Thursday, May 30, 2013

Wasting Away in Deadsville by KT Grant

Author KT Grant has written Wasting Away in Deadsville, a sexy short story with zombies, vampires, and lesbians. Yep, you read that right. Dig into this sizzling romance at Amazon and B&N.

What’s a vampire like Ginny to do when she’s stuck all alone in New York City surrounded by mindless, rotting zombies? The zombie apocalypse has occurred, and Ginny’s stuck drinking zombie blood for nourishment. She’s also bored and lonely with nothing but her thoughts to keep her company. But then she finds a beautiful human woman, unconscious, on a boat and ripe for the taking. Now Ginny has a tough decision. Does she gorge herself silly on the human’s precious blood or give her captive a precious gift-immortality?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Zombified Interview with Philip A. McClimon

Philip A. McClimon is the gory guy behind the new zombie thriller, H.E.L.L. Nicole's Odyssey. A new indie author, he's already making bloody waves with his new series. Let's crack open his noggin and dig around inside...
Ang: When were you first bitten by the zombie affliction? Can you take us back to how the infection began? What’s the most difficult part about sharing this ghoulish love as an indie?

Phil: Three distinct memories stand out for me. I can remember as a kid, being fascinated by the concept of being the last person on earth. There was zero negative connotations associated with the idea for me then. The very thought of being able to go anywhere I wanted, have anything I wanted, made my mind soar with the possibilities. There would be no working, nobody to tell me what to do, if I wanted a new bike or a bigger place to live, all I had to do was just get it.

I think around this time I must have seen THE OMEGA MAN with Charlton Heston. I can remember this really reinforcing my desire to be the only one left. He lived in a cool Penthouse apartment, had the whole city to himself. I totally glossed over the idea of the night people that came out as any kind of negative whatsoever. He was secure in his high rise and had all these cool devices he used to protect himself.

The third sharp memory I have really jolted me into the idea that being the only one left might be the result of something bad happening. Romero’s DAY OF THE DEAD sent a shock through me. Maybe only JAWS has imprinted an image on my mind more strongly than DAY OF THE DEAD.

In DAY there is a scene where one of the military guys is trapped, I think in a hallway, and is surrounded by the Dead. They attack him and before he goes out, he gets to watch the Zombies dig their fingers into his flesh and quite literally rip him apart. Then there is this smorgasbord of eating. I can remember feeling almost sick to my stomach as the Dead chomped down on intestines and various other guts.

(It has been a long time, so I hope I am remembering the right movie) Anyway, rather than turning me off the idea of being one of the last ones left in the world, it introduced a new concept that maybe I had not thought of up until then: blasting zombies! Prior to that , it was mostly about the shopping spree and no authority. After DAY OF THE DEAD, it was about the shopping spree AND the sheer pleasure it must be to get to wander around with big guns and blast the heads off monsters.

I think the most difficult part about sharing this ghoulish love is that people either get it or they don’t. My wife, she doesn’t get it. She cannot understand why in the world I find the concept of the end of the world and zombies so fascinating. She won’t even watch zombie movies cause she has an aversion to Guts. WHAT!?

Part of the difficulty I think that I have internally is asking myself why I find the concept so fascinating. I don’t hate people or have doomsday wishes, but the idea of there being no people gives me quivers of pleasure. I think too that part of the attraction for me is whatever is frustrating or difficult or holding me back in life would be lifted away in a zombie apocalypse. I could take what I wanted and blast the heads off my troubles. That’s very powerful to me, lifting me above the daily grind.

In terms of being an Indie writer, the difficulty may be in limiting myself to one story line. Even in NICOLE’S ODYSSEY I have at least a trilogy in mind. Within the story world, the possibilities are endless to me.
And as I think about it now, part of the difficulty is really moving past the idealism of a zombie apocalypse and thinking about how hard it would be. I mean the pain of loss and a new daily grind of surviving and competing for limited and dwindling resources.

THE WALKING DEAD brings this out better than anything I have seen. But, even then, my mind races to possible ways to solve those problems, so what is really a negative becomes more fascination. Beyond that, as a writer, trying to come up with something that has not been seen (almost impossible) and really wanting to be faithful to concepts that influenced me verses trying some new trends in zombie mythology (slow vs fast, mindless vs thinking) becomes difficult, but irresistible. I am completely unapologetic and a true believer when it comes to Zombies, so what I guess should be difficult is really just a good time.

