As I head into the homestretch of book 6 in the DEAD series, I am having the same trepidation that I always have at this point. The funny thing is, when I read it out loud later during the edits, I find so much more to like about it. Things seem to come together in ways that I didn't notice during the actual writing.
One of the issues that I face is the vast cast of characters that populate my DEAD world. Contrary to some people's belief, I don't create people just to kill them off. My theory is that I just will not allow any MacGyver moments. If somebody paints themselves into a corner...then they are stuck. The consequences in a zombie apocalypse are death.
One of the most interesting critiques that I see involving the series has to do with the harsh and evil nature of some of my characters. Most notably, Garrett McCormick. The funny thing about that story line is that it is the only one that I knew the ending of upon its inception. I really did not know how things would go along the way, but for me, the bottom line was that I wanted Kirsten to maintain her sanity and refuse to allow herself to become a "victim" despite the horrors that she is exposed to at the hands of her captor. Even more entertaining, I have actually read where my "use of gratuitous sex and violence is a product of my disturbed mind." I would like to weigh in on that. I never go into detail. I felt that it would be best if left to the imagination of the reader. It would seem that some of my readers have rather dark imaginations. For me, the entire story leads up to Kirsten's final act.
In Dead: Winter, things are not going well for anybody. The reality of a world without electricity is one that I really do not think we would fare well in...especially given what we are seeing on the news as winter storms hammer the nation.
As things move deep into the heart of the first winter, there is a bleakness and almost a sense of hopelessness that creeps into the story. But think about it. When I wrote this volume, I actually turned off all the heat for a few days during the process. The thing is, I am on the third floor, I get the radiated heat from the residents living below me. Was I cold? Yes. But it is like a video game...the reset button is always right there if things get too nasty.
In Dead: Siege & Survival, I am setting things up for the big wrap up. It is the most open ended of the books in this cycle. (Like Dead: Revelations was in the first three book cycle.) Since the series is slated to go twelve books (four cycles of three books each), there will obviously be stories yet to be told. However, each third book, I try to provide some closure. Some of the stories will actually conclude (in the vignettes). The main stories (Steve and the Geeks) will reach a spot where you can catch your breath.
So, that is a look inside the DEAD series. And now for the "peer pressure" part. A lot of my friends are writers. Many of you are authors with a zombie series of your own. I have read a lot of you. What I am hoping to hear is some feedback (yes...be honest, I can take it) from my peers. I'm not looking for reviews...just feedback. What worked for you? What didn't.
I can say with total honesty that I am a fan of Armand Rosamilia's Miami Spy Games: Russian Zombie Gun serial. Mark Tufo won me over with his Zombie Fallout series. I wasn't initially won over by Talbot's quips. But the story drew me in and the whole thing with Tommy and the voice of Ryan Seacrest in his head as a "guardian angel" is sheer genius. His success is deserved and I would cherish an autographed Mark Tufo section on my shelf (hint). John O'Brien has created a military entry that is one part Tom Clancy with the feel that I got from 28 Days Later. His A New World series is intelligent and sucks you in to one of the most well thought out worlds I have ever had the pleasure of visiting.
I've read Kirkman, Keene, Wellington, and hundreds of others. I've never made it a secret that I am as much of a fan as anybody else. I actually have "pinch me" moments when I hear from Tufo, Rosamilia, O'Brien and others.
Yes, I am a writer. Sure, some of you out there are fans of my work. But I am in your shoes. I have people that I am a fan of. Can you imagine what it would be like to hear from somebody that you think is totally awesome? To hear that THEY read YOUR book.
That would be cool...