark, unlined roads and into dark minds less traveled. Held together by themes of isolation and loneliness, existentialism and hope, and choice versus fate, and at turns both disturbing and darkly comical (while often tinged with sadness), this collection of stories explores both speculative fiction and realism: horror and dark fantasy, road stories and crime, dark drama and soft sci-fi, and surrealism and magical realism.

Bec: Are you working on a sequel/s?

Brady: I have a lot of other short stories set in Stairway Falls, Ohio, my fictional town (many in the collection are set there), but not a sequel, really. Some familiar characters, maybe. Or places.

Bec: What other projects are you working on or involved with?

Brady: Several short story deadlines. I can never seem to stop writing them. I’m doing a ghost story, a sword & sorcery tale, another horror story—man, a bunch of them. Plus, I’m working on rewrites for a novel called The Disharmony of Frogs, and—and I’m excited about this—I’m part of a new group organized by friend and author D.A. Adams called “The Outlaws of Fiction.” D.A. Adams, James R. Tuck, Steven Shrewsbury and I are each writing a weird Western novella for a book we’re gonna pitch.

Bec: If glitter was made out of ground up unicorn bones, what would glue be made of?

Brady: No comment. (My mind went immediately to X-rated monsters and sticky, uh, substances.)

Bec: What’s your favorite color?

Brady: Blue.

Bec: Do you like to listen to music while you write or have complete silence?

Brady: I can go either way. I listen to Waylon and AC/DC a lot, but when I get into the work, I lose track of the music. I love this CD called Tango Ballet, this crazy-ass classical music. Horror writer Rain Graves turned me on to it.

Bec: If a dinosaur offered to trade you a six pack of beer and a dozen tacos for a meal, who would you feed to it?

Brady: Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals (hey, I’m a Reds fan!), an ex-landlord, an ex-sister-in-law, or . . . Naw, I’ll be good. Any of them.

Bec: What genres do you most like to read/write?

Brady: Horror holds a special place, but I’ll read about anything but straight-up romance. A lot of speculative fiction. Literary and classics, too. I like dark stuff, weird stuff, character-driven stuff, stories about real folks, blue-collar folks . . .

Bec: If you had a fairy in your pocket that provided you with limitless money, where would you go and why?

Brady: Well, what you don’t know is that that is a fairy in my pocket.

Bec: Do you find writing a lonely profession?

Brady: Not anymore. I’ve made so many friends on Facebook and at conventions. I can’t say enough about attending workshops, book fairs, and conventions. We’re all in this together, writers.

Bec: What would you share with a beginning writer?

Brady: A shot of whiskey. Seriously. But, also seriously, anything they wanted to ask. I teach fiction writing, have for 13 years, and I’m proud to have a great number of published former students who get back with me and thank me for writing and publishing tips. I guess that’s what I’d share—that there is no golden ticket or key or condom that helps you get all up in publishing. If you write well, write a lot, and research markets diligently and carefully, so you can submit appropriately, it can very well happen for you. There are more opportunities to publish now than ever. And I’m not talking about vanity presses.

Bec: If you were stuck in a car with an angry mountain lion, what would you do?

Brady: Is it angry with me?

Bec: What do you wish someone would have told you when you first started your writing journey?

Brady: “Get your ass in gear and get serious.” And the piece of advice I got years ago but have only started adhering to in the last couple of years was, “Write what you need to write. Stop apologizing for your subject matter.”

Bec: A two-year-old holds your fate in his little hands. What would you tell him in an attempt to convince him to let you live?

Brady: “Look. I do great armpit farts!”

Bec: Do you think having other writers as friend is a good thing for your growth as a writer?

Brady: There is no doubt in my mind. None.

Bec: What’s your favorite book? Why?

Brady: Just one? One? Can’t do it. I love short stories, so I treasure collections by Charles L. Grant, Robert McCammon, Ray Bradbury, Elizabeth Massie, Stephen King, Kelly Link . . . and on and on. How about any “best-of” horror anthology?

Bec: If you could be one female character you’ve seen in a movie, who would you be?

Brady: Be? Or be with? ‘Cause I’d have fun with Sheri Moon Zombie’s character, Baby, in House of 1,000 Corpses. What is it she says? “We like to get fucked up and do fucked-up shit.” I own the T-shirt.

Bec: Who’s your favorite author? Why?

Brady: Robert McCammon. He made me love reading so much that he made want to try writing.

Bec: Is there anything you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

Brady: I love fruit pie. It’s a weakness.

Bec: Thank you for stopping by and sharing! Best of luck with your book and future project!

Brady: Thanks, Becca! To you, too.

 

©Rebecca Besser & Brady Allen, 2012. All rights reserved.