Ang: If you had to dumb down the plot of your book so a zombie could understand, how would you explain it?

Phil: I will borrow a concept from the John Cusack movie BETTER OFF DEAD, which of course is NOT a zombie movie but a snapshot of my high school experience minus the cool car and girlfriend.

Go West as fast as you can. If zombies get in your way, shoot them in the head.

In the ridiculously simplified synopsis part of the extra features on Kindle, I wrote:

A girl fights zombies on her way to Colorado.

(John Cusack’s character is trying to work up the nerve to ski down a massive mountain to impress a girl. His friend gives him the advice, Go that way really fast. If something gets in your way, turn.)

Ang: Describe the lucky survivors who engage with the festering horde of the dead.

Phil: I won’t cheat on this answer, but let me start off with the synopsis I came up with for the book extras:

Nicole Bennett: Daughter of Colonel Steven Bennett, estranged. She set out to be a veterinarian, but her plans were put on hold by the Zombie Apocalypse. She now seeks the refuge and safety that she hopes to find with her father in Colorado.

Sam Jennings: A boy in his late teens. His reaction to the Zombie Apocalypse was not a good one. He struggles with the reality of his surroundings and copes the best he can. Living in the Fair Valley Home Improvement Supercenter, his life will change again when Nicole Bennett blows through town.

Walt Jefferies: A "Dude" who believes in taking it easy. He likes to drive a bus because buses are for people and people go on trips. He is the happiest oddball to ever survive a Zombie Apocalypse. He's a pacifist who happens to be a pretty good shot.

Paul Baxter: An engineer who studies how things work. With his daughter, Jordan, they hold up in Liberty Bell Stadium, home of the Wranglers. They have it pretty good and aren't that happy to see least not at first.

Jordan Baxter: Young daughter of Paul Baxter. A handful for her father, and the only thing that scares him more than the Zombies. She had her fifteen minutes of fame before the Zombies took center stage. Its okay, though, she's about to meet her biggest fan.

Billy Watkins: He prefers Billy, but nobody ever called him that. It was always "William" to his parents, who didn't really want him around. His friends didn't call him Billy either, cause he never really had any. When the Apocalypse hit, Billy lost alot, but he gained much more. He is Jordan Baxter's biggest fan and will prove his worth.

Rubetta Pride: A prime specimen of the "greatest generation". She is a farmer's wife and knows what hard work is. Even in her advanced age she can still shoot a shotgun and drive a harvester and uses both to dispatch the Zombie "interlopers" that stray across her land. She made brownies.

Dermot Mullney: "Derm the Worm". He is disturbed creeper who wanders the Deadlands. He is not a good man.

Steven Bennett: He has stood on the wall between us and all enemies foreign and domestic. It cost him the love of his wife and his daughter. When the Zombie Apocalypse hits, Col Bennett hopes to get at least one of them back. He fights the good fight on the other side of the Deadlands.

Okay, so those are the characters we meet and a snippet about them. I see the next question coming up so I will save some of my comments for that. The most important thing for me in a general sense was that I wanted to avoid some clichés. The survivors would not be tailor made for an apocalypse.

Who survived and who didn’t would not be a respecter of persons. People who would do quite well in a zombie take over would be felled by the virus, and people who had trouble just with regular life would be thrust into a world that seemingly gave them little chance. The common thread I wanted to run through all the characters was that they were just ordinary people with nothing about them that would indicate they would survive or even thrive in the new world.

I wanted each character to have a flaw or characteristic that on the surface would appear to count against them. So, Nicole rejected almost anything and everything her father tried to teach her and everything he stood for. When the Apocalypse hits, she starts off very much in the deficit and initially, as if she was a cat, starts burning through her nine lives quickly.

Sam, I wanted to put even farther back than that. Here is a guy who rejects the new reality completely and withdraws back into the way the world was to the point he does not even see the zombies as zombies. Sam’s mind shuts down and refuses to deal with the facts. Nicole accepts the world as it is, but is ill equipped to survive it. Sam just rejects it all together in some desperate defense mechanism of his damaged psyche.

Walt is a “Dude”. To draw out his character I mixed the “Dude” from THE BIG LEBOWSKI, the hippie from THAT 70’S SHOW, the tank driver played by a young Donald Sutherland in KELLY’S HEROES (an awesome heist movie set in German occupied France during World War II and starring a young Clint Eastwood.) and the bus driver stoner from THE SIMPSONS. He takes everything in stride and can’t get too worked up about stuff.

Billy is a character that is very dear to my heart. He is my favorite kind of hero. He is someone that EVERYBODY overlooks or has counted out. Even his parents discount him. Nicole is a strong character and really a character I love, but Billy is the sleeping giant who does not know his worth. Everyone is looking around at everything but him and then he does something that is so selfless, it leaves even Paul Baxter flatfooted. Initially, Sam was supposed to be the second lead, and he is the faithful sidekick to Nicole, and really drives some of the tail end of the third act, but during the second act, Billy steals some of the show. Some Beta readers felt like Sam disappears a little in some of the second act and I think that’s true. Young Billy is a real gem in my mind.

Paul and Jordan Baxter are the remnants of a family that has already been torn apart a little before the Apocalypse. Paul and his wife divorced and Paul’s wife had no interest in their daughter Jordan except maybe as a pawn in her war with Paul. Paul has to do what he must in the Apocalypse, but he is really a single father trying to raise a teenage daughter who is a precocious handful. When Billy comes along, Paul goes into defensive father mode and is more concerned about his daughter’s virtue than even about the zombies. Paul and Jordan are not who you might peg as people who would do well but they do okay.

Ruby almost didn’t make the cut. When I was writing the book I started thinking man, seven characters is a lot of balls to keep in the air. Who can I cut? I really had some ideas for her at the end that I liked and would lose if I did cut her, but I really panicked for awhile and she almost didn’t make it. I liked her but what I think saved her were the Beta readers. They started listing her as one of their favorites. That was a shock, cause I initially did not have a good feel for her. Again, though she is not someone you might bet on in a Zombie Apocalypse, An elderly woman all alone who has to be pushed in a wheel chair to get around most of the time.

Ang: What was the most important aspect when writing your non-zombie characters? Realism (losers, assholes, and cowards) or fantasy (Rambo or the guy/gal who has a Rambo hiding inside them)?

Phil: Realism definitely. There are some losers and assholes that we see get it in flashbacks and story prologue sidebars, but generally, the world is made up of people who are like you and me. People generally try to “get by without shoving”. They work hard, make their plans, suffer setbacks but try to do the right thing for themselves and others. I definitely did not want any Rambo types, Somebody who was so at home in the apocalypse that he /she became cliché and cardboard cutout. Maybe we will meet characters like that in sequels and prequels, but for this tale, it had to be working class stiffs (no pun intended) who had to rise to the occasion and do rise, but in the only way they know how.

It's why Nicole, though she is the daughter of a military special ops guy, had to reject that way of life and when she needed those skills they had to be sketchy and half remembered. I think a character that gives every impression of being the least qualified but achieves anyway is more interesting than someone who has all the skills and is better than any challenge thrown at him. If you do have a character like that, then I think he has to be limited in some way. In DIE HARD, John Macclane obviously has the skills, but he has no shoes, one gun and is outnumbered twenty to one.


There was one character I had in mind but he never made it into the story. He would be somebody that Nicole and her band meet on the road. He was crazy in the sense that he loved the apocalypse and was like a road warrior type or like Woody Harrelson in ZOMBIELAND. He saw it as his sole mission to wander the Deadlands taking out as many zombies as he could. They would meet him and then part ways. He may show up later, but he just did not fit with the vibe of the story as I was writing it at the time.
Ang: Does your book begin just as the zombies start building their paradise or have zombies already gotten things rocking and rotting?
Phil: I very much wanted to have the story start AFTER the world had been decimated. I like THE WALKING DEAD for that reason as well as ZOMBIELAND. I appreciate a story that takes us from the world prior to the apocalypse through to the wipe out, but I very much wanted the story to open with the zombies in full control. Its interesting to me that THE WALKING DEAD does not give us much to go on about the inception of the virus. Sure, we get a little on how the disease works, and I think there is a scene or two in one of the episodes of the military bombing Atlanta or something, but I have heard creators of the show in interviews talk about starting the story right in the action. That appealed to me.
Now, I did feel I needed to do a little something to set it up, so I came up with the Prologue and the despicable character of Francis Delroney. But the story truly begins in the Apocalypse, when the world has been decimated, with the introduction of Sam and Nicole. Later, in the third act we get a little more information about the pre-zombie world and I struggled with that cause I wanted to come up with how it all began without sounding too cliché. Plus, whenever you explain what it was that brought it all down, it sets up the “rules of the world” and so that is a part of the book that concerns me. I hope I pulled it off.
If and when I do side stories or prequels I think it would be a lot of fun to tell how it all went down, seeing the characters in the “ordinary world” and knowing what they are going to face later. That is something I can definitely see doing.
Ang: Zombies are people too. They come in all shapes, sizes, speeds, and smarts. What types of the walking dead inhabit your novel?
Phil: To a large degree, I focus on the hordes of Zombies, as swarms of locusts almost. I have read some books, THE GATHERING DEAD series, I think (which is very good in my opinion) that dip into the actual thoughts of zombies and have characters that are human for a long time in the story and who we come to know, who then get bit and we follow them as zombies . I did not do that. It may be in that series that some of the military who became zombies actually retain some of their skills and can still drive and shoot.
In LAND OF THE DEAD, if I remember, the survivors in the walled city come to realize that the zombies are being led by a leader zombie and that they are thinking, feeling people, who just want to peacefully co-exist with the humans who keep attacking them. These are trends in zombie lore that to my mind are new and interesting, but not the direction I wanted to move.
There are a couple of instances where I delve into the zombies as individuals who have unique characteristics and were people once. Before Sam and Nicole meet Walt, they stop on an overpass and see a group of zombies wandering around a dry aquaduct. In an homage, (cause its certainly NOT a rip-off, definitely an homage, ;-) to the rooftop scene in the remake of Dawn of the Dead (2004, the one in the mall with Ving Rhames) Nicole and Sam target practice and there is some commentary on who they are and what they look like as individuals. There is some discussion amongst the characters at one point that the zombies were real people once. I like that scene very much. There are some other places I comment about who they might have been or such, but it is the feeding horde I am concerned with.
With regards the horde, certain factors come into play. Is the zombie fresh or has the slow decay really taken hold? When the person turned, were they infected, then got away before they were a zombie happy meal, or did they really get chomped awhile before they got away? I have all of the above at one time or another. Fresh zombies are “runners” and are so designated. There are some that can only pull themselves along with their arms cause they have been the daily special at one time. Definitely early on Sam faces down a group where some are damaged to the point that they are “Shufflers”.
In terms of “smarts” I did not go with the new trend. These things do one thing and one thing only, Eat. That and move on till they find someone else to eat. It is an idea I very much played on.
In Science Channel “documentaries” about zombies, they said that what makes the zombie so scary is its relentless pursuit. They were likened to the African Ant in that regard. Thousands of them wandering the earth, foraging and eating, never stopping unless it was to swarm over some new victim. Huge predatory animals in the jungle will flee at the sight of a swarm of these ants. I really wanted to focus on that. You could run for hours and get more tired with every step, but guess what? The “runner” behind you ain’t getting tired. A thinking zombie can be outthought, but a horde of zombies can only be avoided or destroyed cause they will never stop once they get your scent.
Ang: Will your infection spread to more books and series? How many blood and guts offerings do you predict in your future? How soon can our zombie and human readers expect to see your next festering contribution?
Phil: Absolutely. I have a trilogy in mind for Nicole’s story. The title of this book is NICOLE’S ODYSSEY, but Nicole’s Odyssey is really a subtitle. Human Extinction Level Loss is the overarching title of the series. So part two, three, whatever will be called H.E.L.L. ??? The other two parts are still largely unformed, but if I take a lesson from Star Wars, the middle part of a trilogy can sometimes be a downer for our hero. There could be some serious setbacks for Nicole and her bunch, maybe from zombies, maybe from other humans.
I would like to delve into a prequel, and maybe even short stories that take place in the world of the story but with other characters that have not ever met Nicole. There is a saying about how many words should be in the story. The answer is just enough to tell the tale. So, until I feel its all been said, I will keep writing.
As to when those will come out, it might be just a little while. I am working on a non-zombie story right now that should be done by the end of May, then I have a “space opera” thing outlined. I guess I wanted to see what the reception was going to be on this book before I delved into a zombie sequel, but at some point I will be itching to continue the story, and so while I hope this one is well received, its not the overriding factor. I would say certainly within a year’s time I would be working on or have put out other parts. Definitely. I don’t think Nicole is as patient as I am, so I bet she starts nagging at me to move her along pretty quick.
Ang: What is your favorite way to kill a zombie? Shoot ‘em, hack ‘em, poke ‘em, burn ‘em, or something even more fiendish? ***Zombie readers please turn away to avoid having your putrefied feelings eviscerated.
Phil: Well, that’s the thing, isn’t it. The only thing better than the shopping spree is the killing spree…(oooh, I like that. Could be a nice one liner on a cover or out of the mouth of a character…) Anyhow, yeah the best way is a double tap to the brain housing unit. That’s my favorite way. Rifle pressed firmly against shoulder, red dot dancing across the forehead. Let out your breath and gently squeeze twice.
Again, to break with convention, Nicole does NOT go for the shotgun. She has her reasons and I think they are sound for going for a high velocity .22 semi-automatic rifle and pistol. As one of my Beta Readers pointed out, you can carry a thousand or more rounds in a milk carton. So, that is my first and favorite way, the smell of gunpowder, the power you feel holding the line and hitting your marks gives me Goosebumps, but…
You cannot cannot cannot…cannot undervalue the visceral satisfaction you get from the upclose bashing. The swing of the bat, the sound of the crack is a thing of beauty. The ZED goes down and there is gore galore! I am not a fan of edged weapons against zombies. Points and edges can get stuck. I know Michonne in THE WALKING DEAD is a master of the sword, but I am not that good or lucky. I would chop my own head off probably. Plus, you go berserker mode in the heat of battle and you can really feel it with blunt instruments. Some of my favorite moments in THE WALKING DEAD are when they literally footstomp a zombie head to pulp. Yeah, Baby!
Vehicles are cool. Ruby does some damage with her harvester. So the hit and run and the grinding is a good way, you just have to be careful with impact damage. I don’t recommend it.
Fire is a real problem. As others point out, you set a zombie on fire and then wait a couple of minutes for it to go down, oh and hope it doesn’t burn down all your stuff in the process. A burning zombie is a walking candle with an attitude and who needs that. Fire, least favorite way ever.
Ang: Do you have a favorite cinematic zombie? Example: My co-blogger Zombie Earl is quite fond of Zombie Roger from the original Dawn of the Dead.
Phil: I thought about this a long time and I have to say, hands down that its Ed from SHAUN OF THE DEAD. There are a lot of things to consider and lets face it Zombies ain’t pretty, so if you are going to have a favorite and you are going to be spending any length of time around them at all, they better have a good personality. Ed is a true friend, even Undead Ed.
Ang: Who is your favorite character from The Walking Dead (comics or TV show)?
Phil: I have not read the comics, but the easy answer is Daryl. I like his arc from cowed little brother to man of character, honor and loyalty. He’s an all around badass who doesn’t run his mouth. Rick is a close second.
Ang: Finally, how prepared are you for the zombie apocalypse that we all know is just around the corner?
Phil: Well, this is embarrassing. As Billy Bob says in TOMBSTONE, I run my mouth kinda wragged for a man that don’t go heeled. I don’t even own a gun, don’t have a “go” bag. Heck, I don’t even have an aluminum bat around the house. I am what I call an Apocalyprocrastinator. I fully acknowledge the imminent rise of the zombie horde and will have nobody to blame but my self when it happens. I will wake up that morning and see them in the yard and say, “Huh, I thought I had one more day.”
Nibble on your copy of H.E.L.L. Nicole's Journey at Amazon.
Chase down Phil at his website and Facebook.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Zombie Series Showcase: The Grace series

Can romance work in a zombie apocalypse? The Grace series by M. Lauryl Lewis says it can.

Zoe and Boggs find romance even while battling the rotting dead. Along with Gus, Emilie, and others, the pair of childhood friends adjust to a world where the dead eat the living. Zoe's group isn't the only ones evolving though. The zombies have a few tricks up their decaying sleeves. Check out the Grace series today at AmaZon...

Twenty-year-old Zoe Kate is young and naïve, and quite frankly a loner. When her lifelong friend, Adam Boggs, comes home for the summer they find themselves thrust into the middle of a zombie plague. As they flee their hometown in hopes of finding safety, they come across two other survivors, Emilie and Gus. The group of four quickly form bonds and must make difficult choices at every turn in order to stay alive. They will witness unimaginable horrors and experience unthinkable losses as life and death mix together in ways that were never meant to be. Things aren't always as they seem when God's Grace has been Lost to humanity.

The dead rose overnight, leaving the world in a constant flux of confusion between life and death. A group of survivors continue to struggle to stay alive when the rules of nature no longer apply. As their relationships grow and new friends are made, the dead are also evolving.

Coming in 2013!